A recipe to make dreams come true



I am a dreamer, no doubt about it. One of my favourite things whether sitting or walking is creating a full blown fantasy - running wild with a story unfolding in my head with colours, sounds and smells.

When I was a child, I’d dreamed of being a doctor. When we moved to the UK from Syria when I was 12, I barely spoke English. It was a painful time of identity crisis, being bullied and failing exams; something I wasn’t used to as a good student. The only two exams I didn’t fail that first term were maths and chemistry because they needed symbols not language. 

A few years later, my teachers didn’t believe my grades were good enough to get into medical school and I should consider studying chemistry or biology instead. Well, I wasn’t going to give up on my dream and applied anyway. At the only interview I was granted, the examiners at the Royal Free Hospital medical school asked me what I would do if a patient died in spite of my efforts. I remember pausing, thinking - feeling a sliver of the responsibility I was asking to take on - what a good question! I replied that the most important thing was doing my best and that the rest was out of my hands.

As a medical student, I joined a charity bike ride; we were to cycle 485km from the Great Wall of China to Tiananmen Square to raise money for Mencap. On the trip, I met the doctor accompanying the 30 riders; she was in charge of our healthcare on the two week trip. Cue Light Bulb dreamer moment realising, ‘that is SO cool, when I grow up and become a doctor, I want to do that’. Charity, travelling, exercise and medicine all rolled into one literally seemed like my dream job.

Eight years later, as a trainee anaesthetist I joined 28 trekkers as their charity doctor as we embarked on a Himalayan adventure in Ladakh, India. I ended up treating two trekkers for life threatening high altitude emergencies but gratefully returned everyone safely after a stunning trek. And thus began my journey into wilder and more challenging medicine. 


I don’t have enough paper to tell you all the dreams, big and small, that I’ve had over my four decades. Not all have come true, a few thankfully so. What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that most have. Dreaming isn’t just the little film you play out in your mind - that visualization is only a part of the equation, one ingredient.

And so! Here’s my home-made recipe for making your dreams come true. 


A fully positive intention 
A sprinkle of imagination
A dash of courage 
A splash of humour 
A generous handful of determination 
A pint of humility
Kilos of energy
A few more cooks
A ton of hope 
and as much trust and faith as you can get your hands on

  1. First, mix absolute trust and hope together - believe that it can and will happen.This is the fertile ground your dream-seed needs in order to germinate. If you don’t believe in your ability, capacity or the possibilities open to you, if you don’t believe the universe is on your side, then you’ve already set yourself up to fail. This belief isn’t about having all the know-how, skills, funds, strategy or whatever you think you need. It doesn’t mean you won’t have fear or doubts; indeed, that’s why you need courage. It doesn't mean it’ll be easy either - you have to be determined. What it does mean, is that your trust in yourself and the universe has to exceed your fear. You are in control of these forces and not enslaved by them.
  2. Then, you must crystalise your intention. Say to yourself, ‘I will...’ and cement it, really mean it. Perhaps you can visualise it, repeat it to yourself 10 times, write it on a piece of paper and put it in a dream box, or pray for it. Whatever your method, the outcome will be the same; you will have sown the seed in fertile ground.
  3. Next up, add the energy - you can do it, put your back into it! Yup. Once the seed is in the ground it needs water, nutrition and sunshine to grow - and so do you. I hear so many people say something along the lines of, ‘if it’s right, it should be effortless’ but this is BS. You cannot produce work without effort, it’s physics. You can, however, be in the flow, in the zone and on your destiny path fulfilling your soul’s purpose so it feels effortless. I’ve absolutely felt that. There’ve been times when I’ve felt like the energy driving the work wasn’t even all mine, like I’d tapped into a universal energy around me - but that’s a special and, for most of us, rare experience. Most of the time we need to work, work, work.
  4. Now, this is where you ask for help. I admit this is the newest step in my tried and tested formula. It's not because I've never had help - none of us, without an exception, achieve anything of worth alone. It’s just that I belatedly, mindfully and with more grace, have started to ask for help. Many of us labour under the false belief that we must prove our strength and capabilities and need to do this ourselves, alone, as proof of our independence and strength. I now know that we don’t become ourselves by ourselves. The bigger and more important your dream, the more people you need to recognise and support your vision. You need to know what gifts and talents you bring and then ask those with skills and resources you don’t have to join forces and compliment your efforts and help each other manifest your dreams. 
  5. Finally - add faith and surrender the outcome.This final step is the realisation that came to at my interview for medical school - that the most important thing was doing my best and that the rest was out of my hands. That may be counterintuitive to many, especially in our masculine, goal and objective obsessed culture. The truth is, we only have so much control. What we have is significant, sure, but we must accept that our efforts are not linearly related to outcome. Whether you believe in God or not, you know that there are forces out of your hands. Critically, we must not measure the worth of our efforts by the end result. The journey towards any dream is where growth happens and if this one doesn’t work out as you want, you will start again because faith, trust and hope are independent from results. 
This year, I dream of protecting children in Syria, to stop the bombs falling on them, on their schools and from injuring them. It's a big, fat, scary dream and I do have a plan up my sleeve that I will be sharing with you in the next couple of weeks. Struggling with it last week, I suddenly noticed my whatsapp status and remembered the secret ingredient to my recipe (shhhh):

'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.'


May this year be the year you believe in the beauty of your dream and make it come true. I’d love to hear about your dreams if you’d like to share with me and if I can help you, all you have to do is ask -  if I can, I will.


About Dr Rola Hallam

CanDo's Founder & CEO. A consultant anaesthetist who has worked for 14 years in global health. Loves the diversity of humankind and has a deep sense of interconnectedness - with that rare ability to connect with, and accept all people.

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