We’ve all heard the story: Cinderella suffers the repression and wiles of a heartless stepmother and wicked stepsisters. But then one day, she gets the chance of a lifetime. Her fairy godmother hooks her up and she attends a ball at the local palace. Of course the prince falls in love with her and, when she’s forced to make a quick exit before the end of the night, he immediately begins his search for her.

In all, Cinderella has to wait about 17 hours from this ‘hinge moment’ for her dreams to become her destiny and ‘happily ever after’ to blossom. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of any Disney movie that doesn’t proceed accordingly.

But dreams don’t work this way.

Unfortunately, we become so used to this formula that we start to think this is how real life works as well. Thus, we expect our dreams to come true soon after certain hinge moments:

  • You get into a great school and are disappointed when you don’t have dozens of six-figure job offers to choose from immediately upon graduation.
  • You start a business and craft a well-designed advertising strategy and are frustrated when you don’t get the customer response you’re counting on.
  • You slave over a manuscript for six months and then submit it to twenty publishers only to get rejection letters from every single one.

Bottom line: Fairy tales make sweet stories, but real life is never that quick and easy!

I know what you’re thinking – Cinderella spent years laboring under the cruelty of her stepmother…

But after her hinge moment, things happen almost instantly! Chances are you and I will toil long and hard journeying after our dreams without such a dramatic breakthrough, step-family or not.

“So often developing our dream is … a process of doing small but necessary things, over and over again, and letting the momentum build, instead of getting decked out by a fairy godmother and being escorted to prominence in a blinged-out carriage.”

– Jon Acuff, Author/Speaker

Thus, we need to hit the reset button on our expectations.

Recognize the critical difference between dreams and fairy tales. If you have a dream, the key to success is working to cultivate it long-term.

Cut yourself some slack!

Think in terms of the next 10 or 20 years of your life. You’re counting on the exponential effect of consistent effort and good decisions.

And resist the temptation to hope for some magical cathartic moment in which ‘happily ever after’ will overtake you in a dramatic crescendo.

Don’t get lost chasing a Cinderella story… – Click to Tweet

What truly leads to ‘happily-ever-after’ is far more ordinary: Patient persistence.

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