04/07/2013 11:35 am ET | Updated Jun 07, 2013

How 99 Days Can Change Your Life: The Hope Street Challenge

All of us have dreams but not all of us fulfill them, so what does it take to transform your life? Are there particular traits successful people have that ensure their success? Is talent more important than tenacity? What about courage, self-belief, passion and will-power?

As an aspiring writer, this was a topic that always fascinated me. When I was 21 I gave myself until I was 30 to publish a book. If I hadn't done it by then, I promised, I would give up and get a real job. When nine years of waitressing and writing didn't produce the desired result, I decided to self-publish. That was the beginning of everything. My little fable, Men, Money & Chocolate, was picked up by a publishing company and soon translated into 26 languages. This month my first work of literary fiction, The House at the End of Hope Street, will be published by Penguin. So, what changed?

The House at the End of Hope Street is a magical place, a refuge for women who've lost hope of ever fulfilling their dreams. They are allowed to stay for 99 Days -- just long enough to transform their lives but not too long to procrastinate -- while receiving support from the spirits of the famous women who populate the house. These women, Virginia Woolf, George Elliot, Charlotte Brontë and Florence Nightingale among them, had a great deal of inspiring ideas about how to best fulfill your dreams and transform your life.

To launch the book I wrote a 99 Day blog -- on Facebook and Twitter -- so everyone can have the Hope Street experience. Every day I picked a quote from one of the famous women and wrote about it from my own perspective of failure and success. It's so inspiring to see people join in: aspiring writers, painters, actors, singers etc., who are following the advice of these great women and using it to transform their own lives. It's shown me a factor in success I'd underestimated before: the power of inspiring friendships. It's so much easier to fulfill our dreams when we're not doing it alone.

Here are 9 Ways to Transform Your Life and Begin to Fulfill Your Dreams Today:

"Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible." -- Doris Lessing

If you wait for everything in your life to line up before you act, you'll be waiting forever. Nearly everyone who's achieved something of significance has overcome great odds to do it. So, whatever your circumstances are, just get started!

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot

Don't waste time lamenting the years that have passed when your dreams drifted by unfulfilled. It's a great waste of your creative spirit and won't effect anything except to make too depressed to take positive action.

"I honor endurance, perseverance, industry, talent." -- Charlotte Brontë

Whatever you want to achieve never underestimate the power of simply never giving up and, while you're doing it, always keeping your word with yourself. It's an essential practice, the difference between actually fulfilling your dreams, or just talking about them for the rest of your life . . .

"What does the brain matter compared with the heart?" -- Virginia Woolf

Only some of us have the ability to be intellectually brilliant, but most of us have the capacity express what we feel in our hearts. Cultivate that and you'll create something really special.
"My most valuable trait is tenacity, but what's got me where I am now is courage." -- P.D. James
It is a truth universally acknowledged that whatever it is you want to do in life, especially if it's extraordinary, you'll need tenacity and courage to do it. Tenacity is essential everyday. Courage is essential from time to time.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." -- E.M. Forster

Never get so fixated on your imagined future that you don't see all the possibilities life has to offer. So, even while you're applying tenacity and determination to fulfilling your dreams remember, at the same time, to let go.

"Words ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results." -- Florence Nightingale

Self-belief, talent and visualization aren't enough. You must take action, courageous actions, in the direction of your dreams. Your dreams won't come true from your living room chair.

"I love my rejection slips. They show me I try." -- Sylvia Plath

When you're not getting the results you want, whenever you suffer a "failure", know that you are on the right path. It's a cliché to say that failure is just a step on the way to success, but it's a cliché because it's true.

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." -- Agatha Christie

A seemingly silly piece of advice but it really works whenever you're mentally stuck. Stop thinking so hard, do something else and let your mind wander loosely around the subject, skirting it gently. It won't be long very long at all before a spark of inspiration settles on your shoulder...

For more by Menna van Praag, click here.

For more inspirational quotes, click here.

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