5 Lessons on Bringing Your Dream to Life

Are u a dreamer?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I grew up with a stepdad who was a dreamer. He lived in a world where positive affirmations created a positive life. He believed that going after your heart’s desire was as important as anything else. He lived in the clouds and in his designs and in his visions.

I used to wake up and find that he had left post-it notes on my bathroom mirror with quotes about reaching my dreams such as, “You can if you think you can,” and “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

He bought me a pillow speaker when I was seven, so every night I could listen to a subliminal tape repeating how I would succeed beautifully in life.

He held a vision for himself to create his own business. He invented a product to put on every street sweeper and set out to make this dream come true. He worked tirelessly at it for many years, and eventually it took off. He had done it. He was living his dream.

I would love to say that this is where the story ends. I would love to say that he lived happily ever after embracing his dream. But that just wouldn’t be the truth.

What actually happened is that my stepdad’s dream—this life that he created—began to unravel almost as quickly as it had been created. And eventually, he lost everything: his dream, his family, and his life.

(He was never the same after his business folded; his zest for life left him, and he ended up dying at 56 from unknown causes. I think that his spirit was broken and his will to live was no longer there.)

But, even though it ended so badly and sadly, he happened to pass on the dreaming torch to me. And I carry it proudly and almost defiantly.

Dreamers aren’t always revered in our society. Sometimes they are seen as flaky or irresponsible.

But growing up with a dreamer and becoming one myself, I can say without a doubt that being a dreamer allowed me to create the life I am living today. It allowed me to believe that anything is possible, and that definitely is a good thing.

I believe that carrying big dreams in our hearts and then bringing them to life is an essential part of living fully. Just because my stepdad’s dreams didn’t go as he had hoped definitely doesn’t mean that all dreams will fail.

Quite the opposite, really. I have brought many dreams to life. And I give him a lot of credit for that. During our journey together I learned some powerful life lessons about dreaming, each of which helped me hold true to my dreams:

1. Believe in yourself as much as you believe in your dream.

I have seen many beautiful dreams fail simply because the dreamer didn’t have the self-confidence to see them through. They worried that maybe it was too big of a dream. They started to feel that maybe they weren’t actually good enough to want something so amazing.

Knowing that you are worthy of your dream is an essential part of bringing it to life. Growing up with positivity and affirmations helped create a solid foundation of self-esteem for me. I don’t believe my stepdad had this self-confidence, which is one of the reasons why his dream fell apart.

2. Be okay with failing.

If you never try to reach your dreams because you’re afraid that you’ll fail, then you’ll never know for sure if you could have made them come true.

I saw my stepdad go through several “failed” versions of his product before he came up with the final one. And each time, he was even more determined to create something that held his vision. He learned from each prototype and then incorporated these changes into the final version.

He was okay with failing and with making mistakes; he knew that it was part of the process. Knowing this gave me permission to make mistakes in my own life as I’ve moved toward my dream.

I’m sure I’ll continue to make mistakes, but one thing that stays true throughout each of these so-called failures is that I am here today because of them. Each one led to a shift in my perspective and a different path, which led me to the next, and the next.

3. Keep going.

I have worked for myself for the past 10 years. And throughout that time, I have had many moments where I wondered if this entrepreneurial lifestyle was worth it. I have questioned why I took this path and asked myself if I should just get a job with the security of a regular paycheck.

But the dreamer in my heart knew that I needed to keep going. I saw my stepdad keep at it, and I knew that he eventually reached his dream by doing so. And so I kept going and stayed on course, knowing that perseverance is the way to success. Staying power and continuing on is what separates the true dreamers and the achievers from the dream hobbyists.

4. Enjoy being different.

Being a dreamer transcends the dream itself. It’s a personality trait, a lifestyle, a way of thinking and being. When you’re a dreamer, your life isn’t going to look like everyone else’s. You think differently. You act differently. You live differently. And sometimes, this can feel uncomfortable.

My stepdad was definitely an outcast—he didn’t have many friends. And while I don’t think this needs to be the case, I do think it’s important to bring friends into your life that will accept you and embrace your dreams rather than minimize or criticize them.

I love that I have created a life where I get to do pretty much whatever I want. And I love that I have brought into my life a loving community that understands me and appreciates the dreamer in me. It’s definitely possible to enjoy being different and to find a tribe who enjoys it, too.

5. Allow your dream to change.

I believe that one of the reasons my stepdad’s dream fell apart was because he was holding onto the original vision without being open to new manifestations of it. Dreams change, just like we do. But when we resist those changes, we miss out on new possibilities.

Someone offered to buy my stepdad’s company for a lot of money, but because this wasn’t part of his original dream, he wasn’t even willing to consider this possibility. Shortly after he refused this offer, his company fell apart.

While this was heartbreaking at the time, the lesson that I have taken from it is that sometimes we have to allow our dreams to change. Sometimes we have to let go of our original plan and surrender to the possibility of whatever our dream may become.

My stepdad taught me that being a dreamer is something to be embraced rather than denied.

I’m a proud dreamer who takes risks and lives my life in this space of passion and innovation. Even though his dream was never fully realized, I’m glad my stepdad was an incurable dreamer.

