I remember the first time I made a wish. We lived by a park that had a large fountain with bronze statues in the center. On any given day, there were hundreds of pennies lying at the bottom of the water, hundreds of people hoping their wishes would come true.

Of course, as a child, I had childlike wishes. More toys. Better grades. More vacation days.

But the fountain wasn’t just for kids wishes. There were always a handful of adults that would throw a penny in too. I always wondered what adults wish for.

Better health? A better job? Or maybe a different relationship? Or a better life?

Of course, I wished for all of that and more as an adult. My daughter often demanded that we throw pennies in together. And though I never told anyone, I did wish for those very things. Success was always high on my list.

The very nature of a wish tells you it will never come true. A wish is a strong desire for something. It also means there’s a strong possibility it will never come true.

Why?

Because wishes are fleeting moments in time where you suddenly long for something based on what you see around you in the world. Someone else’s life looks more exciting. Another job sounds like more fun.

What separates wishes from reality is the doing – the action.

Wishes exist because they are fleeting thoughts. They are sudden daydreams that you find appealing because you think it would make your life better. You see the surface of someone else’s life, and wish you could have that too.

Wishes are surface dreams. They focus in on appearances rather than the core. And we all know that it’s your core – your roots – that matter most. You can only do what you believe at your heart. So the only way to change and make your wishes come true is to work on your core.

Without action, that will never happen. And that’s where most people fail.

Take, for example, the act of wanting to change careers.

Think of your favorite author for a moment. Someone you highly admire – JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, Margaret Atwood. I admire each of these women for the successful writing careers they’ve each created.

It’s easy to sit back and wish I could do what they did.

I’ll never – ever – get where they are, unless I do something about it … Action.

Go To Where The Help Is

I spent this past week with a group of writers. I spent two days in a mastermind with twenty other authors, diving into how to make our author careers better. I spent another two days in a retreat with one hundred authors, working on improving our core beliefs and strategies. I gave myself another day to soak it all in, make my own notes, and start working on my one year plan.

I have new goals for how to grow my business into a small writing empire. I see multiple books in several genres. I see a potential for screenwriting, television and movies.

I have more than just wishes, hoping they will come true. I have goals and action items that will push me to where I want to be.

Why Attending Growth Events Is Important

It takes a lot of work attending events.

First, you have to find the perfect event to attend, and that’s not always easy to do. It’s easier with the internet, but it’s also more difficult. You can find hundreds – thousands of choices for your time, money and energy. You have to sift through their words on the page, dig deep down to figure out what they’re “selling”, and determine if you buy into what they believe.

As you test the waters, you have to determine how well they meet your expectations. It’s especially tricky if you haven’t yet cultivated your desires and outcomes.

But that’s okay. I’ve attended a lot of events, seminars, classes, and training sessions, and with all of them, I’ve walked away with something.

As a writer, I started reading books and learned who spoke my language. From there, I invested in video training, teleclasses, and other learning mechanisms to go to the next level. Only then did I move forward and attend live trainings, and join masterminds. I think that’s the best way to move forward.

Test. Test with a little more. And when you know you’ve found something you resonate with, it’s all in with the learning curve.

I’ve attended many that connect people who want to write their epic novel. That’s not my definition of where I’m going.

My goal is to create a business out of my writing. So I kept looking to find the right connections.

When I found my tribe, I jumped. And because they meet in Austin, I had to go to where they were meeting.

My 10 Takeaways

I’m a little different when I attend live training sessions. I often see people scribbling furiously to take it all down. Or typing away to keep a running line item of what the hosts are talking about.

I sit back and listen. And occasionally the host will say something that gives me a big A-HA moment. That’s what I write down.

I write their words. And I write what they mean to me. I write down how I can implement the idea once I get home.

And I always take another day away from my home or office, to read back through my notes and put together a step by step plan for once I return.

