Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Making Your Dreams Come True: A Sure-Fire Strategy

Image thanks to i.anton
“The starting point of great success and achievement has always been the same. It is for you to dream big dreams. There is nothing more important, and nothing that works faster than for you to cast off your own limitations than for you to begin dreaming and fantasizing about the wonderful things that you can become, have, and do.”
Brian Tracy
We all have dreams; some are big, some are small, some are always at the forefront of our minds and some are completely buried in our subconscious. A lot of the time it is assumed that our dreams are just that, dreams: abstract, elusive ideas that will never come to fruition, but I’m championing another way – a way where our dreams come true, where our dreams stop being dreams and start being a little more like reality.

I’d like you to join in for this post, it won’t ask much of you, just that you grab a bit of paper and a pen or open a word document. The reason I’d like you to get involved is because I think that if you do, the ideas presented will become far more solidified in your mind, and therefore you’ll be far more likely to actively set about achieving your dreams.

Firstly, let’s get one point clear, all your dreams will not come true at once. Maybe they will with some fantastical stroke of luck, but we don’t like to rely on luck around here, we like to make our dreams happen, and if you’re working for all your dreams at once you’ll likely be spreading yourself too thin. That doesn’t mean forget all your dreams. It means prioritise.

Write down a list of ten dreams that you have, they can be anything from ‘staying healthy’ to ‘walking on the moon’ to ‘saving enough money for my wedding.’ They don’t yet have to be in order of priority (although they might well be because of course you’ll be excited to write down your Big Dreams first) and you only get ten.

Here’s my list:

Make my blog a success by hitting over 1000 subscribers by the end of the year
Get a first degree and go on to study for my masters
Travel the world
Get my writing published
Design and build my own home
Become a millionaire
Never have to get a ‘normal’ job after university
Get married and start a family
Actively improve my diet and exercise routine
Create a successful personal brand

Your dreams don’t have to be too specific at this point but, equally, be careful not to stray into anything too flimsy like ‘be happy’ because, as important as that is, it can’t really stand alone as a dream as we are trying to ascertain just what will make you happy. Be clear, make them solid statements, and be honest with yourself.

Now consider your dreams on a rough time scale:

We need to group our dreams so that we can happily complete them one at a time, in order of want or necessity. Out of your ten dreams I’d like you to mark at least one that you’d like to complete in the next year, three in the next five years, three in the next ten years and three in the next twenty years.

You might notice, as I have, that your dreams tie into one another. So, for example, getting my writing published might help me on my way to becoming a millionaire, which will in turn help me to achieve my dreams of travelling the world and building my own home. This will reflect the order in which they should appear on your time scale.

Now, my advice is to temporarily disregard all six that pass beyond the five year mark. Note them in your diary as long term goals, post them up on your notice board as ultimate reminders, and take steps towards them when the opportunity arises, but save the bulk of your energy for your shorter term dreams; when they are achieved your main focus can shift onto these other, long term dreams.

Take the Stairs
So, now we have four dreams to work on making realities. Want to know mine?

Make my blog a success by hitting over 1000 subscribers by the end of the year
Get my writing published
Get a first degree and go on to study for my masters
Actively improve my diet and exercise routine

But these dreams won’t just occur out of my passive desire for them, I need to take action. Just as you wouldn’t expect to win the lottery without buying a ticket, don’t expect your dreams to come true without any prior momentum.

Imagine a flight of stairs with your dream hovering at the top; each step will require some effort of you. Let’s take one of my dreams and track back from it to illustrate the steps I need to climb.

So, I want to get my writing published do I? Well la-dee-da, I might as well be wishing to be a deep-sea diver for all the action I’ve been taking towards this dream. Getting my writing published seems elusive, untouchable, impossible even, but it’s not. Let’s think of five prior steps I need to be taking:
1. Write! I need to make more time for writing so I can improve my craft and build a portfolio. No one’s going to want to publish something I’ve dashed off in ten seconds, and most potential publishers will want to see a solid body of work.

2. Read! I need to know about good writing, know what’s good about it and ascertain how to make my own writing as good.

3. Enter competitions. I need to build profile, learn to deal with rejection and/ or acclaim, and I need to familiarise myself with the art of hitting deadlines.

4. Network. I need to know about local publishers and writers, what they’re achieving and how. I need to actively contact and meet these people, learn from them and track their success in order to emulate it.

