I want to share with you 5 steps to kickstart your dreams and turn them into reality. So, get ready to take the first steps toward creating your best life and achieving what you want out of life.
Step 1: Take Stock
In my view, the very first step to living your dreams is to take stock of where you are now and to figure out where you want to eventually be. The idea of it can seem overwhelming, but just know that there is no one way to go through this process. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The important part is that you walk away with an improved knowledge of yourself, your values, your purpose, and your goals. Here’s a structure you could follow:
Assess Your Current Situation
The first thing you’ll want to do is take an honest look at where you currently are in your life. Honest doesn’t necessarily mean critical. Try to be gentle with yourself throughout this process. It’s not meant to cause you to feel inadequate or unsuccessful in any way.
The real point of this exercise is to provide you with a baseline understanding of where you are in your life, what your strengths are, and what you’d like to change. This insight will be invaluable as you continue the journey and begin making plans for your life.
Take some time to sit down and think about your life. Take stock of what is working and what you’re happy with. What are your assets? What particular strengths do you bring to the table? What part of your life brings you the most joy? Write these things down so that you can reference them later throughout this process.
Then it’s time to look at what could be better about your current situation. Name some aspects that are causing you difficulty, stress, or unhappiness. In what ways could you improve? What are some things you’d like to change? Go ahead and also think of your hopes, wishes, and dreams. Write them down. What do you want more of in your life?
You may be surprised at the insight you walk away with after completing this activity. It can be really encouraging to realize that you actually have a lot going for you right now. You can feel good knowing you’re on track in a lot of ways and that your strengths can help to move you toward making the changes you desire.
Even with regard to your difficulties, knowing where you’d like to make improvements can help to lift the fog that’s been keeping you stuck in place. It shines a light on the things you’d like to change and gives you a jumping off point. Knowing where to start can be half the battle sometimes.
Narrow It Down
Once you’ve completed your initial assessment you may find you’ve gathered a great deal of information, and that’s great. Now’s your opportunity to narrow things down a bit in order to make sure that you’ll be on the right track when you begin the planning process of your journey.
Take a look at the lists you created in the previous exercises. You’ll want to evaluate them in order to ensure they’re truly in line with your values, priorities, desires, and needs. Sometimes we add a goal to our list that doesn’t truly resonate with us or one that won’t necessarily help us move in the direction we want to go. That’s because these goals may come from outside influences or fit a narrative we no longer subscribe to. This is where you need to do a little more soul searching.
Try to focus on the changes that are most likely to be attainable and have the most effect. You can always expand your list later. But you want to be sure to narrow down your list so that you don’t become overwhelmed down the road and give up. Losing motivation is a trap many of us fall into when pursuing our goals.
In addition, you should look for goals that you can start right away and that can be completed in a relatively short time frame. This will give you confidence as you begin to check accomplishments off your list and add new ones. Each small change adds up and contributes to the success of your larger dreams.
Next, look at your reasons for wanting to achieve a goal. Ask yourself if the goals you’ve chosen align with your values and with where you want to go in your life. Do they add to the ways in which you want to live each day? Do they complement your overall vision for the future? Try to set goals that can move you in the right direction and that can be built upon as you go along. Ones that feel right and that make you excited about their completion.
Just be honest with yourself during this step of the process. Choose to focus on the goals that will have the most impact on your life and that you can realistically complete. If you feel daunted or unsure about a particular wish list item, ask yourself why. Try not to allow fear or insecurity stop you. Take a moment to honestly assess the issue and decide what it is that may be causing you uncertainty. Then, work to figure out whether you can overcome the problem or if it does make sense to simply scrap that goal in favor of another one.
This process will prepare you for the next step, which is to build a plan for executing your goals in each area of your life. This is the fun part, where you get to implement your ideas and embark on the path to making real and lasting change.
Step 2: Plan Each Area of Your Life
Now that you’ve taken stock of where you are in life and where you’d like to be, it’s time to take the insight you’ve gained and start making a plan for how you’ll reach your goals. Goal-setting is a complex process and takes a great deal of strategy if you want to increase your chances of success.
Simply saying that you’d like to make changes isn’t enough. You’ll need a detailed road map in every aspect of your life in order to best determine the direction you want to go and to help you maintain momentum as you work toward your dreams.
