10 Things I Know About Following Your Dreams
June 29, 2022 8:00 AM EST | 7 min read
Do you have dreams for yourself and do you believe in them?
Are you a believer in the idea that if you follow your dreams they will come true?
I am here as living, breathing proof that dreams do come true.
It isn’t always easy.
In fact, it is never easy.
True dreams don’t just fall into your lap.
You have to nurture them.
Achieving your dreams requires hard work and fighting to give them a chance to thrive.
You have to persevere against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
But, if you believe in your dreams…if you believe in yourself…and if you have the faith and courage to follow your heart, then I guarantee that your dreams will come true.
A story about following your dreams
In 2001—at age 48 and just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks—I chucked a successful, 25-year career in higher education to pursue my childhood dream of working in the entertainment industry.
I was assistant dean at a university business school at the time.
You see, in 1964, when I was 11 years old, I fell in love with show business.
It started with watching The Supremes perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
I told my mom, “I’m gonna meet them someday.”
Fast forward to 1972.
I was in college and wanted to be a writer.
I wrote an article about The Supremes and sent it to magazine after magazine.
Rejection slip after rejection slip poured in.
Just as I was about to give up, an editor called, saying, “Get us an interview and we’ll publish your piece.”
“I can do that,” I said.
Then I hung up the phone and said to myself,
You’re just a 19-year-old college kid. How are you going to get an interview with the world’s biggest female singing group?”
Two weeks later, The Supremes were performing near my home.
I screwed up my courage, went to the theater, and sent a note backstage, requesting an interview.
This burly bodyguard comes out, and my knees were shaking.
I was sure he was going to throw me out.
Instead, he handed me a slip of paper that read,
“Come backstage after the show, Tom, and I’ll give you that interview.”
It was signed, “Mary Wilson.”
I was on my way.
It had been less than eight years since that little boy said to his mother,
“I’m gonna meet them someday.”
The moment following your dreams pays off
In 2001, Mary Wilson called me and said,
“I’m going out on tour and need someone with me to handle my merchandise.
Are you interested?”
This was my golden opportunity, and I wasn’t about to let it slip through my fingers.
So, that’s why I resigned from my university job the next day.
It was at that point that I realized that maybe I don’t have performing talent—but I have management talent.
Luckily, entertainers need business people.
This was my entry point into the world of show business I had dreamed about.
Following my dream was not without adversity.
Wilson’s tour was scheduled to begin in NYC on September 16, 2001, and had been booked into theaters across the country for six months.
Six months in Europe were to follow.
Well, we all know the devastation that occurred in NYC on September 11, 2001, and the chaos into which the entire world was plunged.
The world, the tour…and my dreams were in shambles.
I had left the security of the university to pursue my dream, and now it seemed shattered.
However, I heard a little boy’s voice deep inside say, “you didn’t come this far to fail.”
So, I started laying the groundwork for the next phase of my life.
From Creative Director to CEO
I worked for Mary Wilson for five years and loved every minute of it.
In 2006, I took what I had learned through experience and formed The MotivAct Group.
Part of the services The MotivAct Group offers includes seminars, workshops, and individual coaching designed to guide people to clarify, set, and achieve their goals.
The goal is to teach others how to live into their dreams as I have lived into mine.
Everyone should live with vision, courage, determination, and passion.
It all started with the music I heard 52 years ago.
You see, you never know where you will find your inspiration.
And I have never looked back.
Here is what I tell my clients about following their dreams
1. Ask yourself this question
What do I want to do right now, so that I don’t regret not doing it a year from now?
I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and say, “what if…?”
You can only regret the chances you don’t take.
2. What are my hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations?
Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are silly or unimportant.
Don’t let anyone else define your dreams for you.
Make things happen for yourself.
No one knows what is best for you but you.
3. Know your worth as an individual
This is something no one can take from you.
As a kid, my teachers and the band director told me that I wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t have any real talent.
Those words stuck with me into adulthood.
It wasn’t until I finally realized that I had that management talent that entertainers need that I was able to overcome those feelings of worthlessness.
4. Know your risk tolerance
How much are you willing and able to risk to achieve your dreams?
Do you have support—emotional and material—from your family and friends?
5. Tell other people what your dreams/goals are — what you want to achieve
Ask them to hold you accountable for achieving them.
You never know who may hold the key that opens the door leading right into your dream.
Or, who may know a person who knows a person….
6. If something speaks to your heart, don’t hold back…JUMP!
Step out on faith—and I mean deep water faith!
7. Progress, not perfection
This is the mantra I live by.
You don’t have to do it right the first time.
Striving for perfection is the quickest way to sabotage achieving your dreams.
What happens is that you don’t do it perfectly the first time, and you give up, thinking that you can’t do it.
Keep making steady progress toward your goal (even if it is slow going!), and before you know it, you will be there.
8. Identify what you are most passionate about
What excites you so much that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning to get started?
Pursue that with a passion.
9. Making your dreams happen is about using your fears and frustrations as fuel for transformation.
Living successfully requires risk and courage.
I know this first hand.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
If Plan A doesn’t work out, go to Plan B…and Plan C.
You will find a way to make your dreams come true.
10. Take time for yourself every day.
Even if you can spare just 30 minutes from your busy schedule, do something every day that is soul-satisfying.
Spend time meditating and visualizing yourself in the middle of your dream life.
Cultivate courage and start following your dreams
52 years ago, I had what seemed like a pipe dream.
Better yet, it was an ‘Impossible Dream.’
Yet, you see, no dreams are impossible.
Each of us has a dream.
Have the courage to follow your heart.
Your heart will never steer you in the wrong direction.
It is through your heart that the universe speaks to you.
And I guarantee that you will find your dream in that place where your mind meets your heart and your soul.