From The Straits Times    |

Sometimes, reality bites. We’re not happy at work. We’re not progressing with our hobbies. Dissatisfaction becomes an all-too-familiar feeling that opens the door to ‘what if’. What if we had our dream job, dream life, dream house? But before we allow ourselves that luxury of imagination, the ever rational Singaporean mentality kicks in. We think about time, money, effort, practicality, and our dreams get put on mute. Real life occupies too much headspace.

Founder Kristina Karlsson

So when Kristina Karlsson, founder of Pinterest-worthy stationery favourite kikki.K, challenged us to dream without limitations, we found it hard going. Ironically, having infinite possibilities caused more self-doubt. It’s a mental challenge that Kristina wants to change with her new book, Your Dream Life Starts Here, launched this September. It’s a cheerful yellow tome filled with inspirational stories, advice, and exercises to help you dream big and build your goals.

“I believe there are two kinds of discomfort,” Kristina shared, when we met her over cake and tea. “You can either stay where you are and feel dissatisfied, or you can go through the pain of achieving what you want. People choose the one they feel more comfortable with.” And if you’re the latter, Kristina shares how to take that first step into shushing that inner doubting Thomas, and daring to first believe in what you can achieve.


Put a pen to paper

The first all-important step, Kristina believes, is to actually put a pen to paper and physically write out what your dreams are. Think of this tactile exercise as a kind of commitment, as you would in writing out your to-do list. “Get everything down on paper, and then be inspired to prioritise,” advises Kristina. “Have at least three key dreams you want to focus on, and create a clear road map on how you can start achieving them.”



Be inspired by the dreamers of the world

Karlsson’s new book also has a companion Dream Life Journal

We all hear incredibly moving stories about people who have achieved amazing things. But don’t just be impressed by their journey – let them inspire you. For Kristina, one woman who sparks this motivation is Oprah Winfrey’s all-time favourite guest on her show, Dr Tererai Trent. Tererai grew up in rural Zimbabwe and whose husband abused her for wanting an education. She is now living a life committed to building schools in her home country.

“What she went on to achieve is truly remarkable,” enthuses Kristina. “Tererai is living proof that dreaming is something anyone can do, and so too, is achieving those dreams.” 1USD from all sales of this new book will be donated to her foundation.


You can put a pause of being realistic
While we’re not saying you should throw every ounce of practical sense of the window (for example, if you can’t hold a tune, best not to indulge Grammy award fantasies), try pressing pause on self-doubt. Too many times we tell ourselves that a certain goal might cost too much money, take up too much time, or we might not be as talented. But Kristina wants to challenge this. “You decide if your dream is realistic,” she points out. “It depends on how much you want it.” Basically, it might take you a long time and a lot of pain, but you can wear down impracticality with hard work.

“The moment you prepare yourself for disappointment, you are limiting yourself from dreaming big,” she points out. “The first step to living your dream life is to ask yourself the big question: ‘What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?’” As long as you have the passion and drive, don’t let any of the background noise cloud your goals.


Make dreaming a daily practice

Practice getting some clarity by writing your thoughts down.

Dreaming is like stretching. If you don’t stretch regularly, you’ll never be able to touch your toes. It’s like a mental muscle that you need to exercise, so don’t consign dreaming to an annual New Year’s Resolutions activity. “The more you do it, the better you get at it – like yoga or meditation,” says Kristina. “We also make so many excuses for not working on our dreams, but I’m a fan of ‘don’t say no, say how’.” Chart your progress regularly (even if it’s baby steps) so you feel like there’s agency in what you’re planning.


Talk about your dreams

Grab a friend, have some cake, and start talking about your dreams.

Sometimes you need a friend to give you a nudge (“What happened to that website you said you were going to start?”), or meeting people in the right places. Kristina remembers a sharing session where a woman was talking about writing her own book, and it turns out that she was seated opposite a publisher. Sharing your dreams with other people gives you accountability, a good sounding board for feedback, and hey, you never know if a friend of a friend might be able to hook you up with that web designer you need.

Kristina Karlsson’s Your Dream Life Starts Here book will be available at kikki.K ION,kikki.K Raffles City, kikki.K Vivocity and online at

Photos: kikki.K