There’s a simple framework for creating such strategic goals. It’s called SMART goal-setting. Take a look at how it works:
Set SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals is a process for goal setting that allows you to make a clearer, more detailed plan with time constraints. This strategy lets you use your resources more wisely and helps you to monitor your activities in order to stay on track and maintain momentum. It’s actually a very simple process that pays off in big rewards.
SMART stands for:
When you create a goal, you must be sure to make it as specific as possible. Vague statements are hard to stick with. They usually just end up being wishes that go unfulfilled. Instead, be very detailed regarding what you hope to accomplish and why it’s important to you. Add any additional information you can think of, such as who you may need to secure help from, where most of your activity will take place, and what types of resources you’ll need to complete the goal.
Your goal should also be measurable so that you can track your progress and make adjustments as necessary. Doing so helps you to stay motivated, allowing you to celebrate small wins along the way. You can also easily make adjustments if you find your goal going off-course. You should be able to quantify a goal that is measurable by being able to state in concrete numbers various aspects of that goal.
Is your goal realistic? Making sure what you want is achievable is crucial to your success. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and reach for big things. Just ask yourself questions such as how you will be able to make it happen and take time to assess the resources you have to put toward your goal.
Setting goals that are relevant is a bit less straightforward than some of the other aspects of SMART goal-setting. A relevant goal is one that is meaningful to you and that coordinates with other aspects of your life. Take time to determine whether this is really something to which you want to devote your time and energy. Consider the ways in which it will contribute to your overall life satisfaction. If it feels right, go with it.
Finally, be sure you have an end date in mind for your goal. Otherwise, you won’t have a definite target to work toward, and you could find yourself sputtering out. Creating time-bound goals lets you know when you’ve achieved success. It keeps you on track and prevents you from walking away as easily when life gets in the way. You’ll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and will feel more motivated to keep going when you have a deadline in mind.
Apply to Each Aspect of Your Life
Now that you understand SMART goals and how they help you to strategize goal-setting in a way that increases success, you’re ready to apply the concept to various aspects of your life. Think broadly and try to make sure you’re hitting every important area that needs attention. This includes relationships, career, personal development, health, fitness, aspirations, education, and more.
Let’s break down a sample goal so you can see how SMART goal-setting works. Say you want to leave your job because you’ve been dissatisfied for a while. Maybe you want to start your own business. That’s a common goal, and it can be a realistic one for many. Today, there are a variety of funding sources available, and many new businesses actually require very little start-up costs.
So, when we break your new business venture down into SMART components, we’ll start with making it specific. What kind of business do you wish to start? This definitely matters because some will require much more capital and planning than others. Why is this important to you, and why did you choose this particular type of business? Knowing why will help keep you going when things get hard.
Who will you need to get on board with you in order to make it happen? Will you require the support of your family? Are there friends whose advice you will solicit? What resources do you need to bring your business dreams to fruition? Make sure to do your research in order to discover what’s reasonable to expect in terms of financial and time costs. Also, will you need to learn any specific new skills?
Your goal should be measurable. This includes the amount of money and time you’ll need to prepare, as noted above. It also should include in what timeframe you expect to get your venture up and running. Layout a timeline for each step, from writing the business plan to securing financing to the approximate date of launch. Try to include as many detailed steps as possible in order to create a realistic vision you can monitor each step of the way.
By this point, you should get a good feeling as to whether your goal is achievable. Will you need to work part-time in order to finance your start-up costs or keep you afloat until things get going? That’s okay, as long as doing so fits realistically into your plan. Be honest and try to account for every aspect of your life to be sure your dream is compatible.
Now it’s time to decide if your business goal is relevant to your life at this moment. Take a look at all of the variables that will be affected by this decision. For example, will you be able to manage the time and stress of starting your business right now if your children are quite small? You may be able to do so. Take a look at the support network you have in your life, as it’s always better to know you have help when taking on such an endeavor. Also worth considering is whether your intended business will bring you the life satisfaction you desire or if there are other options that may serve you better. Sometimes the goal we think we desire simply isn’t a good fit at this time. Taking time to make an honest assessment will provide you with much-needed peace of mind as you pursue this dream.
Finally, let’s look at the timeframe of this particular goal. Break it down into each step, from your initial research to the opening of your business. Approximately how long will each take? This will greatly inform your planning and assure you can avoid much frustration. Creating a realistic timeframe will serve you well when it comes to staying on track, maintaining motivation, and achieving success.
