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4 Crucial Steps to Make Your Dream Come True

Lori Deschene at the Colosseum

“Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.” ~Unknown

A little over forty-eight hours from now, I’ll be on a plane to Europe where I plan to spend three months traveling (and working) with my boyfriend.

Saturday is the first day of a dream I’ve held for well over a decade.

It was my second year in college when I did my semester abroad, staying in a castle my school owns in The Netherlands.

I was one of less than seventy students there, part of an intimate group that traveled together on three weekend trips to Paris, Amsterdam, and Koln.

Aside from those group excursions, we all had three-day weekends and two full weeks off to travel.

I visited Italy and Spain during my weeks off, but spent most weekends on site, largely due to financial constraints. Still, a weekend doing nothing at a castle in Europe is, in itself, an adventure.

After returning home, I spent the next year working 40+ hour weeks as a hostess at an upscale Boston restaurant (while also studying full-time) to pay off my charged travel expenses.

My schedule was tight and my job, not all that exciting, but the experience felt worth every uncomfortable moment in that itchy polyester blazer.

I had started seeing the world. I had gotten a chance to experience dorm life—something I didn’t know much about, being a commuter—and I did it in a castle with a mote, a tower, and historical significance.

It wasn’t the most emotionally stable time in my life, so I brought a healthy dose of drama overseas, but now, fourteen years later, what I remember most are the excitement of possibility and the pride I felt in working to provide that for myself.

And it’s those same two things that most energize me now. I’ve dreamed of this. I’ve planned for it. I’ve worked for it. And now it’s happening.

If you have a dream, something that excites you, inspires you, and maybe even keeps you up at night, I have some advice for you:

1. Believe that it’s possible.

So often we think of dreams as things most people don’t get to do—luxuries reserved for people who are privileged, wealthy, or well connected.

It’s true that some people have more advantages than others. What takes one person five years of planning and saving may require another to do little more than sell a stock and make a call.

It’s also true that the second person may have worked incredibly hard for said stock. The point is: We’re all starting from different places, for different reasons, with different levels of work required to get from A to B.

If your dream is something you’re physically incapable of doing, it may be improbable (but not impossible—we’ve come a long way with technology!) And there’s no denying that certain dreams are more difficult to achieve than others.

But most of the things we dream about are things we could do if we were willing to work toward it, align our choices to support it, and stay flexible in terms of fulfilling it.

You don’t need to believe it will be easy, or it will happen quickly, or it will look exactly like you visualized it. You just need to believe in the possibility, which really means you need to believe in yourself.

2. Take tiny steps to work toward it.

Working toward it entails aligning with the right people, disregarding discouragement from people who don’t support your growth, and taking tiny steps each day to move toward your vision.

“The right people” are those who help you, support you, encourage you, believe in you, and guide you on your way to this dream. It may include people who’ve done what you want to do, people who also want to do it, and even people who just plain find it cool.

Share your enthusiasm and progress with them. They’ll keep you excited and help you stick to your plan.

As for those people who don’t support your growth, there will be many of them, and they most likely won’t be malicious. They’ll be well-meaning people who aren’t able to do step one for themselves, and, therefore, think they’re doing you a favor by discouraging you. Politely decline that favor.

Their words may seem to keep you down, but it’s how you internalize them that holds you back.

And as for taking consistent steps, they really can be tiny. It may not seem like much to make a call, bookmark a site, or send an email, but the little things add up over time—and because they’re easily doable, each one may inspire you to do more.

3. Make choices that support it.

Much of our experience stems from our choices. Not all of it; there are some things that we can’t control.

This isn’t a suggestion that if we make all the “right” choices, everything will line up and magically work out. It’s just that we have more power than we often realize—and our power lies in our choices.

Whatever your dream, the first choice is to prioritize it. As you’re able, dedicate time to it, money to it, attention to it, love to it. Give what you can, as you can, and back that giving with belief, passion, and enthusiasm.

