This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit TaraTaylorQuinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

1   Know yourself

You want to drive from the east coast to the west coast.  You get to the crossroads (east/west interstate crosses north/south interstate) and you see a magnificent sculpture off in the distance.  You turn toward the sculpture.  Enjoy the beauty.  Take pictures.  And continue driving.  A few hours later you cross the Tennessee state line.  South, not west, of your starting point.  You correct yourself and head west again – fretting over all the time and gas you wasted going in the wrong direction.  Further up the road you stop for gas and getting back on the freeway, you notice a gorgeous sunset over the mountain.  You turn toward it, stopping to get some great pictures.  And just around the next bend, there’s a waterfall.  You stop and gaze a long time.  It’s incredible.  You can feel the power of the water flowing through your veins.  The pictures don’t do it justice but you take them anyway, wondering what you can do to bring the power to the print, to keep it alive.  You continue driving, stopping to get the perfect shots.  An hour later, you realize that you’re traveling north.  On a side road.  Back the way you’d originally come.

Your problem is that you’re driving west because you think you should.  Your dream is to be an artist.  To surround yourself with natural beauty.  To take pictures.  Or maybe even just to go on a road trip with no destination in mind. To make your dreams come true you must first have the courage to look inside yourself, be honest with yourself, and know your dreams.

2  Release judgment

Our minds are filled from the time we’re born with the lessons of those around us.  Our parents, older siblings, playmates, family, teachers, society all are our teachers.  We learn how to behave, how to fit in, what is expected of us, how to articulate, even how to think.  We learn right and wrong and we learn how to judge the difference.  We learn how to judge every situation, every person, every activity.  Is it wholesome?  Legal?  Kind?  Does it fit into the norms of society?  Will it get you ahead?  Make you a lot of money? Provide security?  We learn to turn away from anything that does not meet the standards that are set for us by others.  We learn to focus on what we should do as set forth by the judgments of others, rather than allowing ourselves to give in and do what our souls drive us to do.  If your dream is not the ‘American Dream’ (or the dream of your current society) then it’s not.

Our parents, older siblings, playmates, family, teachers, society all are our teachers.

3  Research

Find out all you can about whatever it is you want to do. With the wealth of information available on the internet, this is easier than ever.  You want to be a writer?  Find a public yahoo message board for writers.  You want to fly an airplane?  Search private pilots on Google.  Or search for someplace near by that gives flying lessons.  Find out how long it takes to get your pilot’s license.  Find out how much it costs.  Read testimonials of other pilots and see if the words resonate with you – if they build the fire within you to do what they have done.  Watch movies about flying – about the first pilots.  Read books.  Talk to people.  All of this will not only solidify your desires, but it will make you actively a part of the activity.  Researching that which you most desire keeps the flame hot, much like food and water energize the body.  Researching brings you that much closer to your dreams.

4  Believe

If you don’t believe in yourself, or your right to have what you most desire, no one else will believe either.  If you don’t believe in yourself, your chances of ever having what you most want are miniscule.  With rare exception, life doesn’t just hand you your heart’s desire.  Nor do other people.  Those around you will more likely mold you to fit them – not even always out of selfishness.  Those who know what they need and want tend to ask for it, work toward it, they’re internally driven to do so, and those in their sphere, or their path, tend to accommodate them.  Don’t be afraid to believe that you deserve what you want.  Don’t be afraid to believe that you are extraordinary.

5  Don’t Give Up.  Ever.

I have a quote on my bulletin board that reads:  ‘Edison failed ten thousand times before he perfected the modern electric lamp.  The average man would have quit at the first failure.  That’s why there are so many average men and only one Edison.’ I wanted to be a writer.  My only dream (other than love and health and family) was to be a writer.  I’d write books that I believed were really good.  I’d send them in.  And time after time, for years, they were rejected.  I could have stopped.  Many thought I should have stopped.  But I’d read my quote about Edison, type the words, Chapter One, and begin again.

Viktor Frankl was a resident of a prison camp during the holocaust.  One of his ‘dreams’ was to maintain control of his own mind, his own psyche.  He was a doctor and I suppose, in the deepest sense, his dream was to survive.  No matter what kind of tortures his captures inflicted upon him, he believed that he maintained control of his life.  His captors only had his body, not his heart, mind or soul.  One of his keys to survival was to go outside and deliver speeches about “Psychotherapeutic Experiences in a Concentration Camp” to imaginary audiences.  He believed in himself, in his dreams enough that he acted them out.  The man not only survived the holocaust, not only survived imprisonment, he instilled positive energy in those around him as well, helping others to survive.  He went on to be a celebrated psychologist, gifted in his field, until his death in 1997.

These, and other examples, taught me that in the end, the only person who can prevent you from reaching your dreams is you.  My fifty-five published books and a place on the USA Today Bestseller List is testimony that the above is true.

About the author: Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today Bestselling Author with more than six million copies of her books sold.This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com.
All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

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Next tour stop, Wednesday, April 27, Storybroads: http://www.storybroads.com.

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