Will Your Dream Be a Turning Point?

Written by on March 22, 2015 in Personal Accountability, Self Awareness with 31 Comments

Risking for a Dream Do you have a “Someday I’ll” dream that you periodically roll out for a test drive?

Dreams are wonderful things that come in all shapes and sizes. They give your life purpose and meaning and connect you to the ideas and activities you feel passionate about.

Unfortunately, many people fall victim to “when the time is right” thinking … when you’re old enough, when your home is paid off, when you have enough saved, when you lose ten pounds, the kids are grown, you retire, spring, summer, fall … and eventually you die.

But the story doesn’t have to end that way because at any time you can change your course, if you choose. In recent articles we explored overcoming resistance to change and the risky business of living life to the fullest which go hand-in-hand when it comes to turning dreams into reality. But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum; somewhere along the line a choice will be required.

Will you spend your life as the passenger going with the flow and accepting whatever the winds of fate have in store, or will you be the driver and take responsibility for steering the course of your future. Will you tenaciously cling to who you have always been and what you have always done, or will you accept the challenge and create your own turning point by committing to do the work to pursue your dreams?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become. ~Hal Elrod

The question is what is it really going to take to dust off that dream of yours and turn it into something remarkable? Well, you may be surprised when I tell you that before you ever begin the work of converting your vision into an action oriented goal you’re going to have to lay your dream out on the table and decide once and for all whether you are all-in committed, or it’s time to finally retire that puppy.

Outlined below are three self-discovery exercises that are designed to uncover how committed you really are to your dream and whether it has the potential to become your turning point.

Will This Dream Be Your Turning Point?

Define Your Dream in Writing

Most people still don’t put their goals in writing and many of those who do rarely take the time to actually define what it will take to consider their efforts a success. As cliché as this may sound, attempting to make your dream a reality in this way really is like heading off on a long road trip – in the fog – without a map or destination.

For example if your goal is to be a “successful” author you need to define what that truly means – not the Webster’s or Wikipedia version – the only definition that counts is the one that comes from your mind and heart.

Does it mean writing and publishing a book that ends up on the New York Times Bestseller list? Does it mean being able to make a living writing books, and if so how many books would you have to write and how much would you have to earn in book sales to achieve your ultimate goal? What would a typical day look like for you as a “successful” author?

Try to think of this as your first guidepost to what lies ahead rather than a carved-in-stone definition of your dream because (if you choose to follow this path) as you continue to learn and grow there will naturally be adjustments and course corrections along the way. The clearer you are able to define your dream, the easier it will be to take the steps required to convert it into an achievable goal. But there’s another reason for gaining clarity, and that’s to reaffirm your commitment and determine the purpose behind pursuing your dream.

Subject Your Dream to the “Why” it Matters Test

There once was a guy named Joe who dreamed of going back to school to obtain his graduate degree. Joe quit school to help support his family, and had done reasonably well in his profession, but over the years he became more and more convinced that a degree was the key that would open the doors to all the success that had for so long eluded him.

And so we played the “why” game, and this is how it went. We started with the statement that Joe’s dream was to obtain his college degree. I asked why, and he responded “Because it’s important to me.” I asked why, and he sat there looking at me for a moment and finally said, “Well, because with that degree I can get a better job.” And I asked why, and on it went … you get the idea. We went through that process a total of fifteen times. The first 3 or 4 responses were fairly obvious, but eventually we made some interesting discoveries.

Joe loved the “idea” of the degree, but not so much the thought of having to shake his life up to make time to attend classes, and the notion of having to do homework at night and on the weekends was even less appealing. What he really wanted was the prestige that went with the degree without having to invest the time or do the painful work to get it.

More importantly, we discovered that what had really been holding Joe back was his reluctance to even pursue higher paying jobs or business opportunities because he had convinced himself that he would be wasting his time and embarrass himself by even trying without that “golden” degree.

The point here is that sometimes we cling to a dream for all the wrong reasons so before you begin pursuing an ideal make sure you know what the real dream is, and why it’s important to you.

Are You Prepared to Do Whatever it Takes?

Those who achieve their goals understand that turning their dreams into reality will require hard work and commitment. What this means is that now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself about just how much effort you are willing to invest in order to make your dream a reality.