Hopefully, you feel more confident about the idea of setting big goals and following them through now that you understand SMART goals. This system is a way to add clarity and focus to your goal planning. You’re also more likely to achieve the objectives you set for yourself with this strategic method.
Step 3: Small Actions – Big Changes
We’ve covered a lot of ground in our first two steps. This next one will show you how taking small daily actions can make reaching your dreams so much easier. You won’t be as overwhelmed when you break your big goals down into smaller chunks. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how quickly these baby steps add up to major results. So, let’s get started on step 3 of the process of making your dreams a reality.
Your really big life goals need to be broken down into smaller chunks. There are a number of reasons why this is so necessary and beneficial. First, it makes the process seem less intimidating. It also allows you to make progress that builds upon itself, increasing your confidence, motivation, and the chance of success.
Chunking can be done in various ways. Some people like to start from the end goal and work backwards, by writing down the steps they’ll need to achieve along the way in reverse order. This makes it easier for many to see the big picture and determine what steps need to be taken to achieve it.
You might also want to break down your goals in terms of time. How long will it take you to complete your goal? How long do you need to work on a task each day, week, or month in order to reach your objective? Another approach is to quantify your goals. How much or how many things will you need to do on a regular basis if you hope to become proficient at something or to obtain a particular result?
The actionable steps approach to chunking or breaking down goals is a favorite of mine. It involves developing a list of actions or steps you can take to move you closer to reaching your goal. The idea is that small actions build on each other to lead to big results, and it really does work.
Let’s look at some practical ways to chunk your goals. While daily actions are good, you may need to start big and work your way to figuring out the smaller tasks. Creating yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily to-dos is an easy-to-work approach for many.
Start by thinking of the bigger actions you can take on a yearly basis to help you reach your dreams. This is similar to working backwards. It’s easier to begin with yearly action steps and then break them down into smaller and smaller pieces.
Be sure to consider all of the areas of your life you’d like to improve and include a yearly objective that can help you reach that dream. For example, you might consider what type of big fitness goal you hope to attain, such as running a 5K or becoming proficient at a new sport. Perhaps you want to gain the skills you’ll need for a big promotion. Think big and branch out into various parts of your life. These are steps toward bigger goals like getting more physically fit and making more money by climbing the career ladder.
Now that you’ve chosen some yearly goals, you can more readily break those down into monthly to-do’s. What things can you do in a month’s time that can help you to meet your goal? For instance, when it comes to that big goal of getting fit and running a 5K, you can create an objective of improving your stamina over the next month by setting a specific goal of increasing the duration and distance you’re able to run. What could you do to help reach your career goal of gaining new skills in the next month? Maybe this month you can dedicate your time to learning about three different programs that provide the education you seek.
Your weekly to-dos are even smaller steps you can take based on the monthly and yearly goals you’ve set. These are things that can be accomplished in a 7-day stretch at a time, such as going to the gym three times to work on cardio in order to train for your 5K or making three phone calls to the programs you are researching to learn more detailed information or set up appointments to speak in person.
Here’s where you get down to the nitty-gritty and where you can start to really build some momentum. These daily tasks are small and actionable, but they lead to big results and a real sense of accomplishment. Dedicate at least one task daily toward a larger goal you’ve set. This might be something as small as choosing a high-protein lunch instead of indulging in pizza and cake for the office party. It might be a larger, yet still doable task like visiting the admissions department of that educational program you were most interested in.
The main objective here is to break large goals into more manageable chunks that are meaningful and relevant to the bigger dream. It’s wise to add these activities to your calendar when possible so that you’re more apt to commit to them. This process can seem foreign at first, but you will start to gain momentum and increase your confidence and motivation with each completed action. Start to put these tips in motion and see for yourself.
Step 4: What’s Working, What Isn’t?
You now know how to determine what areas of your life you’d like to change and how to set tangible goals for the best chance of success. You’ve discovered ways to work on your objectives regularly to ensure you stay motivated. You’re well on your way toward strategically pursuing the dreams you have for yourself. I hope you’re excited! You have a lot of tools at your disposal for making big life changes.
In order to stay on track, though, it’s important that you learn to monitor your progress to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Just because you may find yourself going off course doesn’t mean you’re not doing well. We can never foresee the trajectory of the pursuit of our goals when we begin. It’s common to discover you may need to tweak things a bit, and that’s okay. Let’s look at some ways you can monitor your progress and make changes, so you stay on top of your goals with the best chance of success.
