5 things to remember if you want to reach the unreachable star

Remember back when you were a kid? You had BIG dreams!

You wanted to climb Mt. Everest and scuba dive to the depths of the ocean. You wanted to be a ballerina on Broadway or the bravest fireman on Earth. There was nothing that could stop you. You were invincible!

And then you grew up.

And all those dreams vanished into the dark of the night. Adulthood showed you the folly of dreaming big. You grew up and matured and left those silly dreams behind.

Sound familiar?

I challenge you to pull them out again. Dig down inside and find those dreams you had ages ago and reevaluate them. Are they still what you want to do? Or has your dream changed?

Either way, you do have dreams – and you CAN live them.

It doesn’t matter what those dreams are. They may be travel related like ours were, or they may be something else. What’s important is that you pursue your passion and live your dream – wherever it may take you.

nothing worth having comes easyWhat’s that? You’re feeling overwhelmed by the bigness of it? Your dream is HUGE and you don’t know how to do it?

I know a thing or two about tackling big things, if biking 17,000 miles with kids can be considered a big thing.

Here’s how to do it. It really isn’t that hard.

1) Remember that big things don’t happen overnight.

Sir Edmund Hilary didn’t climb Mt. Everest in a day. Neil Armstrong didn’t wake up one morning and decide he’d fly to the moon. Steve Jobs didn’t create Apple into a multi-million dollar empire overnight.

If you can dream it, you can live itLiving your dream means taking a million (or more) teeny tiny steps in the right direction. Many times you won’t even know which direction they’re leading, but if you make sure you’re doing what makes you happy, they’re going the right way.

When I made the decision 21 years ago to quit my job for a year to bike around India, I had no idea that my decision would ultimately lead to meeting my husband and living a life of adventure. I never dreamed at the time that a year biking in India would be a stepping stone to a year-long bike trip with my children 16 years later. And I certainly never dreamed at the time that it would all lead toward making the giant leap to pedal from Alaska to Argentina.

At the time, back in 1990, I just figured that what I wanted to do was spend a year cycling in Asia. That was just one step of many that led me to my PanAmerican adventure.

2) Remember that you won’t achieve your dream in one fell swoop. If your dream is big enough, you’ll get there step by tiny step.

Nearly to the end of our dream

Many tiny little steps add up over time

When we left Alaska, we rarely thought about Argentina. Sure, when someone asked us where we were going, we might say Tierra del Fuego, but mostly we said, “We’re going to Whitehorse,” or “We’re on our way to Albuquerque.”

We broke our journey into many manageable chunks and focused on each one of those chunks rather than the whole. The vastness, the enormity of it all was too much for our brains to deal with. We could, however, deal with 300 miles. We set our sights on the next manageable goal and, when we achieved that we set another manageable goal.

As Mark Beaumont, world record holder as the fastest cyclist to circumnavigate the world says, “If I focus on today, the big picture will take care of itself.”

3) You won’t learn everything you need to know immediately.

Don’t expect to know everything you need to know right out the gate. Your knowledge base will grow with each new experience you manage to successfully navigate. Give yourself time to slowly build up that bag of tricks you’ll need to achieve your dream.

John and I had done a lot of bike touring before we set off with our children. Prior to our first tour as a family, John probably had a hundred thousand miles under his belt and I had many thousands. We knew what we were doing – or so we thought.

As it turned out, bike touring as a family was radically different than just the two of us. In those first few months on the road as a family, we repeatedly encountered situations we weren’t prepared for and had to muddle through the best we could. We used our previous experiences to base decisions upon and then we analyzed the outcome to figure out what we needed to change.

For example, we thought we had prepared for rain. We had a good, waterproof tent and waterproof jackets. We figured we were good – we could camp in the rain and not get wet and we could ride in the rain and stay relatively dry in our jackets. As it happened, we had neglected one critical aspect – we had no way to protect our bikes or gear from the rain. After our first major rainstorm we went back to the drawing board and figured out how we could take care of that problem.

4) If you want to reach your unreachable star, you’ll have to persevere. Big time.

Living your dream isn't always easy

Living your dream isn't always easy

There will be times when it’s tough going and you’ll question whether you can do it or not. There’ll be times when it seems fruitless and there’s absolutely no progress whatsoever. That’s when you take a deep breath, dig down deep, and persevere.

We went through some pretty challenging times on our journey. I remember being in Trujillo, Peru and writing in my journal. “I just feel like crap right now. I feel like I’ve been dragged through the mud, spat upon, kicked viciously, and discarded for dead.” I was low – about as low as I could be.

Daryl uttered some wise words one day. As we walked along the street and I bitched, moaned and complained about how horrible everything was, Daryl turned to me and, with his 11-year-old wisdom, said, “Mom, it won’t do any good to complain. All you can do is keep going and things will get better.”

He was right. Complaining didn’t change anything. I simply had to persevere and keep going – and things eventually got easier.

