7 STEPS TO TURN YOUR DREAM INTO REALITY
Recently I’ve come across many posts on social media platforms with positive quotes and affirmation that encourage people to live out their dreams. But, without a guide to show how to create a path towards the dream itself, we have detoured and simply turned into the constant desire to post content in search of the most covenant comment of them all, “you are living your best life.”
Social media is designed to provide as many dopamine (the feel good chemical released in our brains) hits per day as possible to keep us active in search of validation from our peers.
The problem is society has created an artificial version of what living our best life looks like and it has distracted us from truly stepping into the light within all of us. I would define living my best life as one where I strive to reach my biological potential on a daily basis. This does not include capturing moments in high-end hotels or collecting material things. I think we can all agree that turning a dream into reality would be considered living our best life. So why do we never have open discussions about what it truly takes to make this happen?
The optimist in me says we just have to start asking the right questions. However, the pessimist in me says we no longer care because we are more infatuated with the material world and giving off the impression that we are already living our best life. Even though we all know we only post the best moments of our life or at least what we think people would perceive as such.
It is time for us to direct the focus from external validation to internal satisfaction. I will dive deeper beneath the surface to give real-world examples as to how I turned my dream into reality to give more depth and perspective to the quotes and motivation videos we frequently see on social media platforms.
Have a dream you can describe in one sentence so it is simple for you to follow.
When I was a kid, my dream was to play in the NBA and my idol was Kobe Bryant. I was fortunate and grateful my parents provided access to the NBA League Pass, which allowed me to watch every single NBA game and learn a ton every day. I remember studying Kobe Bryant and his movements on the court, which later grew to studying his movements off the court as I knew the two must have some type of correlation.
Apply maximum focus to your dream, so that everyday you allocate time specifically to making progress towards your dream.
In high school I attended DeMatha Catholic High School where I was on the varsity track & field team, but on the freshman basketball team, which reflected where my primary focus had been from the age of 7 to 15. Up until this point basketball was secondary to track & field where I excelled from a young age. However, during my sophomore year I had an epiphany in my dream and on January 27, 2005, I woke up with a clear plan as to what I wanted and what I needed to do to accomplish it.
At this time I was on the JV basketball team, but I was unhappy with the situation and I didn’t believe this path would take me to my ultimate goal, which had now been adjusted from playing in the NBA to playing professional basketball overseas. That morning I wrote the date on the wall, which is still on my wall, it was the end of my track & field career and also my basketball career at DeMatha.
Prepare yourself mentally for all the roadblocks and adversity that are necessary to overcome in pursuit of your dream.
After leaving DeMatha in the summer of 2005 following my sophomore year, I knew I had to put myself in the best basketball situations to catch up to my peers who made more progress by solely focusing on basketball as I juggled track & field and basketball. I never quit anything in my life, but I prepared myself mentally to take 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.
The rest of my high school and college career didn’t go exactly as planned, but I was on the right path nonetheless and was committed to stay the course.
Reminder: Just because you create, a plan does not mean it will go exactly as you envision it, but the important part is that you continue to work towards it every day.
After graduating from college in 2011, it was now or never to realise my dream to play basketball professionally.
Have an open mind and be ready to adapt to any situations that may change and force you to take a different route to your dream.
When I graduated, the cards were massively stacked against me because although I was offered a Division 1 scholarship I ended up at a Division 3 college and there were basically 0 professional basketball players from Division 3 colleges. Which meant my only chance would be to get a tryout with a team at the lowest level in Europe. However, when I graduated, the NBA had a lockout which meant the low tiered players in the NBA now became the high tiered European import players (each team in Europe is limited to 1 to 3 Americans per team.) and it pushed everyone down a tier. This ended up leaving me with a 0% chance to play professionally for the 2011/12 season.
At this point I accepted that I needed to find another way and be very creative, but I never gave up although my parents told me it was time to find a job and enter the “real world.”
