How to Make a Dream Come True

How to make a dream come true square

This past weekend was a big one for me, and not just because Seattle won the Superbowl.  No, this weekend was big because it was the weekend I turned in my completed manuscript for my first real book.

It will still be quite a while before that pile of pages is transformed into a real life book on the bookstore shelf, and there is still a long road ahead of editing and formatting and picking the perfect book cover before my baby is ready for the world. But it is done.  12 chapters. 55,000 words. Done.

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It is a lifelong dream come true.

And now, as I cross this Big Thing off my list, I can’t even tell you how incredible it feels to have accomplished this goal.  Honestly, I think I’m still pinching myself.  There were so many times through this process that I didn’t know if I would make it, so many days I was crippled with self-doubt, and so many moments I wanted to throw in the towel.

But I didn’t quit.

Instead I’m here at the finish line, doing a dorky little happy dance.  Friends, if I could give you all one gift, it would be this feeling!  Instead, I’m going to do the only thing I can—share the things I’ve learned through this process about how to make a dream come true.

Be clear about your direction.

Take the time to write down your goals and your dreams and the things you would like to accomplish.  Ultimately, a dream not written down is just a wish.  When you can see what you are aiming for you are much more likely to hit it.   Set big, scary goals and then, once you’ve written them down, don’t just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them.   Tape them to your bathroom mirror or stick them to your fridge or write them on a giant poster for your living room.  Put them someplace you will see them often.   (If you struggle with goal setting, be sure to get my free goal setting workbook here!)

I have dreamed about writing a book my entire life, but it wasn’t until I wrote it down as a goal last year that I was finally able to make it happen.  And quite frankly, seeing it written down scared the bejeebies out of me!  It was such a BIG goal!  What if I failed?  But I re-read that goal almost every single day, and every day I made choices with my time that helped get me a little closer to the finish line. Remembering my long-term goal helped me focus my shorter term goals, which helped me plan out my days and which ultimately made it happen.

Work hard at everything you do

Last year at the Teen Choice awards (of all places) Ashton Kutcher (of all people) gave a pretty profound speech about accomplishments.  He said: 

“I believe opportunity looks a whole lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my Dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

Every job we do is a stepping stone to the next one.  When I look back at the past few years I can see how all the little jobs and successes I’ve had have helped lead to the next one.  Since I started my blog four years ago, I have poured my heart and soul into every article that I write.  I have gotten up early and worked weekends and stayed up late just to write, even when no one was reading.  I submitted guest posts and wrote freelance articles and an eBook and experienced plenty of rejection and frustration along the way.  But I learned what worked and what didn’t work, and along the way I also found my own unique voice.  And then, when the opportunity finally arose to write a book, I was ready.

Be willing to make sacrifices.

Every measure of success comes with a price.  There are only so many hours in any given day, which means that none of us can do it all.  Pursuing a dream means that you will be forced to make choices, and often those choices are hard.

For me, it has meant being willing to get up ridiculously early almost every single day—even on the weekends—because that is my best time to write.  It has meant sometimes no to things that seem like a lot more fun or more interesting, and watching my family go off on fun adventures without me so that I can stay home and work. It has meant reinvesting my income into things like blog & writing conferences and photography classes.  It has meant tightening our belts even more in order to afford having my husband stay at home.  It has even sometimes meant sacrificing my health.  I have been sick more times in the past year than the rest of my life combined.  (And in case you are wondering, now that this book is done, getting healthy is at the top of my priority list!)

Believe in yourself.

The bigger your dream, the less likely it is that other people will understand it, and the more likely that they will criticize or mock you or tell you it is impossible. If you want to make a dream come true, you have to believe in yourself.  You have to be able to tune out all the voices around you that say “you can’t do that,” and find that inner core of strength that says “yes I can.”

This is hard.

When I started Living Well Spending Less in 2010 and suddenly began writing about how to use coupons and save money, there were a lot of people who laughed at me.  For a long time even my husband couldn’t understand why I was spending so much time on a blog.  He couldn’t see my vision, and no one else really could either.  And that’s okay.  It was my dream to believe in, not theirs.

Build a support team.

While you have to believe in yourself and your own dream, it is also extremely important to build a support network of people who will mentor, encourage, and motivate you.  These are the people will help you pick yourself up when you fall, or convince you to keep trying when you want to quit.  These aren’t the people who will laugh at your dream, but who will say a kind word when you need it most, and sometimes you have to look for them.

