Everything starts with a dream!
Whenever I got in trouble in elementary school, it usually had something to do with dreaming. Apparently I spent too much time daydreaming, gazing out the window, cruising somewhere out there, light-years from the topics our instructors were diligently trying to teach.
I managed to get myself into enough hot water that I eventually came to view dreaming as a waste of valuable time and a negative thing. The culture I was born into insisted that I adopt a more mechanical, left-brained approach to life. And it appears that this was all facilitated with my best interests at heart. By the time I reached adulthood, I had buried my dreams deep inside.
I was in my late thirties when I found myself ensconced in a workshop participating in an activity that required me to write a list of my dreams. I was stumped! I looked around in amazement while others vigorously scribbled out their lengthy lists. I drew a blank.
I felt a tad sheepish. Furthermore, I realized that I had been subduing my dreams for a very long time.
How can a person live to be almost 40 years old and not have dreams? I was flabbergasted that I had somehow come from being a purebred practicing daydreamer to complete inertia. That experience, though painful at the time, was a pivotal point in my life. It was enough of a jolt to motivate me to revive my dreams. I now view dreaming as a critical skill and the fountain of life, not a flaw.
In his book, Lead The Field, Earl Nightingale states that our imagination is what separates us from all other forms of life. Imagination is a powerful tool that each of us has at our beck and call and what a tragedy to let it slip away unused. When it comes to our ability to use our imagination, it seems to be a clear a case of ‘use it or lose it’.
I determined to build my list of dreams again. It was like rekindling a fire. As I fanned the flame with more and more oxygen it grew, and one by one I began to remember the precious tiny elements of my passion. Over the following few months my list grew to 46 core dreams that continue to shape my life and give birth to my goals.
I want to introduce you to a simple goal setting system that works for me. What I am about to suggest is not cumbersome, nor does it need to be particularly time consuming. For a number of years I lugged around a hefty daytimer with detailed written daily goals and to-do lists. I’m sure my left arm was a couple of inches longer than my right from the sheer weight of that daytimer.
A couple of years ago I parked the daytimer at my desk and I now use it only for specific meetings and appointments. I still set goals and work toward those goals, but I spend a lot less time writing, re-writing, fiddling, stressing and micro-managing my goals.
Instead, I now do a major goal-setting session about this time each year with a couple of mini-reviews during the year. Sometime in the wee hours between now and New Year’s Day, I will review my goals from the past year, re-set my targets for the next year and rewrite my personal and business plan.
Simply put, I check my list of dreams, determine and write out my goals, and take action. Rather than spending all my time fussing over the goals I invest the time in handling whatever comes up.
I’m not downplaying the importance of writing out your goals. I believe this is extremely important. Writing out your goals brings focus. Goals that are not written down are only wishes.
Not writing out our goals is one way we deceive ourselves into not committing to them.
To be real and effective, goals must be written down and SMART. SMART goals are:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – achievable
R – realistic
T – time-dated
The simple act of writing your goals down allows them to begin to take on a life of their own. Try it and prove it for yourself.
Here are seven key areas in which you can set goals:
medical check-up, nutrition, exercise programs, weight control
good role model, listening habits, forgiving attitude, supportive of others, respecting, loving
earnings, savings, investments, budget, adequate insurance, charge accounts
sense of humour, listening habits, self confidence, manners, caring
inner peace, sense of purpose, prayer, religious study, beliefs
imagination, attitude, continuing education, reading, curiosity
job satisfaction, effectiveness, job training, understanding job purpose, competence
As well, here are five lists that will help to inspirate and motivate you:
- A list of your Dreams
- A list of your Successes
- A list of your Strengths
- A list of your Blessings
- A list of your Affirmations
There are two superb goal-setting resources I wish to recommend. One is the system that Brian Tracy teaches in his seminars and the other is a 1-hour video called Goals by Zig Ziglar. Both of these systems are available through Nightingale-Conant at http://www.nightingale.com/
I urge you to take rightful control of your life and to make the most of your time and energy. Why not live it to it absolute fullest?
Whatever you envision for yourself, you can be, have or do if only you want it badly enough and if your are willing to do what is necessary to get you there.
I encourage you to dream big, bright full-colour dreams.
After all… everything starts with a dream!