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Achieving your big dreams can often seem so out of reach and impossible. But that’s because you’re only seeing it from a limited perspective. If you could just zoom out on your life and see the big picture, things would look a lot different and become a lot more clear to you! The key to achieving all those big dreams of yours is to start by setting small, manageable goals that will move you closer to the life you want to live a little at a time. You simply cannot expect to wake up one day and have your dream life without putting in the daily work and effort it takes to get you there.
But if you’re like me, you might not even know where to start in order to make those dreams a reality. And that’s why I’m here! I’m going to walk you through exactly how to set goals so that the only way you can fail is by simply not taking action. To be totally transparent, I did not come up with these ideas all on my own. Ruth Soukup, author of Do It Scared and owner of the Do It Scared Podcast and website, has spent years perfecting her goal crushing plan and even sells a planner that gives you all the tools needed to make your dreams a reality! I’m simply taking inspiration from her ideas and sharing how I implement them in my own life so that you can learn to crush your goals too!
Step 1: Start With Your Biggest And Craziest Dreams
The first step in reaching towards your dreams is to actually know what your dreams are. That may seem silly to say, but so many of us spend our lives just focusing on getting through the day that we don’t often take the time to sit down and really think through what our ideal life would look like.
How many times have you been asked, “What do you want for Christmas/your birthday/fill in the blank holiday?” Or how about have you ever been asked the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” What are your answers to questions like these? Like so many, we often stumble over our answers or just say I don’t know. Because the truth is, we don’t know. We just exist in the moment and don’t really give a second thought to what we truly want out of life, what our lives could be like if we got intentional about chasing our desires and the plans God has for us. Instead we’re often just trying to survive the day and in the process we’re missing out on so much amazing beauty that our stories could hold for us if we just slowed down long enough to take it in.
Here’s the thing, at the end of your life what do you hope to look back and remember? Almost all of us would probably say we’d like to have lived a life of joy and to have made a difference in people’s lives. We want our life to have meant something, don’t we? And yet so many of us will look back on our lives and see nothing more than us working day in and day out for a paycheck to pay the bills and get us through one more day, or week, or month, or year. We’ll look back and see that we were always chasing after the next best thing but never quite “making it.” We’ll look back and realize that our entire lives were spent merely surviving and never truly living. But we can change that!
Action Step #1
Step 2: Decide What You Want To Focus On Right Now
Knowing what your big dreams are and what you would love to accomplish some day is great, but if you stop there you’ll never accomplish those dreams. You have to have a plan of attack. This is where a lot of really smart people might tell you that you need to create balance in your life by setting goals for each area, you know – finances, work, personal, relationships, fitness etc, etc. While this advice isn’t necessarily bad, I don’t think it’s really the best either.
Because reality is that life isn’t balanced. You can’t do everything at all times. If you’re focusing on one area, another area is probably going to get neglected. And that’s ok. Nothing in life is ever perfectly balanced. When we try to accomplish all the things, we end up not really accomplishing anything at all – at least nothing valuable.
Reality is that you just can’t do it all. So it’s better to put your focus on one or two main things and let those be what guides your decisions until you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. Don’t let urgent things distract you from achieving your important dreams. The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait. Heck, even the kids can wait sometimes. Seriously. If something is truly important to you, you’ll find any way possible to get it done. No excuses. No giving up. You need laser focus.
And before you even get started, let’s get clear about something else, too. No one else is living your life. You alone get to choose what works for you and your situation. We’re not here to chase someone else’s dreams, okay? So instead of spending all of your energy worrying about keeping up with The Joneses or impressing your high school nemesis or your rich Aunt Peggy, just stop right there. This isn’t about them (or anyone else for that matter). This is about doing what you were made to do. It’s about living a life you love, making use of your own unique, God-given gifts and abilities to impact the world around you in a way no one else in all of history can. So just go ahead and ditch those feelings of needing to impress anyone right now! You don’t need that negativity in your life.
Action Step #2
Step 3: Break It Down
Deciding what to focus on is half the battle! Now it’s time to take that big (perhaps seemingly impossible) goal and break it down into manageable chunks with specific action steps that can actually be accomplished in a particular time frame. Saying you would love to be a world renowned author one day or live in your dream beach house in the Bahamas is one thing. But actually taking steps in your daily life to make those dreams a reality is an entirely different situation!
Figuring out how to break it down, though, may not be as easy as it sounds. And I think this is where a lot of people get hung up. But this doesn’t have to be your stopping point. Remember, you will fail 100% of things you don’t try.
