We tend to set goals in one of two, equally ineffective ways.
Either we sit down with a vision board, say a bunch of mantras, and imagine all or our wildest dreams coming true,
Or we grind down to the nitty gritty on a realistic goal that we are confident we can accomplish in a short period of time.
Let’s be clear. I am a huge fan of vision boards (See my vision boards for skeptics blog here). I am also a huge fan of setting clear, tangible priorities and tackling tasks one by one using a kanban board.
But the thing is – we tend to do one or the other. We are either dreamers, or doers.
The dreamers do all the mindset work, but can get burned out in the attempts to reach the summit of a seemingly insurmountable goal. The dreamers feel amazing at the beginning of the journey, and totally exhausted halfway in.
Then there are the doers, who have their heads down and are surrounded by flow charts and to do lists. They are looking only two feet in front of them, setting totally manageable goals that feel really good to accomplish. Let’s be totally honest: have you ever put something on a to do list that you already did, just because it feels good to cross it off? Exactly. Being in the details feels good at first, but after a while, all those small accomplishments don’t add up to anything substantial enough, and it can all start to feel pretty meaningless.
We tend to do a bit of dreaming, and a bit of doing, but we rarely do both at the same time.
Here’s how to combine the mindset and the strategy so you can meet bigger, more beautiful goals.
Don’t start with your to do list. Start BIG. Start at the dream. There are a lot of ways to do this:
- Vision boards
- Writing Letters From Your Future Self
I don’t care whether you are woo-woo by nature or not. Do this first. Because if we don’t start by dreaming big, we will limit ourselves to what feels possible in this moment. We won’t allow ourselves to stretch our minds beyond the current situation, which prevents us from thinking creatively.
To think creatively, you have to stretch the limits of what is possible.
But once you dream, it’s time create a tangible plan of attack.
So let’s say your dream is to own a graphic design agency worth a million bucks, but you are currently freelancing part time and waiting tables to supplement your income. Great, you have a dream! Now it’s time to look at what feels most reasonable to attack first. The million bucks part – probably not yet. First, you need to be freelancing full time. Then you can focus on getting a support staff, then on starting your own agency. But start where you are.
So if you start with freelancing full time, you can create a plan of attack that is measurable, attainable, and works towards the bigger dream. You can now track your progress in a meaningful way.
Dream Big. Plan Small. That’s how it all comes together.
I’ll get into the best way to plan out your goals using the SMART technique in the next blog entry. For now, let’s start by getting clear on the big dream, and identifying the first tangible step that you can work towards.