What makes people follow their dreams?

As kids we all had dreams. Some of us wanted to be pilots while others planned to become doctors, actresses or just famous. From the first time I saw the movie ALIEN I wanted to be Ellen Ripley.

A photo by NASA. unsplash.com/photos/rTZW4f02zY8

What makes people follow their dream?

Along the way, however, most of our dreams get disrupted. One day we are grown up and realize that we are not even in the same neighborhood as the dreams we once had.

Sometimes it is because we formed new dreams along the way. But mostly it’s because we’re told that our dreams aren’t realistic. And so we slowly stop pursuing  them.

I did not get to be an alien fighting, space traveling super woman. I spend my days in an office selling stuff. My mother didn’t get to be an actress; thinking about it – who do I know that are living their dream?

Follow your dreams!

Everyone always says “Follow your dreams!” But so few do. Life gets in the way, bills pile up and at times we do jobs we don’t want to do just to make it through the day.

Why is some breaking the trend and believe they can have the life they always wanted.

I am curious as to what it is that make some people follow their dream while others to stay behind dreaming. Why is some breaking the trend and believing they can have the life they always wanted? While most of us are still in the starting block with moss growing on us; never moving; always dreaming.

And maybe chasing our dreams is the wrong way of approaching life? Maybe we should do like Ms. Johansson whom I interviewed for this blog post: “Stop chasing a dream. And start focusing on doing things that makes you feel good”.

Eleven Wise Women

In my quest for answers I found 11 women who all have in common that in one way or another they are following their dream. I really want to know if there is a secret ingredient to achieving this ‘dream state’. I asked each one of them what it was that made them choose a different path, what was their turning point and how do they fuel this inner torch of energy that makes their life worth living?

I really want to know if there is a secret ingredient to achieving this ‘dream state’

This is what I learned:

No: 1 Waiting for the right moment and outright fear

This is a big one. A lot of things in life are outside our comfort zone and getting there can be very scary. It is challenging to face our fears and easier to live a life in quiet desperation.

But living like this is a choice. To me I am mostly reminded of this in the mornings getting ready for work and look at myself in the bathroom mirror.

They all have experienced fear of failure, the fear of not making enough money and the fear of the unknown.

The majority of the women I interviewed have all left the security of a regular job and started their own business. They all have experienced fear of failure, the fear of not making enough money and the fear of the unknown.

However, as they started on their journey, step by step they realized they overcame the fear. It turned out what they feared the most never happened.

No 2: Take the time to listen

All of the women mention this as hugely important. Taking time to listen to your inner voice is one of the most important actions to take. As Katharina Ekblad said when I interviewed her: “Instead of maximizing the weekends with loads of activities with family, friends and house work; schedule some time off. Sit down and just listen to yourself; ask yourself if you are happy and listen carefully to the answer”

What would I want to do with my life?Remember how things were back when you were a kid. What did you use to dream about?

Many of us do not know what we should do if we suddenly was out side the rat race. But ask yourself: What would I want to do with my life?Remember how things were back when you were a kid. What did you use to dream about?

The answer might not appear right away. But it will come. And knowing where you are is the first step to following your dream.

No 3: Find a mentor or use a really good friend

Most of the 11 women were concerned how their friends and family would react. It was a fear of not knowing if people closest to them would support them in their new way of living.  Luckily most of them realized that there was nothing to fear. On the contrary many experienced support and admiration for what they had set out to do.

Having a mentor is extremely valuable.

But besides having the support from your peers; having a willing mentor is also extremely valuable. This is a person who share the same values and interests as you. When times get tough, and it’s hard to keep going, your mentor will motivate and support you to continue.

Thinking you do not have a choice

Everybody do no have mentors and everybody that is giving advice should not be giving advice.  You will often hear that you do not have a choice. That we are all destined to run the rat race. That there is no escape.

But there are.

All of us have been around people who have told us our dreams were impossible. Use that negativity to fuel your fire. Think about all the people who said it would never happen, and go and prove them wrong.