As obvious as this may seem, many people underestimate the time and level of effort it will take to achieve their dreams and this is why so many quit before they reach the finish line. And when it comes right down to it, as Joe found out in the previous example, sometimes you have to admit that you’ve fallen in love with the “idea” of a dream, or maybe it isn’t even your dream at all but someone else’s dream for you, but the bottom line is you are not prepared to do the work to make it happen.

Having a clearly defined goal and a strong purpose will go a long way toward keeping you motivated but only if you are truly committed to do the hard work rain or shine.

All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose. ~Brian Tracy

If you invest the time to go through these exercises and decide now is the time to turn your dream into reality that is wonderful! But I think it’s also extremely important to understand that if you discover your dream doesn’t measure up it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you can consider it a gift because it will free you to finally move forward with your new found understand about what you want and what is (and isn’t) important you can create a new, more powerful goal that you can be excited about and really commit to.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. Erica says:

    I really like these steps Marquita. It is amazing to me that people pursue dreams that aren’t really there own (maybe it was one of their parent’s ideas or it just sounded like a good idea.) It is really important to identify why you want something and if you are wiling to do the work to go after it. I believe going through the questions you outlined will a give a person a good perspective on their dream.

    I was quite the opposite growing up. Everybody tried to instill in me that I should go into math or science. My computer programming teacher even sent a book to my home on all the different ways you can use the computer to make art and music (this was some years ago when it wasn’t as obvious as it is today.) I enrolled in college as a theater major to everyone’s horror. But I knew that was my dream. And I eventually realized one day that it wasn’t my dream anymore and I moved onto what I do now.
    Erica recently posted…Test Your Sugar KnowledgeMy Profile

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article Erica and thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. I really believe we live our lives in seasons and a lot of what we determine to be our priorities has to do with the timing in our lives. The wonder and beauty of the journey is being open to exploring new things along the way and to never stop believing in possibilities. :-)

  2. Tim

    The pursuit of dreams and sticking with them whatever the outcome is like having no regrets. Even if the dream you started with changes or falls off the radar scope but you tried, and you know deep down you tried, then all is good. You are right, it is the dreams that fall by the wayside because of excuse that may be difficult to reconcile later in life. I love dreams and dreaming. It is what can make life very interesting.
    Tim recently posted…Scottish TelevisionMy Profile

  3. andleeb

    Hello Marquita,
    I love the story you have shared and it reminds me of a NEWS that I read few days before about 82 years old women from Turkey who got her Bachelors Degree after many years. She decided to go back to college and do it, no matter at what age.
    I think as you said the question,”WHY” can help us in many ways in search and establishment of our dream on right track. We all dream about things but the thing is we must go back and get energy to attain it. The thing that matters most for me, goals or dreams must be realistic.

    I love steps you have mentioned to guide to get the dreams into reality.

    Thank you.
    andleeb recently posted…Neelum Valley #KashmirMy Profile

    • So glad you enjoyed the article, and yes the woman you mentioned who went back to pursue her degree at 82 years old is a perfect example! Thanks for sharing your story and contributing to the conversation Andleeb.

  4. Christine Larsen

    Wonderful perspective Marquita (and by the way, I love rolling your pretty name around my mouth. Please tell me you don’t encourage anyone to shorten it!)
    A long time ago I was a telephone counsellor on a helpline and it was common to get calls from people saying ‘Yes but…’ Reflecting their own stated lack of commitment to change their situation and make their dreams happen was so helpful in what was otherwise an uphill battle.
    I don’t like many acronyms, but I do like IADOM (It All Depends On Me). Good one, huh?
    Christine Larsen recently posted…The First Day… not of the year, obviously.My Profile

    • I don’t often use acronyms either but I love IADOM and made a note of it. So glad you enjoyed the article Christine and thanks for sharing your story about the help line experience, sounds all too familiar I’m afraid. Re my name – gotta tell you a story about that. I used my nickname (Marty) for more than half my life for the sake of those who could neither remember nor pronounce my given name. Then my “boss” at a the last company I worked for pressed me to legally change my name to Marty because (she said) Marquita was “such a pain to remember.” Well, from that day forward I started exclusively going by Marquita and made the choice to use my name as my brand. So, it took a couple of decades, but I now wear the name with pride and I think it kinda fits me. :-) Thank you so much for contributing to the conversation!

