In my last post I referred to "life getting in the way" of realizing our dreams . We already established that caring for family and friends, maintaining a clean home (or semi-clean home) and attending to our work are inescapable parts of life. They are not in the way of what we want to accomplish. These things are part and parcel of living and loving in this life. Getting any of the above accomplished is satisfying, in and of itself. However, you may have an aspiration or dream that is dormant. You want to make it happen, but you never get around to it. Here it is.
In all seriousness, VOLUMES of books have been written about setting goals and reaching them. I've attended many a seminar on just such things and, yes, read a book or two on the topic. This post is designed to give you some quick tips (saving you tons of reading time and seminar fees) on how to get your dreams from the back burner to the front of the stovetop.
1. Dream. Seriously, the first thing you need to do is to start to picture the future. Adults always ask children "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But then we grow up and nobody asks us anymore. Where do you want to go in life? What do you want to do? And who do you want to be when you get there? What do you value? What's important to you? Write down the ideas that come to mind. Don't edit them. Tamp down the naysayers in your head. You are not too old, too young, too anything for your dreams! No dream is too small or too big.
2. Draft a plan for making one of your dreams come true. Notice I said ONE dream. You're not trying to overhaul your life. Don't overwhelm yourself. Pick one dream and make 1-month, 3-month and 6-month goals to move toward it. Make the goals realistic, specific and measurable (for example, "run 45 minutes, 3x per week" v. "exercise every day"). There's something special that happens when you write things down. The ideas become concrete in black and white. They take shape, literally, and exist in space and time. They move from just a dream to a real possibility.
3. Gather a Dream team! You need people around you to help keep you inspired and accountable. Don't just write your dreams down and tuck them into a drawer. Find people to check in with you---friends can be your "life coaches" as you go for it! (And you can "coach" them in turn!)
4. Do it! Bill Murray's character had it right in the movie "What about Bob?" Take baby steps! Small, achievable goals are best for short-term and long-term success. For example, landing a recording contract with a major label is a wonderful goal (if you're a singer or musician or rapper, of course). But it shouldn't be your one-month goal. Your one-month goal could be recording your original song and uploading it to Youtube.
5. Don't give up. This may be the most important tip of all. You will get discouraged when you get sidetracked or slip up. (Blogging weekly is one of my mini-goals. I stayed up too late working on this. And the internet wasn't working right this a.m. Ugh. I got discouraged.) I'm taking my cue from babies this morning, too---even as I take my own baby steps. They fall down when learning to walk but they get right back up again. They don't quit. Some days I think my dreams are within reach and other days, I think I'm simply out of my mind. My mood may change but I don't let it deter me from dreaming or striving.
My dreams include writing a book on health and helping thousands of people cultivate spiritual and physical well-being. Tell me what your dreams are in the comments below and we can become part of each other's "dream team." As Aerosmith sang, "Dream on! Dream until your dreams come true!"