Updated on 03.09.10

Where Do You Want to Be In Five Years? How Do You Get There?

Trent Hamm

I’m going to share with you excerpts from seven different emails I’ve received from readers in the last few days.


I listened to your radio discussion with Vicki Robin and I was really intrigued by the whole five year plan. I have a big dream I’d love to accomplish (being a radio host) but I feel like it’s so far from my life that I’ll never get there. Any ideas?


In five year[s] I would like to have built my own house but I don’t even know where to start.


I would like to be a writer someday but I’m not a writer.


You have the courage and ability to try such a thing. I do not. I might want to be making clothing in five years but I’ll still be working in this office.


All I ever wanted to do was play in the WNBA. Now I walk with a limp and people shy away from me. I would do anything to be back in the basketball world.


I keep telling myself I will move back to that town and really make a difference there but it is a lot easier to go home at night, take a nap, and watch a movie.


Nothing makes me happier than playing the piano. Nothing makes me sadder, either, because I know nothing will ever come of it.

All of these people have a lot of things in common. They have a dream, one that they spend a lot of time thinking about. They’re nowhere near that dream in their day to day lives. They feel as though the gap between where they are now and where that dream is may simply be too much of a bridge for them to cross. So they’re walking in place through a life that has much less meaning for them than they would have ever liked.

I was there once, in a way. I know exactly how it feels to sense that everything you’ve dreamed about in your childhood and in your adult life slipping away from you. I know how hard it seems to fight for it when everything in your life seems to be flowing in a different direction. And I also know how good it feels when you find some success against the current and can feel yourself moving in the right direction towards that dream.

If you know what you truly, deeply want out of life, but you can’t see how you can get there from where you are now, here’s how to get started.

First, get your financial house in order. This is paramount. It is almost impossible to make powerful, positive life changes if you’re swimming in debt and your spending is out of control. Learn how to spend less than you earn. Pay down that debt as fast as you can. It seems difficult, but it actually works quite well in conjunction with the other tips here.

Second, re-engineer your free time and your social circle. If you really want to make this work, you’re going to have to make time for it in your life. For most of us, this probably means some significant changes. Maybe you give up your thrice-weekly raid night on World of Warcraft. Maybe you can cut your television viewing by an hour a day. Maybe you can withdraw fr some of your social commitments.

Once you’ve decided what to cut, it’s just as important to decide what to add to replace it. Obviously, it needs to be something in connection with your dream – but we’ll talk about exactly what to choose in a minute.

It’s important to remember that these choices are simple. They’re little choices you can make every day. “Instead of spending an hour channel surfing or watching SportsCenter, I’ll work on a short story.” “Instead of going out shopping with the gals, I’ll go to the workshop and work on a painting.” “Instead of playing computer games all night, I’ll get intimate with my piano.” They are choices that you make in the normal flow of your life.

Third, find ways to share what you love. If you love a sport, volunteer to coach a youth team. If you love to play a musical instrument, play a song, record it, and share it with others. If you love to write, start a blog. If you love politics, volunteer for a campaign.

If you want great things to happen, other people need to have access to what you’re doing. If you sit in your home playing the piano for your own enjoyment, you’ll never find a way to make a living with it. You have to get out there and find others. Remember, anything anyone does for a living involves relating to others. We all have customers.

Do not worry about compensation at first. Compensation will come once you’ve built a good reputation and used the experience you’re getting to develop yourself into something better.

Fourth, know how to deal with failure. It will not come easy. Success won’t fall on your lap. It takes time. It takes sustained effort. It takes an awful lot of “no” before you start getting “yes.”

If you take into account the entire scope of all of the writing I’ve done in my life, I am a monumental failure as a writer. Any success I’ve seen has come in the last couple of years. Virtually everything prior to that point was met with “no” and “no” and more “no.”

Why? I wasn’t a good writer – I had some good ideas, but I expressed them poorly. When I did find myself able to produce something good, I hadn’t produced enough goodness and hadn’t shared what good I had done widely enough to actually get anyone’s attention.

It would have been easy to quit. But I loved writing – and I still do. It was always something that made me feel better. It brought me personal pleasure just to write. I’d get a rejection letter in the mail and, yes, it would hurt. But that didn’t mean I would stop writing.

I love writing enough that I would keep writing even if no one read what I wrote. The fact that people do read it – and that I earn enough from it to put bread on the table for my family – is incredible icing on the cake.

