Have you ever had a big exciting dream but not taken the steps you needed to make it a reality? Maybe you said to yourself, “It’ll take too long” or “I’ve never done this, I don’t know how.” Do you currently have a product you would like to produce, a poem you just need to write, or a children’s book series just waiting for you to bring it to life? I suspect nearly everyone has a dream that could use some help down the birth canal.

This article will give you a clear and easy seven-step approach for making your dream a reality. You will find key questions to answer and areas to plot your own scenario. I’ll use one of my big dreams as an example to help you to see how you can use this approach to activate your own dream!

As a professor of multicultural education back in 1992, I became distressed about how little my students (all prospective teachers) knew about Black history. Once we got beyond Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, they knew nothing at all! One evening, I had a riveting dream wherein my students and I toured an African American portrait gallery, and magnificent, full-size portraits of heroes and heroines such as Sojourner Truth and Benjamin Banneker came alive. They stepped right off the wall and shared their struggles and triumphs with us, and we were mesmerized. I knew that one day I needed to somehow make that dream a reality.

What helped me to make it happen, and how can you use these seven steps to bring your dream to life?

1. Clarify your intention. What is your intention? Who can you speak to about its viability? Who can help you clarify your intention?

The first step is to clarify your intention. Is it a song or a story? A new product or product adaptation? Can you clearly articulate it in a few sentences? What value does it bring? For example, your dream might be to open a literary coffeehouse that houses poetry readings and book discussions, while catering lunches to downtown businesses.

To bring my own dream to life as a theatrical production, in late 2003, after a long, dormant period, I began to meet with dozens of educators, artists, funders, and community leaders. We explored the needs and constraints of schools, libraries, and other likely audiences and determined that a one-man, one-act touring show would best suit the needs of our communities. We then hired one of south Florida’s leading African American actors, who enthusiastically collaborated on the project .

2. Call in potential opportunity partners. Who in your world could help you make your dream a reality? How will it also benefit them?

Bringing your dream from concept to fruition can often be hastened by seeking out opportunities and developing partnerships. We hired a skilled playwright and director with a similar vision. We wanted to spotlight lesser known African American heroes as role models. Then we searched diligently for individuals and organizations that saw a need for, or would support, our concept. Since that time, we have partnered with dozens of corporations, nonprofits, and educational and community organizations to bring this dream to life.

3. Develop resourcefulness. What other skills/resources does your dream require? What are the small business resources in your community? Check SBA, SCORE, etc. Who in your circle would help you if you asked them?

Perhaps you will need to borrow some tools or take out a small business loan to bring your dream to reality. Since we started on a “shoestring” budget, we acquired, made, and borrowed our initial props and costumes, sourcing family members, colleagues, friends, and even our own closets! As the show has evolved, we have purchased and commissioned the additional pieces we needed.

4. Upgrade your product or service continuously. How could your dream be even better? Reach more people? Touch more lives?
Even after you give birth to your initial concept, keep refining and improving it. Very few successes spring forth fully realized. Our actor and our playwright rehearsed and revised the show tirelessly, adding more humor, audience interaction, and music, adjusting sound cues, and deepening the characters. For a show at the Langston Hughes Library in New York, we added one of his poems, and most recently added multimedia effects and additional characters.

5. Be responsive and flexible. Can you adapt your dream in response to your target market? Who else can use or benefit from your big idea?

Remember, Starbucks began as a single coffeehouse in Seattle! Always stay attuned to the needs of your audience or consumers, even if it means retooling your dream. Though we had originally planned a show targeted at the 6th to 12th grades, we quickly saw that the show was of great interest and relevance to younger audiences, college students, and even seniors. So we adapted the play and now have several versions for both younger and more mature audiences.

6. Give something back. How can your dream benefit the greater good? Could giving your product or service away (samples or small sizes) be beneficial?

There are many ways to “enhance your karma” and increase your exposure. An opening of an art show could be provided as a benefit for charity. Many restaurants provide food and supplies to organizations like Second Harvest. We initially provided free shows to audiences ranging from homeless adults and children to inner city schools and our Young at Art Children’s Museum. The phone started to ring soon afterward for the paid performances! We still donate several shows a year to worthy audiences.

7. Build your referral base. What’s the “buzz” on your dream? How could you generate more interest and referrals?

Once you are up and running, you’ll need referrals to keep you going. Many of our initial shows were provided to personal and business associates, people who knew of the caliber of our work, then shared their excitement with others. Later referrals have also come from individuals who read one of our five full-page newspaper reviews. (See http://www.daint.org/WorldArts/Heroes.)

My mother recently gave me a cap that says “Producer,” and I guess now I am. Though I was an experienced educator and event creator, I had never produced a play before this one. In just two and a half years we’ve performed our play, “The African American Portrait Gallery: Discovering Timeless Heroes,” to over 30,000 people in five states, and it all started with my dream in 1992! Many clients have asked what other shows or programs we have available. We now have created several more programs through a new division of our firm, World Arts, and so that takes us back to step one.

What is your big dream, and will you follow this plan to make it a reality?

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways2.html.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Donna Goldstein, the Managing Director of Development Associates International, is a pioneering career and life success coach, author, and educator who assists individuals, teams, and organizations. She has helped clients worldwide to achieve balance and focus and to excel in many ways: starting new businesses, completing books, videotapes, and CDs, and improving sales and service. For more information on the Heroes project, visit http://www.WorldArtsNow.com. To book a consultation to discuss your big (or little) dream, e-mail her at DrDonna@DAInt.org, or call her at (954) 893–0123. For a free copy of her dynamic approach to goal setting, visit http://www.DrDonnaGo.com.