The Secret to Turning Dreams into Reality

The following two tabs change content below.
Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

Latest posts by Lisa Powell (see all)

The Secret to Turning Dreams into Reality - Cinderella never asked for a prince quote

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be a book author. That’s what I wanted when I was a little girl, and it’s what I wanted when I graduated from college.

Yet as often happens in life, some dreams get deferred along the way. I took a more practical path and stepped into PR and marketing jobs, fresh out of college. It was a steady paycheck. I figured I could be a freelance writer on the side, and work my way up to writing books in a few years.

In the Meantime, Life Happened…

Somehow “life happened” instead, and before I knew it, I was a wife, community leader, and swing dance instructor in Troy, NY. Somewhere along the way I was asked to run for public office. That led to a year at Harvard, earning my Master in Public Administration degree.

And to a job with San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, and to three spectacular years in San Francisco. As well as a divorce!

It was a time of many changes. A house fire brought me back to Troy in 2008, and led me to re-open the question of whether or not I wanted to run for office.

Moving Toward One Dream…

Earlier this year, I met with the local Democrats about opportunities. I was recruited to run for County Legislature, and came tantalizingly close.

I lined up endorsements, found a campaign manager, and started thinking through my platform, campaign, budget. Yet days before the filing deadline, I realized it wasn’t my time. I wanted City Hall, not county government.

My real dream was to be the mayor. I am also clear that I want to start a family in the next ten years. Somehow running a city doesn’t strike me as the ideal career choice while popping out babies.

I decided to wait.

Only To Reawaken Another…

At the time I was dating a former professional football player who is now a banking superstar. He is the kind of man who lives his dreams — when he sets his sights on something, he simply makes it happen.

I told him about my book idea, and he said,

“Babygirl, why don’t you just write it then? “What are you waiting for?”

He asked me to commit to writing a book proposal by the end of 2009.

That was in September.

Since then, I have hired a writing coach and joined 8 Women Dream. I turned in my first book chapter last week. I have written 80 pages so far, and my target deadline to complete my manuscript is 10/10/10.

The Secret To Turning Dreams into reality …

The secret to turning your dreams into reality is simple — TAKE ACTION!

My friend, Sara, who is a Grammy-nominated, Harvard-educated, world-traveling symphony conductor, put it this way:

 “You have to take steps toward your dreams.  If you do not take action, your dream will remain a static regret.  If you move toward your dream, it may change. The important thing is to take the steps.”

Amen to that!

You also have to make sure to begin taking action right away while you have energy and enthusiasm about your idea – before you have the chance to second guess yourself.


  • Xenia

    Hola Lisa,

    I am here at work but busy looking over your blog… ha ha I am absolutely ecstatic about your dream of being the mayor. I hope you haven’t abandoned that. Troy needs you heading up City Hall. Troy needs YOU! I go to my neighborhood meetings in North Central, but they can be discouraging because it’s the same ole, same ole every meeting.

    When you have some time come on over to my home on River Street and I will give you a tour.

    I look forward to seeing you this saturday at the workshop.

  • Julita

    @Lisa, I hear you have arrived in Argentina, so happy for you! hope you will get a chance to post something here soon.

  • Julita

    @Rachel, so agree with your comments on finding love. it is so important to love yourself, to accept who we are and to be happy with who we are. then, only then real love may come along and surprise us.

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!!

  • Remy G

    2009 was somewhat of a nightmare, for more reasons than one. But 2010 holds alot of promise and, at least for now, the excitement of wanting to take steps in the direction of my dreams about photography and consulting. I have to remember that ideas without action are just ideas. I hope that now they’ve been said out loud – the universe owns them and I’m destined for greatness. Hang on!!! Rem

  • Daphne

    Wow…2009…what a year!! This is the first I actually stopped to think about it. This was definitely a year of extremes…it started off like a rocket and I even remember in March saying on a beautiful Sunday: “Wow, my life is pretty much perfect…I’m happy at work, my relationships with family and friends are great, I love my apartment and my cats AND I am madly in love!” Well, that very week I lost my job, my relationship crumbled and my cat’s cancer came back. Great.

