How to dream the impossible dream and reach the unreachable star

Dreams. We’ve all got ‘em. Most of us even have BIG dreams. Trouble is, we tend to shove them way back into the deepest recesses of our brain because they’re safe there.

dreamIs that what dreams are for? For keeping safe? Or are they for living?

I say dreams are meant to be lived. Pursue your passion and live your dream – wherever it may take you.

What’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.

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.

footstepsLiving 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. 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.

You won’t achieve your dream in one fell swoop.

If your dream is big enough, you’ll get there step by tiny step.

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.”

Don’t expect to know everything you need to know right out the gate.

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

learnJohn 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.

If you want to reach your unreachable star, you’ll have to persevere.

Big time. 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 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 that 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.

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.

Overplanning 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.

ushuaia sign end of the world

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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7 Responses to How to dream the impossible dream and reach the unreachable star

  1. Helen October 10, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    You are true inspiration. Dream it, do it and keep on doing it!

  2. Ebram October 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Wow so motivating and inspiring & you absolutely true about that part ” Enough of the planning. Enough preparation. Go now ”

    Sometimes it takes like forever when we focus on planning and preparing and all we need is just stop preparing and go for our dream. Love the way you write 🙂

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel October 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      @Ebram, It really is true that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go. It might not be perfectly planned, but as long as it’s planned ENOUGH, then it’s… well, enough.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Emma June 9, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    I’m so happy for you Nancy ? Great job?? I want to be an actress but my parents tell me that it’s impossible and has a dark ending.they say it’s better to choose the job that you know what happens at the end.They are right, but what happens to the dreams??are they only for dreaming and staying inside myself??can you help me??

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel June 18, 2016 at 7:47 am #

      Tough call! Your parents are right in many regards – it IS hard to make it as an actress, and your odds are long. They simply want for you to be comfortable and not struggle. My advice would be to do it both ways – get some sort of training so that you can get a decent-paying job while you strive for your dream of being an actress. By that I mean play a long game, rather than focusing on the short term. Spend a year or two (Or four) getting training in something you can tolerate, which will then generate enough income to live on while you pursue your long game of acting.

      I was a teacher. I wasn’t passionately in love with teaching, but I wasn’t miserable either. Teaching paid better than flipping burgers, but also allowed me time to do other things. In the end, I was able to “marry” my passion for traveling with teaching by teaching abroad. Maybe you can figure out something along those lines?

  4. Jordan December 31, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    I like travel in bike this is so motivating. Fine i from peru. And my would like. Travel some day… Thank for you blog…

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