  5. Meredith

    These are really insightful exercises, and I like how you make the point that if you’re waiting for the time to be right, you might be waiting a good long time! I think it’s good to go through exercises like this so you can really examine whether your dream is worth pursuing. Love that Hal Elrod quote!
    Meredith recently posted…Olive PaletteMy Profile

  6. Pamela Chollet

    My grandmother had a saying, “Are you going to sit and wait for the bus that never comes or pick up your bags and start walking?” Your blog post hit the nail on the head when you talked about taking action and assigning purpose to each goal. I use the sentence, “I want to [blank] in order to [blank].
    Pamela Chollet recently posted…The Anxiety Antidote by Haartfelt: Controlling Anxiety for GoodMy Profile

  7. Jeri

    I’m in the middle of revisiting what exactly my dreams are now that my life is in total upheaval. For me the sticking point is what it means to be an author. I much more readily take to the editing and blogging side that freelancing motivates me much more than sitting down to work on a book. Dreams do morph over the years, I guess. I do know I have a bad habit of waiting for situations to be ideal before I dive in, and that tends not to go well.
    Jeri recently posted…#BlogLove: The Versatile Blogger Award (and more!)My Profile

    • I know you’re going through some significant changes now Jeri – been there/done that – and don’t ever plan to do it again. That said, I tend to think the process of revising our lives and figuring out how we got to where we are now is healthy and is the best way to lay a foundation for the future. And as a recovering perfectionist I hear you about the perils of waiting for things to be just right. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Jeri. :-)

  8. I’m in the lucky position of not dreaming of things in the far future as I’m of “a certain age,” which is actually quite liberating. My dream is to live every day to the fullest, to be in the moment. As a wise old farmer who lived down the road from our weekend log home once said to my husband and me, “Remember, tomorrow ain’t promised to ya.”
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Have You Refreshed Your Social Media Accounts Lately?My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Jeannette! I can see we have a bit of a theme going here with the age thing. I can certainly understand the blessing of being happy where one is in life, but there are many people of a “certain age” these days that are starting 2nd, 3rd or 4th careers, launching their own businesses, going back to school and running marathons. One of my favorite quotes about age: “Sometimes, people use age as a convenient excuse. ‘I’m too old to start something new’ or, ‘I couldn’t learn that at my age.’ Other people, though, go on to achieve their greatest accomplishments in life in later years. ~Catherine Pulsifer

  9. Lenie

    At my stage in life I am past dreaming and am now more in the learning process. I want to know and do as much as I can and am thoroughly enjoying that. But I do know one thing – dreams without action is a far-flung fantasy like wishing on a star and expecting the star to do all the work. Life doesn’t work that way. Your ‘why’ method is excellent. It narrows things down nicely and sometimes, as in Joe’s case, the dream is replaced by something better.

    • Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation Lenie. I suppose I’ve just been lucky to have women in my life who never stopped dreaming because to me it’s not an age thing. I really think it’s all about how hungry one is to experience life. My late grandmother was 105 when she passed away and right up to the end she was dreaming, on the go and adding things to her bucket list. :-)

  10. Mark

    What an excellent post M!

    Isn’t so sad, how we allow excuse of every type to literally control our destiny.

    And I really like your “why” challenge you did with Joe. He literally helped him finally figure out that what he thought he was interested in pursuing, he really wasn’t!LOL!

    I think we can all relate to that discover process on some level or another. I know I sure can!LOL!

    And what a great quote by Hal Elrod BTW! Of your three self discovery exercises, without a doubt # three is my biggest takeaway!

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent and thought provoking message M!
    Mark recently posted…How The Ultimate Insiders Power Network With The Right People So Your Content Becomes Magnetic!Part TwoMy Profile

    • So glad you enjoyed the article Mark, and that exercise is one I’ve used frequently over the years. Questions really are an excellent tool to use for self discovery – if we can be honest with ourselves – but then that’s where having someone work with you through the process can be really helpful. Thanks again! :-)

  11. A.K Andrew

    Dreams are a great thing to have, as long as they don’t stop us from enjoying life in the moment. But I think what you say about evaluating your dreams and really looking at them is important. Quantifying them can give clarity over true desire. But I think the most important point was being able to be ok with whatever comes. We don’t always fulfil our dreams , but whatever takes their place can often turn out to be a better choice. We need to be able to be open to embrace the changes we are faced with in life for sure.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts A.K. It really is all a balancing act and of course we each have our own priorities. Enjoying the moment is certainly important, but taken to the extreme is the very definition of life by default. I know people right now who happily live from day-to-day and have never set goals or worried about such things as pursuing dreams and they are fine with it. Personally I can’t imagine living life that way, but then that reflects my priorities and really the mindset of the people that I write for. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation!

