The “magical” formula
Update 2021: I’m filing this under “The Hero Series” because, to me, this is what a hero does. The hero has a dream and enters the unknown to make their dream real. Anyone who can do this is inspiring, and I think we label them as heroes because we want to do the same thing. Below, I discuss my process. It’s written more for adults. Since this post was initially written, we have refined the process and rewritten everything in a kid-friendly way, and posted that on our new website Dreamaplay.
I discovered this magical formula while traveling around the world on a bicycle. It may not seem like magic to you, but think of it this way: one day, your dream didn’t exist, and another day it does. Where did it come from? Or to put it another way: one day, you have a dream of growing a garden, and soon, if you plant a garden, you will have a tomato in your own hand. That tomato didn’t exist until you put your dream into action. Every time I harvest a tomato from my garden, it sure seems like magic to me.
To me, dreams are a bit magical, too. They just pop into my head and scream, “ME! Let’s do me.” I believe dreams are the most important part of creating any reality, but arguably taking steps of action is even more important. You may not be able instantly to turn water into wine, but with hundreds of steps, you could plant your own grapes and learn the art of winemaking and eventually make a glass of wine. It may seem mundane to you, especially if you are stomping all the grapes with your feet for hours and hours, but to everyone else, the glass of wine will look like magic. This is how to turn dreams into reality.
Falling Uphill: Young Adult Edition about Scott’s bicycle ride around the world is the perfect example of turning dreams into reality — not even Scott believed this dream was possible until it was done.
And our newest work, Dream It!, is all about Step 1) Dream it! By the time you finish this book, not only will you have dreamed a dream, but you will have taken the first steps to make it a reality.
I also discovered variations of this formula in many other cultures and religions. The wording and ideas can be abstract and mind-bending. Sometimes there are 7 steps or 5 steps or 2 steps. I spent a long time thinking about these ideas and tried to put them into the simplest possible form. My first solution, which I used for a long time, was:
1) Think it. 2) Plan it. 3) Do it.
But, this phrasing seemed too absolute. I thought there was one correct solution to any given problem, and then I tried to plan my steps of action perfectly and do everything just right. You know what happened? I often failed. But, sometimes, my failures were pleasant surprises. Like once, when all the potatoes in my garden died, I dug them up and threw them into the compost heap. The following year I found dozens of potatoes growing in the compost heap. I got more potatoes than imagined possible, and I didn’t have to do one ounce of work.
Anyway, the first formula was missing the fun. Labeling the first step as a dream was a big improvement. Now, instead of having to follow other people’s solutions, I could have fun dreaming of new possibilities. Instead of being stuck playing the clarinet, like I was in the sixth grade, I could now imagine playing any instrument or invent my own. But for years, I still struggled with trying to plan and do everything perfectly. Eventually, I met my co-author Sara, and after brainstorming, we came up with:
1) Dream it. 2) Map it. 3) Play it.
This put the fun back into it. Instead of planning, now we are exploring. And, instead of doing it, now we are playing. This gives us more freedom to make mistakes and see them as learning opportunities or pleasant surprises like the potatoes. The first formula works if you want to follow someone else. For example, if you want to cook a hamburger, can you use someone else’s recipe. But, in most cases, we are true adventures exploring things that have never been done. In this case, we need to make our own maps and allow ourselves to make mistakes.
Below are few ideas for how to do each step. Keep in mind, we’ve revised everything since then and created lots of activities and pencil and paper games to help these lessons come to life.
Step 1) Dream it!
To me, the first and most important step is to find a dream. If you could do anything, what would you do? Take the first step in creating a new reality — dream big? How do you feel about that dream? Are you passionate about it? How can you fuel that fire? Are you afraid of it? Do you doubt it? Ask yourself how your fears and doubts are protecting you, and use them to your advantage!
Step 2) Map it!
Take that micro-reality of a dream and make it bigger by giving it more energy. Talk about it with your friends. Get valuable feedback as to how to make your dream come true. Declare your commitment to yourself and the world. Watch the passion grow in other people. The more people you inspire, the merrier. The merrier for you and the merrier for them. Even if you decide to make a solo journey around the world on a bike, someone has to build the bike, and someone has to build the road.
Step 3) Play it!
Strangely enough, a good idea and a cup of coffee will get you a cup of coffee. We live in a 3-dimensional world that requires honest effort. Even magic takes effort. So, get your community together and get going. They didn’t build Rome in a day but — remember — you’re doing this because you said it would be so, and you thought it would be fun and exciting every step of the way.
Warning: You gotta believe it. Do you have some hidden baggage in your subconscious? Do you feel like you’re not good enough or you don’t deserve it, thoughts like these could be sabotaging all the good intentions and hard work in the world. Dig it up and throw it out.