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How to turn your dreams into plans
A dream without a plan is just … a dream.
If you have some big ideas for your dream life, then you need to take action toward making them happen. Even if that action is a tiny step in the right direction.
This can seem overwhelming at first, I know. Most people get stuck in *all* the things, instead of just focusing on the one step they need to take now.
This can keep them from moving forward, so they never make any progress toward fulfilling their dream life.
However, if you break down your big goals into small, attainable steps, then you have a concrete plan to achieve your goals.
It’s simple, but it’s not always easy.
But, it’s your one and only life. I say, go for it! Chase your dreams down with a plan in one hand and a good dose of persistence in the other.
Pretty soon, you’ll be flying high, living the dream – but in real life!
Here are 3 steps to planning your dreams and achieving your biggest goals.
#1 Identify ONE thing in your action plan
I recently read The One Thing, which tells us that focusing on the smallest priority connected to your largest goal is the only thing you need to do next.
Kind of like Bill Murray in What About Bob – baby steps through the office … baby steps out the door … baby steps to the elevator …
The *one* thing you give your full attention to is that next small step.
So, instead of making a complete, detailed plan, you just have to identify one task that will move you toward your long-term goals.
Make the completion of this task your goal for the day. And make sure every goal is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Just putting one thing on your plate won’t overwhelm you into putting it off.
Make it as small as you need it to be. Make it so small you would feel dumb to not just do it.
Don’t focus on the 10th step of the action planning process – or what if you fail in the 7th step – or how hard the third step will be.
You’ll figure all of that out when you get to it. But, you won’t get to it until you take the prior steps to get there.
When you finish one step, move to the next. And then the next. Keep the momentum and progress growing.
Don’t let uncertainty or lack of knowledge or skill keep you from moving forward.
Because, the journey is about learning what you need to know as you encounter new challenges. Even the most careful planning won’t prepare you for everything. It doesn’t work that way.
Just start. Put one foot in front of the other. Baby steps. This is how you start planning your dreams.
Before you know it, you’ll look behind you and see how far you’ve come.
Video: How To Set SMART Goals
#2 Find cheerleaders to support your vision
You’ll need some accountability when working on your dream future. But, you’ll also want some encouragement and support for times when you want to throw in the towel.
So, find those people in your life that will ask how you’re doing with your life plan, what actions you’re taking, and where you’re at in your progress.
Invite friends and mentors to walk the journey with you, and cheer you on through all your victories and defeats.
It’s too easy to talk yourself into giving up, especially if there’s nobody around to convince you otherwise.
After all, if it seems like nobody else cares, then you can easily fall in the trap of believing it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes, you just need somebody else to remind you that your dreams *do* matter, and you have what it takes to accomplish them. When you’re planning your dreams, this can help you stay committed to your goals.
So, surround yourself with the cheerleaders in your life. Ask them to hold you accountable and invite them to offer support and encouragement.
It could mean the difference between never fulfilling your dreams, and living the life you dream of.
#3 Track the progress toward your dream life
When you persist in moving forward, and your friends are cheering you on, you’re going to inevitably get closer to turning your dream into a reality.
However, life happens and unexpected circumstances can throw you off track.
Be prepared for challenges. Just expect roadblocks to get in your way. It’s all a part of the journey.
One way you can maintain your motivation is to set up a visual tracking system for the progress you’ve already made.
There is a wide range of options you could choose from, including a spreadsheet, a journal, or even a vision board. It just needs to be some type of tool that you can look at consistently and be reminded of what you’ve achieved so far.
Then, when you hit a barrier, you’ll be more motivated to push through, because you’re reminded of how far you’ve come.
So, set yourself up for success by giving yourself reminders of your progress. Don’t minimize or forget all of your efforts and achievements.
Because, in the end, it’s not how smart or talented or charismatic you are.
Success comes to those who just don’t give up.
The key to implementing your life plan
You might think this 3-step action planning guide is all too simple. And, actually, it is.
But, it’s not easy. There’s a big difference.
Don’t overcomplicate the process of planning your dreams:
- Do the next ONE thing that will move you forward.
- Surround yourself with accountability and support.
- Track the progress of what you’ve accomplished.
If you commit to every step, every day, you’ll have success. The key is in *commit*.
Because, at the end of the day, nobody else can do the work for you. You have to value yourself and your life enough to do whatever it takes to make your dreams a reality.
