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Defining "Dreaming Big": When Just Dreaming Isn't Enough

By: Anne Ueno, Interior Designer


Dream Big, Do Bigger.


We have all heard it.  We have all said it.  We love to share the quote and consume it.  In fact, thanks to social media, we are told to dream big at least 67 times a day.


Dream Big.  Dream Bigger!  Follow Your Dreams!  DREAM DREAM DREAM!


But when you actually define that quote, here’s what it means:

Dream - indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired

Big - of considerable importance or seriousness

Daydream or fantasize about something greatly desired that is important to you.


Well, sweet friends, I am here to tell you we have all been misguided.  That’s not the wisest advice because there is no action.  It is EASY to dream.  I could be a professional dreamer, no question.  But do our dreams ever really matter if they aren’t supported by hard work that then turns the dream into a reality?  Nope, sorry.


Why the heck would I – or, ahem, YOU - want to spend my life fantasizing about what sets my soul on fire when I could spend my life DOING what sets my soul on fire?  I wouldn’t.  I didn’t.




I spent 16 years in corporate America and just a year ago, I said goodbye to my six-figure paycheck, my stocks, my 401k, my health insurance, my airline status.  And I said yes to becoming a full-time interior designer.  I was able to say yes and do this because for nearly 8 years I side-hustled like no other.  I grabbed that dream by the horns and did ALL THE THINGS.  And I want to share with you what I did to make my dream a reality because friend, you can do the same.


1. I worked at night and on the weekends. Much of my side hustle happened before I had my daughter so I had all the time in the world.  If you are reading this and you are in your 20s or 30s sans kids and think you don’t have time to pursue your dream, you are lying to yourself and I promise you have the time.  You just need to prioritize that time.

2. I designed homes and rooms and apartments for free for basically anyone who would let me (thanks, family!). Gasp, I know, I know.  But, I did and I don’t regret one single second of it because I got experience.  I failed, I learned, I loved and I designed.  Rinse and repeat, nights and weekends. 

3. I started a blog. A pretty bad blog.  But, in my world which is fueled much by visuals, I had to.  I knew that one day this would be part of my life so I learned Wordpress, I tried to take pictures (bless), I learned Wix and and and.  Today my blog is much better, thanks to the learnings I had over the years.

4. I read and I researched. I read books and magazines and blogs in the category of my field but also, in the categories of leadership and business.  Obtaining knowledge today is 100 times easier and faster than 20 years ago which means NO EXCUSES.  If you don’t know how to do something, buy the book or Google it or stalk the experts in the field.  I promise the answer is there.

5. I verbally shared with everyone that I wanted to be an interior designer. Even my boss of my day-job knew.  And the irony there is in 2012, she was the one to give me said opportunity to design a corporate office space.  Speak out your dreams!

6. I went to any and all design-related events. Book signings with Nate Berkus to in-store events at West Elm.  I was there with my notepad taking pages of notes and learning as much as I could.

7. I hired a photographer (translation: I invested into my dream).  Again, in my world, photography is everything and I finally had to bite the bullet.  I shot projects that now I am embarrassed by but it was my beginning.  I shot my house.  And today when I look at my work compared to back then, I am so proud of how much I’ve grown and the cost of my photographer has paid for itself over and over and over.

8. I built my website. It was just about as good as that blog I mentioned but hey, it was a start. Even today I am iterating and constantly trying to improve my website as I know it can always be better.  But, I took the step and it’s not perfect but it’s really good for the season I am in.

9. I believed in myself and didn’t give up. This is the most important, friends.  Yes, it’s amazing to have an army of people cheering you on and affirming your gifts but years ago I didn’t have that.  It was me, cheering myself on, because I wanted this dream to become a reality so badly.  And nobody else knows the passion and fire of your dream besides you.  Which means you have to believe in yourself and in your dream.




The best part?  The dreaming and the doing is still very much love and well because now that I am an interior designer, I have even bigger dreams!  I want my work to be featured in Domino Magazine, I want to design a 10,000 square foot house on the water in Miami, I want to speak at design-related events and women’s events and business events.  I want to share all I can with other women, giving them the courage and handles to start doing their dreams.  I want to start a product line.  I want to work on a project with Kelly Wearstler.  I want to have a show on HGTV.  It’s just getting started.  And I am so thankful that 8 years ago I went from dreaming to doing.

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