5. Get feedback by sending my writing to potential agents and publishers, and then work with this advice to crystallize my strengths and weed out my weaknesses.
If I dedicate myself to each of these steps, what’s the betting I might just achieve some results? And it makes little difference if you want to be a songstress, thespian, crime scene investigator or even a zoologist; you need to get educated, get labouring, network and get feedback if you want to get anywhere. I’ve pinpointed my staircase, now I just need to navigate my way up it.

Still Overwhelmed?
Four big dreams may still feel like a lot to be focusing on at once, particularly if you have found that yours don’t tie in together quite as neatly as mine. If that’s the case there is a further method for breaking them down. Think about how you will feel when you have achieved each dream individually, really think about it, and then beside each dream mark a score out of ten, with ten being ultimate glee and one being a cold sense of nothingness. Which ones score highest? Did any get a ten? Then I think it’s pretty obvious that that’s where your focus should sit! Work out the steps you need to take for that dream and focus on those first.

Dreams are rarely yours and yours alone, there are often people close to you that will be affected, others who can be of help and most vitally those employers you need to get saying ‘Yes!’ When you’ve reached success you’re not going to keep quiet about it, are you? No, and nobody around you will either. Your name will be splashed around all over the place, so why not start some splashing now? Make waves even. The more people that are aware of your dream, the more chance you have of achieving it. Why? Because people name-drop, they network, they pass your information on, they offer up your services, they are a vital tool in you moving ahead with your dream. So, tell your family, tell your friends, tell your college lecturers, tell the readers of your blog, tell your local press, tell all your facebook contacts, tell the taxi driver – tell the world! Think of the people around you as your unofficial PR team.

Keep the Fire Burning
The key to the successful seeing-out of dreams is stamina. You need to keep that well of inspiration watered, and to do this you need to be aware of your successes. If I start rabidly aiming to be published as a writer, and I’m not by the end of the month, I could become disheartened, but not if I track what I’ve been doing. For Charade I keep a big, scribble-tastic notebook of ideas and prospects. In it, since the start of 2009 I have been tracking my monthly stats, number crunching, and setting myself teeny-weeny, ultra achievable goals to complete every few weeks, and by golly does it work a treat. When I wake up on a grey Sunday morning with no new ideas for a post, no new comments and a nose-dive of subscriber numbers, it would be so frickin’ easy to pack the whole thing in. That feeling is like a punch of defeat in the stomach after all the energy I’ve put in, but then I check out how I’m doing in my stats and see that I’ve doubled all my numbers in the last month and I’m spurred on ahead. You have to equip yourself with a similar safety net because:
“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go”
William Feather
Time is Your Friend
To achieve your dreams, know that you have all the time in the world, and time plus dedication equals a whole lot of success. Try not to feel stressed that things are getting on top of you, or that you have too many other commitments; that will simply sour your dreams and start to make you believe that they will never be achieved. Love working for your dreams, relish the taste of taking a risk to achieve them, give your whole self to your dreams and watch the magic happen.

If you took action to join in on this post you should now have four prioritised dreams and some ideas of the steps you need to achieve each one, if not, do it now! I could live to 156 and never stress enough, to enough people, the true power of physically writing down your objectives in order to realise them; you need to show yourself some evidence of your dreams or it is all too easy to ignore them entirely.

How will you make your dreams come true?


R. said...

This article is incredibly inspiring. Thank you! I recently discovered your blog and I love it - so all the work you've been doing on it is paying off :)


Bitter Pineapple said...

I participated! 2009 is oh so fine, the year my biggest dream will come true! This dream I've been fighting for since 2006. This is the year! Yay!

Bridey said...

Great advice! I'm printing it out so I can spend a couple of solid hours making big plans!

Voila Megan said...

Thanks for getting involved ladies! Good luck with all your dreams ♥

bookgeekandfashionchic said...

Amazing advice! x

Teresa said...

Fabulous advice.
I wrote something similar in my Life Goals post, but yours goes so much further. I love the staircase idea.
With so many people out there telling us that all we need is LOA, it's great to read that achieving our dreams is in our hands - we can do it, but only by taking continued positive action. I couldn't agree more.
BTW - yes you do have to buy a ticket to win the lottery. I did last week and got 5 numbers: £1,585 Yippee!

Dubai Stylista said...

Megan, this is amazing! FAntastic advice! Love love your blog.

Mausumi said...

This is really inspiring! I'm making a study plan right now and I need something to motivate me. I bookmarked your blog about a week ago and now I love it! I'm not subscribing or anything, I like regular bookmarks, but I'm checking in almost every day, so count me in towards your goal!

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