When the Dream Comes True

We sure spend a lot of time chasing dreams. Working hard, staying focused. And then, suddenly, like a cat chasing a butterfly, one day you catch the dream. Your dream comes true. Now what?

This orange tree has reached its goal. The oranges are beginning to ripen. Over the next month, the oranges will become ripe, be picked and the tree will begin to put our blossoms for another success.

Catching up to your dream and making it real can be scary. This is the dream–and dreams are not real. Part of you didn’t believe you could do it. Your negative self-talk told you often enough how out of reach it was. You might have chased that dream because it was good exercise, but deep inside you may not have thought you’d catch it. And now you did.

At this very point–the point of reaching your dream or goal, you might feel you don’t really want it.  After all, if you hold the dream, you suddenly become responsible for it. Doubt creeps in. Is that dream good or big enough? After all, if you reached it, if you actually made it come true, was it really worthwhile?

When you reach a goal, there are no instructions and no magic wand that comes with it. The biggest burden of reaching a goal is that the ordinary you has reached it. Along the way you might have become older, wiser, thinner, but it is still you. Getting that dream doesn’t come with a limo and posse for most of us. It comes with responsibility. You reached your goal, now you have to acknowledge it, and account for it. You have to admit that you got what you wanted. Some people will say “So what?”, others will say “is that all you could do?”, others will be envious. A few people will be mad at you. None of this should stop you from admitting you reached your goal. None of this should make you belittle yourself or your goal.

Somewhere along the line, you might have said, “failure isn’t an option.” Of course it is. Failure might even be a good option, a necessary one to help us learn. Perhaps this success grew out of that failure, and you are now finding the success harder to admit than the failure. Most of us are better at accepting failure than accepting success.

The important part is knowing what you did to get here, knowing that you could have stopped to avoid having the responsibility and pretended to change the goal. It’s a brave thing to reach your goal. Your success  grows along with your skills.  When you reach a goal, you have not only defined success, you have lived it.

Before you feel dipped in fear, acknowledge your growth. Be proud. Acknowledging success has real meaning in it. Before you coolly brush your success aside, think about who you were at the beginning, when you chose this dream. Think about what it took to make it come true. Think about what you had to give up to choose this dream, how you had to grow, what new skills you have.

We are meant to reach our dreams. We are meant to be happy. We often don’t know how.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and author of Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art.

16 thoughts on “When the Dream Comes True

  1. What a great post for me to read today. I am so close to getting my master’s in creative writing. I am working on revising my thesis and completing more writing for my final graduate class as a creative nonfiction major. I have to write 35 pages fo that class. I have been blocked a bit by the “I can’ts” and “I’m tireds,” but when we get so close, it is normal to back away and look in awe, look in fear, lock our feet and stall?

    Well, I think so. I am also working on getting “my dream” out there for the world to see. It has changed its shape, once a solid, defined by “getting published.” Now, it is about the dream and the pursuit of my passion. I ask random people to sign my journal. I have been doing it since 1996, during my senior year, when instead of letting an awesome quote go left unwritten, I’d say, “Write that shit down.” I have been asking people to sign my journal before “Post Secret,” before the “1000 Journal Project,” before a lot of other similar creative projects got published. What I have found it that I am over the whole “big powerful publishers and agents can make my dream come true.” I am all about – Just do it. It will happen, inch by inch, foot by foot, mile by mile. I am really excited to be here, after a rejection from a major publisher and a handful of agents. I’m going after it. I can;t wait to bite into that delicious orange. And tend to the soil for next year’s crop. I am so glad I found you. You are an inspiration.
    “Journal Your Journey. Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.”
    ~ memomuse

    • Dreams can certainly change and grow, just like an object ahead of you on the road. You sound like you are having a wonderful time in school–even with getting stuck occasionally. I love the Journal idea–asking people to write down their good ideas in it. Brilliant! I bet it makes great reading. It’s interesting that you wrote this comment today–because my blog post tomorrow covers something very similar.

