Editor’s note: It’s been a really long time since I’ve touched this blog, but I’m amazed every day at the discussion and following that continues years later! Happy new year to you and thank you for following!
Patrick Rosario recently contacted me about posting an article about reaching his dreams. I’ve met so many people who are completely paralyzed by the daunting task of reaching a goal. Free yourself. Read this post.
Here’s why I think Patrick’s advice is sound: When it comes to reaching a goal, there’s always a tension between our current habits and changes (sometimes sacrifices) we have to make to achieve our goals. I almost think about reaching a goal as a mathematical, logical process–the effort that goes in is the effort that comes out. It involves understanding yourself really well, acknowledging what’s holding you back, and moving through it systematically. Check out his advice and let us know what you think.
We all have dreams, but most of us are never able to take those dreams and turn them into reality. This can be for many different reasons, from not having enough time or money to not having sufficient know-how to make it happen.
However, the truth is that your dreams are probably not as farfetched as you think; chances are you’ve just been going about it the wrong way—or haven’t even been trying at all.
While there’s no magic formula to achieving your dreams and lifelong happiness (if such a thing even exists), there are a few concrete steps you can take to narrow down the distance between where you are today and where you would like to be in the future.
1. Be specific about what you want
While most people have dreams and aspirations, if you were to ask them exactly what they want and how they will go about it, they wouldn’t be able to tell you anything specific. It’s all vague hopes and dreams and wishful thinking like “I want to be rich,” “I want to lose weight” or “I want to travel the world.”
These kinds of dreams are fine, and they are a good start. However, unless you identify a specific goal that you would like to reach, you will never get there because it’s too vague and just seems unreachable.
Instead of saying “I want to be rich” figure out how much money you would like to save. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight” figure out how many pounds you would need to lose in order to reach your ideal weight. Instead of saying “I want to travel the world” identify a country or continent you would like to visit.
Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, it will be easier to start taking concrete steps towards that goal.
2. Decide what you are willing to do (or give up) to reach your goal
Now that you know what you want, you have to look at the bigger picture and think realistically about what you are willing and able to do to reach that goal.
If you want to save money, will you work longer hours? Will you give up some of your favorite luxuries like meals out and nights on the town with friends?
If you want to lose weight, will you give up desserts and unhealthy snacks throughout the day? Will you get up extra early every morning to make time for your workout? If you want to travel the world, will you quit your job? Will you give up the chance for a promotion in order to make your schedule more flexible?
3. Come up with a plan and break it down into small practical steps
Once you know what you want and what you will have to do to get it, it’s time to develop a plan of action. Without a clear plan that outlines practical steps you can take each day to get closer to your goal, your dream will never be more than wishful thinking.
Not having a plan to reach your goal is like trying to get to a new destination without any directions. You will be wandering aimlessly in circles and, eventually, you will get lost and end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
Think about the different steps you will have to take and break them down into small, doable actions that you can take every single day. Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible as well, because there will be challenges that you didn’t foresee, which may mean altering the plan as you go.
4. Set deadlines
The next step is to set a few clear deadlines. This doesn’t mean you have to reach your whole goal in a certain amount of time, it means taking those smaller steps and setting deadlines or target dates for when you want to reach each little milestone.
For example, you can set a deadline of six months to save a certain amount of money, or lose a certain amount of weight in one month, or have all your travel gear by a certain date.
These smaller goals give you something realistic to work toward, but it’s not the end of the world if it takes you a little longer. Sometimes you will miss the mark and be a little off, and that’s okay, as long as you are taking steps and making progress every single day.
5. Put everything in writing and review it as often as possible
In the first few weeks or months of your new challenge, you will probably be excited and motivated, but this initial boost of commitment tends to wear off after a while.
So, in order to keep your goals fresh in your mind, it is important to put everything down on paper. This way, you can remind yourself of the ultimate dream whenever you are feeling a little low or discouraged.
Write your goals down and carry them with you wherever you go or hang them on the fridge and your bathroom mirror. Find a picture of something you want, like a fit body or gorgeous travel destination, and put it somewhere where you can see it every day.
About the Author:
Patrick Del Rosario is a Filipino business and career ninja. He works at Open Colleges, one of the pioneers of Online education in Australia and one of the leading providers of Open Colleges Human resources courses. Aside from blogging and being a business ninja, Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want to feature his writings on your site, connect with him on Google+ or drop him a line at patrick (at) oc.edu.au.