As I venture down the path of my life, I have to wonder if we really can make our dreams come true. How much of life is luck, fate, and serendipity?

Perhaps some of life is luck: being in the right place in the right time, writing the right book at the right time, meeting the man or woman of your dreams when you’re both in the right place in life. Well, when it comes to writing books, I think if the book is good enough, it’s always the right time. Fads—vampires, zombies, tropical settings, or yoga—will come and go, but if a book has heart, it will find its place in the world. Because love, death, grief, sadness, redemption, passion, healing—those things never go out of style; life is always full of them. When our books have heart, they will find their place. I believe that.

So how much of life is luck and how much is hard work? There are musicians with extraordinary talent who haven’t won Grammies or signed deals with major record labels. In my hometown, I met a musician named Rachel whose voice could haunt you or move you to tears, it was so beautiful. And she didn’t just have talent, she also had an incredible heart. Rachel was one of those people with a contagious vibrancy. You couldn’t help but be happy around her. Rachel happily taught drum circles at the local heritage center and performed in small coffee houses. She’d found her calling, her heart, her dream. She ran a small nonprofit for disabled children. I didn’t know her very well, but she seemed to be as much of a fulfilled, self-actualized human being as one can be. I was young when I met her, a college student, and she inspired me. Growing up, I didn’t know any artists, but I knew I wanted to be one. Meeting her helped me become a better writer and a better person.

One thing we rarely say in our driven, ambitious, workaholic society is that it’s okay to not want to be the next biggest thing. In the last few months, I’ve started to step back and realize that I don’t want to work three jobs and eighty hours a week. Even if I love everything I do, doing all of it is killing my health. It’s okay to not be Wonder Woman. That’s a lesson I’m still learning. Saying no and toning down my nonstop activity don’t come easily to me, but I’ll keep trying. I am soooo far from perfect. And I kinda like the freedom to make mistakes, even if I don’t like actually making mistakes.

I do believe that dreams come true, as long as they’re realistic ones. At five-foot, I’ll never be a basketball player. Even if I were taller, I have no athletic talent to speak of (a video of me playing tennis could easily become a YouTube sensation). We all have limitations. There are some dreams we can make come true (penning a memoir) and some that are beyond our ability to accomplish (marrying a prince). Some things, like winning the lotto, are just luck. Many are not.

I believe if we want to be published authors or make a living selling our paintings or direct a documentary or design websites or whatever our hearts desire, we can get there. Maybe not right away. It might take five or 10 or 20 years. We might have to take detours. Life gets in the way.

Dreams, if they’re achievable, can be achieved, but we have to set goals and work toward them. We’ll never get a job in marketing if we don’t apply. And we might apply for a hundred jobs before we get one answering the phones for a marketing director. Our first novel, our opus, might be rejected 40 times. It might never sell. It might sell 200 copies. But there are other stories to tell. It’s a long road. At the end, it won’t look like what we thought it would. Real dreams change along the way.

I’ve wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember. Ten years ago, it was a distant dream. Today, it’s closer. I work toward it every day. I’m determined to make it happen. I believe in making our dreams come true.

What are your dreams? What goals are helping you to make your dreams come true? What dreams have you made come true, and how did you make those dreams a reality?

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