I can think of nothing worse than drifting through life without truly experiencing it… ending up on your death bed wondering ‘what if?’. A fulfilling life, I believe, involves dreaming big and doing the necessary work to realise our goals.
This is part two of a three-part series where I share some of the strategies I use to make my dreams become a reality. In the first article [link] I explored how to juggle work, family and training. In this article, we’ll look at how to set goals that motivate and excite you; and in the final piece I’ll show you how to reverse-engineer a plan to make your dream a reality.
Too much choice
We live in an age of choice. That’s a good thing in many ways – but it can also be exhausting. A simple trip to the supermarket can mean choosing between at least 10 different varieties of baked beans.
There’s a reason Barack Obama ate the same thing for breakfast each day as POTUS; and why Steve Jobs always wore a turtleneck. They wanted to reduce the number of relatively unimportant decisions they had to make, so they could bring their full mental energy to the truly important things.
Why have a goal?
When we don’t have a clear goal in life, it’s easy to fritter our days away. We know we’re busy, but what are we actually achieving? By doing too much we dissipate our finite resources of time, money and energy.
There’s power in sitting down and working out what you really want to achieve – having this focus means you can then bring your resources to bear on getting where you want to go in the smartest way.
When you are clear on what is really important, decisions become simpler. It becomes easier to work out which things to pass up – either financially or in terms of time and energy. Sacrificing things you know are less important can help you afford the things that are truly vital to your long-term happiness.
Figuring out what lights your spark
The first step is to get clear on ignites your spark. For me – and many of my clients – the big dreams involve adventure, endurance, and pushing beyond our limits.
When I first sit down with a new client, I ask about their values. Naturally there will be many things that are important, but what are the top five? For example, that might be adventure, security, novelty, family and health.
This activity forces you to think about what you really live and work for. What do you want for your kids, your parents, your community and the world? But also, what would you like to be able to say you’re most proud of having done? When it comes down to it, money is just the tool that enables you to go out and do those things.
The importance of timing
There are two important continuums I always take my clients through. These are the financial lifeline, and the athletic motivation line. They give us a valuable sense of perspective, and a reminder that things will not always be as they are today.
Kids grow up and leave home, mortgages get paid off over time, so that in the future you will (hopefully!) have more financial resources at your disposal. However, your athletic ability and motivation will also wax and wane over time.
Everyone is different - so where is the sweet spot to achieve your dreams? I put together my [Live the Dream Toolkit] as a detailed guide to to help you work this out.
Sharing your dreams
How often do you sit down with your partner, free of distractions, to talk about what’s most important to you? In the first flush of a relationship the answer is probably ‘all the time’. But once life gets busy with kids, work, and family, most couples engage the autopilot. There simply isn’t time to have regular deep and meaningful conversations about your hopes and dreams.
As a result, I often have conversations with couples where we uncover completely different ideas about the future and what they’re working towards. Even if you do regularly find time to talk about your future plans with your partner, it can help enormously to have someone ask different questions that help you uncover where your dreams connect and where they are different. You can then use your time, energy and financial resources to achieve your goals in a way that works for both of you.
Living a life of no regrets
As Socrates said ‘a life unexamined is not worth living’. By bringing our values, hopes and dreams into the open and examining them, we make it far more likely that we’ll be able to achieve our goals and live our best possible life.
Read part one of this series [FITTING IT ALL IN - How to juggle work, family and training]