“How to Make a Dream Come True,” Sept. 3, 2019

What’s your dream? Lately I’ve been working like a house on fire, trying to finish something I started years ago.

I’m not sure why, after letting it languish for so long, I decided it was time to get back to it.

Oh, wait. I remember. I kept reading obituaries for folks who were younger than I am. It made me realize the time to do it might be now or never. If you don’t read the obits, you might want to start. They’re highly motivating.

This thing I want to finish is, of all things, a novel. Don’t ask me if it’s a good one. I have no idea. But I do think it’s a pretty good story — one worth telling and hearing — and I’m trying my dangdest to tell it well.

The reason I told you about it is not because I want you to buy it. You’ll be welcome to do so when I finish it. But that’s not likely to happen soon. For now, I just want to share with you some things I’ve realized along the way.

I’m probably not the only soul on Earth who wants to finish something sooner, rather than later. Maybe you’d like to finish something, too? A project you’ve been thinking about? A place you’d like to visit? Something you’ve wanted to say to someone you love, but never quite found the time, or the nerve?

Whatever it may be, I feel for you. It’s not easy to make a dream come true. Or even to try. But here, for what it’s worth, are a few things that have helped me get back to work. Maybe you will find them helpful, too.

1. I already mentioned reading obits. But I think the best way to start doing something you keep putting off is by asking yourself why do you want to do it? The reason can be anything. Fame and fortune, or in my case, wanting people to quit nagging you about it. But in the end, the reason that will matter most to you is the realization that you want to do this fine thing for yourself; that you deserve to make your dream come true; and that you are, in fact, the only one who can.

2. Next, tell the people closest to you (or anyone who’ll care) that you’re starting it. Don’t tell them until you mean it, because they will promptly start to ask, “Aren’t you finished yet?” But when you’re truly ready to start, tell them. Listen to their reactions. Ignore negativity. But take great heart in how happy it will make them to hear it.

I wish you could’ve heard the responses from my loved ones. My sister hadn’t hooted that loud since the day I bumped her in the bumper car arena and knocked her wig on the floor.

3. Telling people about it will also give you an excuse to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you now, I’m working on my dream.” Or words to that effect. You’ll know what to say. Just say it. Often.

4. Spend as much as time as possible working on it every possible day. Let go of things that can wait. Stop pretending you can do everything. If you think you can do everything, think again. Ask for help and take it. Work hard on your dream. Keep at it day by day. If you do, you will know that you’ve given it your best. And our best is the best that we can do.

5. Finally, don’t worry about the finished product. Just finish it. Dreams are like life, not a destination so much as a journey. Try to enjoy the ride.

Here’s one last thought: In a novel, the writer gets to choose, more or less, the beginning and the middle and the end. In reality, we can’t choose how the story of our life will start. And most of us won’t choose when or how it will end.

But in the middle there are choices that are ours alone to make. Some of them will lead to one of two ends: Lingering regret, or a dream come true.

What’s your dream? Dust off an old one or dream up a new. Rewrite the story of your life.


  1. Richard Kellogg says

    I recall when you commenced the novel-writing project many years ago, and I sent you a psychology textbook which summarized various theories of human development. I suggested the eight-stage model of Erik Erikson, with stages advancing from trust to ego-integrity, might be helpful in understanding where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going. It was fun speculating on the nature of each predictable stage in the life cycle.

    Writing a novel, short story, or poem for publication grants a degree of immortality to the author. It is comforting in the later years of life to know that our words will be read and enjoyed by family members and loved ones long after we are gone. Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner spring to life whenever I start reading one of their books again.

    Writing one fine book is a gift to the world. Harper Lee had only one literary success, but that book was “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Many now consider that book the great American novel.

    I am sure your novel will bring joy to thousands of readers. I wish you only the best with what will be a long and challenging project. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize.

  2. Kate Sciacca says

    LOL! I tell the hubs I’m checking the obits just to be certain I’m not in there…. ya never know 😜

    Well this column got me thinking…. what is/was my dream? Honestly, it was to raise a houseful of boys with maybe a girl or two sprinkled in… to raise them to be strong, faithful men (and women) and give them a happy, safe, love filled life that I didn’t quite have. I wanted a bunch of little people around my table who had a great love for their mama and a healthy fear of their papa (who was quite frankly all bark and no bite). I wanted them to leave the nest ready to embrace their own dreams – which most have already done 🙂. I guess you could say I’m “livin’ the dream” 😀👍🏻

    It didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but darn close 😀

  3. Omg every time I read your columns my day and thoughts are lifted and I start to believe anything is possible. I try to see things through your eyes and all I can say when god made you he put some special mix to it!! Thanks Sharon and I can’t wait for that book…..is it ready yet??😄

  4. Another enjoyable column. Here’s an idea for your Novel, LOL. The story begins with me (You) looking at the OBITs for that day, when you see your own name, and begin to freak out. You go running down the hallway, running to your spouse, and the room is filled with your spouse and the rest of your family, but as you are yelling no one seems to be able to hear or see you anymore, LOL. I have other ideas for a good Novel, but I never took creative writing in school,so I have no idea how to begin, or develop such a story, LOL

  5. Susan Kovarick says

    Living at Atterdag Village in Solvang, CA surrounded by all ages and stages. After reading your column, maybe I do want to write again. I read your columns to the folks in skilled nursing. They look forward to that as do I. Monterey was home during two tours in the Navy…1959-60 and
    1971. This is definitely the last rite of passage now for Frank and me. Thank you.

  6. Dick Daniel says

    “If you don’t read the obits, you might want to start. They’re highly motivating.”

    What a great line! Love it!

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