As a teacher of 9th grade students, it’s hard to sit and talk to them about their futures. Trying to get them to disengage with their Snapchat story and discuss where they want to go to college or what they are thinking about choosing as a career is a fool’s errand.
Trust me, I try. But it’s a dead end.
The problem is that their future seems like this far away land that will never be experienced.
Why sit and talk about college when that’s four years away? That won’t happen for a long time.
Why consider what they might want to do with their lives? That’s adulthood, a fictional place where dreams go to die.
As you smirk and giggle at these immature freshmen, please understand that adults suffer from the same problem. We might care a little bit more about our futures, but since it’s is a land of unknown, we don’t know how to pull it back into the present. We don’t know how to turn that fictional place into a reality.
So we ignore that it exists in the first place.
We’ll set a goal, then hope that as time passes we’ll reach it. There’s no rhyme or reason to our goal or what needs to occur for it to be realized, we just throw it out there and see what happens.
I’m going to take you through an exercise that will allow you to:
- Create a dream that excites you
- Taste test that success
- Figure out the next step you need to take to make shit happen
Ready? Let’s kick this thing into gear.
Create a Dream That Excites You
The first thing that I’ll say here is that there is NOTHING WRONG with wanting more for yourself, your family, or your community.
Many people get a little sheepish when it comes time to set big, audacious goals. They feel like they’re greedy for wanting more money, a bigger house, or a better job. There’s nothing greedy about desiring more of something if you’ll use it to better your life or someone else’s. Wanting more for the sake of having more is a vicious cycle, so as long as you have a purpose for your surplus of anything and everything, more power to you.
Now that we’ve sidestepped that whole abundance shaming thing, let’s talk about how to make your biggest dream a reality.
All it really takes is taking some time to be intentional with your thoughts and get clear on what it is that you want. Take some time journaling, meditating, or simply thinking about what you want your life to look like. Don’t worry about how you’re going to make it happen. If you get too caught up in how it will all materialize, you’ll start selling yourself short. Dream big and be bold, no goal is too large.
Once you get clear on what it is that you desire (i.e. a bigger house, a nicer car, a big family, etc.), spend a day, a week, or a month just sitting with how these things will make you feel. This is the money maker–literally.
It’s not the house that’s important, it’s feeling like you’ve made a beautiful home for you and your family.
It’s not the overflowing bank account that you want, it’s the feeling of security that you and your family will be able to live a life on your terms, whether that’s traveling the globe or having family movie night whenever you want to.
It’s not the job title that you desire, it’s the feeling of pride that you’re looking for.
The emotion of success is far more important than the physical representation of it. Being aware of how you’ll feel once you achieve whatever you set out to will put your mind and body in touch with that successful future.
Taste Test Your Success
Once you’ve explored the emotion that is attached to your exciting goals, understand this:
You can create those emotions well before you hit that number, buy that house, or find your dream girl.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue your dreams, but just know that you can get a little hit of what your future will feel like if you take the time to seek it out.
If you have an income goal, maybe the emotion attached to it is security. Look at your life as it is right now. What makes you feel secure with how things are going at this present moment?
Do you have enough to cover your bills without stress? Awesome. Reflect on that with gratitude.
Do you have a relationship in your life that makes you feel safe and secure? Wonderful. Reflect on that with gratitude.
The more things that you can identify that make you feel secure, the better. Before you know it, you’ll be experiencing the feeling of security without having to chase down that million dollar deal you’ve been pining for.
Whatever the emotion is that you’re seeking–security, pride, happiness, etc.–can be found in your daily life. Seeking that emotion out in the present will make your pursuit of your amazing future more fruitful.
Remember, you’re not chasing a number, a car, or a relationship–you’re chasing a feeling. You can have that feeling whenever you want to, you just have to open your eyes to what’s right in front of you.
These taste tests of success will do two amazing things for you:
- Make the pursuit of your dreams less life and death. You won’t be as stressed about getting to the finish line because you know that you can experience what you want at any given moment.
- It will keep you excited about your path to your ultimate goal. As you work towards what you want, these little taste tests of success will remind you of why you’re moving in that direction in the first place. You’ll want to keep moving forward because of your recent experience with that feeling.
Figure Out the Next Step
Discovering what emotion you’re trying to feel when you’ve reached your goals and then finding ways to feel it in your current reality will create some serious momentum and inspiration as you set sail towards your future.
Now, how the hell do you get there?
You’ve done the emotional, inner work, but you’ll need a game plan to get to your final destination. Your emotions will be your fuel, but without a roadmap, you’ll waste a lot of that fuel doing things that you shouldn’t.
A game plan with little emotion won’t get you far.
Emotions with no roadmap will get you going, but in all the wrong directions.
Pairing the logistics of a plan with the emotional inspiration of your imagined future is the sweet spot.
This game plan or road map doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Just break your goal down, bit by bit, until you discover what should be done within the next week of your life.
To model this for you, let’s use the example of buying a house. You want to buy your dream home in 5 years, but are struggling with what needs to happen before then.
- What’s the target and timeline? How much is your dream home going to cost? Look on Zillow in the area that you’ll hopefully buy your house and look at comparable prices. Find the average of 5 homes you really like, and just like that, you have your target. Let’s say this dream home is going to cost you $300,000, and you’re looking to buy in 5 years.
- Do some inventory. Where are you currently? How much money do you have? How much money are you currently saving? In order to find the right path, you need to know the starting point. Let’s say you currently have $20,000 in the bank and are saving $500 each month ($6,000) a year.
- Bridge the gap. What needs to be done between now and then? How much will you need to save for the down payment? What can you do to increase the amount of money coming in? You don’t need specifics, just give yourself a ballpark estimate of work that needs to be done in 5 years time.
- Divide that work into five 1 year chunks. Take your anticipated efforts in work and savings and divide them into 1 year chunks. If you think you need to save an extra $100,000 over a 5 year span, that’s $20,000 that you need to come up with this year.
- Divide these chunks into 12 smaller, monthly chunks. Keep dividing the work so that is now in monthly pieces. You can do more conscious work with monthly targets than yearly targets. If that yearly savings goal became $20,000 in the last step, you’re down to $1,666.67 to save this month.
- Break it down to this week. Divide your monthly targets by 4 to bring your goals into clear view. Now you know what you need to accomplish by the end of the week. Don’t overthink. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just pick that one activity that will build momentum from weeks, to months, to years.
This template of a battle plan can be applied to any huge goal that you’re trying to reach. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a house, looking for your dream job, or even trying to create a beautiful relationship with someone you’ve never met; break down your big dreams into smaller, attainable chunks and get down to business.
Your future may be fictional right now, but it will be all too real before you know it.
By envisioning your dreams, seeking those emotions in your current reality, and using that inspiration as fuel to take action on small, achievable steps, you’re going to look up some day soon and realize you are exactly where you wanted to be.
Happy dream chasing 🙂