One of the summer's biggest box office draws was the movie "Inception," which explored the idea of controlling one's dreams. Collapsing cities, zero gravity, imaginary buildings and intermingled layers of the dreams of many people kept audiences wondering what world they would enter next.
In real life, the concept of guiding your own dreams isn't so outlandish. You don't need any special skills to start harnessing the power of your dreams. You just need to pay attention to them, whether they happen when you are asleep or awake.
Think about it: Haven't you had some terrific ideas in your dreams and awakened to wonder if they were real? I know some of my greatest inspirations started as daydreams. Dreaming is easy. Acting on dreams takes courage, discipline and not being afraid to fail.
If you want to put your dreams to work, you need to first recognize their potential.
•Keep a dream journal. The first step to controlling dreams is remembering them. Keep a journal close to your bed and write down any dream you have as soon as you wake up (or keep a digital voice recorder handy). Same goes for daydreams. Are you frequently visualizing the same thoughts over and over again? Look for recurring themes like people, situations, etc. This trains your brain to become more aware of dream activity.
•Nap. Some studies suggest that the best time to attempt a "lucid dream" is during a nap taken a few hours after getting up in the morning. Lucid dreaming can allow you to fly, conquer nightmares and solve real-life problems. If you wake up during a dream, stay quiet and try to return to the dream as you drift off again.
Why bother to zero in on your dreams? Harvard psychologist David McClelland studied high achievers for more than 20 years. Among his findings, he concluded that successful people share one characteristic: They think, fantasize and dream constantly about how to improve their performance and achieve their goals.
Without a deep psychological explanation, I can only refer to one of my favorite adages: If you can dream it, you can do it. Stories abound of how dreams inspired great achievements.
For example, the iconic Dick Clark, "the world's oldest teenager," started working in the mailroom of a radio station that his father managed. He dreamed of having his own radio show.
While still in high school he began filling in for different on-air personalities. Then it was on to Syracuse University to study advertising and radio, because Clark understood that dreaming alone wasn't enough.
He worked at a couple of small radio and television stations before heading to Philadelphia for a radio job, where he also filled in for an afternoon teenage TV dance program.
When the regular host of the show left, Clark took over and renamed it "American Bandstand."
Dick Clark was living his dream, but only after plenty of hard work and preparation. Along the way, he helped hundreds of musicians follow their dreams, too.
Perhaps you've had the pleasure of skiing at Vail, Colo. The beautiful resort town was the dream of Pete Seibert, who served in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II, where he was wounded by a mortar blast and told he would never ski again.
He returned to Colorado and got back into skiing with the help of a homemade knee brace. Seibert joined Aspen's ski patrol and qualified for the 1950 U.S. Ski Team. He worked at various ski resorts and began looking for a mountain to make into a ski area.
In 1957, Seibert and longtime friend Earl Eaton first climbed the future Vail Mountain and, as the legend goes, decided to build "the most beautiful ski resort in the world." After they found investors from across the country, construction began in 1962.
The resort opened that December with two chairlifts, one gondola and $5 lift tickets -- about $37.50 in today's dollars. Within seven years, Vail had grown into the most popular ski resort in Colorado.
Music ... mountains ... dreams. Like I said, if you can dream it, you can do it!
Mackay's Moral: The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up and get to work.