Success can be a state of mind. Dionne Christian talks to a trio of New Zealanders who had the determination to make their dreams come true.
Helen Dorresteyn left Epsom Girls Grammar School with University Entrance accredited and the words of one teacher ringing in her ears.
"She told me I would never amount to anything. I remember looking at her, in her flesh-coloured stockings and sensible shoes, and thinking, 'well, at least I'm not going to be like you'.
"But I acknowledge I was probably a truly horrible child to teach, because I questioned everything."
Should that teacher still be around, she might want to eat her words - possibly on ciabatta bread with fresh tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella bought at the wildly successful Clevedon Farmers' Market Dorresteyn started six years ago.
With a Diploma in Horticulture, a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, Dorresteyn can now add "food revolutionary" to her list of qualifications.
As well as starting the market, she and husband Richard started and own the award-winning artisan cheese company Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company.
Call them dreams, goals or ambitions, achievement is on the minds of many as the sun sets on the summer and another year reaches autumn. Many of us may still be frantically trying to keep to New Year's resolutions but despite best intentions, a fair percentage of us will be in the same position by December.
The difference with Dorresteyn is that she made - to use a cliché - her dream come true. So what does it take to be a go-getting achiever rather than a dreamer?
Psychologist Rebecca Daly-Peoples says we tend to have an "internal or external locus of control" and those who achieve their dreams are more likely to have an internal locus.
"With an internal locus of control, an individual considers themselves an active participant in their life," says Daly-Peoples. "They are typically more 'pro-active', seeing themselves as responsible for creating their own life direction.
"But those with a predominantly external locus of control tend to believe life 'happens' to them and are more likely to have a passive or reactive approach to life. They may be more likely to blame others for their own failures or inability to succeed."
Dorresteyn credits her success to finding a passion as well as "growing up" and becoming more aware of her own limitations.
"I know I'm not good at taking orders and I get bored quickly, so I need to be my own boss and have different projects on the go. But I do now realise that as you get older, you learn about how to tough out more challenging situations."
She wanted to start a farmers' market after settling down in rural Clevedon on a 14ha block, which is mainly in bush but with room for vegetable, herb and flower gardens. Both sets of grandparents had green thumbs and some of Dorresteyn's favourite childhood memories involved pottering with them in their verdant gardens.
"I learnt a lot from my grandparents and I think that set the tone for the way I learn best, from individual mentors."
Daly-Peoples says positive role models are important to success.
"The question is, 'is locus of control part of an individual's inborn temperament or learned through experience? In likelihood, it's probably a combination of both but if we have positive role models, like parent/parents who are goal directed or motivated, we are likely to learn that hard work and persistence pay off.
"On the other hand, if a person has witnessed their parents failing in life, or experienced significant events or traumas outside of their control, this may lead them to feel they have less power over their own lives."
She acknowledges some people do, by nature, seem more driven and determined. "They may rise above their circumstances due to an innate drive. That said, there are probably more people who could achieve greater things if they set their minds to it," Daly-Peoples says.
Dorresteyn spent years travelling, studying and working as a high school art teacher then found herself at home with two young children, Hugo (now 10) and Saskia (7). She gardened for relaxation and to keep occupied.
She enjoyed eating home-grown produce and figured in a coastal and rural area like Clevedon, there might be others with surplus produce to sell at a genuine farmers' market.
"We also took a few months off when Hugo was young and travelled round the South Island in a camper van. We ate out of the wonderful farmers' markets they have there. I had seen similar markets in the United States and thought they were great."
Dorresteyn read as much as she could about farmers' markets in the US, where they have a longer pedigree and account for 3 per cent of the US food spend. With daughter Saskia, then a baby in nappies, she drove round Clevedon, door-knocking and leaving letters in mail- boxes inviting local food producers to join her endeavour.
"Saskia came to all my meetings with me. It was just the way it was, so I worked with it."
The Clevedon Farmers Market opened on 20 November, 2005 and Dorresteyn got a pleasant surprise. "People came in like a tidal wave and swept the whole place clean by 9.30am. I remember one stallholder looking at me and saying, 'I'm going to have to put some more seeds in and hope they grow quickly'."
Initial research showed successful markets adhered to strict rules about what could be traded and had "cornerstone" producers - fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat and cheese - building extra variety on top of those staples.
She stuck to that recipe but finding someone to make cheese from locally sourced milk proved difficult.
Despite having no farming experience, husband Richard, an industrial electrician, tired of hearing her lament the lack of a cheesemaker and announced he would do it.
The couple had tasted fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese in Italy and wanted to make a similar product here.
But first they had to import buffalo.
Dorresteyn recalls approaching numerous buffalo breeders and farmers, few of whom responded to their enquiries. Then they contacted "Buffalo Bill", a Kiwi living in Australia's Northern Territory who wanted to see buffalo farmed in New Zealand.