I have been so blessed by an amazing group of friends & family cheering me on, both here in “real life,” but also online. In that first few months of blogging, when I had a grand total of maybe fifteen readers, my childhood friend Alisha was the most loyal one of all.  She would read every post, even the terrible ones that didn’t make any sense, and always leave an encouraging comment.  My friend Edie, who for the past year has been my accountability partner, was a fellow blogger that I looked up to.  We met at a conference and immediately connected, and have since become the best of friends.   We talk almost every single day, and she is the one who talks me off the ledge, cheers me up, and makes me want to be better.

My husband too is an amazing support, the one who proofreads everything I write, who tells me to keep going when I want to quit, who tells me to slow down when I push too hard, and who works tirelessly behind the scenes so that I can pursue this dream.  I would be nothing without him.

It is important to note that encouragement goes both ways!  The most important rule of friendship is this:  If you want to have a friend, you must be a friend.  If you are feeling frustrated that your friends aren’t supporting you, take a look at how you can support and encourage them to follow their dreams.  You may just be amazed at how that support comes back to you.

Be prepared to be broken again and again.

Following a dream is hard and sometimes humiliating and frequently very humbling.   It is scary to pour your heart and soul into something that you’ve dreamed about your whole life.  Because what if you fail?  What then?

I can’t count the number of times in the past year where I have literally been brought to my knees because I felt so inadequate and so, so unworthy of this task.  There were so many moments I was practically paralyzed with self-doubt. My prayers were little more than a collection of desperate pleas:  I’m not good enough for this, Lord!  I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said better already!  I’m not smart enough!  I’m not talented enough.  I’m just a wannabe hack who can’t write! I can’t do this!

But it was exactly in those lowest moments, during those times I felt the most inadequate and completely broken that I realized how desperately I needed God.  Over and over I would come back to those words of my favorite verse: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)  I even made it the screen saver on my phone so that every time I looked down, I would be reminded that I might be weak, but he is strong.

Have faith in your calling.

I don’t think God gives us dreams or talents or passions at random; on the contrary, I think he calls us to follow the path he has envisioned for us, the one that allows us to live life to the fullest.  I honestly believe that writing is not just my lifelong dream, it is my calling.

Listening to that little voice in the back of your head that tells you to GO FOR IT can be downright terrifying sometimes, but it is also exhilarating.  If there is something you’ve been wanting to do or a dream you’ve wanted to pursue or a voice that has been nudging you to take action, DO IT!  Don’t wait.  Take the leap of faith and start today.  In the end, you’ll only ever regret the chances you didn’t take

Dream come true

*   *   *

What’s your dream?

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{ 30 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous February 7,

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • Holly February 7,

    Love this. And congratulations!!

    Reply
  • Kay (A Ranch Mom) February 7,

    Awesome encouragement to just get going! I have recently started pursuing some dreams of my own, and like you say – hard work and lots of it, are propelling me closer every day! I am amazed how many opportunities are opening up to me, just because I started getting to work instead of just ‘wishing’.

    Reply
  • Melissa February 7,

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post! Okay this is very very scary, but I have read two posts like this in the past week. Went to a funeral for a family friend who is two years young than me. I asked God to be obvious for what he wants me to do (quit my job to stay with my kids and be a long arm quilter), but wow could he be anymore obvious right now! Seriously, this is kind of funny. Good but funny! I know it will be hard work, but I know that I can do it but I tell you I have been working since I was 13 and the thought of a not regular paycheck scares the sillies out of me! But everything you said about the above is so true and I know that I can do it. Thanks once again for this post!

    Reply
  • tammy @ grace uncommon February 7,

    this is so timely for me ruth! thank you so much for the gift of these words and encouragement as i too recently turned in my very first manuscript and have lived {sometimes not so gracefully} each of these steps. so hard, but so rewarding. i’m thankful for this space, for your encouragement and incredible example. can’t wait to read it! -tammy

    Reply
  • Carrie S. February 7,

    This is a great post! I’m glad that you didn’t sugar coat that it took a lot of hard work to make your dream a reality. Good Luck to you and your book in the future.

    Reply
  • Sarah Wells February 7,

    Ruth! COngrats on finishing that manuscript! I can’t wait to see it in print and get my hands on it. You do such a fabulous job with your writing and I have to say that I’ve been so encouraged by you! Now go celebrate with one of your yummy recipes!

    Reply
  • Jackie February 7,

    I have the same dream – I want to write and I want to be published… It’s always been a dream of mine. Seeing this post is so helpful. I’m so far away from this goal, but your post is helping me believe in myself! Thank you!

    Reply
  • Gladys February 7,

    Very good post. And congratulations on your book!