I had a teacher who told me that I was too stupid to graduate chemistry, physics and math. But I did. And today I am a sales manager in the green energy business using exactly all those skills every day.

One thing all  these inspiring women had in common; they had all been sick from stress. I say that again: 9 out of 11 had a job that made them so sick they had to stay home for a longer period of time.

I had a teacher who told me that I was too stupid to graduate chemistry, physics and math. But I did.

Contemplating on that is actually quite horrible. Life is short. Our days are numbered.  Why spend them doing something that literally  makes you sick?

The Random Component

Life without dreams is depressing. Search far and wide for yours and make a promise to yourself that when you find them, you start chasing them one by one. Once you get on the path towards your goal I hope you will notice a distinct change in how you feel.

As Maiyanne Nielsen told me during the interview: “Live your life with as few regrets as possible. When facing an opportunity ask yourself: Will I regret it if I didn’t take it.”

Face it: no one else is going to pursue your dreams for you. Everyone has their own dreams and their own goals for what they want to achieve in life. If you don’t go for it, no one else will.

Live your life with as few regrets as possible. When facing an opportunity ask yourself: Will I regret it if I don’t take it.”

Should I be writing this?

Writing all these words about chasing down your dream; being brave and standing up for yourself all reflects back to me. It is easy and popular to write blog posts on this topic. The self-help industry is enormous. Feeding of our fear and our quest for happiness in our lives.

And am I really the person to write about this. Am I a good example? Am I walking the talk? I have to admit that I am not.

I will probably be here at my desk next week and next year unless I change the trajectory of my life.

I am still working long hours at the office. Still dreaming of something else – something involving traveling the world. Doing something fun and meaningful for a living.

I ask myself: Do I have the courage to change my own life? Do I have the guts to do all this that I am preaching about. Am I one of the people you should not listen to if I only do the talking and not the walking.

I hope that I am.

The women I interviewed for this post are:

Anette Kumlin
Anette Kumlin

After spending almost 20 years at the Employment Office helping people to find jobs and their dreams she started her own company Hälsoklivet in 2012. She now offers professional life and career coaching to companies and individuals. Hälsoklivet is based in her core belief on the significance of keeping a healthy body and mind. She teaches what she finds is the important combination of training, food and mental balance.

Her road to getting here is based on her conviction that life has first priority and then she builds her career into her life. Not the other way around which most tend to do.  Instead of spending time with friends and family when there is time for it – she puts them and herself first and her work in second.

After Hälsoklivet she admits to being afraid in the beginning that she would not be able to pay her bills. She agreed with her partner to give it one year and see how it went. Luckily it turned out her worries were unfounded.

You can read more about Anette Kumlin at http://www.halsoklivet.se/



Erika Svanängen

Erika Svanängen used to work at a municipal office handling social service issues. She experienced an increasing work load along with long weeks, feeling of wanting too much and not getting the rest of the organization to step up. This resulted in Erika getting sick with stress and in 2008 she was ordered home on sick leave. During the next two years as she focused on getting better the idea of starting her own business grew and in 2010 she officially started “Including Me” where she offers marketing service.

One of the mottos she lives by is this: “Do not be afraid of your own potential nor other people’s opinion”. When she started “Including Me” most people were supportive but there were also a few negative voices around her. She did not let the negativity of others scare her away from her dream. She knew in her heart that she was not scared of taking risks and she was on the right path.

Erika confesses that what she feared the most was not succeeding financially. She admits that at times it is difficult to make ends meet. But she never gives up and keeps focusing on having a positive attitude.

When Erika started her company ”Including me” it was received mostly positively. They supported her ambition to start all over and doing what she does best. However, when she later started her other business “ijo” the response was different. This time people around her did not believe in her and could not understand why she suddenly moved into a new business where she had no experience. Looking back she thinks that this reaction was mostly based on other people envied her courage to try out new things. “ I have  very strong beliefs in myself and that I can do what ever I set my mind to. And I am not afraid to learn along the way”.

