The Trap in Dreaming

Achieving dreams, pursuing dreams, realizing dreams.

These sound so much nicer than achieving goals, pursuing goals, realizing goals.

The former sound beautiful, exciting and empowering. The latter sound like we’re sitting in a business meeting, working.

When I post about The Adventure, it usually involves something about my ‘life dream coming true,’ and I use this vocabulary for the very connotations I just referred to.

There’s a trap in these words, however, if we’re not careful. This trap is akin to watching a magic show and believing we can Magic Sparkperform magic simply because we’ve seen it done on a stage.

Dreams, by nature, produce an end product image like the magic on the stage, beautiful and exciting. This image is necessary or we wouldn’t know what we’re striving for. But to focus solely on that end product image leaves us with just that, an unrealized image.

To achieve the actual magic show, we have to step back and accept that there are nuts and bolts behind it. These nuts and bolts are structured by goals.

This sounds very pedantic, and it is, for a reason. Dreams are images, hopes, heart concepts. Goals give us a way to achieve them.

A true goal offers something for us to grasp in order to make dreams happen.

Here’s the structure I’ve found for an achievable goal (Thanks to Michael Hyatt for most of this):

  1. Write your goal
  2. Be specific
  3. Make it measurable
  4. Make it timely
  5. Make it scary
  6. Figure out the next step

Let me explain just a bit. There’s something about seeing the dream image in words on a page. This isn’t just me. Research shows we’re 40 some-odd-percent more likely to achieve something when we write it down.

So for step 1: (Write Goal) Publish a book.The Adventure Book

Good, it’s written. But it’s incredibly broad and raises more questions than answers. What book? When? How long will it be? This scatters my brain instead of focusing it. Here’s where #2 comes into play.

Step 2: (Be Specific) Publish three of the adventure stories in book format. We’ll call it The Adventure. Even more specific, The Adventure will consist of Moonrise Mountain, Temple of Night and Wind and The Tournament.

The more specific you can be, the better.

This still doesn’t give me a gauge to work with on my progress. I could stare at that specific goal for the next 10 years and still feel like I’ve got a good goal…yet make no forward motion on it. To be able to see progress, we need to have something to measure it against.

Step 3: (Measurable) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost.

This is like saying I’m going to lose 10 pounds instead of simply saying I’m going to lose weight. I know how much. Measurable tends to be a number.

However, if I just have a number, I could work on that number as well for the next ten years. The longer something drags on, the more it becomes drudgery instead of accomplishment.

Step 4: (Timely) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost by the end of 2017.

Timely gives a deadline. It tells how much has to happen, how fast, and whether it’s too much or too little. If I just say I’ll break even on the cost of The Adventure, I could be striving for that for years without making much progress.

Step 5: (Scary) This is important because of how we human beans react to things. If you aim too low, there’s nothing to excite you about it. For some reason, we crave challenge and challenge tends to be scary, but there’s a balance here. You don’t want to go so far as to make your goal impossible but you definitely don’t want to aim so low that there’s no effort involved. Make the goal an elephant, not a spider you can squish or a T-Rex that will eat you before you’ve even started.

With all that put together, all I have to do is figure out the next step, as I discussed in Eating an Elephant last week. I figure out the next step and only the next step. Once that’s done and it’s accomplished, I figure out the step after that.

According to Michael Hyatt, you shouldn’t have too many of these goals at a time or they become overwhelming. 5-10 a year is more than enough. I’ve found, for myself, 1-2 large goals per year is plenty for my brain.

So what dream do you have? What goal do you need to articulate on paper to make it happen? If you’re feeling bold, write it out below.





Eating an Elephant

Nostalgia hit me. It gave no warning and only let go when I became aware of what was happening. The sneaky little…

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk staring at the master plan…err calendar for blog posts. Today’s date said Thank You’s. My past
self didn’t give my present self any more guidance than that. Perhaps I gave myself too much credit and figured I’d be able to write a sufficient post for Thank You’s. Now I know better.

Thank you

There is no way to say Thank You enough to those who have helped me make my dream come true. And in trying to figure out a way, nostalgia slipped in and I began reminiscing over this last year.

I started working on The Adventure as a book back in January. It’s a good thing that I didn’t sit down in January and try to figure out everything that would go into making The Adventure actually happen. If I had, it would have grown, and grown, and grown into a monster that terrified me, roaring in my face with such indomitable strength that I probably would have backed down, afraid of defeat before I even started.

It would have become the proverbial Elephant that I couldn’t figure out how to eat.

But as the proverb says, I looked instead at a small part. The editing, then the illustrations, then the…

One step at a time in the process and one step only.

This sounds kind of counter intuitive. Wouldn’t you want an overall plan? Wouldn’t you want to be prepared for things down the line. Of course, but only in a flexible way. Down the line is constantly changing and whatever’s written on the Master plan (even a Thank You post) must be able to change in accordance with what actually happens.

For the here and now, for the part that’s immediately in front of me, or you, all we need to know is the next step. That’s it. And that’s amazingly refreshing in a world of overwhelming information and planning.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. It’s a reminder to only focus on the next step.

I encourage you, if you’re attempting a dream, or wanting to learn something new, or whatever it is, you can do it. Just focus on whatever comes next.

For me, that’s getting the finishing touches done on The Adventure, getting rewards out to the amazing Kickstarter backers, and launching the book Nov. 30th. Oops, that’s shoving too much into the next step. Let’s haul back on the Elephant’s reins. Next step for today, finishing this post.

What’s your next step?