Becoming an empowered woman | Living your best life | Thriving as a single woman

The 5 keys to making your dream a reality

May 13, 2024
Posted by Karen Strang Allen

“Dreams are not what you see in your sleep, they are the things that don’t let you sleep.” ーCristiano Ronaldo


Do you have a dream that is calling you?

When you lie in bed at night, what does your heart long for? What is the dream you’ve had in the back of your mind that you’ve put off for far too long? If you knew you would succeed, what would you move towards?

Far too many women put off their dreams, afraid to take the risk, waiting to be certain they’ll succeed, thinking it will happen “someday.”

It’s like we’re betting on ourselves to lose, instead of betting on ourselves to win.

Our culture teaches women to put others first, to play small, to expect less…to settle. And it’s time for that to change.

I believe we’re meant to evolve past our challenges and be happy in this lifetime, and that following our inner voice towards our dreams is the best way to make that happen. So we must learn how to move through our fears and wishful thinking, because life is precious and no one will make your dream a priority until YOU do.

So I thought I’d share my story of how (and why) I started a coaching business just over 10 years ago…

People have asked me over the years why I’ve risked so much for my dream:

    • What makes a woman decide to give up a 6-figure salary and a secure marriage to build a business all on her own?
    • What motivates a single mom in mid-life to want to go back to school while juggling two businesses and raising two kids?
    • What inspires a person to keep pursuing their dream when they face challenge after challenge?

So I’m going to answer those questions for you today…

I hope you will find it an inspiring story of how to listen to your heart, become who you’re meant to be and turn your dream (whatever it is) into reality!


Where the seeds were planted

A sad Cinderella

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” ーOprah Winfrey


To understand my story, I need to first take you back to my home in rural New Brunswick, circa 1983…

My family and I lived in a small red bungalow my father helped build himself, nestled back in the woods on a stretch of Trans Canada highway that led to the ferry (now bridge) to Prince Edward Island.

On this particular gloomy day, I was sitting in an armchair by myself in the living room, watching the raindrops hitting the window pane, writing a song about loneliness in my diary.

I was 9.

Despite there being six of us in a small house, I felt very alone and different from everyone else. “You’re too sensitive,” my family would say. I was bullied both at home and at school, and while the objects thrown at me felt humiliating, it was the mean words (and being excluded) that made me feel like something was wrong with me.

I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to belong.

But I didn’t. So on weekends I would sit and read Black Stallion books to escape, climb maple trees, or dream of being a Nobel Prize winner for writing the world’s most inspirational book.

I remember wondering what I’d write about, thinking I didn’t have enough life experience.

Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for…


My Cinderella story

A sad Cinderella

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” ーMaya Angelou


Like many young girls, I had bought into the Cinderella story, thinking I just needed to meet a handsome prince and my life would take a magical turn for the better, with all my problems melting away.

And serendipitously, I did meet my prince…just before I turned 20. Despite our age difference, Blair and I fell in love and joyfully spent as much time together as we could when I wasn’t in university. After two years, my prince proposed…our plan was to marry after I finished my masters degree.

Only the very same month, in October 1996, we found out he was dying from liver cancer and had only months to live.

Our romance turned into a tragedy and I didn’t get my fairytale ending.

We got married to honour our love for each other in November, with Blair barely able to stand. Then six weeks after our wedding, on a cold January morning, he stopped breathing. And in the deafening silence, my world stopped turning.

I became a widow at 22, and my dreams disintegrated. I had made him the center of my life, so without that center, I felt lost and spiraled into a depression that lasted two years.

After all, who was Cinderella without her prince?


A second chance

A sad Cinderella

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” ーMichael Jordan


I picked up the pieces of my life and moved to Ottawa to do a Masters in Journalism. After landing my first job in communications, I met my second husband playing softball. After a few years of courtship, we married, bought a home, and had two kids. It looked like I would get my fairytale ending after all.

Then came the next plot twist…

After 10 years together, our marriage ended, despite many years of therapy and trying to make things work. We were both good people, but polar opposites in personality, wanting very different things from a relationship.

And like many women, I had sacrificed too much and lost myself in my marriage and in raising my children. I needed space to figure out who I was and how to write my next chapter. And I needed to stop making someone else the center of my world.


Following my heart

“Your heart knows the way, run in that direction.” ーRumi  


Knowing something had to change and trusting my intuition, I gathered the courage to jump off two cliffs at the same time: leaving the security of both my marriage and my 6-figure government communications career. I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and it was time to take a risk and go after that dream, shaky knees and all! 

I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a risk-taker, but I moved into a new home without the income yet to pay for it, and started a communications consulting business, trusting it would all work out. I had a mortgage to pay and two preschoolers to care for, plus a mother newly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. 

It was a lot to juggle.

Knowing I needed help to navigate this level of change, I started taking personal development courses and coaching programs to rebuild my life and confidence and learn the shortcuts to success. 

I remember the day I attended a Power Within workshop and heard Deepak Chopra speaking. I had full body chills as he shared that if we wanted to change our circumstances, we had to first change our thoughts and identity! (Because we will never act incongruent with who we think we are and what we believe is possible for us.)

I realized I had been operating with a faulty mindset and a case of mistaken identity…it was time to rewrite Cinderella’s story!


Cinderella becomes empowered

“She said, ‘I’m just not giving up. The woman I’ll be a few years from now is counting on me.’ And the world shifted.” ーNakeia Homer


I learned so much about myself during that period after my marriage ended, including that being single was a gift, not a curse. I made new friends and started prioritizing my own happiness and wellbeing for the first time, doing activities that made me feel joyful and alive. I also built a successful communications business from the ground up as a single mom, something I felt very proud of.