Note Your Progress
In order to know how you’re doing, you absolutely must keep some type of record of your progress in every goal you’re working toward. This can be done in a spreadsheet, through an app, or even with a simple chart, you create with pen and paper. Use whatever method you prefer.
Determine a timeframe to check-in that makes sense. This could be different for every goal. Just be sure to follow through and measure your progress at each determined period. You may want to weigh yourself weekly if you’re working toward a particular weight loss goal. Depending on your goal, you might need to create your own rating system in order to record how well you’re doing. For example, a ten-point scale can work quite well for certain goals in which you’d give yourself a 9 or 10 if you feel you’re doing well.
Just be sure you’re consistent in your rating system and in your check-in frequency. This is key to maintaining successful progress monitoring and developing an accurate picture of your performance.
Be Aware of Patterns
You also want to jot down any patterns you see developing with regard to your successes and your setbacks. If you skipped some gym days and lost no weight, make a note. On the other hand, if a good week of gym attendance leads to substantial loss, write that down. Keeping track of these patterns will let you make adjustments later on.
If you’re feeling adventurous, it can be good to note as many details as possible. This can include your mood or any significant life events that are going on during the monitoring period. Doing so lets you know if something is a pattern or a one-time thing. This makes a difference in any action you decide to take.
Celebrating your wins is a really big deal when it comes to successful goal setting. When you give yourself a reward, it’s an acknowledgement that you’re doing well. Your confidence level rises, and you’re more motivated to tackle the next objective. It’s exciting to note that success.
You can celebrate any win you wish. A particularly productive week at the gym is worth celebrating in itself even if you didn’t notice a loss on the scale. It’s also good to set milestones in advance, such as allowing yourself a non-food treat for every five pounds you lose or a reward when you choose and enroll in an education program for advanced career training.
Milestones are worth celebrating. They mean you’re making progress at various levels and of different kinds. You deserve a reward and recognition for a job well done.
Finally, be sure to make tweaks and adjustments when needed. Having to make a change because your goal pursuit isn’t going as planned doesn’t mean you’re not doing a good job. Bumps in the road are inevitable. They’re bound to happen.
So, don’t get down on yourself. Simply take a moment to assess what the specific issue may be and take steps to correct your course. Maybe you’ve been overly optimistic in your weight loss goals. Bump your desired loss back a bit if need be or take away a day of workouts if it’s feeling too stressful for your lifestyle. It’s better to make some true and realistic progress than to give up because a goal is too adventurous. Be honest with yourself and tweak things as needed.
Monitoring your progress, as you can see, truly makes a difference in the success of your goals. When you set milestones and keep track of your activity on a regular basis, you’re able to see how you’re doing. You can look for patterns, know when you’re backsliding, or when your goal may not be a good fit for you at the moment. Making adjustments is easy when you know what the issue is.
You’ll be more likely to stick with a goal when you know how to get back on track. Setting new goals when one isn’t working is also possible. Throwing in the towel won’t seem like such a good option when you’re prepared in this way. So, try to monitor your progress on the goals you set for yourself. You’ll soon see you’re heading in the right direction.
Step 5: Never Stop Improving
Once you’ve achieved your big goals, you may wonder how to continue forward. In fact, there may be a period of letdown where you feel lost without having something to strive for. That’s to be expected, and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel that.
It’s also great if you choose to take some time to bask in your accomplishment and to feel proud of yourself. You earned that right. You worked hard and took all the steps to see your dreams through to fruition. It’s a tremendous achievement. Enjoy the moment!
What you likely want to avoid, however, is falling into complacency. It can be quite easy to let yourself rest on your laurels and to backslide into old habits. Now that you’ve achieved some major accomplishments and know how that feels, you’ll probably want to keep up that momentum and move on to bigger and bolder things.
Letting yourself become complacent won’t feel good after such big life alterations. Going back to the status quo can even lead to feelings of depression or loss of self-esteem. So, I advise riding high on the momentum of your accomplishment and creating new goals to strive for, bigger challenges to conquer.
Reflect on What You’ve Learned
Before moving on to look for new heights to reach, though, it’s a good idea to reflect upon what you’ve learned from your experience. This knowledge will help you to conquer future goals with more ease.