1. Are you solving for the wrong problem?

Imagine you spend days, weeks, months, years, trying to build towards a goal. Then one day you find out you’ve been climbing the wrong ladder. Yep, sucks. That’s why testing and evaluation are so important.

My a-ha moment hit early into the conference this year when I realized that I’d been thinking about a portion of my business all wrong. I’d been following a plan – a good plan – and yet it didn’t resonate with my general direction I’d established for my 50 to 60 plan.

Attending seminars help you grow and look at yourself in new ways. They help you see yourself in a different light. And one little phrase or sentence can change everything. It can help you grow from “doing okay” into becoming “wildly successful.”

2. Don’t should all over yourself.

I should work out today. I should go to the store. I should look for a new job. I should eat something better. If I had a dime for all the shoulds in my life …

Here’s the thing; should’s are like wishes, they never come true or materialize. Because there’s no energy behind a should. If you really want to do something, you’ll do instead.

3. Follow the market trends carefully.

The market is a crazy place. It’s always growing, changing, expanding. And if you listen to the world, you’ll feel like you’re quickly falling behind.

I really like what I’m doing. I’ve made writing my career of choice. So every day I write. And every day I try to find a way to be a little better at what I do.

Have you ever jumped at something because everyone is talking about it? If you’re in an entrepreneurial career, I’m sure you know this feeling well. The marketplace says Facebook is the newest trend, so you put a ton of energy into learning Facebook. And as soon as you’re giving that a shot, the marketplace changes – Instagram, that’s where it’s at. So you study that for a bit. Until Twitter – Pinterest – Whatever – becomes the latest and greatest.

I no longer listen to what the market says is the latest trend. But I don’t ignore it either. I evaluate everything very carefully. There truly is a way to make anything successful – you don’t need all 8 billion people on earth believing in what you do. Find a few hundred solid believers, and you’ll have more than enough success.

4. Others are your best resources.

Collaboration will win. Sharing and working with others will always push you a little farther, a little faster.

Yet the world is filled with lies that it’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Yes, you can play in that playing field. You don’t have to look any further than our current reality TV to know that’s true.

But when you shove all of that shit aside, you’ll discover there really is a world left where people care. When you find your tribe, you’ll find people that care about who you are and what you do.

You have to give first. You have to go into it with a giving heart. But when you do, you’ll be surprised at how much good is left in the world.

5. It’s okay not to have it all.

I remember coming out of college and starting my first career. It was a time when all the talk was about women having it all.

I tried that for a bit. Full time career. Traveling all over. Marriage. Building a home. Having a family. Starting a business. Whew!

Somewhere along the way, it turned crazy. I wore myself out. And I hated everything about my life.

From the outside, it looked like I had success. I was flying all over, photographing the best weddings in the world. I had a book deal with a publisher. I was a columnist for a business newspaper. I was speaking at major events. I had started several businesses.

I also had a daughter who was devastated I didn’t attend a performance of her play she’d worked on for weeks. I felt guilty working when I should have been with family. And when I was with family, I felt guilty not working on the long to-do list I always seemed to have.

I started reading articles and books by people who talked down the “having it all” philosophy. I quickly joined the bandwagon.

You might be able to have it all in a lifetime, but you can’t have it all at once. Sometimes you need to devote your life to your family. Sometimes you need to devote time to your career. The delicate balance is finding out how to do it at the right time, so you can have a life you truly adore.

6. Focus on the things that never change.

Years ago, when I was having an especially difficult time with a few business problems, I read a review of a new book that had just come out. Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad was hitting the scene, and it was taking the world by storm.

I went out and bought it, and sat up all night reading it when my husband was out of town. That was the kick in the pants I needed to tell the really crappy part of my business goodbye.

After months of working desperately to change my life, I read a piece of information that said Rich Dad, Poor Dad was nothing more than a remix of other great books in history. Like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clayson.

