The Power of Persistence and Visualization

Posted by on January 17, 2024 in True Self, Your True Calling | 6 comments

Small green plant growing through crack in ground

Philip Steury Photography – Shutterstock

Have you tried creating a magic wish list yet? One of the most effective ways to become the person you were born to be is to set intentions that expand who you currently are and be willing to go out of your comfort zone. I dreamed of being a rock star while I was still an assistant professor. I experimented with writing songs, doing open mics, and fronting a band. Eventually, I got a record deal. You can’t just sit on your couch and visualize the life you want. You need to take action in the world to turn your wishes into reality.

After I returned from touring in South Africa, I was living temporarily in an apartment above an Irish pub in Aptos, California. My band and I played there most weekends and all I had to do was carry my guitar downstairs. It was a pretty sweet situation until the bar’s management changed hands. A new cleaning crew started coming in at 4 AM blasting their radio beneath my bedroom. I couldn’t sleep through it. Now this I certainly did not want.

But what did I want?

After some thought, I imagined how wonderful it would be to live in a house with a little yard in a suburban neighborhood, like the homes on King Street in Santa Cruz. That would give me the peace I needed to write my next album and finish my book. So, I put that on my list and visualized it. Two days later I found an ad in the paper for a house on King Street. It was being shown from noon until 5 PM that day. I had just enough time to check it out that afternoon after band practice ended.

Cute House in Santa Cruz

Cute House in Santa Cruz

The moment I parked in front of the house, I fell in love with it. It was charming with a huge picture window and stone fireplace. It was just the right size for me, too. I strolled across the well-manicured lawn and eagerly opened the front door. The living room was packed with people filling out rental applications.

Almost immediately I sensed that the man in a tan suit leaning against the far wall of the dining room hated me. Without a doubt, he must have been the homeowner. I glanced down at my outfit. My short blouse exposed my navel ring. I realized that my hair was teased up and crazy looking. I glanced at the stack of applications on the dining room table and wondered why I should even bother.

“Are you the homeowner?” I inquired, sheepishly. He nodded. His eyes were steel blue. “The ad says you allow cats, right?”   

“No, we don’t,” he barked, holding up his hand as if to stop me from coming any closer. Just then a kitten bolted into the dining room from what appeared to be the kitchen. A young guy in blue jeans standing kitty-corner to me laughed.

“You do, too,” he teased the landlord and then turned and shook my hand. “Hi, I’m Rick, I live here. If you have any questions, just ask me.”

Encouraged by Rick’s friendliness, I moseyed past the owner with the icy stare to investigate the rest of the dwelling. I loved the inside as much as I did the outside. I was sure I wanted it. I rushed back to the dining room full of hope but the owner continued to glare at me. I filled out an application anyway but was feeling a little foolish. Feeling a lot foolish. “Stupid wish list,” I muttered to myself as I walked out of the house, certain I wouldn’t get it. I couldn’t afford it anyway.

Pen and rental application

R. Mackay Photos

The next morning I got a call from the owner. The tone of his voice was friendly, almost overly so. “I know one of your references at UCSC — Eleanor Pritchard,” he chuckled. “I used to teach there. Apparently you have, too, in the Psychology Department. She couldn’t say enough good things about you.” I was floored. The gentleman who I’d assumed despised me had just complimented me.

“Well, I can’t say enough good things about her either,” I offered cautiously.   

“Look,” he purred, “I think you would make an excellent tenant. I’ll even lower the rent by $100 a month if you commit to a one-year lease.”

I hung up the phone and did a happy dance. I hung in there and got my dream house!

What is the lesson? Be persistent. Even if it’s uncomfortable. The things you hope for don’t always just fall into your lap. You have to visualize what you want and be willing to work for it. This requires persistence on your part, and some trust in the universe to provide, too.

Dumb and Dumber poster with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels

Dumb and Dumber

Comedian Jim Carrey grew up poor but always believed that he had a greater calling. In 1990, when Carrey was still a young broke comic, he drove his rundown Toyota to the top of a hill in Los Angeles, gazed down at the city, and wrote himself a $10 million check “for acting services rendered,” dated Thanksgiving 1995. Five years later he hit his mark having starred in three blockbuster movies: Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber.

Carrey says, “It’s about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass. Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head, and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it.” That’s a spot-on description of how this process works. It also highlights the need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As Carrey warns, “You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.” You have to trust in your goals and take action toward reaching them.

Take Nancy, who was writing very dry computer manuals for a living in Silicon Valley when she first took my workshop. She did not look the part of a tech writer. She wore wildly colorful dresses along with bunny slippers, and her long blonde hair hung down to her hips. It was clear to me that Nancy was more creative and free-spirited than her job would allow.

Now Nancy was a writer, but she was not engaging in the type of writing that truly suited her. Her real aspiration was to create movie screenplays but she had no idea how to do that, so she signed up for a script-writing class in Los Angeles. Every weekend she drove from Santa Cruz down to LA to take that workshop and then headed back home (about 12 hours of driving time each week). Think of the effort that took! But it didn’t phase Nancy because she felt so excited about making movies.

By the time Nancy took my class, she had already sold five scripts to Hollywood producers, mostly to Disney. But none of them had been made into films. Nancy admitted that it didn’t seem practical for her to leave her day job for a dream. She knew she wasn’t going to earn money right away, yet she decided not to worry about it. She resolved to take a year off to do whatever she wanted using her savings to support her. If things didn’t work out, she figured she could always go back to tech writing. So now the question was, what was she going to do during this time?

Michelle Chappel playing guitar with movie camera

Michelle Play Guitar on Set

Nancy decided to take matters into her own hands. In what seemed like no time at all, she finished writing her latest screenplay, found an agent to shop it, nabbed a couple of named actors to star in it, and directed and produced it herself. She found folks to invest in her film and wound up shooting it in Santa Cruz. She asked me to write songs for it. In about a year, Nancy obtained distribution deals with movie theaters all around the world. The film also aired on ABC, HBO, Encore, Showtime, and the Movie Channel in the United States. She was able to pay all of her bills. She now works for Universal Pictures and lives in LA.

Nancy visualized what she wanted and labored diligently to get it. And it paid off. What would you do if you pursued your heartfelt desires with this kind of passion and kept your eyes on the prize?

Put some thought into this and don’t sell yourself short. Jim Carrey wrote a check to himself for acting when he was a broke nobody. Nancy longed to write and direct films even though she was “just” a tech writer. I visualized being a rock star while I was still teaching college. Do you have a sense of what your ideal life might look like? What first step can you take to make your dream come true? Take it!

Previous blog: The Magic of Making Wish Lists

Next blog: The Trick to Making Visualization Work



  1. Comment *Awesome!

    • Comment *You’re singing my song, Michelle. But you’re a better singer and song writer. 🙂

      • Comment *Thank you, Tommy. I know you did this work to achieve your amazing success as well! You’re a better Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology than I am!

    • Comment *Thank you, Bryan. I am so glad you enjoyed this blog.

  2. Love this, Michelle!*

    • Comment *Thank you so much, Tammy. I’m glad it spoke to you!

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