Transforming a dream into reality is no easy feat! Even with careful planning and pure dedication, staying the course can be an all-consuming emotional roller coaster. Country singer Carly Pearce knows first-hand how hard it can be; she moved to Nashville when she was 18 and finally scored a record deal, only to lose her contract when the label folded. She topped the charts with her single Every Little Thing earlier this year, and Carly’s dishing out advice that’ll help you achieve the success you’ve been dreaming about, whether that means turning your side hustle into your full-time job or scoring a gig at one of the best companies to work for. Read on for more of her super inspiring story, plus eight great tips for moving forward when it feels impossible to carry on.

Carly Pearce

1. Network as much as you can. Carly admits that networking isn’t always easy, but tells us it’s super important just the same — you never know who you’ll meet! “After I lost my record deal, I ended up connecting with the Opry. After some back and forth emailing, I landed my very first performance there. I actually just played my 37th Opry performance, and it all started because of a little networking.”

2. Send five new emails each week. “This one might sound simple, but can really pay off,” Carly promises. “If you commit to sending emails, you’ll expand your network.” She notes that while the people you connect with might not be able to help right away, you might be surprised how they can pop up later in your journey. Plus, you might be able to help them out with something too.

3. Be open to taking a gig that isn’t your dream job. Carly says that you’ve gotta be creative when things get tough. “I auditioned for and took a job as Lucy Hale’s backup singer. No, my dream wasn’t to sing backup vocals for someone else — but if it kept me singing, I was going to do it.” For you, this might mean taking a more junior role at a company you admire, starting your business as a side project first, or even accepting a job with a few tasks you hate if it has potential to take you in the right direction.

4. Focus on your faith. “My faith has played a big role in my life,” Carly says. “When it looked like my dream would never come true, I turned to God.” She tells us that while it wasn’t easy, her faith helped her focus and inspired her to keep moving forward. She credits her strong faith for the people and opportunities that led her along the path to her current success. No matter what your faith or beliefs are, you may be able to call on them to build a super strong foundation that holds you up when things get tough.

Carly Pearce

5. Indulge to take the edge off. “If you know anything about me, you know I love some wine,” Carly confesses. “I think it’s great for celebrating and for helping me through the tough times.” She reminds us that pursuing a dream your heart is attached to is emotional and can be really tough. “Some days are great; others test your limits,” she shares. “That’s where the wine comes in. Don’t be afraid to pour yourself a glass to take the edge off if it’ll help you unwind and put things back into perspective.” Don’t share Carly’s love of vino? Consider a warm bubble bath, a facial, a good sweat sesh, or whatever else it might take for you to hit the ground running the next day.

6. Stay humble. Carly swears by being humble and tells us, “The moment you think you’re above something or that you’re ‘too good’, you’re sunk.” She explains that if you really want to see your dreams come true, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes — even it’s totally unrelated to what you want to do, like cleaning Airbnb rentals while networking and songwriting like she did. “This will also make you appreciate your success that much more when it happens,” she says.

7. Own your destiny. “Nobody is going to work harder for you than yourself,” Carly notes. “While your friends and family might mean well, remember that they aren’t the boss of you and your life. Make thoughtful decisions for yourself and stay true to who you are.” She reminds us that in the end, you have to live with the result — be it good or bad. Though it’s hard to find the courage to follow your gut and your goals, being brave is a surefire way to live with fewer regrets.

8. Never give up. Carly is a big advocate of believing in yourself and staying the course. “If you truly want something, don’t lose hope or give up.” Having been through the ups and downs, she explains that while your dream might not come true on your planned schedule or the way you think it should, the journey itself is worth it. “You don’t want to look back one day and say, ‘What if I had tried just one more day?’ or ‘What would have happened if I kept going?’ Remember, it’s always darkest right before the dawn. Keep dreaming, and keep going.

Are you chasing a dream? We want to hear all about it! Fill us in on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photos via Carly Pearce)