We all have our own definition of prosperity and happiness, but it can be surprisingly difficult to define exactly what we want from life. Many of us have a general sense of what might make our lives a little better—a larger salary, meaningful work, more time with our loved ones or even something as simple as a quiet, contented mind. If you want to zero in on what is most important to you, it’s necessary to allow yourself the time and space to give your dream form and substance you can act upon.
All of us get stuck at one time or another. By stuck, I mean, in a rut, grinding through our days with no sense of direction or purpose. In those moments we can begin to believe that this numbing existence is what we are "stuck" with.
Giving ourselves the space and time to wonder, to dream, can give shape to a new direction. But, it can also stir up new energy, new hope, that there is more than what we are currently experiencing.
And, yes, the gift of a dream has been given to every person.
While there’s no one path to realizing your dream, I have some tips and practices you can use in your everyday life to help you on your way.
Defining My Dream
Hard work without a clear direction can leave you in a frustrating rut. In the professional world, murky goals and vague time management have wasted countless hours and budgets. When it feels like you’re already giving your all just to tread water, the idea of expending even more energy to move toward a dream can seem impossible. In order to move forward and improve your situation, you need to make goals that will slowly but surely direct you toward a better place so your dream can build momentum until it becomes a reality.
>The Big Picture
Sometimes it feels like our brains are programmed to shut down ideas that take us too far away from our current situation. Moving to a different country, becoming your own boss, retiring into wealth and comfort, starting a podcast, writing a book, a song, a book of poetry, starting a business, putting your art "out there"—these are things that are easy to daydream about but much harder to break down into achievable goals.
That's why I am a big proponent of taking your low-definition ideas and turning them into a high-resolution future portrait that will inspire you to #moveforwardanyway.
Allow yourself to consider where you want to be in the next five years and give those thoughts substance by writing them down.
- Use your best, most creative energy to paint a picture, or create a portrait.
- Start by bulleting out your thoughts, the big elements of that high-resolution portrait.
- And then, fill it in with connecting imagery that moves YOU. Don't worry if it moves anyone else.
If you'd like some help, schedule your free Dream Discovery Call here.
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Then, and only then, will you be able to narrow your goals down into what matters most to you and start breaking them down into doable tasks.
>Setting the Small Goals
Whether you’re aiming for short-term or long-term goals, breaking them down into manageable steps will help you form a plan you can work on every day. Using strategies like the SMART mnemonic may help with this, as shown below:
- Specific: When determining your goals, try to make them as specific as possible. Getting a promotion, for instance, can be narrowed down to becoming an assistant manager or getting a $500 raise. This helps you imagine yourself in a successful position so your goal feels even more real.
- Measurable: Whether it’s the number of words you put toward a book, the amount of new contacts you’ve added to your network in pursuit of your dream job, or time spent training, goals that are measurable help foster accountability toward your dream. It’ll also give you something to encourage yourself with as you see the evidence of your progress growing.
- Attainable: This is where you balance reality with your deepest desires. While it may be impossible to save $100,000 for retirement in one year, you can still break that down into a more manageable amount that will help you move toward your dream.
- Relevant: What is your dream trying to tell you? Why do you want to reach a particular goal? It’s critical to understand what you’re ultimately hoping to attain. More money doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness and more team members for a project doesn’t necessarily equate to faster turnaround for a project.
- Timely: Perhaps the strongest element of accountability in the SMART formula, setting a realistic deadline for yourself can also provide motivation.
How to Pursue My Dreams
As with any New Year’s resolution, it’s often much easier to make goals than it is to see them through. A massive part of of the strength needed to pursue a dream comes through everyday optimism. Push away doubt and be willing to take small risks, investing time into what you’re passionate about even if it doesn’t have an immediate payoff.
Your goals don’t always have to be direct, either. A goal as simple as doing something a little different every day can acclimate you to mild discomfort that will push you toward making differences that lead to your dream. Taking a different route to work, having something different from your everyday breakfast, chatting to someone at work you haven’t spoken to before—these are all contained risks that can help you get a little more creative with your zest for life.
Supporting Yourself and Your Dream
One of the most difficult issues that arises when you pursue a dream can be finding those who will help you reach it. Sometimes adversity comes in the form of loneliness, a boss or coworker who discourages your efforts, or even family members who don’t understand the direction your dream is taking you. A coach can make all the difference in giving you a refreshed perspective about what you truly desire while motivating you to follow through. Try making some time to dream today and find out how you can fulfill your goals this year.