The other side of this coin is realizing which choices don’t support your dream—when you’re doing too much or pursuing other dreams that conflict, for example.

For me, that’s meant pushing off some other equally exciting milestones with my boyfriend, like buying a house.

4. Stay flexible about how you’ll fulfill it.

It’s tempting to be rigid about a dream—when it needs to happen, how it needs to happen, and who it needs to include. But sometimes when we’re too busy clinging to a specific vision, we miss an opportunity to experience it in different shades.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from reaching for the stars. It’s just a reminder that there are a lot more of them than you may realize, some far closer than others.

Being a singer may include a jazz club, not a fan-packed stadium. Writing a book may entail self-publishing, not a six-figure advance. And traveling may include teaching abroad or a string of budget bed-and-breakfasts—I know because this time around, I’ve booked several!

They may not be the ultimate dream, but they are, in fact, reflections of it.

And in that moment when you’re doing something inspired, passionate, and in line with your deepest intentions, you’ll feel two things that you may not have realized weren’t exclusive to one specific vision:

You’ll feel alive. And proud.

And now, two final thoughts on making dreams come true: know that no dream is better than any other, and stay open to the possibility that your dream may change.

Regarding the first part, your dream may not seem big or romantic. It doesn’t need to be. It’s an extension of your unique values and priorities, and all that matters is that it matters to you.

As for the second part, sometimes we attach to dreams simply because we’ve held them for so long. It’s the sunk-cost principle: After you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, or money, it’s hard to consider walking away.

But if your priorities have changed, you may no longer want it. Accepting this isn’t a sign of weakness or defeat. It’s growth, and the wisdom to enable it.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that your dream may have changed in a smaller way.

This weekend when I leave for Rome, my parents, my siblings, and my boyfriend’s parents will also be en route for a short family trip.

My dream wasn’t just to go back. It was to go with the people I love. And after much conceptualizing, convincing, and coordinating, it’s now coming true.

What’s your dream, do you believe you can fulfill it, and what tiny step can you take today to start (or continue) working toward it?

*Update: That’s a picture of me at the Colosseum. I would have shared a picture of me with my family, but they’re all very private people!

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. She's now seeking stories for her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story and follow on Facebook for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/lapikiorejuda Victoria Maraví

    Thank you. This hit so close to home. I want to live in Europe, too (England specifically), and there are lots of financial constraints that stop me from being there right now. I need to remember on what to work on (finish my undergrad) before I get them. But sometimes life gets so monotonous that I stop trying to reach for my dream.

  • Lisaesile

    Happy travels Lori!!

  • JamesSimon

    I highly recommend stopping at Santa Maria Della Vittoria and seeing Bernini’s Ecstacy of St. Theresa. It’s off the beaten path and and it’s amazing.

  • lv2terp

    Congratulations Lori on your dream becoming a reality, have a BEAUTIFUL adventure! :) Be safe, and looking forward to reading posts about it! Wonderful advice/wisdom, I am truly inspired! :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much! I can’t wait to do some exploring and share some of my experiences and lessons along the way. =)

    Incidentally, I wanted to thank you for always writing such kind, positive comments. I get all the comments on all of the posts in my inbox, and I always appreciate that you take the time to write something thoughtful and supportive. Even when it’s on someone else’s post, it puts a smile on my face!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Lisa. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much for the suggestion! I googled it because I hadn’t heard of the Santa Maria Della Vittoria before. Looks beautiful! It’s on the list. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! Is your dream to live/work in England after you graduate? What draws you to England? What do you want to do there? In other words, tell me all about it! =)

  • JamesSimon

    And if you go to the Medici Chapels in Florence, ask to see “Michelangelo’s Hideout.” You need a special ticket. http://bestmuseums.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/the-medici-chapels-and-michelangelos-hideout/

  • lv2terp

    Lori, that means so much to me! :) Thank you for your appreciation, recognition, and thoughtfulness! I am so glad I was able to shed some of my light, and put a smile on your face, so awesome!! I value each and every personal experience, lessons learned, and wisdom shared on Tiny Buddha! This has been such a blessing and miracle in my life, I can’t even express the proper gratitude to explain how I feel!!!! Some day I will submit something to share my story and thoughts, and be among such talented writers on such an amazing spiritual and growth medium :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Awesome! Will do. Thank you again. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! I would love to read a post from you some day. I look forward to it. =)

  • http://twitter.com/DeniseDare43 Denise Dare

    Yay! So excited for you, Lori! How magical to experience your dream blooming into life!