If you feel that way about something – it makes you happy regardless of what other people think and whether it makes you any money or not – that’s something you need to dig into. Chase it. Master it. Share it. Then worry about the question of making money – if you’re good at it and share it, the answers will be closer than you think.

Good luck.

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  1. getagrip says:

    Good post Trent. It’s easy to dream of things we want, but hard to make those dreams real without putting effort into it. It’s like one post stated, it’s easier to come home, fall on the couch, and watch TV. You have to make the decision, week in and week out, that you’re going to do something towards your dream, and then go do it.

  2. Kerry D says:

    I’m a big advocate of following dreams and doing what you love. I got a college degree in business at my family’s urging, made good money, but was bored…I always loved dance. Approaching the age of 40, with my children in pre and elementary school, I got a graduate degree and now teach at the college level–dance technique, dance appreciation, etc. What a joy to get paid to do and talk about what I love best! I believe anyone can follow a crazy dream, with enough hard work, refusing to give in to fear, and taking many, many baby steps–finishing a 100 page masters thesis with small children at home required a “one step at a time” approach.

  3. Terry says:

    I’m living on a poverty level income with no job and no skills. Kinda hard to get my financial house in order until either income increases of expenses decrease.

  4. Amateur says:

    @ #3

    Looks like you’ve got an internet connection, there’s a lot you can learn online with free tools and books to learn with. If not, maybe you can hitch a ride to the local library and wing it the old fashioned way with study material for civil service exams, etc.

  5. Terry says:

    I took a civil service exam once, scored in the top band (90+). Then they’d send me occasional job openings with a request for resume. My menial resume was utterly unrelated to any of the jobs, so I was clearly unqualified.

    I have occasional internet access away from home and none at home.

  6. Johanna says:

    @Amateur: I think that Terry might be the same person who used to comment here under the name “Minimum Wage.” If I’m write about that (and I apologize if I am not), there’s no point in trying to help him (or her?) – all he’ll do is argue back at you that whatever you suggest can’t possibly work.

  7. Johanna says:

    write ==> right, of course. D’oh.

  8. jgonzales says:

    Terry, #3

    You’d be amazed at the skills you likely have but don’t consider “skills”. A lot of people don’t think of cleaning their house as a skill, but if you look on craigslist many people are hiring housekeepers.

    Like Amateur said, get to your local library and study. Personally I am relearning Algebra from a book I borrowed. MIT has a thing called OpenCourse and it’s literally course material from their classes available to the public. Many colleges now have similar things available.

    You should also qualify for the Pell grant and other grants/scholarships to go back to school.

    Here in California, if you are unemployed you can talked to the Employment Development Department and they can set you up with training programs if you don’t want to go to college. I’m sure other states have the same thing.

  9. Michele says:

    I decided to follow my dream about 15 years ago and do much more meaningful work…I got the training I needed, started to volunteer in the field, and landed a wonderful job. I’ll never be rich, but that’s not the point. I LOVE what I do! The work is deeply satisfying and enriching to my life.

  10. Moby Homemaker says:

    Great inspiration, Trent! I have been using my time laid offed-ness to pursue writing, and I am really enjoying it. Like in business, a “no” is one step closer to the “YES”.

    I have been listening to Gene Simmon$’ (from Ki$$) audio book, and it really conveys a similar message. Albeit, in a far more sexist, funny an mono-tone.

    Finding your passion and the time to make money from it is something everyone has the ability to do. Again, thanks Trent!

  11. John says:

    But how do you know if you’ll still want your dream in 5 years?

    A lot of the things I wanted 5 years ago have no appeal to me now. For example, I wanted to complete the Navy ROTC program, and become a military officer. Looking back, I’m glad I was kicked out (lung problems.) If the Navy offered me an officer position today, I’d refuse. But I invested a lot of time and money in that dream, and it really frustrates me that I didn’t see a return on it.

  12. Des says:

    @Terry #3 – Increasing your income and decreasing your expenses is *what it means* to get your financial house in order. So, good for you, starting at step #1.

  13. wanzman says:

    My long term dream is to become self employed so that I can provide direction to myself each and every day, instead of someone else charting the course for me to help accomplish their long term goals.

    I don’t really care much how I become self employed. That is probably the biggest reason the goal currently seems unattainable. I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I am more confused than anything.

    But, I did take a positive step recently. I am a commercial banker and I constantly see the many ways that people employ themselves in money making endeavors. The one thing that constantly comes up is rental real estate (although it is hard work and takes lots of capital). I recently purchased my first investment property in a great location at a bargain basement price. It is already cash flowing nicely.