    Reply
  • Sarah @ An Inviting Home February 7,

    Ruth,

    So excited for you! :-)

    ~Sarah

    Reply
  • Sarah @ SarahTitus.com February 8,

    Wow Ruth,
    I’m so excited for you. Congratulations! It must have taken a lot of hard work to complete it. You are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing something with us so dear to your heart. Love you and your site! :)

    Reply
  • Heather February 8,

    Lovely post, Ruth. I also have a dream to write a book , it is still in the works. By the way I loved your one about blogging. I also have a dream to be able to make a living from blogging. I am getting there slowly!

    Reply
  • Katelyn F February 8,

    This is beautiful! And BIG CONGRATS! You have created something wonderful. I am thankful for you to share your story of how far you’ve come with this blog. I can only hope to have such a great blog as you do someday. Seriously. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
  • Amber February 8,

    Great post & congrats! That is amazing!

    Reply
  • Tammilee T February 8,

    Thank you for this! This month I left 2 small jobs to focus solely on my blog and where this year is going. Your post put into words exactly what I have been feeling this month.

    Reply
  • Jenny Beasley February 8,

    Congratulations on finishing your book & watching a dream come true! :)

    Reply
  • Anita Fowler February 9,

    This is an amazing post. It’s totally what I needed to hear. I can’t wait to read your book!

    Reply
  • Judie Blandin February 9,

    Hi Ruth, I always feel that we are where we are supposed to be at any given moment. I come across articles and pictures on facebook everyday but your article was just what I needed. I, too, have been wanting to finish my book, or should I say, several. Everything is half done and I put off finishing them by making excuses and not using my time wisely. I have the dream of finishing these books but I know I can never make up the time I have wasted. You are an inspiration and I so needed some at this time in my life. Thank you and I hope your book will be sitting on the shelves in no time at all.

    Reply
  • Jenn February 12,

    This is a great post. Congrats on the book! I always seem to have great goals in my head, but I never, ever write them down. Too scared of failure maybe? Or too scared of the hard work it will take to get there?

    I don’t know, but either way thanks for the encouragement!

    Reply
  • Anonymous February 16,

    What an amazing post. Congratulations on your first book of many.

    Reply
  • Lois. Slater February 23,

    I could become rich beyond my wildest dream !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Ashley Wells February 25,

    Congratulations!!!!
    And thank you for the inspiration and encouragement!

    Reply
  • Angie March 18,

    Wow, thank you! I needed to read this today :)

    Reply
  • Candace March 22,

    Loved this post so so much. I’ve decided to go back to school to get my masters, after graduating 11 years ago from college and that thought is terrifying to me! But it is a dream of mine, and reading your post made me realize all the things I need to hang onto when I feel like throwing the towel in. Congratulations on your success and the publishing of your book!

    Reply
  • Laura March 24,

    Thank you very much for your inspiring words. I am a first time reader to your blog, and now forever a fan. I found this post on Pinterest (because the universe just knew I needed to see if today) and it makes me feel not alone. I am a first time business owner and the ups and downs have just been getting to me lately and sometimes it feels really scary and lonely pouring your heart/soul/every last bit of energy/drive/worth into a dream. Congratulations on achieving your goal and thank for sharing it in such a personal way. It really helps to hear your story. All the best to you!

    Reply
  • Caroline March 30,

    I came across your blog via Pinterest, and have been a reader ever since. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to follow a dream. It really isn’t just following a dream, but following God’s will and direction for your life even when it is SCARY! This was very timely for me, and I plan to print it out so I can read it again and again. Best wishes on the publication of your book, I am looking forward to reading it!

    Reply
  • Jessica June 1,

    I love this so much! Thank you. I just took a third day off from work per week to focus on writing. I feel a little shaky, but this is a great reminder to have Faith! I’m favoriting this. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Dana June 22,

    hey, I want to fulfill my big dream, maybe someone can advise me something traumerstart.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • Renee Alter November 12,

    I feel like I’ve met another ‘soulmate’. I had no idea when I had to stop working when I was 40 due to arthritis and fibromyalgia that I’d someday be doing what I do now. I have many dreams that may all consolidate into one. For the last few years I’ve been creating books which are now on Amazon, and learning the tedious process of book marketing. I’ve been meeting ladies in their 70′s & 80′s who had a dream of publishing books they wrote and helping them do this. At the same time, I am trying to learn the process of home studio recording with the dream of hearing the songs I’ve written sound beautiful to my ears. I listen to all the beautiful voices of other artists and imagine them singing my songs. I daydream about being backstage contributing to their performances. I have barely begun so it is all still in dream stage. You are right about the setting of goals. I need to figure out what mine are and the baby steps to achieving them. I hope you have time to visit my website: http://www.reneealtersatmosphere.com

    Reply

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