    But, in April, I started helping out my friend at her clothing store and I met my now BFF by dressing her up like a barbie-doll. And, though our relationship, have discovered and re-discovered many dreams. Then in June, by a total fluke, I nabbed my “dream job” after 3 and 1/2 months of unemployment hell.

    So, not really sure what my dreams are for 2010 yet, but I think I want to fall in love with and explore and discover myself. I also want to be AWESOME at my career and really get good at it. I also want to form an all-girl band and write a bunch of songs. Getting really good at yoga again would totally be a bonus.

    Thank you so much Lisa for being my exploding star partner. Love you!! D

  • Julita

    Lisa, my dreams for 2010 are to have a normal life and a normal home with my girls and my husband. I just want a simple life, a clean house and a new puppy, :)

    but, deep in my heart, I also wish that I could have love in my life like I once had. given the pain that I have been through in the past year (and you know who I am talking about here), I find it hard to trust people. I would be happy if I could spend more time with some of my dear friends such as yourself. Happy 2010!!!

    • Rachel

      The simple life, clean house, puppy thing sounds great. Those are good goals, because you have a fair amount of control over them.

      The love thing is something that can’t do much to push, except to make yourself ready. And you do that by learning to be content with yourself. When you do a good job caring for yourself, you will look better to whoever may eventually come along to care for you. And the beauty of it is, once you’re content with yourself, even if the love doesn’t come along, or takes too long… you’re still content without it.

      Sometimes the road to true love is long, with plenty of obstacles and detours, but I think we all have the potential to get there.

  • p.s. thanks to Sara for the inspiration – I had a feeling our talk would end up in my blog, it was like a premonition! (all our talk of dreams and dreaming and living dreams…).

    And thanks to Freddie for helping me commit to writing this book. :-)

  • Cath, thank you for the kind words – I LOVE being part of this Dream Team which is helping me – and all of us I hope! – make our dreams come true… Really honored to be a part of it. Under the leadership of you, our fearless leader! ;)

    I promise more pics of my life soon… Two weeks in Argentina coming up and I will post a bunch on Facebook! ;) (maybe a great one here of my little baby niece too in next week’s post about JOY!).

    Rachel, I loved this: “I thought that was funny, because to me, the children were my reason, not my excuse.” I’m so curious to see how my life will change when I do have children. I love thinking of it that way – that my children will be a reason to change my life for the better, not a reason to avoid working harder.

    Making a better world for them, and their future children…

    Anyways it’s been an interesting 350 days so far this year – 16 more fun ones to go, woot! :-)

  • Rachel

    Ah, yes, the baby thing does change your priorities. Politics does tend to be something we do after our children reach a certain age.

    But I like what Catherine had to say at well. I did the last 5 semesters of my Bachelor’s while my daughers were preschoolers. I remember one of my professors told me that people talked about how I didn’t use being a single mom as an excuse for late homework, etc. I thought that was funny, because to me, the children were my reason, not my excuse.

    I kept all my studying up to date at all times, because I figured if I got behind, I’d never have time to catch up while caring for 2 preschoolers. And the need to support those children was my reason for pushing for the best possible grades. I needed a good job right away after graduation. I didn’t have time for an internship, or extra-curriculars to beef up my resume, so I figured good grades were a must.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    But I want more photos of your life! I think I am going to loan you my extra digital camera!

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Ah the popping out babies factor.

    We’ve all been there. Having Brian changed my thoughts about my career for the better. I actually went back to technology school 6 months after he was born. I sometimes wonder how I did it all.

    Heather and I were talking yesterday about this very thing. She went back to school to study more programming languages while her son was a preschooler and she was working full-time at NAMC. I remember seeing stacks of 4 inch thick books on her bed.

    We did these things even as divorces came crashing down on our heads. Our children motivated us to make changes – big changes – to offer something for us to hang on to while the divorce hurricane and aftermath ensued.

    Congratulations on your first chapter. We are grateful for your loving kindness, your editing eye, your energy and enthusiasm, and your push for us to be the best we can be.