12 Steps to Living Your Dreams
As one year comes to a close and another year stretches out before us with unseen possibilities, challenge yourself to live your dreams.
This doesn’t necessarily mean to quit your job today to sell popsicle stick crafts on Etsy and hope for the best, but it does mean to plan out your future.
Every New Years I volunforce my husband to sit down and we write out our goals. But here’s the twist: We write out our goals for the next 5-10 years and then work backwards, a process I’ll describe in more detail below.
Why do we do this so far in advance? Because it gives us a vision for where we want to be headed and then gives us enough time and milestones along the way to notice that we are making progress (or not) and adjust accordingly. Here’s how to do it.
12 Steps to Living Your Dreams
- Write the date 10 years from now on the top of a sheet of paper. In this case, 2029. Yikes!
- Write the age you and your family members will be 10 years from now. It reminds you that one day you will get older and it really blows your mind when you realize that 10 years from now your kids might be in college. Ahhh!
- Close your eyes and envision your life. Be specific. Then write it down. Where are you living 10 years from now? Same place or some new city? How much money do you have in the bank? How much do you want to have? How do you spend your time? Do you travel? Where? Do you volunteer with charities? Which ones? Are you healthy and fit? Are your relationships with your partner, kids, parents, friends, etc. balanced and mutually fulfilling?
- Note: This is 10 years in the future. YOUR future. It hasn’t been written yet. If you don’t like the current trajectory your life is on, create a new vision for where you want it to go. Do not let past chapters of your life story hold you back. You get to become the person you want to be by making small choices and pursuing your dreams every decade, year, month, day and minute-by-minute.
- Write the date 5 years from now on a new sheet of paper. That will be 2024. Write the ages of your family members at the top.
- Look back at your 10 year vision. What would the half-way point to those goals look like? What steps do you need to take to get what you want? If your goal was to send your kids to college, do you have a 529 or savings account set up? How much money is in there? Are you living where you want?
- Write the date 1 year from now on a new sheet of paper. That will be 2020. Write the ages of your family members at the top.
- Look back at your 10 year vision. What are the first steps you need to take to make that vision a reality? What steps do you need to do TODAY to get you to the half-way point to those goals 5 years from now? Write them down.
- Research your dreams. If you want to move to New York City, google how much it costs to live there and start budgeting for it. If you want to write the great American novel, find out what the process is to submit your manuscript to publishers or what it costs to self publish. If you want a better relationships with someone close to you, what are some things you can do TODAY to make that a reality?
- Fill in the other years. Now that you have the broad strokes of where you want to go, create your plan to get there. The steps from one year to the next should have a logical and realistic progression. If you are currently making $12 per hour and you want to have $500,000 in the bank ten years from now, that is a strong indication that you need to increase your revenue. What skills do you need to learn to increase your salary? What income do you need each year to reach your dream? If your goal is to live a healthy lifestyle, what are some things you plan on doing each year to keep you motivated? Take a cooking class? Run a 5k, then a half-marathon, then a full marathon? Sign up with a personal trainer (I know a really good one…)?
- Hang up your outlines on the wall. Read them every day. Personally, I hang our goals up in several locations. I have the full individual sheets taped to the door of my office closet. Then I photocopy the goals we are working on this particular year and tape that sheet to our bathroom door so I can’t escape the goals or forget about them.
- Work on your goals constantly. We all get busy with life, but when you read your goals daily the strangest thing happens: You find a way to make progress towards them. Not every day, but often enough that you slowly begin to cross off action items on your goal list. There is something so satisfying about being able to cross something off your list. Sometimes, if it’s a huge accomplishment, I’ll write the date next to it.
- Evaluate annually. I’m sort of sentimental, so I keep copies of my goals in a folder in my office and my husband and I will look through them once a year to remind ourselves of all the cool stuff we did and evaluate the goals that didn’t happen. If we are moving closer to our dreams we pat each other on the back and say yay. If we are way off track we re-evaluate and figure out what caused us to derail. Was the goal too lofty? Was the timeline too short? Did life just hijack us and cause us to make a hard left down crazy lane? Is this goal something we still even want to pursue? Then we update our lists accordingly.
- Celebrate your victories. Did you accomplish a big goal? Take a moment to celebrate and savor it! So often we move onto the next shiny new thing without reflecting on all the hard work that went into making a dream a reality. Did you run the race, get the promotion, repair a relationship, start that new business, teach your kid to ride a bike? Honor your effort.
This past year was a huge milestone for our family. We had said when our daughter was ten-years-old and our son was eight-years-old I would homeschool them and we would take a trip around the world.
At the time it seemed beyond our reach and pie-in-the-sky thinking. But it was a dream that was so strong we held onto it, worked towards it, did goal setting and planned backwards and made this quirky little dream a reality.
We didn’t make it all the way around the world. But we did go to San Jose, Costa Rica,
plus I drove the kids cross country (by myself) from Texas to Washington, D.C. to study American history.
I’m proud to say that I funded this trip with my personal trainer salary, and not some winning lottery ticket (although that would have made my life decidedly easier.) If I can do this with my family, what can you do with yours?
Dreams become reality when you break down what you want and take steps towards them every single day.
Where do YOU want to be 10 years from now?
Lisa works one-on-one with a small group of clients at a private gym in the Round Rock, Texas area. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or text (512) 900-5834 for information on availability.
If you are interested in signing up for my online personal training programs, click here to order now: SLI Method. Monthly online training is $125/mo. and includes a customized suggested meal plan plus weekly workouts to do on your own based on the equipment available to you.
Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on Bowflex.com. She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Austin Woman Magazine. She blogs at ShesLosingIt.com and is passionate about her clients.
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