Five simple steps to making your dreams come true

17/52 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Image by ξωαŋ ThΦt, via Flickr

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about big dreams. Dreams are important—they can give us direction and hope, something to work toward. If you don’t know what you want to do, check out that post for a few suggestions on figuring it out.

But dreams can only take you so far. If you really want your life to change, you need to do more than dream, you need to act.

To me, the way to make your dreams come true is: dream big, get specific about what you really want, make goals that will get you there, get to work, and then enjoy your dream come true.

Dream Big

Let your mind wander and imagine having anything you could want. Sometimes this helps with figuring out what you want, especially if you start with no idea. Besides, it’s fun!

Get Specific

Although dreaming big is awesome, getting specific is where you start developing something that can be achieved. If your dream is vague and mushy like “do something interesting” or “enjoy myself,” it’s hard to know where to start. On the other hand, “go sea kayaking off Baja California for a week” is much clearer. That makes it easier to work toward. It’s tempting to think that staying vague leaves all options open, but for me, it usually just means nothing happens.

Set Goals

Once you know what you want, start breaking down what it will take to get there. Figure out how much money you’ll need, how much time, and what other resources will come into play. You may not get it all exactly right the first time—you’ll have to estimate for some of these things—but that’s ok. These aren’t set in stone. You can adjust them as needed, but you do need to start somewhere.

Get to work

This is where the rubber meets the road. Do the work to make it happen!

Enjoy your dream come true

Ah, the best part!

An example

Blogging tools, at Nerja Parador...

Image by Ben30, via Flickr

Here’s how I’m making this work for me. My dream is to have the summer off to wander around and write. I got more specific by choosing a beach house in Rhode Island where I’d like to spend the time, but my house in Alabama will do in a pinch. Furthermore, during that time, I want to write an ebook about how to have a more satisfying life. Then I set the goals to get me there: $10,000 and a leave of absence from work. Other than those, I have everything I need: I already have computers for writing, ideas, layout software, a host/distributor for the ebook, and a place to live. That means I’m ready to get to work.

The leave of absence from work won’t take much time. I did make a mistake by asking permission instead of simply saying “I’ll be gone June 1 – August 31; what paperwork do I need to do for a leave of absence?” But I think I can still work that out.

As for the $10k, what to do? Well, I’m working on a few different things. The surefire way is to start stashing money in a savings account. I’m putting $400 per paycheck in my freedom fund from now until then, for a total of $7000. That alone is enough that I could make it work, especially if I skip the beach house part. I really want the beach house, but the summer off is more important.

Two other things I’m trying now are Hubpages and Corbett Barr’s Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing. No, I’m not going to become a spammer or peddle crapola on the internet. Hubpages is similar to about.com. You write articles, and they split the ad revenue with you (40% them, 60% you). It’s a very high traffic site, so I think this could add up to a couple hundred dollars a month over time, if you wrote a large collection of reasonably popular articles. I can’t say for sure—so far, I’ve written one hub page. I don’t even have an AdSense account yet, so zero income there so far. But I think it has promise.

As for The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing, I believe this could yield enough money to fund a very modest existence. It’s no way to get rich quick either, but I think it has real potential. The concept is that there are lots of people out there with all kinds of problems they want to solve, and tons of products wanting to solve those problems. If you can set up websites that match up the people and the products and make a commission (50% or more) on each sale, you’ve helped people find what they want and been rewarded for your efforts.

If you choose only good products and build good, informative websites that also offer these products as a possible solution to the problem your readers want to solve, it can be a decent and respectable way to earn money. There are a lot of details for how to choose the right subject, how to get people to find your website, all that technical stuff—that’s what the course provides. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far, it’s very concrete and easy to understand and seems to be full of awesome.

Both hubpages and affiliate marketing are slow-starting things that take time and work, but I have seven months to see how they go. Worst case, I’ll still have enough money with just the freedom fund I’ve saved from my day job.

As all this comes together, I’ll be ready to live the dream! I cannot wait to have the summer off. I’m really enjoying my job right now, but let’s face it: I like working on my own things more, and I would love to be able to set my own schedule and have time to think and wander. It’s gonna rock! Some people get bored with too much unstructured time, but I used to be a professor, so I’ve had summers off, and I know I don’t get bored. Far from it! I absolutely love having that much freedom.

Now it’s your turn. This is your life—what do you want most in the world to do with it? How can you make that happen? Get to work daydreaming, and then get to work making it happen!

Why this post

Doesn’t everyone already know this stuff?

Well, yes, I think most of us do. But it’s so easy to get trapped in the ruts of life, it’s hard to remember it sometimes. It seems like most of us spend most of our time just following our own footsteps, doing the same thing we did the day before, because it’s the obvious thing to do. I think it’s important to remember to daydream, and then figure out the logistics of making it happen. Many of our dreams are much closer than we think, so why not make them come true?

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About Cara

I'm a Breakthrough Coach and Creative Director On Demand. I'm also an idealist who has stopped trying to play it cool. I offer alignment, clarity, and unshakeable belief in yourself—and then I help you bring your vision to life with great sales copy and graphic design.
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4 Responses to Five simple steps to making your dreams come true

  1. Pingback: Big Dreams | 17000 Days

  2. Bryan Walls says:

    You may want to check out http://www.kickstarter.com/ for your goal of raising $10k for a summer of writing. It’s sort of a crowdsourcing venture capital site. You submit a proposal, with a money-raising goal and perks for various donation levels. If you don’t make the minimum goal, that’s that. Nothing gained, nothing lost. But, if you do, then you get the $ money and follow through.

    So for you perhaps a $10k goal, with a copy of your ebook at the $25 donation level, and signed copy printed and bound for $50, and dinner with the author for $250. Why not?

    • Cara says:

      Oh yeah, one of my college buddies got his artisan beer business going that way. Somehow it never remotely occurred to me to do it, though. What an intriguing idea. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Life experiments: Living the dream(?) | 17000 Days

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