How many times have you watched that documentary on your favorite artist? How many times have you listened to that inspirational podcast? How many times have you watched that YouTube interview with the entrepreneur you idolize?
Dreams turn to reality every day.
Here's how you can make yours real too:
1. Save Your Money
The first and most important part of turning your dream into reality is realizing that in order to do that, you're going to need some capital.
I think of everything as a startup. Even I am a "startup." My time is my primary asset, and how I invest that time ultimately determines my own growth rate and proposed value.
In order to spend more time making your dream real, you are going to need runway--just like a startup. Whether you need capital to build the thing you want to build, or you just need money to live off while you grind, either way, you need cash.
A lot of people get discouraged because they don't have any cushion to stand on. How could you possibly take a risk if you are living paycheck to paycheck? You can't--or at least, not semi-comfortably.
If you really want to make a leap in a different direction and start bringing that dream to life, then start saving your money. Because as that pot gets bigger, so too will your confidence.
2. Create Test Versions
I never understood why people would go out and try to raise a bunch of money to build something they haven't even tried to build themselves.
What I mean is, why not test the market first? Why not create version 1.0 on your own? Why not do some exploration and in-the-field learning before you go pitching everyone on your big, illustrious plan?
This is where a lot of startup founders fail. They try to build something that, on paper, looks great. The problem is they haven't tested it in the field. They don't have any data to pull from (besides "industry data" they've found through Google searches).
Most dreams don't become real overnight. You don't go from 10 users to 300M users. You start with 10, you test, you fail, you learn, you iterate, you update, you grow to 100 users, and you repeat.
Whatever your metrics are, test them. Get your hands dirty with some tangible evidence of what it is you want to build before you start talking about quitting your job and raising capital.
3. Build Your Network
Ready to take the leap? Great. Who else is with you?
Your network is everything. These are the people you go to for advice. These are the ones you ask for honest feedback. These are the ones who make introductions. The ones who help you pivot. Who ask you the tough questions, and who can give you realistic answers.
What "building your network" does not mean is attending a bunch of networking events, exchanging business cards, and writing a bunch of, "Hey Bob, I hope all is well..." e-mails.
What I mean is to make friends. Seriously. Your real network is your group of extended friends. These aren't the people you necessarily call when you and your significant other decided to break up. But these are the ones you call when you need some guidance, you want their opinion, you need an introduction, and most of all, you want to collaborate with.
Building your network is a crucial step. You will move so much faster if you are surrounded by people who not only can provide you value, but genuinely want to help you. (And in turn, as you being part of their "network," you should do the same.)
4. Think Both Long And Short
Dreams don't make money at first. They just don't. Sometimes they do. But most of the time, they don't. They are dreams because they take longer to build and longer for people to catch on. That's kind of the point.
What you need to do, as an aspiring "dream maker," is to play both the long and the short game.
Keep your eye on what's in front of you, what can keep the lights on, what can cover your overhead and isn't too much of a time sink so that you have a strong short game.
At the same time, realize that what your short game is for is to bring the long game to life. This is your vision, your 5 year plan.
If you only play the short game, you'll forever be trapped in the vicious cycle of "the next thing." And if you only play the long game, you'll quickly run out of runway and find yourself right back dealing with more immediate issues.
Dreams are brought to life by those that master and execute both.
5. Go All In
People think "going all in" happens once you've "made the leap." They think it happens after something else. The truth is, it doesn't.
Going all in starts the moment you decide it starts.
It starts while you're still working 8-6. It starts when your friends are calling asking you to come out to the bar. It starts and re-starts every moment of every day. You're either in for the journey or you're not.
The unfortunate truth is that most people just don't want it bad enough. They say they do (oh, they say they do), but then 5 or 6pm rolls around and dinner out plus drinks plus Netflix just sounds so much more ideal. They've earned it! They sat in a cubicle all day! Come on!
That's fine. There's nothing "wrong" with that--if that's what you want.
But if what you want is something else, then I'm sorry to say you just don't want it bad enough.
Dreams are called dreams because most people sleep through the opportunities required to make them become real. They aren't willing to work 8-6pm, grab a quick dinner, and then work on their dream from 7 to midnight. They're not willing to wake up early on the weekends. They're not willing to sacrifice Sunday brunch. They're not willing to not go out every Friday night. They're not willing to set boundaries with their significant other. They're not willing to do any of the things absolutely required in order to have enough time for you to devote to your own craft.
If anyone could turn their dream into reality, we wouldn't call them dreams. We'd call them something else. Something less "ethereal."
But they're called dreams for a reason.
Because you need to put your feet on the ground and work your face off to make them happen.