What is your dream?
Everyone has that one dream that they’ve always held close to their heart. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to open your own restaurant, or you’ve wanted to start a new business.
But have you taken any steps to achieve your dream? And if so, how many steps have you taken?
Most people haven’t taken any steps at all. If you find yourself relating to this, it doesn’t mean that you care about your dreams any less than those who have achieved them. But chasing your dreams can be scary, and life is busy, and many lofty dreams require strong, consistent habits.
Whether you want to become an accomplished pianist or a fluent Spanish speaker, it’s often impossible to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams without a good deal of time and determination.
However, with a bit of hard work and focus, you can take that first step—and the next, and the next—towards realizing that aspiration. Before you know it, you’ll be living the dream.
How You Can Achieve Your Dreams
1. Make it specific
“I dream of being famous” may be easy to say, but much more difficult to do, simply because it’s vague. You can’t accomplish a vague dream. Do you want to be on Broadway? Do you want to get into film acting? Or do you want to be a famous athlete? Be specific, and you’re more likely to work towards your dream.
2. Dream big…
The sky’s the limit. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, having high aspirations for your goal is linked to higher discipline. So go ahead and set big goals for yourself, because those goals might give you the motivation you need to stick to your desired habit.
3. …but dream right…
Dreaming big is important, but how you dream it might be preventing you from getting where you want to be. According to a study done by researchers at University of California, those whose dreams include the process are more likely to stick to their goals than those who just dream about the desired outcome.
In other words, if you find yourself daydreaming about just crossing the finish line at the marathon instead of training and working hard to get there, then you’ll be less likely to lace up your running shoes every day and work towards it.
4. …and take it one step at a time
Though dreaming big is important, don’t forget to set little goals for yourself. You can’t expect to be an expert pianist overnight; you have to form the habit of practicing every day.
Imagine a big staircase, with your dream at the top. Practicing every day is the only way to your dream, and every consecutive day you work on your goal is one more step to your achieving your dream. Remember, no matter how slow you run, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch—and that doesn’t just apply to running.
5. Contact people in the field
Have you always wanted to start your own bakery, but you have no clue where to start? Don’t just give up: contact self-started bakeries to get advice from those who are in the field. Perhaps pick a few of your personal favorites and ask them how they got there, or whether they have any advice. Who knows—they could help you start your own!
Related: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs
6. Talk to your support system
Do those closest to you know about your dream?
Perhaps part of the reason you haven’t worked towards your dream is because you’re scared your friends or family won’t support you. Talk to those you surround yourself with, and realize that they care about you and will more than likely support anything that makes you happy. They might even help you stick to it or help connect you to someone who can help you achieve your dream.
7. Consider obstacles
Sometimes, there are glaring obstacles that may be preventing you from reaching your goals. For example, does realizing your dream mean a change of career paths? Now, before you pick up your cell and quit your job, consider the benefits and consequences, and figure out whether you can work at your dream while still working at your current job.
Don’t be rash, but don’t be stuck in your routine and your ways, either. This is another aspect that you could discuss with your support system!
Related: The Power of “Yes”
There are thousands, if not millions, of people all over the world who have had a dream their entire lives, but will never see it realized simply because they never tried. It’s not too late to make your own dream happen. Make it specific, dream big (but dream right!), take it one step at a time, contact people in the field, talk to your family and friends, and consider what obstacles you’ll need to clear.
Whether you want to be a cook, an athlete, a pianist or a doctor, stay positive and keep focused. Before you know it, you’ll achieve your dreams, and reality will be sweeter than any dream you could have.
Photo by stevenpng
Originally published 12/2013 and updated 11/2014.