Raise your hand if you’ve had big exciting dreams that you’ve given up on. Whether you wanted to learn to fly planes, earn a master’s degree, or travel the world, I imagine we’ve all had something we deemed unattainable and gave up. I shudder to think about how many things I declared I would do and then walked away when things got hard.
Then one day I decided enough was enough. I knew I couldn’t live the life I was living for another 30-some years so I decided to start making some changes. I was frustrated enough that I found the courage to take tiny steps toward my goal each and every day. Then one day I woke up and realized I had achieved the impossible.It always seems impossible until it is done. – Nelson Mandela Click To Tweet
Looking back, I realize that I made these dreams more difficult in my mind than they actually were. Once I started making changes, it became easier and easier until my new habits became my new normal. These small wins gave me the confidence I needed to keep working toward bigger and more exciting goals. Less than a decade later, there’s very little that seems
That’s not to say that sticking with long-term goals is easy. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “the average American has nothing saved for retirement, or so little it won’t help.” It’s challenging to plan for something that seems so far away. Especially when we have expenses and emergencies that are happening today. That doesn’t change the fact that the day will come when we can no longer work, whether we’re ready for it or not.
But there’s more to life than saving for retirement. Life should be enjoyed while we’re preparing for the future. I believe that if you’re waiting until you can afford it, the kids are out of school, or you get a raise, you’re going to be waiting indefinitely. So let’s talk about how to start taking steps toward your big bold dreams right now.
In a recent post, I shared five steps to save up for large purchases, specifically, your dream vacation. Depending on your current situation and your dream destination, this could take anywhere from a few months to a few years. No matter how far away your dream may be, here are five ways to stay motivated and make it a reality.
1 – Look for Quick Wins
Break your goal down so that you can start celebrating quick wins. If your goal is to save $5000 over the next 12 months, shift your focus to the $100 you can save this week. Then celebrate when you meet your goal. If your dream involves saving money, however, find a way to celebrate that doesn’t force you to spend what you just saved.
2 – Make it Visual
When my husband, Jer, and I decided to pay off our mortgage in record time, there were a few moments when Jer experienced frugality fatigue. To help him see the progress we were making, I created a chart that showed exactly how much further we had to go. Each time we paid off another chunk, he got to color in the designated slots. Picture one of those thermometer looking charts that charities use for fundraising. Yup, we have one on our refrigerator right now.
3 – Measure what’s Important
It’s easy to measure and track the progress of financial goals. But what if you can’t tie numbers to your dream. I have goals that aren’t measurable in the traditional sense, so I found other ways to quantify my progress. For example, one way I celebrate my weekly wins is with the following checklist. I write down everything I accomplished in these five areas. It’s a great way to measure my efforts and celebrate the progress I’ve made.
[ ] What did I learn?
[ ] Who did I help?
[ ] What did I create?
[ ] What did I do to move closer to my ONE THING?
[ ] What am I most proud of?
4 – Know Your Why
As I mentioned in the beginning, if you want to change, you need a really strong reason to make it happen. In my case, I knew I couldn’t keep living the life I was living for another 30-some years.
Behind our biggest dreams is usually a bigger
Whatever your dream, figure out why you REALLY want it. Then find a way to keep your why top of mind. Post a picture of your why on your bathroom mirror or write it in your journal each morning. When you have a why you’re sure to find your how.Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how’. – Viktor Frankl Click To Tweet
5 – Visualize how it feels
For most of us, our big dreams are somewhat nebulous. We typically haven’t experienced them before. So we have no idea how they’ll turn out and even less of an idea of how we’ll get there. I don’t know about you, but it can be difficult to get excited about something that’s kind of hazy.
This is where it helps to focus on how it will look and feel to achieve your goal. Let’s say your dream is to save up for a small cabin in the woods. Visualize what it would feel like to be sitting there right now. Feel the warmth of the sun kissing your cheek as you sit in your rocking chair on the front porch. Take a deep breath and smell the fresh forest air. Listen to the birds and the silence.
Get the picture? Now do this every day as you continue to take baby steps toward your big goal.
Take it a step further and create a vision board. Cut out photos of what it will look and feel like when you achieve your dreams. Include pictures of your loved ones who will be enjoying your dream with you. Then put it somewhere you’ll see it every day and make a point to stop, look, and feel what it will be like.
Most of us have barely scratched the surface of what we’re capable of. Why not challenge yourself and see just how capable you are? Take back your dreams and follow these five steps to make them a reality. One day you’ll wake up and be grateful for how far you’ve come.
What are your best tips for sticking to long-term goals? Share in the comments below or come join the conversation on Facebook.