"Within 48 hours, we went from being in Clevedon to standing in a paddock full of buffalo in Australia.
"Bill asked us to hire a four-wheel-drive but we couldn't afford it so we had to drive out in his jeep, which was basically held together by string and wire. I could see the ground through holes in the floor from the seat I was sitting on.
"We'd bounce through waterways and he'd say, 'there's a croc lives in that one'. Then we came face to face with these huge buffalo. I really wondered if I was going to make it out alive."
But they did - with a deal to import buffalo from Bill. They now have a herd of around 120, a farm manager who does most of the milking and the thriving Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company whose products include mozzarella, ricotta, yoghurt and now buffalo meat.
It has taken three years and a number of trips to Italy to learn to make cheese but the Dorresteyns feel they have perfected the process. They are now included in world-renowned cheese expert Patricia Michelson's guide Cheese: The World's Best Artisan Cheeses.
"It's been a lot of hard work and there have been some big sacrifices, but it's been worth it to build something that is our own. It's been really exciting learning about food, meeting fantastic people who are just as enthusiastic about what we are doing as we are.
"A huge part of my success is down to loving and being loved by Richard, having a strong partnership and a complementary set of skills has made it possible to achieve so much. If one of you is down the other is up, so it makes it easier to roll with the punches when you are not on your own.
"The rest is just hard work and, yes, lots of passion for good food and good people."
Doron Hickey also knows about making sacrifices to get where one wants. While others his age might be out partying to all hours, the 25-year-old Hamiltonian has devoted himself to study - and will continue to do so for years to come.
He graduated from the University of Auckland last year and is now a trainee intern at Austin Hospital in Victoria, Australia.
Next year, he will travel to the University of Oxford to join a retina gene therapy project working to restore vision to people with inherited blindness.
"Inherited blindness affects one-in-4000 people worldwide, including about 1000 New Zealanders," he says.
"My studies will hopefully lead to restoring vision for those born with inherited eye disease, and possibly one day help to treat people who live with degenerative conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration."
Hickey demonstrates a number of the traits thought to foster do-ers rather than dreamers.
He has had valuable mentors, both his parents are scientists. Dad Chris holds a PhD and works for Niwa, while his mum, Sharon, is a former dux of Cambridge High School and a research associate at AgResearch.
Hickey is also good at concentrating on long-term success. Daly-Peoples says the ability to delay gratification is generally also a hallmark of those whose dreams become reality. As an example, she uses data from an experiment with young children and marshmallows.
"Children have one marshmallow placed in front of them and are told they can either eat the marshmallow or if they wait for a period of time without eating it, they will receive two marshmallows. There are those children who choose the immediate gratification of eating the first marshmallow and others who manage to wait."
She says the original experiment found significant correlations between the amount of time children could delay gratification and their success as adolescents. Those who delayed were also better at managing stress and frustration.
"The ability to delay gratification is representative of the individual's will power or impulse control. There are some classic videos where this experiment has been recreated. Children use some very imaginative tactics to distract themselves from eating the marshmallow."
Daly-Peoples believes it is safe to say those who achieve goals have a greater degree of will power and impulse control, and the ability to put off rewards in the present for future gain.
"To do this, people need to be able to identify and visualise what it is they hope to achieve."
Hickey became interested in ophthalmology - the branch of medicine concerned with the eyes - at the age of 14, when he noticed opaque spots floating across his vision. He asked a family friend, an ophthalmologist, to explain and from there became intrigued by the way in which the eyes work.
"I think it's extraordinary that we have this sense that allows us to detect colour, movement, depth and detail over such a wide range of lighting conditions. It's such an amazing product of evolution."
He went to watch eye surgeries and took all the right school subjects, becoming dux in 2003 at Hamilton's Hillcrest High School.
That same year, he was New Zealand's top Bursary student in Mathematics with Statistics.
Hickey entered the medical (MBChB) programme at Auckland in 2004.
After his fifth year he took a year away from medical school to complete a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in the Centre for Visual Sciences at the Australian National University.
In his spare time, he volunteers with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. He has made friends with three members and says one of them shares a mutual love of science, so he downloads science podcasts for him to listen to.
"I see first-hand what the impact of the loss of sight does to otherwise healthy people, how it impacts their ability to work and their relationships with their family. I hope my research can go some way to improving their daily lives."
Hickey was one of three students in New Zealand who last year received a Woolf Fisher Scholarship. The scholarship covers up to four years of post-graduate research at Oxford University at a value of about $100,000 annually.
"The best thing about the scholarship is that it allows me to do what I have planned for a long time. It means my goals have played out as I hoped. Oxford or Cambridge have always been amazing places that you keep in the back of your mind as places you may one day want to attend.