    My goal is to have 5 properties 5 years from now.

    The biggest thing for me is to feel like I am at least taking positive steps toward reaching my goal, and working on a coherent strategy for longer than a few months at a time.

  14. wanzman says:

    I might also add…

    The goal of becoming self employed seems more and more attainable the more I adjust my income expectations downward.

    When I first starting thinking about self employment, I was shooting for a hige income number. As my income expectation decrease, and my passive income increases, the goal becomes ever closer.

    There are 2 sides to every equation, and achieving balance most quickly involves adjusting both sides of the equation.

  15. Maureen says:

    Em, would you find it rewarding to coach children’s basketball teams, or referee?

  16. John S says:

    @Trent: “The fact that people do read [my writing] – and that I earn enough from it to put bread on the table for my family – is incredible icing on the cake.”

    That’s easy for you to say from the perspective of someone who has successfully overcome the odds. However, most people have a critical threshold where the risk of not having bread on the table outweighs the feasibility of the cake’s very existence — to say nothing of there being icing on it.

    In other words, it’s all too possible that the cake is a lie, or it will never be fit for others to eat, and no icing will ever be forthcoming. Meanwhile, the table still demands bread.

    Sorry if this sounds Simon-Cowell-esque, but not everyone is cut out to be a concert pianist or WNBA star. Not everyone can earn a living from doing something fun. I agree with Simon Cowell when he says that sometimes, telling people “Look, you have no musical talent, you will never, ever make a living from music. The best thing you can do is go home and choose another goal.” is a *kindness*. Some people have no idea how truly untalented they are in a certain area, and the last thing they need is to be falsely encouraged by the Paula Abduls of the world. (I actually don’t like, nor do I watch, American Idol, so those references will now cease. Sorry, I just couldn’t think of a better analog.)

    Earlier I mentioned you overcame the odds and, unlike many bloggers who have tried and failed, you now have a successful, profitable blog going. That’s great for you.

    However, they’re called “the odds” for a reason. Most people think they’re better than they are. For every person who succeeds, there are many more who try and fail. That’s okay for a “free” undertaking like writing or practicing the piano, which can be done in your spare time with nearly zero cost, and if nothing ever comes of it, oh well, you’re out some free time. But some of these dreams, such as a career in pro sports, can not be realistically pursued avocationally, and other dreams can cost significant money whether you succeed or fail, such as manufacturing clothing.

    I mean, sure, I understand what you were trying to get at here. You were trying to be uplifting and encouraging, and to get us to break free from the inertia and/or the lack of clear thinking that holds most of us back from pursuing our dreams. I get that, I really do. It was a good post in that regard – very motivational, very universally truthful. It would be great if we could all get in touch with our inner “Rudy” (as in, the Sean Astin movie) and make something happen because of sheer will.

    It’s a great message, I just hope people remain realistic about what their limitations are. For all we know, Sean may be dead right when he says he’ll never be a good enough pianist to have anything come of it. Practice only gets you so far, and recognizing that you don’t have pro-level talent is just as important a lesson as the one conveyed by your admirable “never give up, go pursue your dream” message.

  17. triLcat says:

    @Sean: If you play for your children and make them happy, then something has come of it. My husband loves playing piano. He plays for me and the kids and the kids love to listen to him – they’re just 2.5 and 1 now. I love listening to new songs, sometimes I write lyrics with him. So far, he’s uploaded one song to youtube. We need to work more on the lyrics and do a proper recording so we can upload a proper version to youtube. Will it ever make money? Probably not! Will we enjoy sharing it with family and friends? yes! That’s not nothing.

    You may never be a concert pianist, but you don’t have to call less than that nothing.

  18. @Sean…I’ve been playing the piano for 26 years now, and though I’m not a concert pianist and no one has ever dropped a dime to hear me play, I don’t look at that as a sign of failure. Even if all that happens is that YOU enjoy your playing, you haven’t failed!

    I use my piano playing at church, I teach other people how to play the piano, I play for weddings and such, and I play when I sing with my children. None of these things are high-profile activities and none are earning me a huge income, but I think they’re still important and worthwhile, and I don’t at all look at my piano playing as a waste.

  19. Nicole says:

    Hahaha. #16 The cake is a lie.

