31 Days of Finding Freedom in Simplicity - Dreams into Goals

Yesterday I talked about how sometimes setting goals can hold you back from reaching your dreams.  I’m sure that some of you thought I might be crazy.  But, honestly, when we set goals, we sometimes set the bar a little too low because we are afraid of failure, and those big dreams we have seem so far out of reach. 

However, I also said that setting goals is part of the process of reaching your dreams; I just wanted you to start dreaming first.

How do you set goals? 

There is the tried and true SMART method of setting your goals.  It needs to be Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound.

That R is always the hang up for me.  In the actual acronym I believe Relevant is the term that is used, but Realistic works just as well here.  Realistic.

Well, my guess is that some of your dreams, which need goals to be achieved, will not be completely realistic.  This is the main reason I wanted us to think about our big picture dreams yesterday, without “realistic” holding us back. 

It is easy to get to realistic and then start to doubt yourself.  Is this something you could really do?  It doesn’t seem very realistic to live off the grid, it doesn’t seem realistic to not involve the kids in a lot of extracurricular activities and instead do one activity together as a family, it isn’t realistic to live in a small house with the number of kids you have, it isn’t realistic to not take out a car loan, or not use credit cards.

But, what if it is realistic to do those things?  You only need to change your thinking.

This is something that is incredibly difficult to do, and we have been talking about it a lot over the past several days.  There are things; finances, possessions, commitments, relationships, that are holding you back.  How can you change your thinking in order to accomplish these dreams and goals?

The difficult part about setting goals after dreaming is that it can take a long time – the T part of the SMART goal. 

I am someone who likes to have everything done immediately.  If I make a decision, I want the finished result as soon as the decision is made.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work this way.  In fact, it rarely works this way.  What about you?

Most likely the reason that feeling is alive and well is because of the instant nature of our lives today.  If you want to watch TV, you turn on the TV, if you are bored there is the internet, binging something on Netflix, an iPhone that has a constant source of game apps that you can mindlessly play (I am a big fan of Solitaire – geek I know!).  You don’t have to wait for much of anything these days, and that has caused a lot of us (me included) to think that as soon as we decide on something it should happen.  And when it doesn’t immediately happen we can begin to get discouraged.

How do we combat against losing hope when setting goals to reach our dreams?

Set smaller goals, and set them more often.

When you look at your big picture dream, the next step is to break it down into smaller pieces.  Your dream is going to be this huge, almost unattainable, pie and the sky notion, but when you sit down with that dream, you need to make it into smaller pieces so that you can start to reach that dream.

Perhaps your dream is to travel around the country with your family for a year.  Awesome dream – it is something I would love to do.  However, you have debt.  Or your job doesn’t allow you to work remotely.  Or maybe you are so involved in your community that if you left for a year you feel like everything would completely fall apart (this isn’t the case, people are surprisingly resilient when it comes to change).  Pick one of those things, and break it down even further to accomplish that one goal – become debt free.

It will help if you work backwards.  If you want to do x then you need to do y.  If you want to do y then you need to do z, and so on – although you might want to start earlier in the alphabet!

Once you have looked at your big picture dream, and then made a list of smaller steps to actually get to that big picture dream, then you are ready to make your SMART goals. 

Look at those smaller steps, each of those should be the start of a goal.  Some of these smaller steps might have multiple goals attached to them.  If being debt free is one of your smaller steps, you are going to need to break that down even further.  “I will pay off x by such and such a date by working an extra job, making my lunch at home, by not buying coffee every day etc.”

This is how you make your dreams reachable.  While it is wonderful to day dream about what you want out of life, unless you begin to proactively break down that dream into manageable steps with goals attached, it will continue to be way down the line, always just out of reach.

When you look at your big picture dream, are you able to work backwards to see some of the smaller steps necessary to make that dream a reality?

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