      • I guess I know where I’ll be drinking my coffee – in the Quinn Cafe. I look forward to your journal signature…you can email it to me. Just pretend that I handed over my own journal…random pieces of paper are great to write down signatures on. I like the open-endedness to the “Original Journal.” By giving people the three rules [1. Front Door (Rated PG-13) 3. Back Door (Not Yet Rated) 3. There are no rules], it allows them to be uncensored and random. Kind of an on the spot thing, but some people actually get back to me with their signatures. My favorite of all time is, “I’ve got just as much baggage as the person sitting next to me, mine is just carry-on.” – Mindy. I have so many favorites. I am going to ask Santa for a copy of your book.

          • A riot indeed. Well, I guess I will have my morning vodka while I read your post. Ha ha. Just kidding. I am sitting over the heater, snuggled in blankets. It got down to 29 degrees here in Eastern North Carolina. Benjamin, my 18 month old is amusing himself, opening and closing the CD holder of my laptop. Now it is broken. Life with toddler; sometimes I could really use some vodka.

            I’ll tell Santa. I’m looking forward to the post and my second cup of coffee.

  2. Not so long ago I realised that what I fear when I need to really push myself in order to reach a goal or dream, is that after all that hard work and commitment someone would come along and say: “Well, that wasn’t so hard/difficult after all, now was it?” A comment like that seems to just steal away the right to feel like a winner and to be proud for the hard work you put in. It was hard! It took time! Yes, I made it happen, but the fact that it felt difficult and taunting to manage it has not disappeared into thin air. And it’s precisely that which makes the success sweet: that you found it hard, but you still did it. If it looked easy to you, it’s because I worked hard on it, not because it was easy.

    Sorry to be ranting about this, but it’s so furiously frustrating. I know people say things like this to offer reassurance, but they still end up sounding undermining. It would be so much more supportive to congratulate on the hard work. “You put so much work into it! I knew you could do it!”

    • That is infuriating. I always imagine smacking people like that with a frozen carp. Not very compassionate on my part. What spurred me to write the blog were people who heard that I had written a book that was doing well and said, “Aren’t you lucky?” Sure, maybe, but how about the work I put into the project?

      • Frozen carp. Hmm, I’ll have to remember that. 😉 I do believe there is a thing called luck, but it usually follows after hard work. Unless you find a 20€ bill lying on the ground on your way to the shops. That’s just luck.

  3. In reading your post today, I realize I have reached several goals – professionally and personally. Not all the personal dreams have turned out the way I had anticipated, but that is what has led to accomplishing the professional goals. Realizing this makes me feel so much better about some of my “failures”.

    When I realized that my personal dream was disintegrating I made a decision to put more effort into my work – I wasn’t really looking at it as a goal but something I felt I needed to become more accomplished at for my own sense of security.

    You make me think, analyze and feel better about my accomplishments! Thank you.

  4. I really like your suggestion that we stop and access and acknowledge our successes and the steps we took to get there. Sometimes we are always looking ahead to the next mountain instead of enjoying the one we’re on.

  5. Wow, does this speak to me! I reached so many dreams/goals in the last 10 days–ones I thought would NEVER happen. And then they are came true at once. And I was thrilled. Thrilled beyond belief–3 things I never thought I would ever reach, and I did. I was happy. So happy!

    Then doubt crept in. Can I do it again? Can I maintain this work level and produce more, better, different? Can I? Can I? Can I? Worry. Doubt. Future expectations.

    I had to call a halt to conversations with my gremlin and reach inside, pull out that happiness again. Why, when we get what we have worked so hard to achieve, why do we push aside the happiness for worries? Why do we have to work so hard to be happy? You would think that happiness would just come naturally, that I would want that happy feeling to hang around…

    • I loved your comment. Happiness does not come naturally, we have to create it for ourselves. Like you did. By working hard to reach our dreams. But when we reach them, we become afraid of the responsibility. About being happy. It’s a life-long work.

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