You can find Including Me on the web: http://www.behance.com/includingme

and here http://www.includingjo.se

Eva Lind Johansson

Eva Lind Johansson

Eva Lind Johansson describes herself as a person who  have always followed her heart and believed in what she was doing. But even though she loved her work the stress level got too high. In 2011 she got sick and had to stay home. Even though this time was hard, especially emotionally, it was also now she realized the necessity of changing the path she was on.

She understood that one huge reason why she felt stressed was that she suffered from the syndrome of ’being a good girl’; always having to step outside her comfort zone to make sure she had something to show. And even though she had a PhD, was a manager at work and involved in local politics she had an inner fear of not being good enough and being exposed for really being a bluff.

Finally, she realized that she did not have to try so hard. Actually the more she relaxed and stopped trying to achieve and proveing so much the healthier she got.

Eva is now involved in helping newcomers and refugees by teaching them the Swedish language.



Jenny Ahlberg

Jenny Ahlberg

Jenny worked several years in an office where the stress level was high and the general working climate was really unhealthy. She gave all she had to make the office run as smoothly and profitable as possible but the personal costs were very high.

Back in 2013 the company she worked for went through reorganization and Jenny lost her job. However in her own opinion getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to her. She finally could start her own business in 2014 where she offers regression, healing and meditation.

You can find Jenny and read more about her at www.jennyshelhet.se





Jenny Rydebrink

Jenny Rydebrink

“Do you know the feeling of going to work every day; you work and work but nothing really happens? You meet the same people; you sit in the same meetings and year in and year out you talk about the same things?” This is how Jenny Rydebrink describes her life before she started her own business. She did not have a bad job she just dreamed of doing something for herself instead of building somebody else’s dream.

Her turning point came in 2015. Due to changes in the organization she was given the offer to leave her job with a good severance deal. She accepted with no hesitation. She took this opportunity to develop the app GARDENIZE.

Her app helps you keep track of your garden; what you put in the ground, when and where. Instead of writing it down on a piece of paper – a material that does not take water and dirt well – she invented an app that keeps track of your garden work.

Jenny’s best advice to others who have an idea but are unsure of whether or not they should try it out she says: “There is a lot of help out there; use Google and LinkedIN – as you start looking for openings you will find them”.

You  can read more about Gardenize here: http://www.gardenize.se/


Katharina Ekblad

Katharina Ekblad

18 years ago Katharina Ekblad found herself in the middle of a major turning point; she had just given birth to her second son as her husband left her for another woman. In a few days Katharina Ekblad’s world collapsed. Completely. Amazingly, she did not stay long in this black hole. She decided that she would not be a victim and no matter what happened she would get the best out of life.

She was a single mother with 2 kids and at times she could not even afford a bottle of milk. But by taking one step at the time it all turned out good in the end. She now owns a successful business producing towels and bed sheets based on her own design.

Her philosophy of life is that Life is Easy. “Most people focus so hard on achieving things or other people’s opinion. They would feel so much better if they relaxed a bit because life doesn’t have to be so hard.”

You can read much more about Katharina and her company here:


Marianne Princis

Marianne Princis

Marianne worked as a certified accountant for more than 30 years. Her turning point happened in 2010 when she attended a silent retreat. For the first time in a very long time she had the opportunity to really think about what she wanted to do with her life.

Her work as a manager and economist was quite hard and drained her for most of her energy. There was always another deadline and a workload that never seemed to decrease.  She realized she did not want to keep on living her life like this.

Marianne came to the conclusion that living a healthy life, taking care of her mind and body had been important to her for as long as she could remember. She started to focus her life more on this. Alongside with her full time work she took an education as certified Mindfulness instructor and is also now a stress therapist.

in 2016 she opened her business “meraNu”.

Marianne believes very strongly that women need think more about themselves. “We must understand our own value. We do not need to perform 110% to get acceptance. We must learn to realize that we are Good Enough!”

In Mariannes experience the difference between people who have the courage to follow their dreams and the ones who just keep dreaming often lies in the ability to listen to their inner voice. She says “Ask yourself what you want to do and what you do not want to do. Try new things – it doesn’t have to be radical just take small steps. And ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? If you break it down in small steps the fears are easier to overcome”.

