Do you have dreams? I’m not talking about dreaming while you sleep.
These aspirations are a good thing. They are often the fuel for our progress. Something to reach for and achieve.
I think most of us have aspirational dreams. So why are many of those dreams not fulfilled?
One key difference I’ve observed starts with the way in which someone even describes their aspiration. I would categorize it as a “conditional aspiration.”
It sounds something like this:
“When things slow down at work, I’ll take that vacation to Europe.”
“If only I had more exposure to Sr. Leadership, I’d be in the running for that promotion.”
“When all the kids are out of the house, then I’ll have time to reconnect with my husband & spend more time with friends.”
“If I had an MBA, then I could apply for my dream job.”
Do you hear the conditions in these statements?
Waiting for the perfect conditions to exist before we pursue our dreams = fat chance of realizing those dreams!
Spoiler Alert! Perfect conditions are rare to non-existent.
In my view, the key differentiator in achieving your aspirations vs. just letting life happen comes down to initiative and self-discipline.
These are the people who don’t make excuses and are willing to be held accountable for what they did/didn’t do.
Here are some ideas about how to exercise those initiative-taking and self-discipline muscles into your daily routine.
- Make time for dreaming – Our culture is more about DOING vs. THINKING and being introspective. When’s the last time you sat down and gazed at the clouds and just thought about things…without your iPod, TV or other “entertainment” accessory? Allocate time to reflect and think about what you want in life. After all, we are human beings, not human doings…it’s okay to sit and “BE”. When our surroundings are quiet, our brains have space to get to work.
- Make a plan and take small steps – Once you have your dream, decide what path of action is needed to get you from point A to point B. This is the part that can often overwhelm. Therefore, it’s important to break down what actions are needed and begin to take small steps to get you there…like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. If you need to go back to school: Bite 1 – do research on schools & programs; Bite 2 – apply; Bite 3 – enroll for one class; Step 4 – attend that class. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
- Share your dreams with others – Your friends and family can be a great support for you as you embark on your journey. Even just telling others about your aspirations can help hold you accountable and assist in maintaining the self-discipline to stay on track. Let them know how they can help you — watch your kids while you’re in class or on a date with your spouse — make introductions to others in their network who work in a job/company you aspire to — share their experience in their around-the-world trip of a lifetime.
Yes, this approach takes a “put yourself out there” way of life. But it brings so many more rewards!
I think fulfilling your dreams, living with a sense of adventure and perhaps even inspiring others sounds like a great way to live! What do you think?
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.