Take former corporate executive Mary Lou Quinlan, who took time off in 1998 to ponder what she really wanted to do.

She put up a folding screen in her home office and tacked index cards on which she’d written her goals at the top of each panel.

What was she looking for? She wanted her own business, she wanted to be a paid public speaker, she wanted to write books, and she wanted to be on television.

For the next few months, she brainstormed with friends, clipped news articles, showed up at conferences, and shook hands.

In 1999, she launched Just Ask a Woman, a marketing company, and has since written several books, delivered hundreds of lectures, and judged the TV competition American Inventor.

“I didn’t do everything from day one,” she says. “But the picture was there 12 years ago.” Here’s how to turn your own dreams into big-time success.”

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1. Be persistent
1. Be persistent
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“People who are successful know themselves, and that means knowing what their talents are, knowing their ambition and their capacity for work,” says Quinlan.

Fear of failure? Big thinkers know nothing about it. Stubbornness? Big thinkers know a lot about that.

“You’re going to stumble; you’re going to run out of money; people are going to try to talk you out of what you want to do,” says Quinlan.

“And you have to be willing to push through.”

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