It isn’t enough just to have a dream — you need to set goals and strive to achieve them.

I walked away from my grandmother’s business when I was 21 years old. By that point, she had already been grooming me for three years to take over the business by the time I was 25. It was a pretty solid taxes, insurance, and accounting business. And I was really good at it, too. I handled all the automobile and homeowner’s insurance and was second hand to the owner, my grandmother.

At 18, she used to tell me I handled clients better than most of the adults she had worked with over her 40+ year career. But not only did I work full time with my grandmother, I also kept a second job in a restaurant 5-7 nights a week to help pay my bills, since I was living out on my own.

And then, when I was 21, I made what everyone told me at the time was the stupidest decision of my life. I walked away from my grandmother’s business and started working full time at the restaurant. It caused a gut-wrenching wave of emotions through my family. My grandmother didn’t talk to me for years. Understandably so, she was hurt. I had no solid direction regarding what I wanted to do — just a bunch of ideas and dreams.

I wanted to go back to school but I didn’t know what for or how I was going to pay for it. I just wanted time to figure it out — my own space and time to think.

I messed up a lot. I couldn’t get out of my own way and I lost direction for a few years. But I never let go of my ideas and dreams. I wrote notes to myself all the time in order to document my thoughts and get them out of my head. I knew I’d figure it out somehow because a failed life was never an option. It’s in my nature to solve problems and strategize solutions. And figuring out my life’s direction was a problem that needed solving.

So, at some point during my 20s, I stopped believing that I had made the stupidest mistake of my life and started putting the pieces together. In the coming years, I moved across the country alone (more space and time to figure it out), finished college on my own dime, got married to one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met and started a successful consulting business with him. We run our own podcast together and now we’re currently traveling Europe for three months (more space and time to figure things out).

A couple things I’ve taken with me in all the years that have passed since working with my grandmother: Always, always keep records, take notes and have full insurance coverage. I write down notes on everything: dreams, ideas, phone calls, meetings, events, people, the good and the bad. It’s all documented. Whether it gets shared or not, I always have a reference to go back to. I contribute my success, as many twists and turns as it’s taken, to my meticulous note-taking. If you don’t write down your ideas, thoughts, dreams, and hopes, how can you ever materialize success?

If there is anything I want readers to take from my story, it’s this: Your ideas aren’t stupid and your dreams matter. But if you want to materialize success you have to hold onto your dreams as tight as you can, set short-term and long-term goals, work backward from those goals and put in the time it takes. It’s not enough to just dream. You have to sweat out the fears and let your voice be heard as you continue to cross milestones toward your goals. Keep telling yourself and other people what you want and manifest your own opportunities. You will find yourself in uncomfortable situations. But if you don’t go through those uncomfortable times, you’ll never grow and be who you’re meant to be. Let what you feel inside shine by putting in the work and giving yourself the opportunity to be successful, whatever that means to you.

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