How Long Does It Take to Make a Dream to Come True?

Dahlia Unfolds #goodmorninggarden

For most of my life, I have felt this great sense of urgency, hurry and drive. I’ve had this feeling that if I don’t move faster, if I don’t make things happen, I’m going to miss out. And I hate missing out.

But recently It occurred to me that perhaps the opposite is also true: if I don’t slow down, I’m going to miss out. (And I hate missing out)

My sense is that both of these thoughts hold truth in them. Life likes to be paradoxical like that.

It wasn’t a particular moment or event that started this change in my perspective. In fact, it’s been a bit wild sitting back and watching my view change before my eyes. It’s almost like I have been traveling on a slow-moving ocean liner, wishing it would get going, get going, get going, and when I finally stopped to look I noticed that we were moving and the view was changing. Maybe from here, things are different. Maybe this is the magic of getting older.

I started to notice the impact of this change when I was watching The Voice. It’s a show on which singers compete to be mentored by some of the greats in the industry in the hopes of going on not only to win the show’s competition but also to jump start their careers. It’s a show about making your dreams come true.

As the singers share their personal stories, trends emerge. One of those themes, particularly with younger artists, is that they’ve given themselves a block of time to make their music career happen, often one year. If they don’t make it in one year, they’ll go back to college, their hometown, their day job. They have one year to make their dream come true.

When I was younger that made absolute sense. Many people take a year out of high school or after college or university to test the waters and try things out. And in some ways a year is a long time. It’s a long time to sustain yourself while you’re trying something risky. It’s a long time for your parents or your partner or your kids to be patient while you throw yourself into your dream. It’s a long time to wonder and hope and see if something, anything, is going to happen.

On the other hand, from where I’m sitting now, I look back on all that I’ve done, all that I’ve created or built or experienced, I look at my own dreams come true and I see that they all took time. Sometimes a lot of time. Almost always more time than I expected and certainly more time than I would have liked. It took me a year to learn the basics of coaching, longer to become good at it. It took me more than a year to build my business to the point where I could leave my day job. Heck, It took me more than a year to plan and save and get to Paris for our 10th wedding anniversary!

From here my heart breaks to think of those singers on The Voice who say that if they don’t make it after one year, they’re giving up. One year of hard work and then, “That’s it. I’m done with music.”

Never be done with music.

Sure, after one year things might have to change. There may be no more rent-free living with your parents. You may have to get a part-time job to continue. You may have to cut back on the 7-day a week devotion because it’s exhausting. Things may have to change but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.

We can’t manage how long our dreams take to happen or even whether they’ll happen at all. We can only manage the time and energy that we devote to them. You may be willing to give one year to your dream but that doesn’t mean your dream takes one year to grow.

When one young singer was sent home from The Voice, she left the stage in tears. Gwen Stefani, who is one of the judges, told her not to give up. She said, “Do you know how many years I was in a band before I was on the radio? Nine!!” Mega star Gwen Stefani spent nine years playing before she was on the radio!!

I’m not saying that one year isn’t a powerful time to give yourself over to your dream. I’m saying this.

If after one year, you have fallen in love, don’t give up. It takes time for things to grow.

I’m also saying don’t get attached to one particular form of dream delivery. That singer (and many others) may not win The Voice but there are a myriad of other ways for her aspirations to be fulfilled, many more than she’s even dreamed of.

That’s true for you and me too.

When one incarnation of your dream doesn’t fall into place, don’t give up. When on year hasn’t seen everything fall perfectly into place, don’t give up.

Let your love for what you love guide your way. Let it keep you on your path of dream development and discovery. Be smart and practical about building foundations but don’t think that means having to give up your dreams and ideals. The marriage of the practical and the aspirational is what creative living is all about.


  1. Shannon says:

    It’s amazing to think how much can be done in a year, but in a lot of ways a year totally zips by so quickly. What you said about how you may be willing to give a dream 1 year, but that doesn’t mean a dream takes one year to grow really resonated with me. It’s amazing the stories we tell ourselves, and the rules we make around things, and sometimes how they have no foundation at all. It’s a good reminder that the best thing to do is just keep moving forward!

  2. Janet O'Connor says:

    Hi Jamie, Your words speak volumes to me. I tend to have that sense of urgency when I want to do things. I love the image of the slow moving ocean-liner. As I have gotten older, I find that the sense of urgency seems to get worse. I retired about 7 years ago and life has not slowed down. Sometimes I feel like my dreams of writing and art are getting lost in other people’s needs. It’s a good reminder to never let go of dreams and goals.

  3. Suzie Ridler says:

    I can so relate to this Jamie. The rushing, the wanting to do and see everything but then time going by so fast, missing the moment while looking for it. I personally do not understand the timeline. I guess for some people, having a deadline helps them be focused but to really study something, a year doesn’t seem very long to me. I do think that we sometimes outgrow certain dreams but I think that timeline should not be arbitrary.

  4. Ann says:

    It’s so encouraging to see the synchronicity of the universe bring me to this post today, as I needed to hear it. I just spent this morning writing about the SAME thing on my own blog, and titled it “When Your Dreams Don’t Materialize Fast Enough” (

    I’m in this restless place of wanting to see my dreams come to fruition already, but know it’s not up to my timeline. I love where you said “We can’t manage how long our dreams take to happen or even whether they’ll happen at all. We can only manage the time and energy that we devote to them.” That’s what I’m continuing to do. Thank you for your lovely words.

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