Don’t Wish for It, Work for It!

By NAfME Member Lori Schwartz Reichl

“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” ― Shonda Rhimes

A few months ago, my 8-year-old daughter and I were discussing some of our favorite quotes. Mine included a few about embracing uniqueness, finding our purpose, and making key changes that shape us and those around us. If you know me, you know these types of quotes are my cup of tea. I recited my favorite Alice Walker quote that reads, “Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”

Without skipping a beat, my daughter recited the quote, Don’t wish for it, work for it! I smiled from ear to ear when she said this. I asked her to recite it again more slowly. I paused and digested what she was saying. I asked her where she learned this quote. “It’s on a poster hanging on a wall at school,” she said. I told her I loved it! I tried to talk to her a bit more about it. But in typical 8-year-old fashion, she rolled her eyes at me and switched the conversation to something else.

jar of wishes released into the sky

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

I thought about my daughter’s last year of school and how she embodied this quote. She tried new things and excelled at many of them. I often found her in her room singing and dancing as she prepared for an audition or performance, reciting math facts before a test, spelling vocabulary words before a word study quiz, or reading—all on her own—all without being prompted to do these things by me or her dad. She had a dream and wanted to achieve a goal, and she did what she needed to do. Sometimes she did well the first time, and other times she learned that she needed more practice or guidance from others. Don’t get me wrong, she needs many prompts to get out of bed on a school day, do her homework at times, clean her room, get ready for bed, or get changed for an athletic game. Yet she already has a drive to not just dream of things, but to work for what she wants.

Just Do It

As Dr. Jaime Bonato and I discussed in our June 2022 article titled, “5 Things Teachers Can Do to Recharge over the Summer,” and in episode #21 of the Making Key Changes podcast titled “Recharge This Summer,” we suggested carving out time to reflect on the past school year and to plan for the future personally and professionally. What do you want? What do you wish for in your professional or personal life? Are you doing it regularly? Are you doing it even when you don’t want to or feel you don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do so? How will you ensure that your dreams become reality? How will you model this dedication and determination to those you love, serve, and lead? How will you work for these goals and not just wish for them? What key changes will you make to achieve your dreams?

Making Key Changes

Consider these 7 key changes and questions for reflection as you work toward your goals and dreams, rather than only wishing for them:

#1 Write them down. Make this writing or drawing look pretty if you need to do so! Look at these goals every day. Recite them. Believe in them.

  • Have you written your dreams down yet?
  • If not, why not?
  • If so, where could you place this list or drawing, so it is available to motivate you?

#2 Make a plan. Stick with it and don’t be shocked when you have to alter the plan.

  • When will you put in the time?
  • How often will you be able to work toward these dreams?
  • What will you do when you have distractions?

#3 Evaluate your progress. Examine the plan and explore new pathways to get there, if needed.

  • How are you getting closer to your dreams?
  • What is working? What’s not?
  • What has occurred recently to get you closer to your dreams?
  • What can you do more or less of to achieve these dreams?
  • What can you eliminate or what do you need to add?

#4 Ask for help. My dad always told me, “What you don’t know you’ll learn.” If you can’t do something—Google it, watch a tutorial video, read about it, or listen to a podcast about the topic. Ask someone for help.

  • Could they demonstrate something for you?
  • Might they provide words of encouragement?
  • Will they share their failures with you so you can avoid them?

#5 Tell people. No one can advocate for you or promote your work if they don’t know what you want to do. Everyone will find different levels of comfort in telling people about their dreams. Discover your own unique way of sharing your dreams with others.

  • Who will you tell and how?

#6 Understand the difficulty. There will be challenges. You might need help solving a problem. You might need childcare. You might need resources or money to fund something. There could be rejection—and lots of it.

  • What challenges might you encounter?
  • What could rejection or a “no” teach you?

#7 Celebrate the progress. People often make the mistake of not being happy during their journey toward their dreams—and only celebrating when they arrive at the destination or when the dream is achieved.

  • How will you celebrate the small victories along the way?

Supporting Others

No one can dream your dream as big as you or want it as badly as you do. Sometimes people don’t realize that a recommendation from them on our behalf, or by advocating for us, sharing our work, or offering our name in a room of people who make decisions, can have a huge impact on the progress of our dreams. Hopefully, people acknowledge that we are working toward a dream and realize that one small connection they make for us can be the ultimate wish toward achieving our dreams!

closeup of hand writing in a planner

Delmaine Donson \ E+ Collection via Getty Images

How are we making key changes to work for our dreams (and not just wishing for them)? Help others work for their dreams, too! If we love, serve, or lead them, we should support them in what they are doing. Let’s help each other work for our dreams, and not just wish for them!

About the author:

Lori Schwartz Reichl Portrait

Photo: Richard Twigg Photography

NAfME member Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl is the visionary thought leader of Making Key Changes. Her career began in music education where she learned the importance of a key change—a shift in the tonal center of a piece of music, often used to inject energy or produce significance. She eventually realized the necessity and impact of making key changes in all areas of her life.

Since transitioning out of one classroom as a public school educator, Dr. Reichl has uniquely created a global classroom for her work. She guides organizations, teams, and individuals to create and maintain a shared vision by making key changes in their communities, companies, classrooms, and careers to unlock their greatest potential in collaboration with those they love, serve, and lead.

Learn more about Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl at Subscribe to her Making Key Changes newsletter. Listen to her weekly podcast.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

July 2, 2024


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July 2, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (

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