“Following your dreams” is easier said than done. Knowing who you want to be, or what you want to do in life, is not always a clear or easy path. Most importantly, if you really want to achieve your dreams, it is up to you to actively work towards making them happen.
“Wishful thinking” might strengthen your desire, but will not get you closer to fulfilling those dreams, unless you are also examining and evaluating options to make them happen.
Here is a list of 15 ways to help zero in your goals, and fulfill your dreams:
1. Clearly define what your dream is.
It is not the same to say, “I want to be rich”, than to think “I want to own my own house, a car, and have enough money left to live comfortably every month”. When we dissect our dream and think of it in a realistic way, it becomes less a “wish”, and a more tangible goal. Thus, having a clear idea of what you want usually means you have already won half the battle.
2. Listen to your “calling”. Explore and identify your abilities and capabilities.
Make a list of your strengths and think of ways on how they might help you achieve your goal. If you have a talent, or truly enjoy doing something specific, use that gift to fulfill your dream. There are amazing stories of people being successful at what they do, even for the most surprising reasons, because they are passionate about it, and that is something others will recognize and value.
3. Write down a few ways that would work for you to achieve that dream.
Jot down any idea that comes to mind, even if it sounds absurd, as it will help open your mind and perspective to what you might be capable of achieving. Even if it isn’t something useful at the moment, it might serve as an inspiration for something that could be.
4. If you don’t know where to start, or don’t have a rough plan on how you will make it happen, do a little research on what others did to successfully achieve a similar dream.
Once you have a few ideas, tweak them to make them your own – think how they would work for you and your circumstances.
5. Start with small goals that are easy to achieve.
There are always small steps you can take to achieve a bigger end-goal. Starting with something that is easily achieved will boost your confidence while getting you closer to your main objective.
6. Enjoy your “small victories”.
When you do achieve a small goal you had established, take time to acknowledge the feeling of accomplishment. Appreciate how you set up an objective, put a plan in motion, and ultimately conquered it. This will keep you motivated, and will increase your self-assurance to keep working on achieving a new target…. Plus, you deserve it!
7. Take every misstep as a lesson.
There is always something you can learn from a situation that didn’t go as planned… Even if the lesson is that you are still ok, or that you have to change your game plan entirely. Changing your perspective and acknowledging your journey as a necessary component, and as valuable as the end result, will help you fight against discouragement and frustration. When you embrace every decision you are making, or every step you are taking, as part of your end goal, it makes the entire journey satisfying and worthwhile.
8. Be flexible.
Albert Einstein has been credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” It could be argued that this definition could also be applied to unproductivity. When you keep doing the same thing over and over, and it doesn’t work, be open to trying a new approach. There is usually more than one way that would work for achieving the same end goal.
9. Be a learner
You never know what new information, material, or situations, will give you an idea that might work for your end goal. Inspiration can come from the least expected places. Be curious, expand your general knowledge, and pursue new hobbies. These will improve your chances of finding new innovative and creative ways to reach your desired goal.
10. Take risks
Staying within your comfort zone might not always help you reach a desired outcome – especially if you tried and can’t see any progress being made. Settling with the status quo is less frightening and comforting, but also costly if it is consuming time that could be better utilized doing something more rewarding. On the other hand, making a bold move can have a greater impact on your success. Taking a risk might pay off by opening new doors, or pathways towards your outcome… But also be ready and cognizant that it might not, and have a plan B in case you need it.
11. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask people for help… and, when you can, pay it forward.
“Making it on our own” does not mean that you are completely isolated working towards your goal. On the contrary, most successful individuals achieve their dreams by playing their strengths and also by knowing when to delegate, or ask for help. If you reach out, you will be surprised at how frequently someone is willing to lend a hand, support, and encourage you to achieve your objectives. Therefore, asking for advice and networking will empower and increase the chances of being successful.
And if you have the opportunity, help somebody else. It will not only have a positive effect on the person you are helping, it will also increase your self-esteem and self-worth, further boosting your confidence toward your own goals.
12. Trust your instincts.
You can receive great advice, or come across and excellent opportunity, but if it doesn’t feel right, listen to your inner voice and evaluate if it is something that would be right for you. Nobody knows what works for you better than you do.
13. Be patient and don’t give up when things don’t go as planned.
Most goals take time, effort, and hard work. Even when you have a perfect plan in mind, it is very likely you will still encounter unforeseen obstacles or situations. Don’t let these discourage you from consistently working toward your goals. Trial and error can be discouraging but will get you closer to your objective. Plus, you never know how close you are from achieving the dream, or when an opportunity will be life changing.
14. It is ok to adjust your dream, or even change it entirely.
Life is not static, it is in constant motion, and who you were five years ago might not accurately represent who you are now. It is okay to realize that the goal you had previously set for yourself is no longer something that you want, and you should feel comfortable adapting goals to something that fulfills you now.
15. Believe in yourself
Be sincere and analyze your traits, strengths, resources, and all the pros and cons that could work for or against you. This will give you more confidence in your capabilities, and will help you not run the risk of overestimating or underestimating yourself. Your mindset will be a key component in achieving your goals. If you are negative about the outcome, it will deter you and make achieving the goal more difficult. On the other hand, if you think you can do it, you probably will not stop until you find a way to make your dreams come true.