Since I was convinced I would somehow play professionally, but also realised I needed to make money, I moved to Pittsburgh and worked for Hertz Rental.
I moved to Pittsburgh new years eve and for the first 2 months every night after work I spent hours searching the internet for a way to keep my dream alive. One night into the 3rd month of working for Hertz I found a full post graduate international sport scholarship being offered by the University of East London and it was one of the happiest days of my life.
It was never a goal of mine to get my masters, but at this point I knew I had to adapt and find a creative way to position myself in Europe because I knew I would have an advantage over other Americans in my position looking for tryouts from the US as opposed to being in Europe or the United Kingdom already.
Create a vision board that clearly maps out what your dream looks like and the habits you must adopt to accomplish it.
Once I arrived in London on September 11, 2012, I knew I was as close to realising my dream as I’d ever been in my life. The best part of it all was that Team USA used UEL’s facilities to prepare for the 2012 Olympics, which meant I shared the same court as my idol Kobe Bryant!
Now that I was only a short flight away from potential tryouts in Europe, I knew I had to take things to the next level and I created a vision board to hang on my wall to program my subconscious mind that I didn’t come this far to fail.
After doing a ton of research, I mapped out the best route possible to realise my dream and determined the United Kingdom was my best chance to secure my first professional contract.
As I played for the university team I had direct access to play for an affiliated club, which had a team in both the 4th and 2nd tier of the United Kingdom basketball hierarchy. While training with the 2nd team, I realised I could easily play at that level and set my sights on an even higher league although I was playing for the 4th division team.
I slowly began to make a name for myself in the UK when I was selected to represent England in the United Kingdom best university players where we played against the top basketball university platers in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. We won the tournament, and I used this momentum to secure a spot on the London Lions summer league team who play in the BBL (highest league in the UK).
Fully prepare yourself to be ready to take advantage of the one opportunity you get because it may be your only one.
After performing well against other professional players, I knew the BBL was my target, and I went to another tryout for Surrey United also in the BBL. The coach told me they already had too many players at my position, but luckily the Division 2 team I trained with previously were promoted to Division 1, which is the second highest level in the UK.
I made sure to show everyone what I was capable of every game and going into the 8th game I was the leading scorer in the league and we were 7–0 up against the defending champs who were also 7–0. I thoroughly prepared myself on and off the court and I knew this game could really put me on the map.
I ended up top scoring and hit the game winning shot with 1 second left! It was a big deal as I projected and after getting home that night I found an article that had recounted everything and hailed me as the hero. I simply sent the link with no other words to the head coach of Surrey United who previously denied me a spot and stared at my phone for 45 minutes straight until I received the best message ever, “come to training tomorrow morning.”
I literally jumped for joy, and I knew there was NO WAY I would let my only opportunity slip through my hands. I ended up having a great session and received my first professional contract and in my first game I faced the London Lions in the Olympic stadium.
Although we lost, I was the game’s leading scorer and had my first in game dunk of my entire basketball career, so I knew I belonged.
I officially turned my dream into a reality.
Help others in real-time to pursue their dreams instead of waiting until you make it to the top because it will provide you with an energy rooted in humility.
Often I see stories of people sharing information years after they made it to the level they dreamt of reaching, however I always believed the biggest impact can be made during the journey not after.
After my first few games of playing at a high level my coach at Surrey United was impressed and entrusted me to find another American to help us win games. I instantly messaged my old teammate Isaiah Tate from DeMatha Catholic High School (the school i transferred from), who went on to a Division 1 school and played professionally the season before in Finland, to see if he would be interested in teaming up in London.
Once we signed him, my basketball career came full circle and I felt as though I finally caught up to my peers I grew up playing with. Helping him in real-time gave me a huge energy boost that propelled me to a 5-year career culminating in a championship and cup title in Germany in 2018 where I ended my career.
I believe these 7 steps can be applied to any dream, and it will give you a path to follow, which increases the value of positive quotes and affirmations.