    Whenever I hear one of these discussions I always get the last song from Avenue Q stuck in my head. Some of us never do find our purpose in life, and hey, “don’t stress, relax, let life roll off your backs, except for death and paying taxes everything in life is only for now.”

  20. Shevy says:

    If you want to achieve something within 5 years you have to figure out if it’s feasible. Some things are possible (more than you might think) but some things aren’t, and others will take far longer than 5 years.

    For some people, just getting their financial house in order could take all or most of the five years and take up a significant amount of their free time (for example, working a second job to pay down debt) thereby limiting the time you can devote to your dream along the way.

    There are times when you have to decide whether you’ll wait those years and then go back to your dream or whether you’ll go for it and delay getting your finances truly in shape. Some dreams depend on a certain level of health or physical fitness and waiting too long might mean you’ve lost out on the chance to fulfill it.

    For example, let’s say you want to enter (and complete) an Ironman Triathalon but you’ve got credit card debt, a car loan and a huge mortgage. You’ve got 1 or 2 kids who need braces or band instruments or whatever. How do you get what you want?

    First, what do you need to do to accomplish your goal? You need to practice running, riding a bike and swimming. That means probably at least an hour a day at least 5 or 6 days per week. You need good shoes, swimsuits, appropriate clothes for biking and running, access to a pool and a good road bike. When you get to the point of entering events there are fees as well and you may have to travel to get to the events.

    All of that costs money. Training takes time and energy and you may not be as able to devote time to making meals from scratch or to working a part time job.

    Do you spend the next five years paying off the car, the credit cards and the dentist and hope you’ll still be in shape to start running etc. in five years time? But by then the kids may be going off to college or thinking about getting married and that’s a whole new set of expenses.

    I think you have to take the first steps towards getting financially stable. Make sure your bills are getting paid on time. Make a budget and see if you can cut back in some areas. Maybe pay off one card completely. But then you also do something for you. You buy the runners and start running every evening after dinner. Or you get a membership at the Y or the community centre and start swimming at 6 every morning before work. Whatever it is, take a real step towards your dream even though it costs money.

  21. Getting your financial house in order is the key to anything.

    It is hard to accomplish your dreams when you can’t even pay your bills every month.

    After that, its just a matter of planning, will and determination

  22. Jane says:

    I relate to what John S. wrote more than the post itself. I don’t know – I was brought up by parents who told me I could do anything I wanted, and that was very empowering. I want to do the same for my sons, but I also think that parents need to teach their children realism and that dreams are wonderful, but just because you have one, doesn’t mean that it will come true or that you will succeed. And the American Idol thing is true – sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for you is to tell you that this is not a good fit for you.

    I’m in academia, and I’ve seen a few professors who have told students that they just didn’t have the writing abilities and thinking skills to excel in graduate school. While this seemed cruel to me at the time, as I get older, I appreciate such hard doses of reality. I just hope I strike a healthy balance between letting my sons pursue their dreams and being honest with them.

  23. Geoff Hart says:

    There’s an old cliché that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. It’s very true. The overall goal, whether in five years or ten, seems impossibly distant. But breaking it down into baby steps, each repeated many times, does eventually get you there.

    Like Trent, I always wanted to be a writer, and wasn’t initially very good at it. So I decided to practice — do a lot of little 5-minute writing assignments every day, whenever there was a gap in work and other responsibilities, followed by careful revision of what I’d written. It took years, but a quick glance at the publications section of my Web site shows how far I’ve come since that beginning.

    Part of the trick is to make each of those baby steps sufficiently enjoyable that you look forward to a chance to do it again. (If not, possibly you need to reconsider whether your goal is what you really want to be doing in 5 years.)

  24. Sara says:

    I’m 37 and finally gave voice to my own dream (one I gave up as a teenager for a variety of reasons.) I am at the beginning stages, and it will be a few years, but for the first time in my life, I’m happy just doing little things every day to become the person I always wanted to be.
    If you truly want something, it’s never too late.

  25. Sara says:

    To John S., wow, what a negative attitude. As for the WNBA star comment, I understand what you’re getting at, but she could do other things with the WNBA, or work with special needs kids doing basketball camp, or something like that. Just because your dream has to be redefined, or slightly altered doesn’t mean it’s invalid. That’s something it’s taken me the past 20 years to realize. Do something because you enjoy it, not to make money.

  26. Johanna says:

    I agree with much of what John S. and Jane said – especially the part about how not everyone can make a living doing something fun, and sometimes your dreams and your talents don’t match.

