The country is buzzing with a positive post-Olympics glow and the message is loud and clear. If you really want to do it then you can. All it takes to achieve your dreams is hard work and dedication and then anyone can do anything. I had a long chat with my children on similar lines yesterday. Through the inevitable tears that always flow when I talk about people succeeding, I explained that real achievement comes with determination and focus and that there is no alternative to putting in the hours to get where you want to go.

This message is made all the more poignant by the distinct dearth of appropriate role models that society has in this age of instant stardom. For a while a  martian visiting planet earth may well have thought that to achieve success all that was required was to spend a disproportionate amount of time grooming oneself, then to be loud and brash on a reality television show and Bob’s your uncle. Sit back and watch the money role in.

Of course, despite what the media might make the martian and the young people of today believe, life’s not like that. The real winners, I told my children over the cornflakes, are the people who are happy in their life because they work hard and get to where they want to go through dedication and maybe a tiny bit of luck. They are the ones to be applauded. The Olympians fall very neatly into this category but sport is not the only aspect of life that is improved by a bit of dedication. Almost anything you can name is caught by the mantra.

But is is true? As I have mentioned before, I have had two real dreams in my forty odd years. (I don’t count my family as a dream because somehow I always just assumed that that would work out like it does in the fairytales.) The first is achieved and that box is ticked. The second is a work in progress. But no matter how hard I dedicate myself to my writing ambitions, will I ever actually achieve my dream and have a novel published? I do have to say that it is remarkably unlikely but that realisation doesn’t dull the dream. I am still as determined to try. I do wonder though whether my natural pragmatism might colour my efforts. I push that thought to the back of my mind.

And which came first? The dream or the natural leaning towards the use of language? Do I want to write because I think I can do it a bit and might improve or because I want to write and am teaching myself how? I don’t know the answer to that. What if I had decided that I wanted to run the fastest 100 metres in school, the country, the continent, the world? Would hard work and dedication have allowed me to achieve that without any obvious talent in that area? The post-Olympic message seems to be yes. I’m not so sure.

One thing I do know – if you don’t try you are very unlikely to achieve anything. If you want to be good on your roller skates you can’t just strap them on and go for it. It takes hours of patient practise. True instant gratification is as rare as hen’s teeth.

So the message stands proud over the world, the country and my breakfast table. If you want to realise your dream then you have to focus and work and if you do that then who knows? Your dream may turn out to be even bigger than you dared to imagine.