How do you make your dreams come true?
One of my favorite quotes is…
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
~ George Eliot
Just think about that for a moment. Ray Kroc started McDonald’s when he was 52. KFC was launched when Colonel Sanders was in his 60s. And just the other day, I read where a grandmother with 41 grandchildren graduated from college. How old was she? She was 101…the oldest person in history to receive a college degree. She said it was her dream to become a college graduate and she made it come true!
Our happiness in many ways ties directly to our “inner voice” that forever asks the question… “Are you moving toward your dream?” If your answer is “yes,” then hope breeds contentment. However, if the answer is “no, it’s too late,” despair may fester within your subconscious. You might not even realize why your life lacks joy.
We’re very honored that best-selling author, John Maxwell, has written a book for us titled, Own Your Dreams…Discovering Your Purpose in Life. John is one of the best writers I’ve ever known and his work is appreciated around the world. In fact, his books have sold more than 20 million copies.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Own Your Dreams that I thought you might enjoy. John takes a look at how differently people approach achieving their dreams. In fact, he compares what he calls the Fantasizers to the Dream Builders.
And you may want to ask yourself…
which am I?
Own Your Dreams
There is no greater time than now to begin to live your dreams. You can make your dreams come true if you put in the effort and make a reasonable plan. All you have to do is know what you want and take baby steps to be on your path to success. There will be some bumps along the way, but if you learn from your setbacks, you’ll be even more likely to get what you’ve always wanted in the end. Want to know how to make your dreams come true? See Step 1 to get started.
Making a Plan
Be specific about your dream. The first thing you need to do is to be specific about your dream so you can be on your way to making it happen. One way to be very specific about your dreams is to write them in your dream journal or in a notebook. If you don’t know what you really want, then you can’t achieve it, can you? However, you can still start on your path before knowing what you want 100% of the way. You just have to have an idea of what you want to happen and should find a way to narrow it down as you move closer and closer to your dream.
For example, let’s say you’ve always loved writing and want to be a real writer at the end of the day. You may not know whether you want to write novels, be a journalist, or even be an inspirational blogger, but you may have a better sense of what you want as you move in the right direction.
Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. Maybe your dream is just to find a job that makes you feel like you’re making a real difference in the world. There are many ways to make this happen, and having a broad goal will help you get there.
Turn your dream into a burning desire.
You will need to turn your dream into a burning desire in your heart. A strong will to achieve your dreams boosts self-confidence and will aid you in pulling through some of the worst stages of life. The way to turn your dream into a burning desire is to believe that your dream is achievable and that you can achieve it. If you just look at it as a general wish, such as losing five pounds this year, or wanting to move somewhere sunny without really doing it, then you won’t be able to take it seriously.
Once it has become a burning desire you are no longer to refer to it as a dream, because the very nature of a dream gives the impression that it is not real. You have to start thinking of it as something more.
Turn your burning desires into goals. You then need to turn your burning desire into a goal. You had earlier turned your dream into a burning desire because you believe it can be done and that you can do it. But to actually turn it into a goal, you need to believe that you will do it. This kind of believing is based on your commitment that if it can be done then you can do it, and that if you can do it, you can do it now. The thing about goals is they are time sensitive, so adding a time frame helps you to accept the fact that you are committed to doing it.
Once you have turned your burning desire into a goal, you are no longer to call it a burning desire or a dream; it is now your goal in life, a goal that must be achieved by you.
Plan. Create a strategic plan of action. You will need to create a strategy for the accomplishment of your goals; this strategy is usually called a plan or a plan of action. There is no universal plan of action for everyone; each strategy depends on the person involved and the goals they wish to accomplish; because of this fact, the key to creating your own working plan of action lies in you and you need to seek it out.
Write down every step of your plan. Having it written down can help you feel that it is more concrete. Just remember that life isn’t so cut and dry and that you may not neatly be able to check off one goal after the other, and that you may end up changing some of the necessary steps for achieving your dreams or re-imagine a new path along the way.
Take action now. Once you have turned your goals into a plan of action tailored after you, you need to take action and utilize every opportunity that will come your way. It’s time to stop making excuses, and to keep putting off until tomorrow what can be done today. Sure, there are always great reasons to put off achieving your dreams, such as having to plan your wedding, going through a busy time at work, getting embroiled in a complicated relationship, and so on, but if you have this attitude, you can end up making excuses forever and won’t ever get a thing done.
The way of the universe is that like attracts like and where there is a need, the universe seems to find a way of meeting those needs through opportunities. You need to be prepared for them as you take action on your plans to achieve your goals which will help you actualize your burning desire and make your dream a reality.
Set short-term goals. Divide your main goal into sub-divisions, and set time periods for achieving each of the items on the list. It’s all about taking baby steps. For example, if your dream is to write a novel, you can start by taking a writing workshop in your area, or even trying your hand at writing a five page story. If you jump right into the novel, it’ll be harder to get the job done without building up a strong foundation that gives you the skills you really need to achieve your dreams.
When you’re forming short-term goals to reach your dream, or even thinking about long term goals to do so, it can really help to get advice from people in the field, whether they are close friends or acquaintances, to see how they did it. This will help you get a better sense of what those goals should be, and how realistic they really are.
Review your progress regularly. As you start on the path to making your dreams come true, it’s important to have a sense of what you are accomplishing. Though Rome wasn’t built in a day and you may not be progressing as quickly as you wanted, it’s important to have a sense that you are moving forward. Here are some things you should look out for as you develop your own personal progress report:
If you have achieved your goals for that time period.
If you still have a desire to follow your dream.
If you have deviated from the path toward fulfilling your goal.
