From Pipedream to Reality: 4 Simple Steps To Make It Happen

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities”   JRR Tolkien

“Sail round the world …!”

Sound familiar? It’s a common answer to the question – ‘What would you do if anything was possible?’

It’s exactly what Heidi said to me on a self-confidence course about 18 months ago. Then in the next breath she called it a pipedream … “impossible in reality because I’ve got zero sailing experience”.

But wait! Since then she’s successfully completed a 3,600 mile Leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.  16 days at sea in the South Atlantic racing from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town …

Something didn’t add up.

Sailing might not be your thing. It doesn’t matter. The principle is the same if you want to turn a dream into a reality.

Heidi pushed the boundaries. Here’s how she made it happen.

“Begin with the end in mind”  Stephen Covey

  1. Dare to dream

Be brutally honest. Do you ever think seriously about what you want to achieve during your lifetime? Do you ever take time to reflect and ask yourself if you’re making the most of your life?

Or are you, dare I say it, ‘normal’, like the vast majority of people – existing day to day, busily doing the things that need to be done but never really thinking seriously about why you’re doing them?

Coming to terms with this and working it out does matter. Especially if you want to convert a dream into a reality.

This was how it started for Heidi.

Try projecting your thoughts into the future. Look between two and five years ahead. Look ‘strategically’ at your life. Most people don’t ever do this …

And then they wonder why their dreams never come true.

Open your mind. Think about what you’d like to achieve over this strategic period of time. A lot of people struggle with this. Heidi certainly did. She told me she ended up staring at a blank piece of paper for ages. I suggested she tried a mind map. It worked. Here’s how she did it …

Mind mapping is a practical creative thinking process; it means brainstorming and jotting down all of the things you’d like to achieve.

Don’t write a list. Get a blank piece of paper and write the title in the middle (something like … ‘Ideas for the next X years’. Have a free-for-all. Let your mind go wild. Create a map with lines linking ideas. This will help you to think creatively. Mind maps only work if you think positively and challenge yourself to be bold and imaginative.

You must dare to dream.

Pipedreams aren’t out of bounds on your map. Don’t be scared to write down everything you’d like to do. You’re not ‘contracted’ at this stage to achieve anything. You haven’t promised yourself anything. You’re just generating ideas.

One of Heidi’s ideas on her map was to sail round the world.

  1. Get Real

Your dreaming has achieved what you needed. It’s presented you with ideas.

Now’s the time to inject a degree of reality. The time to get real.

Reality comes in the form of credible aspirations. Right now, you’ve probably got a piece of paper with ideas scribbled all over it. Filtering your mind map and coming up with credible aspirations will help you to convert the scribble into something meaningful. Let’s call these aspirations ‘objectives’.

Creating personal objectives helps you to reconcile your dreams. Sounds a bit weird I know. But it’s the best way to find the balance between striving for something aspirational and setting yourself up for failure.

So challenge yourself but don’t be so ambitious that deep down you know you’re just kidding yourself.

Heidi did exactly this. She started to get real. She accepted that sailing round the world was a big Ask. But daring to dream in the first place created the spark for a more credible personal objective.

She decided she would aim to complete one Leg of the Clipper Round The World Race. She investigated the possibilities and worked out that it was feasible. She didn’t need any sailing experience.

She applied for the South Atlantic Leg and got accepted.

Her pipedream had led to a credible aspiration which had become a reality.

Now she started to think shorter term. It was happening!

  1. Knuckle down

Knuckling down means working out what you need to do in the shorter term to gets things moving. Heidi started to think about what she needed to do over the six months before the Race.

She created some specific ‘tactical’ goals for each month. From these she worked out what she’d need to do day to day – Attend sail training sessions, get fit, buy clothing and equipment etc.

To some this might seem like a very regimented approach. And that’s exactly what it is. Heidi knew exactly what she needed to do. Being crystal clear about your tactical goals will help you to feel more motivated to achieve them.

Following these three logical steps; mind map, strategic objectives, tactical goals, helps you to feel more in control of your life. It disciplines you to break down your strategic plans into manageable chunks that actually feel achievable and believable.

It’s the secret to converting dreams to reality.

  1. Use your gears

Life is life; things change. It may well be that something completely unforeseen happens that you could never have predicted when you created one of your personal objectives. Don’t let this affect your self-esteem and don’t use it as an excuse to give up.

Just reflect on what it means for the objective and reset it. In other words, change gear; you might even have to engage reverse gear if necessary. You’re better off having a plan that changes than no plan at all.

So review your objectives regularly, take account of any unforeseen eventualities, make amendments where necessary and set new objectives and goals when others have been achieved.

Heidi’s now building her own house on the coast in West Wales, UK. She came up with this ‘dream’ while she was on watch one night in the South Atlantic.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream”  Paulo Coelho

Mike McClement, Founder Think Confidence, Self-confidence Author and Coach. Passionate about helping people achieve their potential and enjoy life to the full. Creator of the 4 Step online Confidence Plan.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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