    But I hope that the students Jane mentions – the ones who get told by the professors that they’re not smart enough to succeed in grad school – keep in mind that what they’re hearing is just one person’s opinion. In the time I spent in academia, I saw a lot of professors who weren’t nearly as good at evaluating people as they thought they were. In the physical sciences especially, there’s a tendency to think that since the subject matter is objective and quantitative, there must also be some objective and quantitative measure of people’s abilities – and it doesn’t work like that at all.

    And while some dreams, like being a concert pianist or a professional athlete, require an extraordinary level of ability (so if you don’t have that level of ability, you’re better off realizing that sooner rather than later), not all dreams are like that. Take Scott, for example, who wants to build his own house. That takes plenty of skill and knowledge, to be sure, but you don’t have to be one of the 100 best house builders in the world in order to build a house.

  27. Martin says:

    If you don’t take a shot, you’ll never know. You may surprise yourself and others or you may get that dose of reality. Either way you’re ahead.

    I met two guys at a gym years ago who had been high school football stars. Both had scouts visiting and buzz of scholarship offers through high school. Both had serious knee injuries their senior year. All free opportunities for college evaporated based on their injuries. What stunned me was the difference in their attitudes.

    One of them basically got a local warehouse job, and hung out with former teammates. He seemed like a decent guy, but only seemed to come to life if he talked about “the good ol’ days” when he played football. He acted like he had nothing left to look forward to, acting stuck in life, and he was only 21.

    The other also got a local job, but was attending community college working towards a degree and working towards enough of a recovery that he was hopeful he would qualify for a partial scholarship playing football at a lower division school. He still loved football and sports and wanted to get into sports medicine. He was 20.

    One guy’s dream was over and it was like watching a living version of the Springsteen song “glory days”. The other modified his dream to fit the reality and was looking forward, not back. You could even see the difference in their workouts, one guy going through the motions because that’s what he’d always done, the other focused on a specific regime to help him move forward.

    So even if you can’t make the cut, if you really love what you wanted to do versus loving the idea of the praise and fame that would come with it, working in the area at some capacity, even if it isn’t your main job, may bring joy and a little extra income. Or you may find a way to turn where you have talents to allow you to still work with what you love. I have a friend who loved science and technology in high school, but he sucks at math and grasping abstract concepts. He flunked out his first year at college, crushing his dream of becoming a physicist. He shifted his focus to business, and he’s become very successful in dealing with the business end of cutting edge technologies, still working with the thing he loves.

  28. Nancy says:

    A really good book that can help people focus on achieving their dreams is called “Wishcraft” by Barbara Sher–Trent might want to review this book. It gives step-by-step ways to set goals & plan for obstacles that could get in the way of your goals. She also wrote a book called “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was” which helps people pin down what their dreams are. I would recommend both books.

  29. Kevin says:

    @Sarah: “If you truly want something, it’s never too late.”

    Sarah, I’m sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but that’s a load of bull.

    When I was a kid, I loved airplanes. I went to the air shows, I watched Top Gun, I wanted nothing more than to be a jet fighter pilot. I joined Air Cadets, studied hard, and excelled in all my flying courses. I got my glider license, and the very next year, my private pilot license. However, in the course of doing so, I learned I was red-green colour blind. No matter how hard I worked or wanted it, I would never be a jet fighter pilot.

    Another quick story: In 2005, a 63-year-old university professor named Sean Egan attempted to climb Mount Everest, in an effort to prove you’re never too old to follow your dreams. Ironically, he died climbing the notorious mountain, proving exactly the opposite. True story, Google it.

  30. Jane says:

    Oh, I certainly agree with you that the opinion of one professor should not necessarily determine your future. And in the case of the graduate student/advisor dynamic, it could also be a personality or methodology clash that leads the professor to say such a thing. And I would certainly say it’s not really an issue of being smart or dumb. Plenty of people “fail” in academia and are very smart. If anything, that shows the flaws in the system and not in the person.

    I wouldn’t want to crush the dreams of any student, but I have had to break it to a student before that no matter how many times they revised that paper in the foreseeable future, it was still going to be a “B” paper. This was hard to do, but in one case in particular the student clearly didn’t have the goods (at least at that point in their life) to write an A quality history paper.

  31. Allison says:

    I agree that there are definitely some things that I’ll never be qualified to do. I’m cool with that, even though that reality is a bit sad.