It allowed me to grow up with hope and faith and creativity and life. And I’m proud that I have taken this trait on and will continue reaching my own dreams. I would love for you to do the same in your own life. The world can definitely never have too many dreamers.

This article, 5 Lessons On Bringing Your Dream to Life, was originally posted here

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5 Things Students Must Know About the New SAT

SAT-private-tutor

Practice mental math

By now, it is likely not news that the SAT is undergoing a comprehensive revision. Unfortunately for test-takers who will sit for the Redesigned SAT soon after its 2016 release, prep materials for the exam are relatively scarce. Despite this reality, there are still ways to ready yourself. Here are five such tips:

1. Practice with graphs

The Math section of the Redesigned SAT will increase its focus on algebraic and general problem solving, as well as data interpretation. Geometry will still be present, but it will account for a much smaller portion of the test.

To prepare for this shift, review and practice with ACT Science materials. Both ACT Science and SAT Math employ data interpretation and graphing skills, so the time you spend on one exam can benefit you on the other. Due to this increased overlap, it may even make sense to take both the SAT and the ACT. A number of colleges accept both tests, and many will use the score that is most advantageous to you.

2. Learn to work without a calculator

One of the most significant changes on the Math section is a calculator-free portion. This allows the SAT to test for real mathematical understanding, as opposed to the ability to enter numbers into a machine. It is essential to ensure that you can solve the problems outlined above (save for data analysis) without your calculator, so consider completing all your math homework and test practice by hand. This may make the work harder in the short term, but in the long term, you will be ready for this section of the Redesigned SAT.

3. Understand new answer formats

In the past, if a student was struggling with a specific portion of the SAT, I would sometimes recommend that he or she skip the most difficult questions, as wrong answers negatively impacted overall scores. On the Redesigned SAT, that advice is no longer relevant. You will no longer be penalized for wrong answers, and this means that there is no longer a reason to leave any questions blank. Random guessing will remain ineffective, but eliminating even one incorrect answer choice can lead to an improvement in your overall score. When you prepare for the exam, focus on not just finding the correct answers, but on quickly identifying incorrect responses too. This can include “guesstimating” Math questions, and avoiding Evidence-Based Reading and Writing answers that deal in absolutes.

Another important change in answer formats will be the extended-thinking question in the Math section. This question will be a word problem followed by several related questions, all of which test your problem solving skills. The answers to these questions will be “open” (or student produced), rather than multiple-choice. One way to start preparing for the extended-thinking question is to treat all math problems as essentially “open” – solve each practice question with the possible responses covered, and write your answer in the margin. After you finish, compare your result with the answer key. This process will not only help you improve in extended-thinking, but you will almost certainly become stronger with multiple-choice questions, as well.

4. Focus more on reading and less on vocabulary

The Redesigned SAT will feature a single Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion. Here, the primary shift will be an emphasis on parsing real-world texts. Vocabulary will still be relevant insofar as you will need to understand what you read. Gone, however, will be the esoteric terms that characterized earlier versions of the SAT. Instead of memorizing lists of vocabulary words, work on “unpacking” passages. As one example, this sample question requires students to define “parties” given the specific context of the passage. “Parties” is not a challenging term in and of itself, but determining the shade of meaning that is appropriate to the context can be.

Study materials developed for the Literature SAT Subject Test can be helpful when preparing for the Redesigned SAT since analysis will be much more important than regurgitation. The test will also use real-world documents drawn from various realms of history and culture. You cannot possibly read every important document, but you can browse several from each era so that the language is somewhat familiar to you come exam day.

5. Investigate the essay

Beginning in spring 2016, the essay portion of the SAT will no longer be required for all students. Many schools may still ask test-takers to submit it, but you will need to investigate this on a case-by-case basis. If none of your top-choice colleges ask for it, you may decide to opt against the essay. If you do need to complete the essay, be aware that it, too, is in the midst of a transformation. Specifically, you will now be asked to provide a critical evaluation of a provided passage, rather than your own free-form response to an open-ended topic. Critical analysis is a very different technique to wield, but the skills you learn while preparing for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing will stand you in good stead.

This article,  5 Things Student Must Know About the New SAT, was originally posted from here

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Tips on How to Design Your College Education

lecture hall

College can be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Although going to college may seem overwhelming, by following proper advice you can ensure that you get everything out of college that you need. This article is jam packed with tips to help you’ve a fantastic, worthwhile college experience.

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The Pros and Cons of Community College

Woman thinking blackboard

Community college is not what it used to be—in fact, there are major incentives to attending a local junior college. Not to mention the obvious financial advantage, junior college is a place where you can knock out your general courses and explore your other interests on a schedule that works for you. In my own experience, I found that junior college was a great place for me to figure out what major I was going to pursue and where I would eventually obtain my degree from. One of the most impressive professors that I have had the pleasure of learning from taught at the community school I attended, and some of the most interesting people I have ever met went there—think famous rock stars back from a tour in Europe just looking to learn a little Spanish. Maybe I just got lucky, but I’d like to think that community schools can offer something to everyone.

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