  12. Mina Joshi

    Reading your article, I have realised that I am one of those people who is a passenger that just goes with the flow. I really need to take charge and put down some goals I want to achieve.
    Mina Joshi recently posted…Mixed Vegetable with Rice NoodlesMy Profile

  13. Dave

    I have to say Marty – from the very first paragraph or two of this article, one of my favorite quotes of all time entered my consciousness:

    It’s never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot

    It is sometimes so difficult to peel the onion, dig deep, open our eyes to – pick whatever metaphor works best – that dream that is uniquely ours, and no one else’s. We are often guided, steered, or nudged in a particular direction – often with the best of intentions. But, it may not be that dream at our core that lights the fire of passion inside.

    It has taken me longer than I would have hoped to find the dream that infuses energy into me, but that’s where I lean on Eliot’s quote :-) And if I am being perfectly honest, I do still need to work on clarification of what success looks like for my dream. I have the sketchy outline for it, but I still need to fill in a few details here and there.

    For me, this entire process was less like a turning point, and more like a tipping point. The process of following the bread crumbs of a dream began to build momentum, causing the fulcrum on the scale to shift, until I felt like I was running downhill instead of trudging uphill. I am sure there will be many peaks and valleys along the way, but the journey is one I am thrilled to be embarking upon!

    Thanks, as always, for your motivating and inspiring insights Marty. I really enjoyed this series, as well as finding it extremely relevant to where I am in the pursuit of my own dream right now :-)
    Dave recently posted…Broken dreamsMy Profile

    • I always enjoy your thoughtful insights Dave, and I am sorry I’m running behind in responding to comments – where DID the week go?! I think the longer that dream – whatever it may be – has been tucked away the tougher it’s going to be to uncover because we had years to build walls of limiting beliefs around it. But more often than not there is a glimmer of the dream there if we are willing to open our eyes to it. I know in my case there has never been a question about my “dream” – it was something I set aside when I was 18 because at that moment in my life getting a ‘real’ job and earning a living so I could escape from home was far more important. And of course then life starts piling on and it got buried deeper and deeper, but it’s always been there so it was never a matter of figuring ‘it’ out, but figuring out the ‘how’ of it has been the trick. :-)

  14. Donna Janke

    I like subjecting your dream to the why test. It might be hard to discover a long-held dream isn’t what you really want after all, but it could also be freeing. If the dream stands up to the why test, then I also agree there should be no waiting until the time is right, because the time will never be right.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Tucson Festival of Books: Overwhelming and AmazingMy Profile

    • Well said Donna, and the truth is I don’t think it’s really all that hard if we’re truly honest with ourselves – and that is probably the biggest hurdle of all. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. :-)

  15. Sabrina Q.

    Great post! I have writing my 5 pages of goals each year for all my adult life. It has helped me determine what I want and don’t want in my life on a yearly basis and gave me focus to see it through. Over the years, the goals have become more refine and had more of a direction than before.

    If one is scared to ask the deeper “why” questions, asking the question “why” once a day and writing down the answer each day also helps with goal clarity.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Sabrina Q. recently posted…Tips for Organizing Long-Term FilesMy Profile

    • Questions are marvelous personal growth tools and as Tony Robbins always says, if don’t like the answers you’re getting then you need to ask better quality questions. Thank you Sabrina for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. :-)

  16. Hi Marquita,
    your story reminds me of a young man I had as a guest here last summer.
    We started to talk about his profession and he said he likes what he is doing,but he had a dream, he wanted to be an artist building pictures and sculptures
    He said ,but it is not possible to do this now and I too started to ask why.
    The same like in your story, he had put in his head that he first has to go to university, but there were much easier way for him and he left excited to go after his dream. Sometimes it is needed to talk with somebody who believes it is possible,often dreamers are told “this is not working, you are crazy ” and they never take the first step. But it is true:”Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
    Thank you for the nice article

    • “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Beautifully said Erika! Thank you so much for sharing your story about that young man, and you are so right about what a difference a fresh perspective can make. :-)

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