How I Give My Dreams Wings


A number of years ago I read a novel, I can’t remember the title or author’s name, just that the protagonist took up running. After reading it, a little question popped into my head, “I wonder if I could do that?”

The thing was, I’d been loudly and publicly claiming to be a non-runner for years *cough* decades. At the time, I was a few years in to a new-to-me active lifestyle, but running was still something I merely joked about.

I just couldn’t shake that little question.

It popped up over and over, when a non-running friend said she was signing up for a race, when my climbing buddies wore t-shirts from races they’d done, when I’d see people out running in the gorgeous Portland weather (Ha! In retrospect, that timing was probably critical.)

One day, I was at the gym, alone in the cardio room, walking on the treadmill. I looked around, feeling a little crazy, then turned up the speed until I had to start running. And I ran.

My knees didn’t break. My sports bra did a reasonable job. But most importantly, I didn’t die.

My running grew from there; at first slowly, and then more quickly (literally and figuratively) as I grew to love it. Each new stage always started with that question, “I wonder if I could…

…run to the park?

…run my favorite trail in the gorge?

…run a race?

And I did.

That first race, a half-marathon in April of 2011, was what really started me dreaming. The energy of the other runners, the spectators, running down the middle of city streets. I let my mind go crazy dreaming about the possibilities beyond this, “I wonder if I could run a marathon, if maybe I could even get into the Boston Marathon?”

I could. And I did.

On April 21st, 2014, three years and two weeks after that first race, I ran the Boston Marathon.

From dream to reality

While there are lots of things I did to make that day happen, my process for bringing it, or any other dream, into reality is always the same.

It’s these three basic steps:

1. Pay attention when I start asking, “I wonder if…”

2. Decide to do it.

3. Take somewhere between one and a bazillion tiny actions to bring it into being.

Oh sure, you can divide those steps into more steps, but these three are the essentials.

The thing is, most people get caught up trying to figure out #3. Here’s a secret I’ve learned from a lifetime of being big dreamer me, and working with big dreaming clients, who need to be big doers: When you’re getting stuck over and over again, and just not moving forward with ease (which doesn’t always mean easy), and think it’s about the plan, take some time to back up and check in with #2, your commitment to the dream.

Is there a part that doesn’t fit any longer? Are you getting lost in glades of reluctance, something that brings up concerns?

When those things have been made conscious, and transformed, the doing becomes infinitely easier.  When you’re hooked in and committed to your dream, you’ll figure the rest out — any obstacles are temporary and can be navigated.

Sometimes your dreams need nurturing and flow, sometimes structure and plans, but they always, ALWAYS need your full commitment.

Photo: Me at mile 18 of the 2012 Portland Marathon, channeling the joy of “I get to do this!” 


This post was originally part of Andrea Schroeder’s Give Your Dream Wings Blog Hop, a peek inside the process of how inspiring people make the magic happen. Learn more about Andrea and her free e-course, Give Your Dream Wings

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Shannon Wilkinson

Shannon Wilkinson

Life Coach for Social Entrepreneurs

I’m a life coach, teacher, writer + summit seeker based in Portland. As a coach, I use mind-bending tools like Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnosis to help you change your mind, change your behaviors, and ultimately, change the world. My personal credo? Less angst. More action. Less crisis. More change.

1 Comment

  1. Janine Adams

    Love this, Shannon! It’s so pertinent to so many aspects of life.

    Have a wonderful time at the Boston Marathon!!


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