Dates in the middle of the day are the best. One minute I was dropping my twins off at afternoon kindergarten and the next, my husband had surprised me with matinee movie tickets.

I’d been dying to see “La La Land” for months. It’s near-Oscar win mishap moved it to the top of the list and finally got us to the theater — on a Tuesday afternoon.

Like most of America, I loved the movie — but this is not a movie review. Though by the looks of it online, many reviewers claimed the movie was overrated, or they were disheartened by the ending. Is it possible “La La Land” haters do so because they think they’ve been watching a 2-hour, 8-minute love story between the main characters Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a cynical Jazz musician? I propose that’s not the love story really shown on the screen.

I’ll try to be vague, in case you too are late to “La La Land.” But I’ll warn you, there might be spoilers ahead.

As an advocate for following dreams, I realized, in that empty theater, “La La Land” is a love story between the dreamer and the dream. And the Oscar-winning performance by Emma Stone as Mia, connects with every dreamer out there — even if your dream has nothing to do with Hollywood.

So, as a story about the dreamer and the dream, “La La Land” reminds us of what it really takes to follow our dreams.

1. Be passionate

It’s going to take passion and grit to see your dream through to reality. Are you passionate about your dream? Or, are you still passionate about your dream? Passion is what attracts us to those things (and people) we love most in this life. As Mia tells Sebastian in the movie, “People love what other people are passionate about.”

2. Take risks

Mia dropped everything to move to Hollywood to follow her dream of becoming an actress. Of course, taking risks that big may not be possible for us, but we can still bravely step outside our comfort zone. We can take bigger risks than we are doing right now and work hard to make those risks pay off.

3. Surround yourself with dreamers

Author and speaker Jack Canfield said, “Surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people — people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories.” The dreamers in “La La Land” absolutely knew this.

Who are the positive, uplifting people in your life? Do they encourage you to dream big? If you can’t answer this question, then you need to find new people.

4. You are good enough

Because of failure, Mia nearly walked away from her dream for good. Then, in a pivotal turn of events, she had the chance to try for success again. Yet she almost didn’t because trying and failing hurts too much.

Following your dreams requires your whole heart and exposes all of your vulnerabilities. Most of the time, it’s really hard. And most of us — no matter the nature of our dream — hear the same haunting voice in our heads that Mia did when she admits to Sebastian, “Maybe I’m not good enough!”

But what if you are? What if you are good enough?

5. Don’t quit

This is the hardest part. When trying and failing hurts too much, quitting becomes the easiest thing. It becomes the safest thing.

Mia and Sebastian don’t quit, and there is satisfaction in knowing they got where they wanted to go. In a plot twist, though, it became clear that neither character could have both their dreams and their love at the same time.

Which leads to a new question: Is there a price too high to pay to achieve your dreams?

That is entirely up to you. I can’t answer it for you.

I know for me, and many of the people I work with, following dreams is a slow and steady process of dreaming in motion while we continue to live out the other areas of our lives.

I have not reached many of my dreams yet, and every day I still wonder, like Mia, if I’ll ever be good enough. If you’re a dreamer too — standing before this world will all your flaws showing while you strive for something bigger than yourself — I know you wonder if you are good enough.

Maybe we can be reassured and trust Sebastian when he says, “Yes, you are!”

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This article originally published as Nicole’s regular column on
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