Success is not an easy road. Yet, for many who’ve succeeded in a variety of endeavors, the path, though prickly and different from any they had known, was almost irresistible. Some say the ability to take risks divides the successful from the also-rans. I say it another way. It’s the ability to set unrealistic goals with realistic timetables that creates the possibility for success.

Movies, perhaps more publicly than any medium, serves up a diet of “success stories” such as people who don’t wait to be discovered, but who instead get themselves unstuck from dead-end, predictable futures.

Writers and athletes have also experienced this. You are not bound by the restrictions of the past. You may have had 100 rejection slips only to be published at the 101st. Or you could have been an o.k. player with one team and a star with the next.

The past can hold us in its grip in two ways. It can give us scripts which order our behavior, narrowly define our talents and expand our shortcomings. Or you can break a few rules, and draw inspiration from others, shake a few people up and change the social order.

Happiness through self-actualization is one of the real attractions for winners, not wealth. Happiness doesn’t just happen to you, it comes through your actions and perception and timing. It’s the realization of your potential, often despite heavy odds, which makes it all the sweeter.

To achieve success in spite of those odds requires the setting of unrealistic goals. Being overly realistic can be the kiss of death to your dreams.