There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.
This was the introduction to an excellent seminar from my CEO. Because only when we believe in ourselves, and believe in our dreams, can we turn a dream into a reality. For what is a dream but a fluffy idea drifting in and out of our consciousness? It is not nothing, it is a Thing that you have decided cannot be done (or rather, a Thing that may happen at some unforeseen point in the unimagined future).
The speaker’s next point, which also happens to be the last point, and a good chunk of the points in between, is something that I’ve talked with a couple of people about including my friend over at Tales of the Borderline (if you enjoy my stuff, you’ll love her), who gave me a thorough run-down of how she manages this . The point, which hopefully you are at least a little bit curious about now, is this:
In order for your Dreams to become a Reality, you must shape them into Goals.
Shaping your Dream into a Goal:
Write it down:
Think about that Thing you really, really, really, really, really want. Do you dream of a spectacular holiday across Europe? Do you aspire to own a little cafe on the beach-front? Do you crave to earn a living from that Thing you love doing most? Imagine it, picture it in your mind; how would you feel? What can you see, hear, smell & touch? Where would you be? Write it down.
Break it up:
Think about what you actually need to do in order to make your Dream a Reality. What are the steps involved to achieve your goal? Write these down, too. For this part, I found it useful to make a flowchart / brainstorm type diagram to flesh out the steps in an easier way for me to work with, adjust, and understand clearly.
Add a Timeframe:
This is arguably the most crucial step. Once we have a timeframe, we can truly say that we have a Goal. It gives us something tangible, and puts a little bit of healthy pressure on us to work harder, which ultimately gets us to where we really want to be. Please make it achievable, though! For example, I wouldn’t create a goal to publish a novel by the end of the year – it’s just not gonna happen, and would make me feel miserable when I don’t achieve it. Think carefully about what is realistic for you.
This is a task that was originally from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (which is on my to-read list, the next self-helpy book once I eventually finish How to Win Friends & Influence People (on another note, the fiction book I am currently reading is Life, The Universe, and Everything and is an excellent read). It requires you to make an actual, tangible commitment (deep breaths, come on, you can do it!), and makes you a more accountable to yourself.
The task itself is to summarise your specific, achievable goal into one or two sentences, write it out on a piece of paper or card – make it pretty if that’s what floats your boat – and everyday write down one thing you did that contributed to your goal (I’m finding sticky notes good so far, but I’m also thinking of just writing them all around my goal, so I can see my accumulative effort and feel a bit chuffed :p)
But wait, there’s more!
- One other suggestion (that I haven’t utilised yet) is to also write down your motivations for your goal. For example, my goal may be to maintain a successful blog, by writing at least two posts every week, because I want to get confident with sharing my writing, and build positive relationships with other readers and writers.
- You may only have one big Dream, but it is highly improbable that you only have one Goal. We all have several goals, both short-term (like wake up at a reasonable time tomorrow morning) to mid-term and long-term goals, so prioritise your Goals, choosing two or three of the most important, otherwise you’ll probably feel overwhelmed.
When helping students set goals, I always insisted that they be specific, realistic goals, as well as writing down when they are aiming to do it by (or providing a time period, e.g. by the end of Term 2, I want to make more friends, by being nice to people & giving compliments), which is exactly what we’ve done here – it’s just a bigger, longer-term Dream, so it takes a longer and more in-depth process to shape it into an achievable Goal.
And of course, the most important thing is that you believe in your Dream, you focus it into a Goal, and you feel satisfied, happy, and ridonkulously excited about working towards it – sometimes the journey is just as important as the end point.
Here’s to living the Dream xx
EDIT: I would love times a million-trillion-gazillion (I’m a teacher, and I say that’s a real number) to hear your Dreams, your Goals, and what works for you! What’s your motivation? How do you stay on track & accountable? How do you make sure that the little struggles of daily life don’t get in the way?
Let’s learn from each other.