We all have dreams. Things that we would like to do or have in our lives; from losing weight, to buying our dream house or setting up our own business.
As children we spent hours every day dreaming about all the things that we would be, do and see. Maybe you wanted to play football for England, become a film star or travel the world. The possibilities were endless, what happened to those dreams?
As an adult you start to think that if those childhood dreams didn’t become a reality, then why should the ones you have today? Cynicism takes over. The gulf between the pictures in your head and the routine of everyday life seems too large to cross. So the ideas flowing through your mind like an endless river of potential happiness are halted abruptly by the daily 6am alarm clock and the bridge to possibilities is never crossed.
Turning a mental picture of your goal into the physical reality, whatever your desire, is made more difficult by believing that the transformation needs to happen overnight. When the results are not immediate we tend to put the idea safely back in the dream box and tell ourselves that we have failed.
To turn your dreams into reality you must think of them as goals that are there for you to achieve, just waiting for you to successfully harness them. Your goals do not need to be achieved in one blind leap; instead imagine a series of carefully positioned stepping stones.
The Stepping Stones
Step 1) Know your goal: Lenin said “The people who will win are those with a clear idea of where they want to go”. Have a clear understanding of what you want and why.
Ask yourself “What will this goal bring to my life? What will happen if I don’t achieve this goal? What has stopped me from achieving this goal so far?”
Write it all down! It’s important to have a record of your thought process so that you can remind yourself of where you’re heading and what you’ve achieved so far.
Step 2) Sanity check: Your goals may be hard to achieve and involve a lot of effort, so before you set about trying to reach them you need to sanity check how much you want them in your life.
On a scale of 1-10 how much do you want to reach this goal? If it’s less than a 9, you’re going to struggle to find the motivation to complete the steps.
Question your motivations, “If I could have it today would I take it? If my goal involves a move of location or job who else will be impacted? Do my parents/partner/children need to be in agreement?”
Step 3) Be self aware: Does this goal suit you?
This may sound ridiculous but if the goal does not meet with your own values and beliefs, your internal conflict will prevent you from completing the path to success.
Does this goal fit in with who you are fundamentally? Does it fit with your core beliefs? What personal needs are at the root of wanting this goal, for example flexibility, security or respect etc?
The core need could be achieved by something else which is simpler.
Step 4) Plan to make it a priority: Treat achieving your personal goals as a priority.
Just as you meet deadlines for work, paying the bills, etc. so should you meet your personal deadlines. Put it in your diary! Plan the steps that you need to take by a specific date and check up on yourself. Set yourself up to succeed.
Perhaps it’s a few pounds that you want to lose or a new job that you’re looking for. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to make this happen?” Make a note of the date that you want to achieve it by, list all the steps that need to happen before then and put a deadline next to each step. Remember to plan time to plan!
Step 5) Build your support network: No man is an island!
You have to accept that you will sometimes need the support of some trusted advisors to keep you on track. Who do you know that can help you? Who can you learn from? Who has achieved something similar? How did they do it?
The key focus with your support network is to find people who really understand what you want to achieve and are prepared to be there for you. Sometimes your partner or closest friends can be those who can unwittingly sabotage your success. Pick your confidants wisely.
Step 6) Overcome obstacles: You may have to accept that you won’t meet every deadline, or that busy times at work or a hectic social life may prevent you from hitting every milestone date in the diary.
This is not an excuse to give up, throw in the towel and exclaim that the goal is impossible.
Gather your thoughts and then go back to Step 1 in the Stepping Stones and follow the process again. The goal may be delayed but by following the course, you will get to the finish line.
Step 7) Enjoy the journey: Sometimes we’re so focused on the end destination that we forget how enjoyable the road trip can be.
You will face challenges that you will overcome, you will discover much about yourself and those closest to you and you will grow with the process. So have fun on your journey to success.
Let’s face it, when you realise that you’ve achieved the first goal, you’ll just keep setting yourself more!
About the Author: Jo Geraghty is managing Director of “Beyond the Ladder” and is one of the UK’s leading coaches for executives and entrepreneurs.
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