"I think coming from New Zealand, you can feel like you're on a small stage and you don't quite know how you compare on a global stage. This gives me the opportunity to go to a more global stage and I feel very proud to be a New Zealander taking my research skills to that level. I want to do the best I can."
There have been tough times; finding the right work/life balance for one.
"At one point, I'd been putting in 14-16 hour days of study and I questioned whether the rest of my life was going to be like that. I had to take some time out and think about things."
Hickey turned to a list of goals he wrote for himself when he was 21 and an adage he likes to keep in mind: the harder it gets, the more rewarding it will be.
That will probably bring a wry smile to the face of Whitianga's Alan Hopping, who spent more than 20 years and millions of dollars chasing his dream, literally from the ground up.
He converted his Whitianga holiday park and a former schoolhouse into The Lost Spring Thermal Pools and Day Spa, an elegant Pacific-style haven with four hot pools, including an elevated pool in the crater lake of a model volcano, a day spa, restaurant and relaxation lounge all within lush landscaped gardens.
By his own admission, Hopping had a sheltered upbringing on a farm in Papakura, Auckland, and was naive and shy by nature.
He married at 23 before travelling even as far as Rotorua, sold the family farm at 31, purchasing 3.4ha in central Whitianga on the Coromandel in 1980 where he started a holiday park.
He made friends with guests from around the world and invitations to visit them followed. Hopping took the family to the United States, including Hawaii, in 1984 and back to Hawaii in 1987.
"I discovered the "magic" factor in design development in the US mainland, Hawaii and South Africa. I became committed to bringing magic and class to the spa thermal resort industry in New Zealand and believing it was achievable drove this project onwards through the 21-year duration."
Whitianga is near an ancient geothermal plain and for years Hopping had heard stories about lost hot springs. He decided to take a chance and search for thermal water on his property.
In 1989, he and a team drilled down 500m and found water, but the first well failed because of a major electrical fault. Encouraged, Hopping continued to design and build the pool complex.
The second drilling operation was in 2001 and, again, water was struck before equipment issues forced the abandonment of that well.
Again, Hopping carried on with building and landscaping the site. In 2006, 17 years after first striking hot water, it was a case of third time lucky.
The Lost Spring opened at the end of 2008 and now woos visitors from New Zealand and around the world. Everything from the gardens to the decor in the relaxation lounge and cafe reflects New Zealand's Pacific location, creating a truly magical and unexpected slice of paradise.
But Hopping isn't resting on the Lost Spring's rapidly growing laurels. He's already embarked on a maintenance schedule designed to keep the complex pristine. He says the toughest challenges were overcoming repeated well losses, the associated costs and the risks of continuing the drill search.
"With the project one third complete, contemplating the permanent loss of the hot water well would have meant the death knell of the project, and probably the clearing of the site and construction of apartments by Kiwi developers.
"There were, of course, several 'walk away' moments on the project, usually prior to another large expenditure phase but the price of quitting was to admit failure - in the eyes of others as well as myself - all the while knowing the hot water was there and my goal was achievable.
"In short, it was easier to stay and face the challenge than to abandon and leave. I stayed and prayed."
Secrets of success
Psychologist Rebecca Daly-Peoples believes there are key factors in making your dreams come true:
* Goal setting and positive visualisation
It's hard to work towards something you haven't a clear idea of. People often have vague goals - "I want to make a lot of money/be successful", etc - but in reality you need very clear ideas of what it is you want to achieve and the steps you will take to work toward the outcome you desire.
Professional athletes are a good example of this because they focus on the specific outcome they want. And they focus on the positives, they don't tell themselves, "I mustn't lose" or imagine themselves coming second or third, they say and visualise, "I will win".
* Self belief and self discipline
An individual's personal belief structure is integral to their ability to achieve success. You have to believe in yourself, and believe you are capable of reaching your goals.
A sense of self-efficacy is the greatest predictor of successful behavioural change. Leaving things to chance or "luck" is not the way to attain your dreams. You have to have perseverance and be able to cope with failure or rejection along the way.
Self-discipline is vital. It's hard to achieve great things if your life is erratic and changeable. Working toward goals needs to become a habit, rather than a whim. People who are successful often plan their time very deliberately, scheduling time for work, family, exercise, etc.
It's not really possible to "have it all" in life. Often you have to give something up to achieve something else. Successful people may relinquish time with friends, family or intimate relationships, forsake personal time or make financial sacrifices. For instance, sportspeople make physical and dietary sacrifices, and spend hours training, travelling, and time away from family to achieve their goals. People who are determined to reach their goals must be prepared to prioritise those activities that direct them towards those goals. In reality, many people don't want to make those sacrifices.