Have you ever wondered how some people seem to have everything they dream of, while for others their dreams remain unrealized or forgotten entirely? I’m here to tell you that it’s not a question of luck or genetics, but rather the strategies people use to get what they want. Below I share seven strategies you can use to help turn your dreams into reality, so you can stop wishing and start achieving the things you really want.
1. Understand What’s Important to You
Think back to a time when you’ve been really excited about something big in your life. Maybe it was getting married, buying a house, going on a vacation, or even getting into college. You likely felt a lot of energy and motivation surrounding this goal, and the excitement helped you take the actions to get there.
Unfortunately, we don’t often use this type of momentum on a regular basis to get what we want out of life. This can occur when your goals don’t match your values. Going back to the college example, I’ve known many people who were guided to a particular school or major that they weren’t that excited about. For most of them, they didn’t do that well. They were spending their time and energy trying to make the goal “fit” rather than achieving it.
This is why it’s essential to spend time defining your core values. In Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead, she suggests choosing two values that are important to you. This can be hard to do, but if you have too many competing values you won’t be able to live into them fully. Have a look at Brown’s Values List, and consider what is most important to you in this life; then examine whether or not your dreams fit with those values. If not, consider rearranging, shifting, or doing what you can to find clarity on the dreams that do fit with your values.
If you have a greater understanding of your values, you can craft your goals and dreams to be aligned with them, and you'll be rewarded with the energy and the motivation to make them happen with ease.
2. Optimize Your Time
Increasing your productivity is essential to optimizing how you use your time, and a big part of that is learning to distinguish between what is important versus urgent. When you spend your time reacting to life, working through a random to-do list, or waiting to do something until it’s unavoidable, you aren’t using your time effectively to reach your dreams. It can be chaotic and frustrating.
In the course sessions of The Extraordinary Life Tribe program, I teach a project-based productivity philosophy because all tasks on a to-do list aren’t equal. The Pareto Principle applies well here; it states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. When looking at your never-ending to-do list, what is the top 20% that you can do that will get you to the 80% of results?
At the end of the day, you have only three resources: physical and mental energy, time, and money. Thus you must learn to make optimal use of all three.
3. Start Where You Are Now With the End In Mind
You wouldn’t try to get directions from Google Maps by only putting in your current location or your destination would you? The same goes for your goals and dreams! You need both to give you accurate directions to where you want to go, whether it’s achieving your goal or just getting to that new restaurant.
When setting your destination, it’s important to dream big enough to make the goal exciting; this is why I love setting ten year dreams. Then you can use short term goals that are believable and achievable to help you get there.
It’s just as important to know where you’re starting from. If you start too far ahead of where you are, you might get frustrated and quit. On the other hand, if you start too far behind, you’ll get bored and the process will feel meaningless. For example, if you’ve always liked to swim and want to train to swim further distances, you wouldn’t start by taking level one swimming lessons. You also wouldn’t begin by challenging yourself to swim across a lake on the first try. (Please don’t do that!)
This is also called “magical thinking”, which is the idea that you can achieve what you want outside the law of cause and effect. When you set out without a realistic view of your present situation it can lead to disappointment, which leads to frustration, and ultimately little to no significant progress.
4. Prepare to Meet Challenges
No amount of planning will prepare you for everything. If you consider these unplanned events to be problems that prevent your progress, they will be! People that achieve their dreams aren’t put off by these events, and may even be energized by the richness of opportunities that arise from these so-called obstacles. With the right mindset the journey to achievement can be viewed as one opportunity after another, which reinforces your belief in your success.You just need to be open to the possibility.
5. Use Your Imagination For Good
You were born with a very powerful imagination. If you use it to imagine a future outcome that’s not to your advantage, it can lead to worry, stress, and fear. It will also drain your energy and motivation. On the other hand, imagining a positive future increases the energy and motivation you need to succeed at your goals.
With practice you can actively imagine things to generate excitement and motivation, rather than fear. My most powerful tool to achieve my goals is to write down my ten dreams for ten years from now as if they’d already happened. I do this almost every morning, and it builds my imagination muscle as I imagine my dream life. I connect to it each day and it gives me the motivation to do what I need to that day to stay on the path to my dream life.
6. Form Your Goals With Understanding
When you form your goals well, you need to be self-aware and look at the biggest picture. One part of that is to create a clear picture of how things will be when you’ve accomplished your goal or dream. Another part that we often don’t take into consideration is what you may lose by achieving that goal.
My mentor says that when you gain something of a higher nature, you often will lose something of a lower nature along the way. If you don’t factor in the loss, your mind may prevent you from achieving what you want in the long-term.
A simple example could be having the goal of moving your body every day. Then Friday rolls around, and all your friends are going for a drink after work. To stay committed to your goal of walking that day, you’ll have to lose out on seeing your friends even though you are gaining fitness instead. In the moment, it’s hard to say no to going out! But if you had factored in that “future loss” of seeing them, you could have planned ahead to invite a friend to meet you for a walk instead. Your chances of success will be considerably increased when you see the whole picture.
7. Believe What You Want is Possible For You
If you hold negative beliefs about whether your goal is achievable or if it’s right for you, you may sabotage your results. It’s important to overcome those beliefs that you developed through childhood and up until the present moment. (Here is something to help you with that.) Self-awareness is the key to this (all of these) strategies, and it takes practice and repetition to get there.
I have several opportunities coming up to help you increase your self awareness and build a community around yourself of fellow dream-setters and goal-getters.
Creating your dream life can be fun and exciting, and the seven strategies above will help guide you on your journey towards it.
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