    I also know that in five years, I’ll be five years older. If I don’t work towards my goals and dreams, then in five years, I will likely be in the exact same spot I am now (relationally, career-wise, education-wise, hobby-wise, etc.). If I do work towards my dreams, then I will at least be a little closer to accomplishing them. Either way, I will be five years older.

  32. Trudy says:

    I actually just started the first of this year on the path of where I would like to be in 5 years. It has been liberating and while my dream may be modest by some standards (sorry no prosports dream here), it IS achievable with hard work. I especially appreciate the column’s second suggestion of reengineering your time. I’m working on that now though not it has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Too many distractions but I am working through them and re-evaluating what is truly important in my life and worth my time.

  33. Laura says:

    I always think about a story Mark Lowry tells when I am making these kinds of choices.

    His mom wanted to go back to college and she said “Mark- if I go back to college when I graduate in four years I will be fifty!” His response was “How old will you be in four years if you don’t go back to college?” She graduated with a 4.0.

    I tend to view my life through this quote by Joss Whedon: “All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause – there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once…Even just learning enough about a subject so you can speak against an opponent eloquently makes you an unusual personage.”

    Even if I’m just taking ten minutes on the internet to look up something I am curious about, I have propelled myself forward a bit. And if you are reading this blog and the comments, you probably have time to google something you have always wanted to know!

  34. Nicole says:

    Jane and Johanna– I think the main thing determining ability to get a PhD conditional on having gotten into a program is persistence. Not intelligence, just hard work and the willingness not to give up despite setbacks. Moxy also seems to be one of the key ingredients to having a successful academic career. Maybe that’s cynical, but from what I’ve seen it’s way more important than any innate ability. There are a lot of dumb people out there with PhDs.

    And I’m not sure having smart people drop out of academia is a failure in the system. Academia requires different skills than just intelligence and it isn’t the best match for everybody. And that’s ok. Many of my colleagues would rather be making 250K/year (or more) than finishing a dissertation or dealing with a tenure clock. Some of them like short-term projects and are deadline driven so they’re doing non-profit consulting or government work. They probably could do academia, but they’ve discovered that academia is not a good fit for them. Their initial goal wasn’t the right one. But academia is a good fit for someone who likes more freedom or isn’t as driven by money.

    And yes, professors are often terrible at predicting who is going to be a success and who isn’t. The skills necessary to do well in college and in classwork are not the same as as the skills needed for independent work.

  35. SLCCOM says:

    Any adequate musicians are more than welcome at nursing, assisted living and retirement homes. You just have to make a recognizable melody and play songs the residents recognize and love. If you give just one person a few minutes of joy, you have been a great success.

    Many people let disability rob them of their dreams, when they just have to look in a slightly different direction. A person who now limps can be a fine basketball coach at the local “Y” or for Special Olympics.

    One man developed back problems. He could still putt, and really missed the companionship of his golf foursome. I suggested that they play with the other three doing the long shots and let him do all the putting. He thought that was absolutely out of the question without even bothering to ask his friends. Don’t close the door on yourself! Figure out what you CAN do and find a way to work with that. And don’t assume that others won’t go along with it. Ask! All they can say is “no.” Then you can find someone else to play with who will say “yes.”

    There are some people who are completely incapable of reaching some of their goals. Some people really can’t write adequately and never will be able to. They will never make a living as a writer — unless they get some help, and join forces with someone who is a good writer and can help shape the ideas of the bad writer into something effective. A good mentor will help them be realistic and still find another way to reach either that goal or another one that is manageable.

  36. Jennifer says:


    Yes, as a 38-year-old, I will never be an Olympic gymnast. And as a Canadian, I will never be President of the United States. I can’t paint, so I’ll never be Grandma Moses. That doesn’t mean that I should stop dreaming and making goals.

    I wanted to be an actor when I was 19. I went away to school for it. I spent money on it. I didn’t become an actor, but I still got involved in the world of theatre, made wonderful friends, and have practical skills I can use.

    I spent 6 months in Afghanistan when I was 35, as a civilian on the military base. Originally I thought I was too old or too out of shape to go, but if I had believed all the negatives, I never would have applied myself and gotten a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    I think Trent’s post gives people slow-and-steady steps to take to help them start achieving their goals. Not everyone’s goal is to be world-famous and rich. And no, not everyone’s goal is reachable. But how dreary to behave as though if you had one dream and it didn’t work out, then there’s no point in dreaming and you might as well give up now.

    Dreams make life liveable

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