Enjoy the journey. The most important thing is not to think that your life is terrible and that you’ll only find happiness once you achieve your dream. In fact, once you achieve your dream and the euphoria has worn off, you’ll find that you may return to your natural state of being and will be hungry for a new dream. This kind of longing and forward thinking is perfectly normal, so you should enjoy following every step of the way instead of thinking that you’ll only be happy/feel proud of yourself/feel like your life has meaning after you’ve achieved your goal. Instead, enjoy every step of the way and be proud of yourself the whole way through.
Visualize success. Close your eyes from time to time and picture what your life will be like after you’ve achieved your goal. Tell yourself that you’ve already received the goal, and imagine what your mind, home, relationships, and thoughts will be like when you get the thing you wanted the most. This is a great motivational tactic, especially when you’re feeling down and like you’ll never be able to make your dreams come true. Visualizing the excitement and joy that will fill your life once you achieve your goals will make them feel much more attainable.
Maintain your confidence. If you want to succeed in making your dreams come true, then you can’t be a Negative Nancy whenever something goes wrong or when your dream seems insurmountable. You have to keep your head up, believe in yourself, and trudge on forward. It’s perfectly natural to have some doubts and to question yourself along the way, but in the end, you have to have faith in your abilities, because if you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will.
Keeping up a positive attitude will go a long way in helping your maintain your confidence. If you only imagine the worst that can happen in any situation, then it’ll be more likely to occur.
Don’t forget to make time for relaxation. Though it’s important to be persistent about following your dreams and achieving your goals, you have to remember to take some breaks and allow yourself to rest and stay calm. You don’t want to fill yourself with anxiety, cut back on sleep, or forget to have fun with your friends. In fact, slowing down and relaxing every once in a while will actually make you more eager to achieve your goals when it’s time to return to them.
Meditation can help you stay calm, feel at peace, and work on visualizing your goals.
Yoga is also great for connecting your mind and body, and helping you let go of any hang-ups that are gnawing at you and preventing you from reaching your potential.
It’s important to stay happy and healthy throughout the process and to never forget to take care of yourself, no matter how hard you need to work. Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, to eat three healthy meals, and not to overindulge in alcohol. This will put you in a much more stable state of mind and will make you much more likely to get what you’ve always wanted.
Learn from failure. If you want to achieve your dreams, then you have to be able to learn from your mistakes and setbacks, and use them to push you forward. If you’ve failed at something, then you have to sit back and ask yourself why it happened, and what you could have done differently. Of course, sometimes it may just be a matter of dumb luck, and all you can do is carry on, but most times, you’ll see that there will be something you can do differently. After all, insanity has been defined as believing that you can do the same thing again and again and yield different results, and you don’t want to fall into that category.
Instead of letting setbacks bring you down, use them to get more hungry to achieve your goal.
Accept constructive criticism along the way. Though it’s important to be focused on your goal and not to let other people stand in your way, it’s equally important to listen to the people who are actually trying to help you. Sure, you can shake off all of the naysayers who are just trying to put you down and ruin your day, but if a trusted friend or a person who is knowledgeable about the kind of goals you are trying to achieve tells you that you could be doing something different, then you can take some time to decide which advice would be helpful for you to take.
Of course, just because someone cares about you or knows a lot about your goals doesn’t mean that he or she will always know the best course of action. It’s up to you to use your discretion to see what advice you should take and what you should throw out.
Make the necessary sacrifices. You may have to give up a lot of the things you care about to make your dreams happen. You’ll have to work harder, and will inevitably have to give up some of the things you love, whether it’s going out boozing with your friends, or spending much-needed time with your family. You may have to give up your goal of training for the next marathon in your city because it’ll take up too much of your time and won’t leave you enough time to study for the BAR exam. Make a list of all of the things that are taking up your time and see which ones you’ll have to do without or cut back on.
Nobody said this would be an easy process. Something like cutting back on your family time can really hurt, but you have to remind yourself that you’ll be able to reach an equilibrium after the process is over.
Remove any hurdles that stand in your way. Think about it: what is keeping you from achieving your goals the most right now? Is it a toxic friend who is always putting you down and making you feel worthless? Is it a dead-end relationship that leaves you feeling drained of energy whenever the time comes to focus on yourself? Is it a job that is leaving you completely unfulfilled? How about an overindulgence in alcohol that makes you feel too hung over to do much, some days? Whatever the hurdle, or hurdles are that are in your way, it’s time to make a plan to systematically get rid of them.
Make a list of all of the things that are holding you back. Ask a close friend to help you. You may not even realize that something as simple as an addiction to television is keeping you from reaching your full potential.
It’s true that not everyone is born with a ton of luck. You can stop and feel sorry for yourself and address the problems you need to address, but you can’t go through life feeling like the victim if you want to succeed.
Reevaluate your dream if you can’t achieve it. This isn’t meant to be a downer. Of course, if you work hard and make the right plans, you’ll be more likely to achieve your dreams. But the fact of the matter is, not all dreams can be attained by anyone, especially if your dream is something like being a famous actor or writing a best-selling novel. Even the most talented celebrities or successful people have had their fair share of luck, and at the end of the day, you may have all of the talent and drive in the world, but you may not be able to make it work. If this is the case and you’ve tried again and again, there will come a point where you’ll have to realize that you need to modify your goals or create new goals so that you can live a happy and fulfilling life.
You can’t bank absolutely everything on achieving your one dream, or you are bound to end up feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it. Instead, you have to find a way of living a fulfilling life that has many rewarding aspects instead of throwing all your eggs in one basket. This will require you to readjust your expectations, sure, but in the end, you will end up feeling more fulfilled and proud of yourself.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
~ Ernest Hemingway