If you want to be useful, you can always start now. –from Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers

I love this line. In his book, Derek Sivers directs it to those who are waiting for some big event to launch a dream: money, a headline name, whatever. Sivers does a great job of giving examples to explain this concept, but I’m going to make it personal in my interpretation.

My heretofore secret dream is to write a book, and through that, to become a respected author. The problem is that I don’t have a topic or a story line. I don’t even know what genre to tackle. I don’t know whether it should be fiction or non-fiction. For a long time, I carried my dream like a burden, waiting for inspiration so that I could suddenly lighten the load. I let that keep me away from my keyboard and didn’t write a thing.

One day, however, I realized that I simply love to communicate through the written word. I love to craft sentences that transcend the letters on the page and become vivid images on a reader’s mental canvas. And I do have ideas–maybe not ideas that are big enough to carry a book, but certainly ideas that could carry an essay or two. So I started writing them down. Then I started sharing what I wrote. 

Now I write something almost every day, and I’ve already reaped rewards from the words I’ve sown. First, the mere discipline of the activity has helped me improve my writing each time I pick up my pen or sit down at the keyboard. Second, holding my ideas up to the light of my computer screen and wrestling with the descriptors and explanations that surround them often reveal their tiny sparkles and illuminate their imperfections. I’ve had to set aside many ideas that weren’t as strong as I thought because I couldn’t find the words to support them. Others that initially seemed insignificant sped forward on their own, magnetically attracting words like iron filings. Finally, I’ve found an outlet for my writing and I’ve found a venue in which to share it (right here, if you haven’t noticed). I’m getting closer to my dream every day.

Have I written a book? No. Do I still hope to? Sure. So what has changed? I think the difference is that now I’m on the path to getting there. The way I see it, too many people focus on the destination and forget to get on the road. The last time I checked, we hadn’t yet advanced to teleportation; no one is going to beam me up. Most of us still have to get where we’re going the hard way.

I think that Derek’s point is that making the realization of a dream dependent on a Big Event leaves most dreams untouched and unrealized. Grow your idea by proving it out. If you can prove your value in a very real way, even on a small scale, the rest will come.

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