You can read more about Marianne Princis here http://meranu.se/


Maiyanne Nielsen

Maiyanne Nielsen

For as long as she can remember Maiyanne dreamed of having a husband and children. However, as she grew older still not having that kind of relationship she started telling herself that this dream probably would never come true.

But one of Maiyanne’s core beliefs is to live her life with as few regrets as possible. This way of living has given her courage throughout her whole life. Her aspiration of challenging herself and always being open to what life offers has at times given her amazing strength.

As a young girl living in Copenhagen she was afraid to leave her apartment or even taking the bus. But she decided to change this destructive pattern “I realized that fear was controlling my life and if I did not change it my future would be miserable. So I decided to take action and find ways to boost my courage daily. Step by step I managed to get out of my apartment, taking the bus and start living again”.

A turning point came some years ago at a party she was attending. As the discussions fell on family a friend looked at Maiyanne and said: “Well surely you do not still hold onto that dream of having a family of your own.” And then he continued: “Come on Maiyanne; you are 45 and too old for that now”.

At that very moment Maiyanne realized that this dream was still as strong as it ever had been. A few months later Maiyanne met her husband to be. Unfortunately, he lived far away from Copenhagen but once again she asked herself: Will I regret it if I do not move to Stockholm to be with him? And since the answer was yes – she moved. Shortly thereafter they decided to have kids. They needed IVF support which, at times, was a hard and painful process. But she kept on asked herself: Will I regret it if I do not even try? And the answer was yes.

Today Maiyanne is happily married, has a beautiful son and runs her own business in the outskirts of Stockholm.

You can find out more here http://www.allforthemusic.net/


Maria Bouvin

Maria Bouvin

Maria had an impressive career working at a high end law firm in Sweden. The hours were long and the work load was hard. As times went by Maria started to getting a feeling that something was wrong. The work and pay was very good but her heart was not really into it anymore.

For a number of years she held different positions within her field of expertise. However, she never had the feeling of being in the right spot. Gradually she got to work more with people and less with law and finally she felt she was doing the right thing. During this time Maria also took classes in coaching and got a degree as a certified Mindfulness Instructor.

Maria’s number one advice to others is to never give up. “There will be obstacles along the way”. She says and continues: “Don´t give up on your dream because the road to it seems difficult. Always remember what you want and why you want it – then find a way around the problem”.

Deciding she wanted to pursue her dream she left the bureau (her full time employment); now only focusing on her own company “Sann Utveckling”.  The core of her business is helping people achieve a life in harmony between both personal and work life. “I believe that if people don’t feel stressed out, but are actually using their fullest potential – then besides being a great thing it also is a major benefit for the organization who hired them”. Several of “Sann Utveckling”’s customers are companies who prioritize the development and well being of their workforce.

You can read all about it at



Marie Larsson

Marie Larsson

Marie Larsson is a district nurse who in 2013 started her own business  “Tankeriet”. Her business is based on her ability to help people using coaching, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and crisis support. It was during her work as a district nurse and as she took the degree in CBT that she realized her true calling: Helping people to feel better through personal development.

Marie Larsson’s employer was truly supportive and Marie got the opportunity to work less hours to enable her to develop her own company. Gradually over a couple of years she went from working full time as a district nurse down to 40%. However since September this year she stopped working completely and is now devoting all her time to “Tankeriet”.

Besides offering CBT and coaching at “Tankeriet” Marie also gives workshops and courses. Her passion for poetry and theater can always be found in all her work. You can find more on the web


Ms. Johansson

Ms. Johansson used to work full time at Swedish company with responsibly for marketing and HR projects. She describes her job as “quite ok” but one afternoon after yet another reorganization of the company, she realized she had enough of it all and decided to step of the tread mill. The next day she went to the manager and resigned.

“I did not want to spend 40 years of my life working 40 hours a week only to get a pension that is 40 percent of my income!” She explains as the primary reason for making this major change in her life.

Ms. Johansson wanted to spend more time with her husband and have the freedom to travel the world. She also knew she did not want to be self-employed. She wanted more freedom, not more work.


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