Admit it. We’ve all lain awake at night envisioning that sick whip, that spacious house or that adventurous lifestyle. Whether it’s to travel the world or have a million dollars, we all have dreams. But sometimes our dreams stay just that – dreams. We lie awake dreaming tonight. Then we live our lives tomorrow. Then we lie awake the following night, having gotten no closer to those dreams. That can be demotivating. But luckily it doesn’t have to be like that.
Part of the problem is that we are often intimidated by these dreams. We view them as fantasies rather than the actual future. Some of us think these dreams are unrealistic. Some just don’t know where to start. Whatever’s holding us back, I think we can overcome it and achieve great things with a simple process:
- Dream big
- Create a dreamline
- Start executing.
I’d like to present a fascinating idea that I got from one of my most influential mentors, Tim Ferriss. In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek (great book), he presents this idea: “Unrealistic” goals are easier to achieve than realistic ones.
Think about it this way: 99% of the world is convinced that they can’t achieve great things. Therefore, there are less people trying to achieve great things and a multitude of people trying to achieve mediocre things. So the competition to be mediocre is fierce. But less people are aiming for the top. So there is very little competition and so much opportunity.
Another reason that unrealistic goals are easier to obtain is that they call for a greater level of ambition. If the payoff of achieving a goal is small or average, then so is the motivation to achieve it. But if the payoff is huge (should we choose to accept such a goal), then the incentive to complete it is greater and therefore so is our drive.
So the first step to achieving great things is to dream BIG. Let go of the the fear of big dreams. Choose the unrealistic exciting dreams. This will put us on another level, with much less competition.
Dreaming big is critical. But dreaming isn’t enough. We need to take these big dreams out of our heads and put them into reality. But there is a crucial intermediate step to take – planning. In order to actually achieve our goals, we need to define the destination and plan the route.
A perfect analogy is Google Maps. If you want directions to somewhere, we can’t simply tell the map, “I want to go in that general direction,” expecting it to take us where we want to go. Sure, we’d end up somewhere, but probably not where we want to be. So we have to input the exact destination, allowing the map to plot the precise route. And if we veer off course, the map reroutes. But if the map instead told us, “Head North-ish”, we’d probably quickly get lost. Or if the map didn’t have a precise destination, it wouldn’t be able to reroute. And, again, we’d probably get lost.
This is how we must interact with our goals. Defining a path to our goals is crucial. But since we can’t always predict the circumstances, we sometimes veer off course. But if we know the precise destination, we can quickly reroute and adapt our plan to the changed environment. So defining the end goal is also crucial.
So.. how can we do this? By creating a Dreamline.
Dreamlining is a technique of Lifestyle Design that involves articulating both our dreams and what it would take to move closer to those dreams. Start with the big dreams on long time frames then break them into smaller and smaller chunks with shorter time frames. This isn’t some new, revolutionary idea. But it is very effective and it’s surprising how few people actually put it into practice.
So here are some simple steps that you can do right now to start creating your dreamline:
- Ask yourself, “What do I want to have achieved in 5 years?”
- Be extremely specific: Where do you want to live? What do you do for a living? What experiences are you having? How much will it cost?
- It’s important to be honest with yourself. Maybe first ask, “What would excite me?” then use that answer to influence your other questions and your 5 year dream.
- Write it down! Look at it every single day!
- “In order to make that happen, what do I need to have achieved in 3 years?“
- “In order to make that happen, what do I need to have achieved in 1 year?“
- …6 months?
- …3 months?
- …1 month?
- Then from there, make a set of weekly goals that would allow you to meet the month’s goals.
- Make a set of daily goals that would allow you to meet this week’s goals.
That’s it! This gives you an actionable roadmap to your dreams, allowing you to begin your journey right now! If you complete tomorrow’s goals, you are a step closer to your 5 year dream. Wouldn’t that be a great feeling?
“A year from now, you will wish you started today”
So what are you waiting for?
Now that you have a BIG exciting dream and a route to that dream, you must execute on that dream. Begin the journey.
Sometimes we get too caught up in the planning phase. We tweak things, and we overthink whether or not something will work and we plan and plan but never do. While it’s important to tweak, the goal is not to have a perfect plan (there’s no such thing). In this context, doing something is better than doing nothing. So once you get down to your daily goals, stop planning and start doing. We can tweak as we go along and develop the plan later. But the priority should be placed on taking that first step – executing that first task.
So if you’re reading this, please try creating a dreamline. It’s a great way to keep focused on your dreams and to make big goals seem less daunting. It’s helped and is helping me a lot and I hope that it can help you too. May you grow beyond your wildest dreams.
Greatness is setting ambitious goals that your former self would have thought impossible, and trying to get a little better every day.
This post was largely inspired by Tim Ferriss. Check out his blog.