5) If I have only one suggestion for living your dream, it’s to DO IT. Start walking. Enough of the planning. Enough preparation. Go. Now.

big thinking precedes big achievmentsOverplanning is the surest way to kill the dream. You need to plan enough so you don’t kill yourself, but that’s it. Don’t try to plan out the tiniest detail and contemplate every contingency. If you do that, you’ll soon be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what you’re doing.

It is possible to dream the impossible dream and reach the unreachable star – we’re living proof of that. You can pursue your passion and live your dream. It’s all up to you.

It will hurt to reach your goal, but worth it

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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39 Responses to 5 things to remember if you want to reach the unreachable star

  1. Loving the Bike October 8, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Once again I feel totally connected to you and what’s going on in your head. Great post and thanks for adding fuel to my fire. When I think back on my dreams only one thought comes to mind….and I am currently taking steps in that direction. I’ll unveil more to you in the very near future.


    • Nancy October 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      @Loving the Bike,
      I can’t wait to hear about your latest big plans! No doubt it’ll be awesome!

  2. Monica October 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Great post. We all need reminders that our dreams are achievable.
    As I thought about this I couldn’t think of any of my friends who actually have big dreams. How sad. What has happened to big dreams? What is worse..having a big dream and not following it or not dreaming?

    • Nancy October 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

      Oh wow – that’s a terrible thought. I can’t even imagine not dreaming, but having a dream and not following it is a soul-sucker too.

  3. Living Outside of the Box October 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    I like your thought about one step at a time. It’s true that if you focus on the big picture all the time, it can be overwhelming. My husband and I took one step at a time, and looking back we see how things lined up to bring us to this exact spot. But never in a million years would we have guessed where this spot was, and how great things would be! In fact, skipping all of those steps in between would have made this destination impossible. The steps were not all easy or joyful, but they had to be done. Now we’ll continue to follow our hearts, take steps, and who knows what could be around the corner?!

    • Nancy October 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      @Living Outside of the Box,
      Absolutely! Those tiny steps may seem like they’re going nowhere, but they really are. I often wonder where these steps right now are taking us.

  4. Lessa October 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I totally agree with your post again, I wish I had this level of understaning a few years ago as I think that I have missed out on the oppertunity to have a head start (but is that just my excuse to prevent me taking action?!) but its not too late.

    There is no way to make it and avoid hard work!

    • Nancy October 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      I don’t think it’s ever too late to start. Maybe it would have been better years ago, but what’s past is past. Set your goals and go for it!

      • Nancy November 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

        It’s certainly important to think about if you’ll regret your decision later on. Sometimes it would be way easier to not do something, but would we regret it??

  5. Nelson Parke October 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    In 1986 I had to make a very important decision. As a Christian I have been one to say, Lord where do you want me to go? I was on a trip when my air conditioner quit and it was 110F in the shade. Why, Lord? While the mechanic was working on my van his boss told me a story about seeing the stairs, but not being able to see the top. That was my answer, it is one step at a time. I asked for and was told the first step and have never regretted it. It is still one step at a time.

    • Nancy October 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

      @Nelson Parke,
      I love that idea – you see the stairs but not the top. It’s so true. You just have to have faith that you can reach it somehow.

  6. Yvette October 9, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    My only disagreement here is the presumption at the beginning that one’s dreams fade away in adulthood. If anything I’d say my life and dreams are all the MORE amazing now than I ever could’ve imagined when I was younger!

    Dreams are good but sometimes we gotta reevaluate them to see if they change, because if we all stuck with our original ones there would be a hell of a lot more cowboys and princesses out there. 😉

    (Btw just wondering about that Ushuaia sign with Lapatia listed as further- does that mean that’s the REAL end of the world then?)

    • Nancy October 9, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      I totally agree that we need to constantly reevaluate our dreams and see if they are still what we want to do. Sometimes we get stuck in one dream and end up in a rut that we don’t know how to get out of. Is your dream still what you’re passionate about? Has your focus changed and you’ve now got a new dream – perhaps one that you never even considered earlier? It’s all good, it’s just important that we pursue that passion.

      As for the sign… yes, Lapataia is the true end of the road. There is a national park south of Ushuaia and the real end is there. Ushuaia is more commonly known, but Lapataia is the true end. We took a day trip down to Lapataia a few days after arriving into Ushuaia.

  7. The GREAT Edward October 9, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Love being on this journey with you as you fulfill your dream and show others that it is possible.

    Meeting with many people who share their dreams with me I find that they lack the self-motivation to make them come to be in this reality. They are looking and hoping for something outside of themselves to move them forward.

    All they need to do is reach deep inside themselves and just do it!

    Keep your dreams alive!


    • Nancy October 9, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      @The GREAT Edward,
      Oh man – ain’t that the truth! It seems like people are looking for excuses so they don’t have to go there, but then they complain that they aren’t there! We all have it within us to live our dreams – we just have to act upon it.

