Take if you must this little bag of dreams, unloose the cord and they will wrap around.
–William Butler Yeats
Some people are born with an amazing talent and they know at an early age that they want to be a famous singer or something like that. If they are lucky and work hard, they can end up living out their big dreams.
But for many of us, we need to focus and create our goals to realize our little dreams. Kind of like putting a puzzle together. Or cooking a stew with what’s already in the freezer and pantry.
Here are some simple step-by-step guidelines that I have used over the years to turn dreams into successful goals. If you want to read some books on the topic, see the resource list at the end (with links on the book titles to Amazon for more information). Relax and have some fun with the process.
Step 1: Brainstorm
It all starts out with asking yourself questions. Take some time–at least a week or so.
- What do I want to be when I grow up?
- What do I want to accomplish in the coming year?
- What kind of person do I want to be when I am age 50, 60, 70 and so on?
- What areas of myself really need improvement?
- Which area or areas do I want to work on in the coming year?
Step 2: Write It Down
Make a list of anything that comes to mind with answers to your questions. I like to write my thoughts down on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch pad of paper using a favorite pen. When you are done with your brainstorm list, look it over and try to find 3-10 themes or “buckets” of like items. Some ideas:
- Build a business
- Have more fun
- Develop healthier habits
- Create a financial plan
- Learn new things
- Grow spiritually
- Become more disciplined
- Practice, practice, practice
- Simplify life
Step 3: Organize
Organize your brainstorm list into the themes. You will likely refine the list–adding some other items, deleting others, and refining the titles of your themes.
Step 4: Prioritize
Determine the priority of the goal or goals. While it is good to have under a dozen themes and numerous little goals divided into the themes, I find that each year, I focus on a few of my priority projects. During this process, perhaps there is one or two or three goals that will emerge as being the most important ones.
Once you have a goal-setting process in place, review it regularly and update it at least once a year preferable around the new year. I keep a little list of 6 or so goals with 3-5 specifics–all on one page and then a larger list of 100+ goals and dreams. The documents are saved on my Google Drive so that I can refer to them daily in hard copy, on my computer, or on my smartphone or tablet.
It is gratifying to see the progress that we make, understand the work we have yet to do, and uncover new dreams.
Finally, for the new year, something tried and true…something old and new. Here are my favorite books and authors for goal setting, planning new things, and reflecting on the past, present, and future:
Marty Brounstein has years of management consulting experience. His books are filled with tools, forms, checklists, and advice that really works! I have used his goal-setting worksheets from Coaching & Mentoring For Dummies in both my business and personal life with great results.
Anne Lamott is an awesome and witty writer. Her latest bestseller will have you praying and saying…Help, Thanks, Wow…in no time!
Eric Tyson is a best-selling author of numerous personal finance books. Let’s Get Real About Money is a good summary of his time-tested principles and how to put them into practice. He is one of the best at simplifying complex topics.
Herbert Benson has been leading the way to better health and wellness. Relaxation Revolution is an excellent combination of research and inspirational stories showing how to “let go.”
Linda Pinson shares her passion for planning for success in her award-winning book, Anatomy of a Business Plan which has been used by more than 1 million business owners. Real-life business plans are worth the investment in this book.
The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle is a clever book that shows how to get “it” if you weren’t born with it or want to get it.
Best wishes for achieving your dreams in 2013!
Enjoy the little things,