I was working from a hotel room this week and had the television on as ‘noise’ in the background. A CBS show called The Talk was airing and the actor Viola Davis was on as their guest. I was only half listening to what she was saying but this statement caught my attention “my dreams were always bigger than my circumstances.” It caught my attention because I understood exactly what she meant.
I believe dreaming is of vital importance to your psyche. The sense of wonder, the ‘what if’ and the ‘why not’ is where you create opportunity, solidify your vision and see a path of possible. I also think success comes from her very sentence; when you believe in something bigger than the moment you are currently in, that somewhere inside of you – you know there is more.
For me, dreams become goals and goals become achievements (hopefully). But how does that happen? From personal experience I have learned that you must say your dreams out loud, write them down and communicate them in a way to get them out of your head because they can’t grow and evolve in your head. We need the influence of the universe and others in it to move our dream from concept to a set of goals. Diane Robinson, a personal development coach, says a ‘dream is a goal without legs.’ So give them legs.
Drill them down into the how, what, where and when. Depending on where you are mentally this can be arduous or invigorating which is part of making your decision to advance your dream. You must be mentally prepared to do the work. Timing is important to dream fruition. Giving your dream legs means putting your arms around it in a way that helps you build a road to achieve it. And when you achieve it, then you need a new dream and it starts all over again. We are built for more than one dream.
So how do you break your dream down into manageable bits? The SMART goal framework is a solid approach to doing just that and the acronym should also make it easy to remember.
Specific – be specific about the details of your dream. For example, I wanted to be my own boss. But what did that mean to me? I wanted to manage my own schedule, I wanted to make my own decisions about the kind of work I was going to do, I didn’t want to ask permission to leave five minutes early. Define your dream more specifically; use the five W questions; who, what, where, when and why to help you create a structure.
Measurable – having a metric helps you know where you are along the path. One metric for me was to obtain my first contract. Having a way to measure your progress or lack of it will help you know you are moving in the right direction or that you need to readjust or realign and then keep moving. Ask yourself how much? How many? When?
Achievable – the ‘bits’ you drill your dream down into must also be achievable. So this is really the how? How are you going to achieve your goal? What do you have to do to achieve your goal? For example, if you don’t have all of the skills you need to get the job you want, what do you have to do to obtain those skills? Is it school, work experience or mental preparation to visualize yourself in that role and take on additional responsibilities to display those qualifications?
Realistic – in order for your goal to be realistic you have to be willing and able to do the work to achieve it. So it’s about being realistic and honest about your own abilities and ambition in concert with having a stretch goal. The reality is goals and dreams require work. My personal opinion is dream big, and set lofty goals because if you set goals you know you can easily achieve then how motivated are you really? How much of a dream is this? Of course you also have to set goals that might be just beyond what you think is possible but ones that are not in fact, impossible.
Timely – putting a timeframe on something helps you map out steps and also helps you stay on track. Without a timeframe why does it matter how long it will take you? If you don’t consider the when – how will you be motivated to move forward, step out, take risks or try? Or try again when it doesn’t go as planned? Time is your anchor.
Dreams are important to individuals and businesses. Every business started with someone having a dream. The challenge is to continue dreaming. Where is that dream now? What’s the new dream? What is the leaders dream? What are the dreams of your team? Believing in dreams is a conduit for cultivating intimacy among your team that should be free of judgement and chalked full of encouragement. Believing in someone’s crazy idea is sometimes the best approach to creating a foundation of respect.
Dreams are meant for everyone.
Dreams are meant to be realized.
Dreams are meant to be crafted, courted and challenging.
Dreams are meant to build your belief in something more, something different, and maybe something outrageous…
Dreams are meant to be bigger than your circumstances.