    Ahhh, dreaming of Italian adventures…since I traveled sola thru Europe for seven weeks in the summer of ’99, I’ve been daydreaming of my next adventure! Like you, I dream of traveling with the people I love the next time around…my honey, our two girls, who will be delighted to explore such enchanting cities. That’s amazing that you are able to enjoy the beginning of your trip with family by your side.

    I hope that your journey unfolds beautifully for you…full of excitement, wonder and that joie de vive that is so heart expanding!

    Looking forward to seeing your view from the hillsides in Italy! Firenze was one of my fave places, along with Cinque Terra…hoping you have too much fun!

    Peace & Love,

    Denise

    p.s. What a lovely photo of you on Catalina…that’s a gorgeous local getaway that definitely prepares you for Italian paradise! :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/lapikiorejuda Victoria Maraví

    You’re so nice, Lori! :) I travelled to England back in 2010 during a rough time in my life (I was suffering from bulimia and depression, for which I took a gap year at uni). I stayed with a host family for a few weeks and then was in London on my own. Previously, I’d been working as a waitress at a ski resort in Vermont. Oh, I must mention I live in Peru, haha!

    I wish to move somewhere in south east England and have that as a homebase. My plan is to get a scholarship for a masters degree, and then stay in England working as a translator or interpreter! But first I have to focus on my undergrad here in Peru, and I’m dreading it. Not uni itself, but living in this city. That’s my biggest challenge: staying here when I don’t like the place.
    Thank you for listening/reading!

  • http://twitter.com/CTheFlow Christopher Walker

    Good luck on your adventure Lori! I hope to travel one day too – can’t wait. I’m definitely being flexible about how I’ll achieve it – some day things will come together correctly and the opportunity will be there :)

    Have fun!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Christopher! I’m excited both to travel and to do some writing while I’m away, particularly in Paris. Where would you like to travel?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    It sounds like we have a lot in common. I also struggled with depression and an eating disorder in college, and I took time out of my senior year for treatment.

    That’s awesome that you stayed in London before–and working at a ski resort sounds like a blast. Sounds like you have a good plan for your master’s! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Denise! We’re planning to spend a month in Italy, a month in France, and a month in a yet-to-be-determined destination. I’m looking forward to enjoying il dolce far niente. =)

    I’m really glad that I was able to convince my family to make the trip, since I don’t know if they would have planned to travel overseas if I hadn’t coordinated it. For my sister especially, visiting Italy means a lot because she studied the language for six years and has always felt drawn to the culture. (And my mom’s side is Italian–so even more reason why we all need to go together!)

    That must have been amazing, traveling solo through Europe! I’m sure it will be equally exciting to go back with your honey and kids. =)

    Thank you for the compliment on my photo. My boyfriend and I went there in the fall and loved it there!

  • http://www.sixsimplerules.com/ David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    So happy for you!
    Enjoy! :)

  • isabel

    What a great attitude! I`m sure you`re gonna make the best of your time in Europe! :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Isabel! :)

  • http://twitter.com/CHANDRAKANTHA Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Hope you have a great time in Europe & have a safe trip; Lori Didi…!!! We will be looking forward to hearing about your European Trip! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much!

  • http://twitter.com/shellyrmiller Shelly Miller

    What an inspirational post Lori, I enjoyed every word. I
    appreciate how you share personal notes, like the down payment on a house and the money for your trip. My husband and I have been saving for one of our dreams for 4 years now.