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Up until that time, I’d always been looking for my “original” idea. This was the first a-ha I had that “original” ideas simply don’t exist. Instead, you put your unique spin on it based on where we exist in time. No matter what, we always live life in the exact same manner – nothing about that ever changes … other than our point in time.

So I started focusing on being the best I can be. To create things that will last. To be happy and healthy today, as well as create myself so that will also be in a decade, or two, or three.

If I focus on long term results, and plan a successful life from 0 to 100, I’ll think twice before I scribble outside the lines. I want to build a successful career and life, not move ahead with quick results. No matter what I do, I ask myself how this applies to 100 year old me. If it doesn’t, I don’t waste my time.

7. The more shots you take, the more success you’ll have.

Wayne Gretzky said: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

So many people in this world sit back and do nothing because they are too afraid of the outcome if they fail epically. I’ve never believed that to be true. To me, failure is not doing anything. How are you supposed to become you if you never experiment?

The more you try, the more you’ll fail. But if you never try, you’ll never fail. And it doesn’t get any worse than that.

Not trying may prevent you from those horrible feelings that come from an epic fail, but it does nothing for your growth. Nothing teaches you better than learning from your failures.

8. Be yourself, always.

This is probably my hardest lesson, the one I’m working on desperately as I type this.

I’ve hidden myself away a lot in the past because I haven’t always been surrounded by my tribe. And that hurts to write (and think, and live.)

But I’m working on it.

Being yourself means surrounding yourself with people that support you in whatever you do. They don’t walk away because you have different beliefs. They won’t treat you horribly because you are trying to grow. Unconditional love …

Unconditional love is a difficult concept for me. I think the only person that can ever truly give you that is you.

The more you build that up, the better you become. And when you value yourself a whole lot, the rest of the world’s insults don’t matter as much. Especially when they come from someone very important in your life. You quickly learn that even those closest to you might not have your best interests at heart. You may have to walk away …

9. Show up and do the work.

This goes back to wishes. I remember one of the worst periods of my life. Nothing was working. I didn’t feel right. My relationship with my husband wasn’t working. I worked for myself, but nothing was going right. I was trying to survive on four hours of sleep every night. I remember one morning waking up after falling asleep on my desk. I wondered to myself how much more I could take.

It wasn’t until my fateful weekend away with a life-planning coach that I realized I was working on the wrong things. I was putting too much priority on things that didn’t matter. I was working hard, while losing sight of what was real. I avoided and ignored the most important things, while working endlessly on the “dreams” that were impossible to achieve.

If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You have to practice your skill. You have to put your writing out there, fail and get rejected over and over again as you learn, only to show up and write better tomorrow.

If you want to have a great relationship, you have to change yourself to be better for the one you’re with. Your partner will never change; but the better you become, the more they see it and want to join you – they want to play in your sandbox too.

If you want it, work at it. Don’t let anything stand in your way. Only you can decide what’s important. And then YOU put you into it every day.

10. No matter how right you think you are, you’re probably wrong.

A long time ago, I heard the adage: you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. Listen. And when you think you know something, listen again. Evaluate. Throw things through your filters.

We aren’t meant to exist in a bubble. We each have those a-ha moments again and again and again throughout our lives. They are what allow us to grow.

Of course, there are MANY people out there doing their thing too. And they are all working hard to try and have their own influence on the world.

When you listen, you start to learn. The more you listen, the more you understand not just the truths, but why people believe they have found their truth.

The moment you think “I’m sure”, it’s time to take another look.

Because the only thing that’s guaranteed is change. Wherever you’re at, whatever you believe, whatever you are working on today, it won’t be the same tomorrow.

So to get there, you have to learn. That’s why education is so great.

Whether reading an article online, or picking up a new book, or attending a seminar, or joining a mastermind, doing something is what keeps you moving forward.

You can’t wish for a better life. It won’t happen. But you can learn your way to getting everything you want.

That’s why I’ll be going to seminars for the rest of my life.