Breakthrough Illustration
Illustration: Istvan Banyai
Maybe you've hit a motivational wall and need to get back on track. Or maybe it's time to head down another road entirely. But how? What you're looking for is a breakthrough. Here are nine ways to make it happen.

1. Go Public
When Grand Plans linger in the daydream stage, there's always a risk that they'll die there. Going on the record is one way to keep them alive. "If you tell everybody you're running a marathon, you don't want to quit," says Laura Skladzinski, who at 24 briefly held the record as the youngest woman ever to have run marathons in all 50 states. Months before she started her record-breaking quest, Skladzinski launched her blog,, to force herself to press onward. "When you put your goals in front of others, there's accountability," she says—and serious motivation in not wanting to lose face or let yourself down.

2. Join the Club
Whatever your goal you can draw enthusiasm and ideas from like-minded dreamers. Comeback Moms provides advice to women reentering the job market. The Freelancers Union offers meet-ups, Webinars, and job leads for consultants, graphic designers, writers, and other independent contractors. SparkPeople includes free personalized weight loss tools like meal plans and fitness trackers and support from millions of members. Edison Nation links inventors with companies that can turn their ideas into products.

3. Confront the Risks
You might think that projecting certainty will get your loved ones to buy into your goal, but often it's being honest and vulnerable about the stakes that can really activate your support system. When Cynthia (C.J.) Warner, a former BP executive, craved a career change, she sat down with her husband and two teenage kids and candidly shared the potential consequences. They would have to return to the United States from England, where they'd lived for a decade. There would be less money...or even no money for a time. On the plus side, she'd be developing renewable energy. "My kids were captivated," says Warner. "My son said, 'That's so cool, Mom; you've got to do it,' and my husband was supportive, too. So I dove in." Now she is president of Sapphire Energy, a thriving firm that develops fuel made from algae.

4. When in Doubt, DIY
If help isn't forthcoming ask yourself: 'Is there another way to make this happen?' For Amanda Hocking, hundreds of rejection slips initially crushed her hopes of being an author. "Then I realized, if you have a dream, you can't let people tell you no," she says. "I decided to do whatever it took for my books to get out there." So she self-published her novel electronically on The first day, she sold five books; the next day, five more. Hocking kept writing—and publishing. Pricing her books low (some at 99 cents) and releasing frequent new titles helped fuel her fan base. Today she has grossed $2 million and become a best-selling e-author on Amazon. She's poised for stardom in the print world, too: St. Martin's Press offered her a four-book, $2 million deal and bought the rights to her series, The Trylle Trilogy.


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