    August is when we are traveling, it will be our 25 anniversary,
    we’ve been so excited. Last month however, we had some major life changing events take place and I started to worry that we would not be able to go. I got so upset, I just felt so unhappy thinking we may not be able to go on our trip.

    I decided to read my travel journal, all the notes, plans, and
    places we will be going and I realized, we must go, I cannot forgo this dream. As soon as I decided this things started working out. We still have things to take care of but now I know everything will work out fine.

    Have a wonderful trip Lori, I’m excited for you. Can’t wait to
    read your posts from abroad! Amsterdam is one of my favorite spots.

  • http://twitter.com/DeniseDare43 Denise Dare

    Sounds blissful! Totally dig the freedom of deciding on the last month’s location as you go…and how rad that your mama’s heritage is Italian and your sister speaks the language! What a wonderful sis you are for inspiring them to join you on this journey!

    Yes, traveling on my own was life changing…will make a pretty stellar story to share some day. :)

    Totally love Catalina…my fam & I went in the fall, too…such a perfect time to be there!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Shelly! That’s wonderful that you’re taking your dream trip to celebrate your anniversary. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of time and energy into it. I hope you have an amazing time too! =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614018283 Sophia Tan Chay Lee

    I love your message and am inspired to begin my dream now too :) Have loads of fun in Europe Lori! I look forward to your new adventures.

  • http://twitter.com/mindfuldiary Kristi Kivi Frimpong

    This is truly inspiring post Lori. I think, believing the dream is the hardest, but I really like how you described, how we are all different and therefore getting from point A to B will be also different for each of us. Have a fun and wonderful trip full of adventures! :) best, Kristi

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Sophia! Just getting ready to sleep after my first day in Rome. It was an awesome beginning to what I’m sure will be an amazing adventure!

  • Suzanne

    The 4th step “Stay flexible” about how you’ll fulfill your dream is so great. I often think in black/white, absolute terms i.e. I will make X happen, and if it doesn’t happen or hasn’t happened yet, it’s not working out. I’m going to take a look at my “life to do list” (goals & dreams) and write down possible related/alternate dreams for each item….ones that are slightly different from the original but that I would be happy to achieve.

  • http://simpleworksorganzing.com/ Simple Works Organizing

    If I accomplish one dream, then I can accomplish two. If I can accomplish two, then…

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and I agree. I remember when I got out of college after studying acting and writing, I thought for sure it would be impossible to do either of those things professionally. I didn’t even try to write until I was 27 because I just plain didn’t believe I could.

    Thanks for the well wishes on my trip. It’s two days in, and so far I’m having a blast!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know what you mean Suzanne. I’m quite familiar with black and white thinking, and I know how tough it can be to live in the grey area. That sounds like a great idea, about writing alternate possibilities!

  • http://www.facebook.com/keiko.faupula Keiko Takahashi Faupula

    Lori I love the idea of something big coming from something small. It’s the little course corrections and small daily choices, that make the the biggest differences in where we end up. You may not be able the see the results right away, but if you are patient, stay the course, and can be flexible through the obstacles life throws at you, you will make it.

    My dream is to live life to it’s fullest with my family in tow. Of course that big dream involves lots of little dreams. One by one I work towards them. I just launched a blog with my friend. A dream I live each day. Refining it and being successful… I am working on it. Little steps right? Thanks for the shot in the arm.

    Look at you! Enjoy and marinate in your dream come true. Fun stuff!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks so much! I’ve been marinating in my dream this week, exploring Rome with my family. I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to have this experience together. I think everything is more beautiful when we get to enjoy it with family–so in that regard, our dreams are aligned!

    Congrats on living your blog dream. =)

  • http://twitter.com/HannaCooper Hanna Cooper

    Lori, what I love about this post (and all the comments) is how it not only inspires, and gives great tips for others on how to make their dreams reality, but also calls all of us forth into our own dreams (so sweet and amazing to see all these dreams emerging in the comments)! You also really raise the stake for us too: it wasn’t just enough to return, but to do it with your dear ones. You not only set an example, but you also fan the flames of our own dreams. Thanks so much!!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you so much. I’m glad you found the post inspiring! I’m in my second week in Europe now. My family left, and my boyfriend’s parents leave tomorrow. So far, it’s been an amazing adventure!

