I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have a dream of doing something or being somewhere other than where they were. Even the most successful people dream of what might be . . . if only. Dreams are important to mental health. They provide us with a chance to escape from the monkey on our back, the wolf at the door, the dragon diving on us from above. When you gaze at the ocean and watch the surf making a magnificent curl, do you dream of standing on a surf board, sliding down the face of the wave? Do you look upon an expanse of prairie and dream of riding a horse across the land, breaking a trail never before traveled? Whatever triggers the sense of wonder in you, you have dreamed of it at least once, maybe more.
Our dreams help us to escape reality, but what if you want to make the dream a reality? It can be done the same way it has already been done thousands of times in the past, the present, and will be in the future. Make your dream a goal and set out on the path to reaching it. If you want an education then hit the books and qualify for the school you want to attend to obtain the degrees you want. If you want to own you own business, then choose what business you want to own and set out to open or purchase that business. If you want to live in a different place, then do what it takes to move there. Dreams are what lead us to setting our goals. Goals are what lead us to achieving our dreams.
What if you have a dream, decide to pursue it as a goal and you fail? Welcome to real life. Everyone fails. The most important goal in life is to make sure you always fail forward. Life has a steep learning curve and nobody ever reached the heights without falling back a few times. Sometimes a lot of times. Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. The story is that the successful creation required ten thousand tries. When asked about failing so many times, Mr. Edison reportedly stated: “I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I discovered ten thousand ways that did not work.” Life lessons are in front of us every day. Every day we find or try things that don’t work the way we want them to work. Nothing is learned from what works. We learn, like Thomas Edison, from what doesn’t work. This is why goals are so important. If we don’t have a destination, we just wander from place to place accomplishing little or nothing.
Goals are not always achieved quickly, let alone easily. I wanted to be a novelist, but in college I studied a wide variety of subjects, ending up with a degree in history. I wanted to be a novelist, but I also wanted to be a banker, a California Highway Patrolman, a pilot, a computer techie, and a business owner/manager. While I made my way through my various other goals I continued to formulate the story I began piecing together when I was seventeen years old. I started writing it many times, only to find I didn’t know how to sustain the story through to a conclusion. I finally managed to read enough, study enough, live enough, gain enough, and lose enough to spend three and a half years writing it. That was the easy part. The twenty years of rewrites, rejections, edits, rejections, refinements, rejections, writing four more novels (not yet published), finally finding an agent, more rejections, and finally, at long last, Shadow Ballet is in print. Still the easy part. The toughest part is finding readers who want to purchase the fruits of my devotion to the project.
Never stop dreaming of what you wish could be. Never allow yourself to be discouraged from pursuing the goals that can make your dream a reality. Some find success early, only to slam head on into failure and not know how to deal with it. Choose goals that will sustain you and plan for what to do when failure flattens you. Life isn’t about how many times you are knocked down. Life is about how many times you stand back up and keep trying.