And, this can be tough for some of us. Especially if we’ve lived 50+ years serving our families, our careers, our communities and churches.
So, make sure you have a deep, emotional connection to the reasons behind your actions.
For example, getting your master’s degree isn’t really about getting smarter, or even making more money. Instead, it might be about creating new opportunities to achieve your career goals and building stronger financial security for your family.
Starting your own business is risky and time-consuming. Nobody starts their own business just because they want to be their own boss. More likely, it’s because their core values include freedom, flexibility, and unlimited opportunities to grow.
And, it’s the same for wanting to achieve financial freedom. Yes, it would be nice to no longer worry about money. But your bigger “why” might be to leave a legacy for your kids, be more generous with your wealth, or build your dream retirement.
The key to implementing a basic plan and staying committed to it is found in your life’s core values.
Know the why behind your what, and that will be your biggest motivation to push forward.
Why you might fail to implement your plan
Here are three reasons why you could be consistently failing to implement the plans you create for your life:
- The feeling you get from creating a plan is enough to satisfy you.
- You’re stuck in the mindset of “there’s always tomorrow”.
- You’re not uncomfortable enough to make a real change.
Actually, it’s quite possible that the first reason feeds into the second, which feeds into the third:
- When a temporary circumstance decreases your comfort level in life, you come up with a plan to ease that discomfort.
- The feeling of having a plan gives you the false security that you have time to actually implement the plan –maybe tomorrow …
- When tomorrow comes, you cycle through the same routines and mindsets out of habit because that’s what you’re comfortable with.
- The plan eventually gets forgotten until you feel discomfort again, which is when you make another plan.
Can you relate? This can happen with any goal you have, such as losing weight or quitting a bad habit or exploring new career paths.
You become motivated to make these goals because of the discomfort you can feel from unwanted or unexpected circumstances.
Maybe you see a friend finding success with improving her career trajectory and you’re feeling a little jealous. Maybe your boss yelled at you and you remembered why you hate your job. Maybe your last child just moved out and you’re feeling a little lost.
These situations can cause stress and frustration, which then create the motivation to do something. So, you spend a good deal of time creating an action plan.
Once you have your plan, you feel better because you experience some level of security in knowing you’ve figured out a solution.
However, this false security can lead to procrastinating and then eventually forgetting about the discomfort.
Which means you fail to follow through and never fulfill your dreams. This is how people end up with regrets when it’s too late.
You can’t be solely motivated by external circumstances, because then you’re giving the control away. This is why it’s so important to determine your internal motivation, which is the “why” I mentioned before.
If you have some broad dreams that are just sitting on a dusty shelf in the back of your brain, spend some time reflecting on why they’re still dreams.
Why haven’t you made them a reality? Why aren’t you taking steps to fulfill them? Why aren’t you valuing yourself enough to make them a priority? Are you really willing to make the changes necessary to succeed?
Get to the bottom of your inaction. Figure out if you’re relying on external circumstances and a false sense of security.
Then, create a new plan with concrete details and recommit to your goals. Your dreams are worth it.
Keep your dreams in front of you all the time
If you have a nice home, food on the table, and working vehicles, it can be easy to settle for how things are.
But, don’t sell yourself short by being satisfied with where you’re at. Don’t just settle for the necessities.
Make the last half of your life the *best* half – full of exciting and fulfilling experiences. Not just for yourself, but also for those you love.
The day-to-day has a way of keeping us short-sighted. We all get stuck in routines and limiting beliefs, which can blur the detailed vision we need to achieve our goals.
That’s why it’s important to keep your dreams in front of you.
Remind yourself daily of what’s in your heart – otherwise, it just gets buried under other, less important things. Write out a compelling vision statement that you can refer to in your spare time.
Recommit to turning your dreams into plans – and then into reality.
With each small step forward, with every cheer from the sidelines, with all the reminders of your progress – you can achieve the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- Money Values: How To Align Your Priorities With Your Spending
- 9 Powerful Benefits of Setting Financial Goals
- 5 Principles To Change Your Life After 50
- The Mexican Fisherman: 5 Lessons To Live By
- How To Create An Abundant Mindset
- 5 Ways Limiting Beliefs Harm Us
- 5 Money Lessons I Wish My Parents Had Taught Me
- 4 Surprising Obstacles To Achieving Goals (& How To Overcome Them)
- How To Meet Your Future Self and Change Your Life
- A Willingness To Change: Here’s the How & the Why