How To Make Your Dreams Come True

Sometimes, in a reflective moment, I can hardly believe that Juliet Malevolent is out there in the world. She actually exists (in a book of course, but to me, she’s as real as if she’s standing next to me as I type). I remember sitting at my kitchen table writing in my journal, the sounds of my kids playing and fighting in the background. Suddenly, like being hit by lightening, Juliet’s school vow came to me:

I promise to be naughty and annoying
Troublesome and tiresome
And to be a pest to society whenever possible
This is my evil vow.

I scrambled to find a notebook to write it in. It was only the spark of an idea. What if there were a world where bad is good and good is bad but there’s a little girl who is different in her world? I conjured up Juliet. She would look like my youngest daughter and then, like so many of my ide-as (and possible yours), Juliet remained in my notebook for years, all but forgotten. I was clutter clearing one day as I’m forever doing and I came across the notebook with the school vow. I got that feeling in my stomach: it’s an excited, anxious, slightly uncomfortable feeling where my skin feels like it’s crawling. I turn inward. The outside world no longer exists. I can’t ignore this feeling or it simply gets worse. If I ignore it for long enough, I start to feel resentment at everyone and everything that keeps me from following through with an idea. This means I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to make time, find a quiet space and write. Holding my book Juliet Malevolent in my hand brings me back to that moment when she was simply a spark.

Starting a business, a diet, a fitness plan, writing a book or doing a piece of art all start with a spark. It’s a feeling that this idea could be the idea that changes our life. Most often than not, many of us shelve our great ideas and they never come to fruition. We lack the courage, the re-sources, the money or the time. I have books inside me that have been shelved for years. The challenge then, is how to keep that spark of an idea so that it fans into a fire. It could be your business idea, your book or artwork, your story that the world needs right now. So how do you turn that great idea into reality. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Write down your idea. I like to do a mind map. I’m a circle in the centre that represents where I am now. My idea is far away in another circle. In between are all the steps I need to bring my idea to life. This is the time to start believing in yourself. You’ll be scared of the unknown and the challenges you’ll face but this is the time to invest in yourself. I read dozens of self help books, attended self help courses and even did hypnotherapy to overcome my blocks of fair of failure. Believing in yourself is key. If you don’t, who will?

Gather your team of advisors. Do not allow doubters and naysayers into this circle. Discuss your ideas with trusted people. Someone always knows someone who knows someone who can help you. Listen to others who’ve already walked the path you’re trying to walk. Find mentors. (You can have a business mentor, a spiritual mentor, etc).

Risk is normal. Nothing great happens by staying in your comfort zone. The comfort zone feels, well, comfortable. It’s what’s kept me in my job for years but I have this image of myself at death. I’m talking to God and he’s telling me it’s the end. “Please, God,” I plead, “I didn’t do half of what I wanted to do. Give me another chance. Let me try again. Put me in another body, give me more years.” God replies, “I gave you so many chances and you doubted yourself, you doubted me. You stayed on the safe path, you dismissed your ideas as not being good enough. You never really tried, Peta-Gaye, you never really tried.”
I believe we all came here to do something really special and you know deep down what it is. Do it. Regret must be horrible at the end.

Be patient. Sometimes what we set out to achieve takes a lifetime, our lifetime. I don’t like being patient. Like a two year old, I want everything now, but that’s just not how the world works.

Learn to sell your vision and promote yourself. I couldn’t do this for years. I joined Toastmasters, a public speaking organization, to improve my confidence. I started watching inspirational talks and listening to inspirational CDs. I surrounded myself with people who believe in me. Sure it can be hard to sell yourself or your idea, but it boils down to this. if you don’t believe in yourself and what you’re selling, who will?

Time Travel

I love movies about time travel, not the sci-fi unrealistic ones, but the “real” ones where people travel back to change something important. My new favourite is About Time (Netflix) where the protagonist goes back to correct those moments in life we all wish we could erase: times of being a bumbling idiot, saying the wrong thing, not saying what you really should have said or wanted to say, especially not telling people you love them, letting great opportunities slip by because of fear, laziness, or missing the boat for whatever reason.

Hence my obsession with time travel. I wish I could go back and correct a few things. I would go back to university and study English, no matter who said I’d never be able to get a job being an artsy fartsy. I’d definitely go back and NOT lose it on my father’s old girlfriend when she asked me what I planned on doing with my life (I was twenty something, had just finished backpacking and was jobless).

I have a friend who says regrets are useless. I agree but it doesn’t stop me from wishing that I had the power (or the time machine) to go back and tweak a few things. In the movie About Time, the protagonist realizes that after marriage and children, he doesn’t need to go back as often as he once did. He got some advice from his father, also a time traveller, for happiness. Live each day over again, one more time, the second time without all the fear and tension of the first time. Those days he lived again were better: he laughed more, hugged people, noticed and smiled at all the people who served him coffee and lunch instead of giving them the perfunctory nod. As time went by, he felt the need to live only once, living as if life was a gift and loving every minute of his glorious journey.

It’s unfortunate for me that it took four kids for me to realize that the softer approach is sometimes better. Perhaps it’s because it’s my last child but I’m lighter, smile more, laugh more, tell more jokes, and I don’t have these unrealistic expectations. I remember staring grimly down at my firstborn during her swim classes. Poor thing must’ve thought life was a series of tests.

Until my time machine is built, I can’t go back. I can do what the guy in the movie did: I can try to live each day as a gift, releasing the tension I carry around with me as I navigate mornings, rush to work, cope with sickness and disappointments. I can certainly smile at all the people I come in contact with (that’s easy enough to do), small talk and compliments wouldn’t hurt either. Worrying about money is pointless. Hugging is therapy. Back rubs and storytelling are comforting. Making others feel good is a lot nicer than being grumpy, moody and selfishly consumed by my own problems which half the time aren’t problems at all. Until my time machine is built, I’ve got one chance and one chance only. I’ve got to get it right the first time around.