After a few years, I began dating again. Little did I know the roller coaster I was about to get on! 😊 (And I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters!)

The highs and lows of dating made me realize that I had a lot to learn about relationships (which I wasn’t taught at home or in school). It also make me realize that my partner-picker was off. Because of my own wounding and subconscious beliefs, I kept choosing people who either weren’t available emotionally, or needed to be rescued.

So I began studying relationships and improving my communication and conflict resolution skills, learning to be more assertive and to create better boundaries. I also hired a relationship coach who told me, “When you start channelling your desire to help people into your business, you’ll stop needing to choose men who need your help.”

Talk about a truth bomb! 😆


A calling to help women


“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
一Rabindranath Tagore


I had always felt a calling to help others, particularly women. I had watched my mom (like many in her generation) sacrifice herself and her career for her family, escaping her unhappiness with Cameo Extra Mild cigarettes and Harlequin romance novels. She ended up at 59 getting Alzheimer’s, a disease that caused her to literally forget who she was, dying with her dreams still inside her in a nursing home at 66.

I initially started down the same path as her, over-giving and people-pleasing, putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own and exhausting myself in the process. After two rounds of adrenal burnout, I decided there had to be a better way…

I mean, shouldn’t it be possible to care for others while also caring for ourselves?

I felt I owed it to my kids to be the best and happiest version of me I could be, both to break generational patterns and to show them what a happy, well-balanced life looked like.

And as I gained confidence and the knowledge of how to create a great life for myself, I felt a strong urge to teach other women how to do the same.


Mid-life metamorphosis

“At the centre of your being, you have the answer. You know who you are, and you know what you want.” 一Rumi


This brings me to just over 10 years ago, when I decided to start my coaching business. I was trying to figure out what I could do that would be more meaningful, while helping other women and using the skills and training I already had.

Then sitting on a beach one day, it came to me…life coaching. Of course!

I was trained in writing, communications, and public speaking. I had been a leader and coach many times in my life. I was growth-oriented and a personal development junkie. I was highly empathic and the one my friends came to for advice and support.

And my many life challenges now made perfect sense…overcoming them prepared me to lead other women through the same challenges! Being bullied, widowed, divorced, experiencing dating challenges and losing many loved ones early in life suddenly had new meaning.

And my empathy and sensitivity no longer seemed like a curse ー they became my superpower in helping my clients!

So with my heart bursting with the joy of finding my purpose, I set off on a journey to become a transformational life coach!


A challenging (but rewarding) journey


“When it comes to fighting for your dreams, be a dragon. Breathe fire.”
一Richelle E. Goodrich


Realizing there was a significant skills gap, I took coaching courses in the evenings and on weekends when the kids weren’t with me, while continuing to work on writing contracts during the day to pay the bills.

I juggled both businesses for five years as I struggled to get my coaching business off the ground. For many years, I spent more on my coaching business than I made. And there were many sleepless nights worrying about money, and countless times when I wanted to quit.

But what kept me going on my toughest days was feeling a sense of purpose and seeing the transformation in the women I was working with…watching them overcome their challenges, step into their power, and achieve the goals they had set for themselves.

One woman (we’ll call her Terri) came to me at the exact moment I was wondering if I should close up shop and get a job with security, benefits and better pay. She said she was done with the pain and struggle of her life, and that my program was her last hope.

I couldn’t let her down. Her story of childhood neglect and never-ending heartache reminded me of why I became a coach in the first place…to empower women to stop settling, rise above their circumstances and live a life filled with the love, joy and abundance they so deserve.

We worked together for a year, and today, Terri is confident in her worth, prioritizing her own happiness, and thriving in her life, career and relationships. She’s even found a terrific partner and is now engaged!


A mission that’s bigger than me

“I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” 一Martin Luther King, Jr.


It’s women like Terri who motivate me to do the work I do…to keep investing in new training every year so I can share the best tools and the latest discoveries in psychology, neuroscience, and personal development with my clients and community.

I keep moving through my fears and challenges as a small business owner because I know that for every woman I serve, there is a huge ripple effect…breaking cycles of dysfunction and creating happier lives and healthier relationships for generations to come!

That is why it’s my mission to help women create extraordinary lives and epic love relationships. Because when you help a woman change her life for the better, she inspires & changes the lives of everyone around her…her friends, her kids, her grandkids, her community.

Imagine how our world would change if every woman felt empowered to raise her standards, live her best life and create healthy, happy relationships…

It’s time to start an empowerment revolution!


Making your dream a reality


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 一Mark Twain


So what is the secret dream you’ve been afraid to pursue? Maybe it’s a new career, financial freedom…or maybe it’s to experience real and lasting love!

Regardless of what your dream is, I’ve discovered that the 5 keys to turning a dream into reality are to:

    1. Know your why (why is this important to you and how will it feel?)
    2. Identify and change your limiting beliefs (what is blocking you from succeeding?)
    3. Identify your skills gap (what new training & mentoring do you need?)
    4. Step into a more empowered identity (who do you need to be to achieve your dream?)
    5. Develop a strategy (a plan for what to do in what order and how to do it), then take inspired action!

If there’s one thing I wish I had done differently with my business, it’s to have been less stubborn and “independent” and gotten help sooner. It’s so much easier to succeed when a specialist who knows more than you shows you the shortcuts and helps you work on your mindset, skills and strategy!

So much more is possible once you become your most empowered self…it’s never too late to make a quantum leap into the happier life you’re meant to live!

I hoped you enjoyed my story, and that it resonated with you. 😊


Let’s connect…

I’d love to know more about you…what is your biggest dream? Why is that important to you? What’s been holding you back?

Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Genevieve

    This is great! Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Karen Strang Allen

      So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂



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About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. 

Learn More about Karen