Newsletter Signup | Subscribe to Magazine

How to chase your dreams


Story by Michaela Satterfield

It’s a new year, which means new dreams or a new resolve to make old dreams happen. If you constantly come against the same roadblocks when going after your big goals, we have a few secrets that will help you make it happen this year. As it turns out, those who accomplish their dreams have some different tricks up their sleeves than those who wave to their dreams as they pass by. Don’t get stuck in a daydream. Let this advice inspire your own plan to make your dreams come true. Here are 7 habits of dreamers who are also doers:

1. They dream big, but not too big

Those who accomplish their dreams know how to avoid setting themselves up for failure. Aiming for a gigantic, far-off goal could lead to initial failure, which could reinforce doubt about your ability to accomplish anything. Big, lofty goals are comprised of smaller, more modest goals. Start with a small goal and allow your dream to grow bigger as you go. If your dream is to climb Mount Everest and you’ve never climbed a day in your life, you may want to start at the rock-climbing gym first.

2. They knock down pie in the sky

Dreams sound easy when left at the pie-in-the-sky stage. Just thinking about something you’d like to accomplish in a vague way can lead to a sort of satisfaction that will leave the wheels spinning in your mind and prevent your goals from ever actually getting off the ground. Take your vague dreams and break them down into concrete, achievable steps. Once you turn your ambiguous dream into a to-do list and start checking off the boxes, you’ll begin to see results. The first step to climb Mount Everest, after all, is to go to the store for some climbing gear.

3. They don’t go it alone

When it comes to making your dreams come true, doers know accountability is key. Let your dreams be known, and assemble a support team to cheer you on. Your personal dream team will remind you why you started in the first place when you’re ready to throw in the towel. Make sure that a few key people, who will be on your side and serve as a shoulder to lean on when things aren’t going so well, are in the know every step of the way.

4. They don’t waste time getting started

Getting started is often the hardest part in going after any goal. Once you get past this initial roadblock, things will start working like a dream if you stay the course. Set deadlines for yourself to help nix procrastination. To overcome the getting-started jitters, don’t forget you need to tackle only one task at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.

5. They get focused

Achieving your goals requires laser focus. Your environment has a big impact on your ability to focus, so figure out what works best for you. Do you need background noise or total silence? Depending on your answer, you may need to shuffle your favorite playlist or grab some noise-cancelling headphones. Set up a space dedicated to working on your goal – whether that looks like a desk area in the house or a workshop in the garage. Take your work to another location, like a coffee shop, when you just can’t settle down. Also take frequent breaks, preferably in some fresh air, to get your body moving and your focus flowing.

6. They become friends with failure

The avoidance of failure has a flipside: it usually results in the avoidance of success. When going after your dreams, there’s a good chance you will fail at some point along the way. When you do fail, don’t let it set a precedent. Failing once does not mean your whole endeavor is a failure. Don’t allow failure to faze you. Acknowledge it, then get back up and try again.

7. They follow a strategy

Those who have accomplished their dreams didn’t get there without a method to the madness. At the end of the day this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. It’s up to you to figure out which strategies work best. We have a few ideas to stir your inspiration. To increase productivity and the chance of seeing your dreams come true, try one (or a few) of these 5 techniques:

1. The Seinfeld Strategy: This technique is credited to comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who uses it to improve his writing. First grab a big calendar. Every day you complete a task toward accomplishing your goal, no matter how small, draw a red “X” on that day on the calendar. Your mission? Simply don’t break the chain of “X’s”. Daily action will gradually make it happen.

2. The Pomodoro Technique: This time-management technique was created by author Francesco Cirillo. To use it, divide your time into intervals, called pomodoros. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, as the technique was named after the classic tomato-shaped kitchen timer. The idea is to work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Repeat this process two more times, then take a longer break of 20 minutes. By the time you’re done with one set, you’ll have over an hour of work under your belt without feeling like it, thanks to the breaks.

3. The 52-17 Rule: This is another technique to divide your time. Researchers at the social networking company Draugiem Group found that the ideal work-break balance is to work for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break. For this technique to work, work times must be dedicated solely to work, and break times must be dedicated solely to taking a break. Those who take breaks about every hour have been shown to be more productive than those who don’t allow themselves to take a break until the task at hand is done. Go ahead and relax every once in a while – you have our permission.

4. The Rule of Three: This strategy, developed by author J.D. Meier, is simple. The rule is that you must put three tasks on your to-do list each day – no more and no less. This helps with prioritizing what actually needs to get done that day, so you don’t waste time on fluffy time-fillers.

5. The Two-Minute Rule: We can thank productivity consultant David Allen for this one. He says to go ahead and get anything done that will take less than two minutes to complete right now. It’s not a big time commitment, and it will declutter your schedule and mind so you can focus on the tasks that really matter. LL