  • mindtwister24

    “sooner or later the man who wins,is the one who thinks he can”-unknown
    Great Post lori!!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much! =)

  • Amanda kovacic

    My name is Amanda. I really want my dreams to come true. I smile when I sleep sometimes because I love the dreams that I have. I never told this to anybody, but the dreams that I want to come true are: to work at a buffet restaurant, to be a popular person, to build my own business, to see my favorite people that I love to look at, which are my gym teacher, my doctor, my biology/reading teacher, my 5th grade counselor from Girl Scouts, my 4th grade counselor from Girl Scouts, my 6th grAde social studies teacher, my 5th grade teacher, and my 2nd grade teacher, and people with paint/pie all over their face, and I want to be in a movie where somebody has to have paint all over their face. I don’t want to be the person with paint all over my face. I want to be In a movie where somebody will have paint all over their face. Those are my dreams that I want to come true. Thank you and have a great day.

  • Jessica Boiss

    Amazing photo, you’re so inspiring! My dream is to travel, and I wanted to do it by teaching abroad and working abroad (this is where our dreams seem to be similar!). Knowing that others have accomplished this sort of thing makes it seem that much more real! Thank you for the post. (:

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much, Jessica, and you’re most welcome! That sounds like a wonderful dream. =)

  • Nomad

    I love this article. It is so easy to get discouraged, but if you look for around, you will find others who have already done it, so it IS possible – and realize you ARE making small steps towards it, it really helps. And I LOVE, LOVE #3! I have learned to question everything before buying to see if it is working towards my ultimate goals. It is easy to let something go if you know that it won’t fit into your dream. Here’s hoping I’ll be living on that sailboat next year :)))

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much! That sounds like an amazing dream, and it sounds like you have the right mindset to make it happen! =)

  • Mandi

    Thank you Lori Didi for your inspiring words, I was born in South Africa from a poor family my dream was to become a social worker,buy my mum a house(she still lives in the shanty town),do charity work and help people in my community but my family could not afford to send me to Uni,I got a chance to travel Europe after 10 years doing all sorts of jobs I am now doing my first year in Social Studies, some days i feel like giving up am not going to lie it is tough but posts like yours keep me going i find this site very helpful.Thank you wishing you all the best.x

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I’m really inspired by the goals you’ve set for yourself–and glad my post helped you stay motivated!

  • Dreamer
  • http://goresult.in/ Prachi Sharma

    Great post, One thing I’ve found is that tough goals usually require outside help. A coach, team, or even a book or video course, can make the difference between success and failure. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great motivators in my life.

    http://goresult.in/

  • Shameme Adams

    Hello Victoria,
    Hope you don’t mind me coming in on it but I live in England!!, so nice for you to dream of wanting to come here. If you want me as a new friend here just say!!. My name is Shameme and I LOVE this blog!!, my dreams are sometimes the only things that keep me going. My own dreams are: to travel to as many countries as possible, especially China, Brazil (to see Christ the Redeemer), Argentina, Iceland, Russia and Rome!!! ha ha (funny enough). Seen other parts of Italy but not Rome. Sounds amazing!. Also to meet Justin Bieber, marry and adopt a child!!. I have others too but I like all the steps and they are so correct. Back to your dream if I can help in any way just let me know!!.

  • Rosy

    what a loser if u r wid yo bf….jus means he is not going to marry u n u mite get pregnant b4 marriage

  • Amanda Frances

    awe this is great!!

    I recently did a similar blog you might like: http://amandafrances.com/dontstopbelieving

  • Rachael Alexander

    Awesome post! Im definitely sharing this one!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks–I’m glad you enjoyed it! =)