So, you need to set aside some more dedicated time now and figure out what, specifically, would need to happen to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. You’ll need to map out a path forward so that you can see where you’re going and know the exact steps you need to take to get there.
Action Step #3
Here’s an example:
Your big goal is to travel the world and not be tied down to one location (whether by a job or some other obligation). In order to accomplish this big goal, you’ll need to:
- be able to quit your job or to have a job that is not tied to a particular location (i.e. a remote position or something online that allows you to work anywhere you have an internet connection).
- be debt free and have enough money saved up to afford the travel.
- sell a home, a car, or other material possessions if they would hold you back from being able to travel.
- In order to acquire a remote or online job, you may need training or skills you don’t currently have.
- In order to pay off debt and build savings, you’ll need to increase your income or decrease your spending (maybe both) – if you don’t already, you’ll need to implement a budget.
- So to start you may need to take some courses or do some self-education and perhaps pick up a second job or pursue a raise at your current job.
Of course, you’ll break these tasks down even further in the next step, so don’t get ahead of yourself!
Step 4: Map Out A Plan
Now that you know exactly what you need to do in order to accomplish your goal, you need to map out a plan to get it done. A map helps you see where you’re at now and chart a course to get where you want to go. That’s exactly what this step is about!
First you need to acknowledge where you’re at in relation to your goal. For instance, in the example above, if you’re starting with $10,000 in debt, a low paying job, and you don’t currently have the education you need to earn more money then you need to have a plan in place to take care of those mini goals first.
Next, you’ll need to break down your goals into tasks that can be accomplished in a year, a month, a week, and maybe even a day.
You’ll start by looking at your big goal and all of your mini goals to decide what you can accomplish in the next year. Once you’ve set your yearly goals, you’ll need to break that down into monthly goals. From there you’ll break them into weekly and then daily goals.
So let’s take our previous example and map out a plan for the next year.
In the next year, I plan to:
- Increase my income by taking on a second job
- Save $5,000
- Complete three online courses
In order to accomplish my yearly goals, this month I plan to:
- Submit at least 30 job applications
- Create a budget
- Sign up for my first online course
In order to accomplish my monthly goals, this week I plan to:
- Update my resume and create a profile on LinkedIn
- Sign up for YNAB (because it’s awesome and the best budgeting tool ever…)
- Research online courses and find the best place to sign up
If you want to get super detailed, you can break this down into daily tasks (which I recommend doing using a planner, you can learn more about using a planner to reach you goals here).
Action Step #4
Step 5: Put Your Plan Into Action!
All the work you’ve done up until now is completely useless if you never actually put it into action. Now is the time to put feet to your plans and actually do something! Of course, that’s almost always easier said than done. I know, life happens. There are always going to be things beyond your control that sometimes throw you off course a little. But that’s no excuse!! Get back up tomorrow and keep moving forward. The reason so many people never “make it” in life, never accomplish their big dreams, is because they let the little things of life (or maybe even the big things) completely derail them. They make excuses instead of progress. They throw the towel in too soon and say it just wasn’t meant to be.
But that’s not you! You’re better than that. You will accomplish your big dreams because you’re going to persevere and push through even the most difficult moments on your journey. And you will reap the rewards, my friend!
Action Step #5
Your big dreams may seem completely out of reach right now. But I promise that anything you can dream of can become a reality for you if you’re willing to put in the time, energy, and work to make it happen. The only thing holding you back from achieving your goals is yourself. I know that many of us didn’t get a great start to life – that’s the nature of growing up in a dysfunctional family. But that doesn’t have to define your future. Might it be difficult for us? Might we have to work harder and sacrifice more than some others? Yeah, maybe…..probably even. But is it worth it? Are you worth it? Is your future and the future of your family worth it? Without a doubt in my mind, that’s a resounding yes, yes, absolutely yes!!!
Listen, no one else – past, present, or future – gets to decide what you’re worth, what your value is. No one else gets to decide what your limits are. Whatever you set your mind to you can accomplish with the right attitude, a strong dose of hard work, good friends and family, and God’s hand guiding you. The only limits on your life are the ones you set yourself, whether you realize it or not.
It’s not about the hand you were dealt, it’s about how you play the cards. Maybe you’re just trying to win the wrong game!
If you want to live the life of your dreams you have to start with goals you can actually accomplish. When you write down your big dreams, narrow down your focus, break it down into mini goals, map out a plan, and get accountability, you’re destined to achieve great things! Make a choice to pursue your dreams, forget trying to please everyone else, and make the most of your unique, God-given gifts and abilities to impact the world around you in a way no one else can.
You were meant to do something great, so go out there and do it!