  8. Traveling Ted October 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Some great advice and you are definitely a good person to give it after the amazing accomplishments you and your family have under your belt.

    • Nancy October 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      @Traveling Ted,
      Aw, shucks! Thanks! I think we all “know” this stuff, it’s just that we tend to forget it.

  9. Anna October 10, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Wow! What an inspiring writing of yours! We should never ever forget about our dream no matter how big they seem. Thanks, this post was just what I needed today.

    • Nancy October 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      I think our society has taught us that we need to leave those dreams behind when we grow up. I think differently!

  10. Justin October 10, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    If there is one truth out there, this may be it.

    Take it from a person who tried to climb his Everest in a suit and tie. It can’t be done. Dreams take time.

    It would have been real helpful if you had written this post about a year ago Nancy. It would have saved me a ton of frustration. 🙂 Then again, I wouldn’t have listened. I would have thought I could do everything all at once and force the dream to happen. I would have ignored the long, focused, baby step process you speak of here and ended up with a nightmare.

    “If I focus on today, the big picture will take care of itself.” PERFECT!

    • Nancy October 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Dreams to take time – there is no escaping that. A friend of mine said, “Living your dream is taking a million tiny steps in the right direction.” That’s exactly what you’re doing. It may seem like you’re not living your dream yet, but you really are – you’re moving in the right direction. You’ll get there!

  11. Minnie October 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    The memories when we used to dream and fantasize are so beautiful, so much change when we grow up. The hunger and inspiration is is what I wish, I could get back…

    • Nancy October 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      I love the idea of hunger and inspiration! What a beautiful vision!

  12. Dewy October 28, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    i was feeling down and out these past two days, you got me teary-eyed at reading this. i guess im that bowed biker today, at the point of giving up after having traveled a great distance…i should’ve read this two ago and not had to pay for the heartaches. your post is taking me back to wonderful memories of achieving and fighting for the ultimate dream’s reality, Thank you so much for the inspiration, i so needed that.

  13. Cila November 4, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I’m in a writing slump and your post was very welcome inspiration. Thank you for sharing on Facebook.
    Here’s to one-step-at-a-time.

    • Nancy November 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      It’s all about one step at a time! No matter what it is that you want to do, you’ll get there tiny step by tiny step.

  14. Richard Díaz-Cataldo November 4, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Wow, this is such a big reminder and a very wise piece of advise. I very often have in my mind the very big things that I want to do, and so I’m also very often lost on them. It’s too overwhelming. Breaking them up in little pieces that fit my everyday life, and just having fun with them, without worrying how to do them, is just more easy and doable. Thanks for the reminder.

    PD., I think some things do require long term planning, though. For example -and mainly- getting the amount of money to embark on a world tour. For that, you shouldn’t loose track of the big picture.

    • Nancy November 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      @Richard Díaz-Cataldo,
      I think it’s very important to keep the big picture in mind – but take tiny steps to get there.

  15. Emily S. November 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I love this post… it’s so inspiring. We CAN do what we dream of, but it has to be one step at a time. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    • Nancy November 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      @Emily S.,
      One baby step at a time. Itty, bitty, teeny tiny baby steps. You can do whatever you want if you take it one baby step at a time.

  16. Lauren December 7, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Love this post, I’ve had a lot of difficulty the past two years trying to achieve my dreams. I think part of the problem was that I wasn’t really doing things I wanted to but wanting the outcome or result instead. But I’ve changed that but still get those moments where perseverance is important.

    • Nancy December 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      I so understand doing the wrong things but wanting the right outcome. I think we’ve all done that.

  17. Kieu ~ GQ trippin December 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    Love this post! Gerard and I are definitely dreaming BIG for 2012 and.. making it happen. Thanks for the reminder and nudge of inspiration. =)

    • Nancy December 20, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      @Kieu ~ GQ trippin,
      Dreaming BIG and then making it happen is what it’s all about! So happy you’re doing it – you won’t regret it!

  18. Beaches in Florida Keys January 10, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    This is extremely true, with our growing age we tend to forget our those tiny miny dreams. But you always inspire me with your posts and this time even more. I will definitely try to fulfill all the dreams i had, now!!!
    Thanks a ton for the encouragement.

    • Nancy January 10, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      @Beaches in Florida Keys,
      Why is that? Why do we allow those dreams to go by the wayside? Makes no sense to me, but it sure happens that way.

  19. Claire Lang February 21, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Thanks a ton for the encouragement. I think it’s very important to keep the big picture in mind – but take tiny steps to get there.

    • Nancy February 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      @Claire Lang, It’s all about baby steps. Frustrating at times, but so worth it in the end.


  1. Fears that prevent people from living their dreams. | Family on Bikes - January 13, 2012

    […] If I take my kids out of school, will I be sacrificing their chances at attending university and future opportunities? Remember that millions of families homeschool their children and the kids turn out just fine. Many opt to go to college; many opt for other career paths. You are not handicapping your children by teaching them to reach for the stars. […]

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