By Sam Keller  -  September 4, 2020

When I was 13, my mom died unexpectedly. During the funeral, it was impossible for my young mind to comprehend that she'd be gone for the rest of my life. As I sat there stunned, the pastor pulled up a chair and explained, with my mom laying in a casket behind him, that "No one promises us any amount of time in this life." 

Given the truth of those searing words, I'm memorializing some advice for my kids. Lord knows I hope to be around when they're adults, but I'm writing down these thoughts just in case. 

For Kaz and Sienna, here is my advice for pursuing your dreams:

1. Make sure your dream isn't just for your own personal benefit, but that it's for other people and/or species, too. In my experience, there won't be enough "juice" to sustain you if it's just about you. You need the fuel that comes from needing to help others beyond yourself.   

2. Focus on must-have dreams, not nice-to-have. You've got the best chance of persevering to a successful outcome if you have the abiding sense that you wouldn't be able to live with yourself if you don't give it everything you've got. 

3. Be willing to walk through walls. There is something peculiar about this world; scientists can't explain it yet, but when you doggedly pursue a well thought-out dream for the benefit of yourself and others, incredible sources of support often materialize.  

4. Not everything is in your control. And the world is not fair. So don't be surprised if obstacles arise, even tragedies. You just let the universe know that unless it stops you, you're going to Find A Way.  

5. You're human, so your emotions are going to fluctuate. Sometimes fear will arise. Even sadness or depression. This is like the tide going out. Or, if it lasts longer, like the onset of winter. Remember that the tide will come back in. Spring will return. And so will your confidence. As you wait for it, don't believe every thought your mind generates.  

6. Open a Google sheet. Create a new row for every major task you need to execute. Then mark columns to indicate the time period in which each task needs to be accomplished (whether days or decades).  

7. Don't be too concerned about failure. If the universe clobbers you, or if - in your heart of hearts - you decide your dream has changed, then so be it. People will still love you.