Consider all the steps you had to undergo in order to achieve all you have. The process of uncovering your truth, determining what you want to change in your life, and acknowledging your strengths is one that can be incredibly eye-opening. Then, you learned how to strategically create a goal that’s likely to succeed, along with how to monitor and adjust that goal when necessary. Surely, you’ve come away with some observations of what worked and what didn’t, and these will move you more seamlessly toward your next goal.
You’ve probably also learned a great deal about yourself, your capabilities, and your character. That’s some pretty important stuff. Knowing yourself makes you a more formidable individual. You can pass more confidently through the world when you have an awareness and understanding of what lies within you. Use that insight as you move forward.
If you feel like you’ve accomplished what you need to in one area of your life, that doesn’t mean you have to be finished. You can always branch out. There are always new things to learn and discover. Think about the things you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t.
Also, take time to examine the reasons why you may not have gone after a particular desire. Is it because of fear or insecurity? That’s a big one, and you’ve already proven you can beat it by accomplishing all you have so far. So, just go for it. Maybe you’ve been afraid of what society or your inner circle will think of you if you go after something outside the social norm. So what? Take the courage you’ve gained from your recent accomplishments and funnel it into crashing through the barriers in your way.
Creating a new identity for yourself can be empowering and exciting. Forge new roads. You can do this by trying on a new persona, pursuing a hobby, or entering a new career field. The possibilities are practically endless, as long as you keep your mind open.
Go for Bigger
Finally, it just makes sense to look for bigger challenges to conquer once you’ve achieved the dreams you’ve set out for yourself. You can almost always do more. What grand-scale dream has been in the back of your mind for a while now?
Do you have a bucket list? If so, that can be a great source of inspiration for your next big, lofty goal. If not, now’s the perfect time to create one. A bucket list is simply a list of the grand scale things you’d like to do before you die. It can include items from all aspects of your life. The point, though, is to make the goals big and far-reaching.
If you’re feeling stuck, do some research to look for inspiration. Read articles about people doing great things. Look to the people around you who inspire you every day. Ask questions. Read biographies. Open your mind to discovering what others are doing and how you can gain inspiration and ideas from their stories. Then take the time to create a goal-setting strategy that is uniquely relevant to you and your life.
It should be much easier now that you have the tools in this book at your disposal. You’ve done it before, you can do it again on an even grander scale. Keep moving forward. Strive for more. You’re in charge of your own life and what you choose to strive for.
Give one of these suggestions a try once you’ve completed the initial goals you’ve set for yourself. There’s always room for growth and improvement. You won’t regret stretching yourself and pushing ahead toward living big dreams.
We’ve finally reached the conclusion of our journey together. There’s a lot of information in this eBook to help you to stop settling and go after your dreams. You now know it’s possible to set goals that are achievable. It simply takes strategy and planning to keep you on track.
Knowing yourself and being honest about what is and isn’t working in your life is the first step toward determining where you want to go. If you don’t know what you want, how can you hope to get it? This step is crucial. It can also be emotional and intimidating. Be gentle with yourself and push through. The results will be well worth it.
Once you know what you want, you can start planning for it. Setting SMART goals is key to creating objectives that you’re likely to stick with and that will work for you. This approach to goal-setting can be applied to every aspect of your life. When you get the hang of it, setting new goals won’t seem so intimidating.
Speaking of being less intimidating, breaking big dreams down into smaller chunks is definitely the way to go if you want to make the process more manageable. I shared with you a number of ways to do this, starting with creating yearly goals and working your way down to small daily, actionable steps you can take that will eventually lead you to your destination. Knowing all the various stages involved in advance lets you tackle them more effectively and with laser focus.
Even the best laid-out plans can go awry. You’ve learned that you don’t have to beat yourself up over it or become discouraged. Monitoring your goals and keeping track of your progress lets you see how far you’ve come and understand when things might not be working out quite right. You can always make adjustments along the way. Nothing is set in stone. Knowing this allows you to stay motivated and grow throughout the process.
Finally, we looked at ways to keep aspiring for greater once you’ve achieved your big goals. It’s good to keep dreaming and stretching your boundaries. This leads to growth. Falling back into old habits is likely to lead to dissatisfaction. You can avoid the letdown by striving to keep challenging yourself and being open to change. It’s a good mindset to have.
Living your best life and achieving your dreams absolutely requires that you don’t settle. You now have the tools you need to implement this process into your own life. Enjoy the ride. Be gentle with yourself. And always keep going.