What do you dream about? Running your own business? Completing that 5K? Traveling the world? Buying a house? What do you spend your days fantasizing about, wishing was your reality?
No matter what your dream is, you can accomplish it. You don’t have to watch as another year goes by with you being no closer to your goal than you were the last year. You can move from where you are to where you want to go.
By following these nine steps, you can make your dreams come true.
1. Do some stripping
Stripping down your goals, that is! Strip down all the fluff that covers up the true goal you are after. By peeling back all the layers surrounding your objective, you can clearly evaluate what it is you really want.
Have you been dreaming about quitting your job? If so, is your ultimate goal to find a better position, start your own business, or to obtain more flexibility in your work? Depending on what your answer is, how you go about getting prepared so you can quit your job will be very different.
The more specific you can be about what your dream really is, the easier it will be to chart the path to getting there.
2. Look fear in the eyes
Whenever you decide to go after something you want, fear often shows up.
It’s easy to understand why. You’re moving beyond what’s familiar. You’re moving beyond your comfort zone. As such, it is normal to experience some resistance, and resistance often shows its ugly head in the form of fear.
But don’t let fear get the best of you. Don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it keep you in a state of dreaming about your dreams instead of living your dreams.
Here’s what you do: whenever you feel the fear, acknowledge it. And then ask yourself this: What’s worse, the fear of moving beyond your comfort zone into the unknown journey of relentlessly pursuing your dream, or deferring your dream to get rid of the fear (which also means staying in your current position)?
Anaïs Nin summed it up beautifully when she said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
When you’re sure you’re ready to blossom, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
3. Set your boats on fire
This passage from W.H. Murray’s book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, describes why commitment is essential: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.”
Until you are totally committed to making your dream come true, there will numerous things that will pop up to deter you. And if you aren’t really committed, then those distractions will succeed. To ensure you are unwavering in your quest to moving forward toward your goal, you need to burn your boats.
Back in the 1500s when Hernan Cortez led his army of men in a conquest of Mexico, he ordered that the boats they arrived in be burned. He did this to prevent anyone from turning back and abandoning the mission. In essence, he ensured commitment to the battle by eliminating all opportunity to abort the assignment.
So if your goal is to travel to Thailand, go ahead and book your ticket. If you’ve been longing to run a 5K, sign yourself up for that race. If you want to buy that house, give notice to your landlord that you won’t be renewing your lease. Do something concrete that guarantees you to move forward by preventing all opportunity to turn back.
Then don’t look back. Start stealing instead.
4. Shamelessly steal
As Pablo Picasso put it, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
You’re probably not the first person to work towards achieving your particular dream. As such, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Immerse yourself with great ideas and techniques that others have shown to work.
Search out people who have been successful at what you are trying to accomplish, then study them. Watch what they do, don’t do, and identify best practices you can apply. There’s lots to learn, but it will be worth it once you realize how much this step will help you reach your dream.
As you spend time studying others who have been successful at what you’re trying to do, you’ll also get a healthy dose of inspiration to fuel you along your journey. You can then use all that knowledge to help you with the next step.
5. Build a plan
Clarity, commitment, inspiration, and know how will serve you well in reaching your dreams. But they have to be combined with a real plan to actually move you along the path to making your dream come true.
Harvey MacKay put it best when he said, “A dream is just a dream, a goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”
When you work on a goal with no plan of how to achieve it, your efforts are more likely to be disjointed. Without the focus a plan brings, you’re more likely to complete tasks willy nilly, and drift around rather than progressing methodically toward your goal. This leads to both sporadic and less than optimal results. You don’t want to go that route.
You’ve got to build a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to go. It will keep you on track, and minimize the detours that slow or delay your progress toward your goal.
So if your dream is to write your first book, your plan could be to get up an hour earlier and write one thousand words a day prior to going to work. That way, when you set your alarm each day, you know what time to set your clock for. And when you wake up, you’ll know that it’s time to fire up the laptop to get typing.
Besides, one of the great things about a plan is it helps you to track your progress along the way as well.
6. Set a deadline
Deadlines have magical powers. When set, they stop procrastination in its tracks and whip you into gear so you start getting things done.
Even though you have a plan, you may spend lots and lots of time noodling over whether or not you need to learn more, or if your plan is just right, or if you need to go check Facebook again (you don’t). And then you’ll wake up, look at the calendar and months will have passed, and you’ll have barely moved an inch toward your goal.
But a deadline changes all that. Because you know you can’t miss it, you do what you need to do to get things done.
So give yourself a due date. And then tell someone who will hold you accountable. Be sure to give them permission to kick your butt or a provide a sufficiently effective guilt trip if you come close to missing it.
7. Do the work
There’s no way around this. You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to work your plan.
Push yourself to do it when you feel like working. And push yourself to do it when you don’t feel like working. Here’s how:
Over time you will see results, and then you can move on to the next step.
8. Praise the progress
A lot of times your dreams don’t happen in one day. They take time. And sometimes you’ll need a bit of encouragement along the way to keep you going. So whenever you hit certain milestones, stop what you’re doing, take a pause and give yourself a high five for all the progress you’ve made.
You deserve it, and although you may not be exactly where you want to go, you are definitely farther than where you started. And that’s worth celebrating. It’s also fuel to keep you going a little farther.
9. Don’t go it alone
Change can be tough. And not just on you, but the people who interact with you on a regular basis. The people who will be impacted by the changes you make in your life.
As you work to make your dreams come true, consider letting those in your circle know what’s going on with you. It’ll give them a chance to encourage you, support you, and hold you accountable when needed.
Depending on what your goal is, you might even find someone willing to take the journey with you.
It’s time to make your dreams a reality. Your dreams don’t have to stay just dreams. They can absolutely be your reality. But the majority of the time, dreams come true only as a result of us doing what’s necessary to make them happen.
You just have to do the work.
By implementing these steps, you’ll look back a year from now (maybe sooner) at all you have accomplished, and smile.
Because you’ll know that dreams do come true.
Because yours finally did.
After you did the work.