Are you undecided about what your BIG dream should be? Too overwhelmed with the possibilities. If you could achieve anything – anything at all – what would it be? It’s like that quote: “If you knew you could not fail, what would you attempt?” Big decisions like this can make you anxious and you might find yourself over analyzing all the ideas you have swimming around in your head. You might even have analysis paralysis.
I can help you. Let’s figure this out together.
First of all, stop obsessing! Just relax. This is supposed to be fun and exciting. Second of all… there are no wrong answers. No matter what big dream you choose, it’s the right one. And if you change your mind later and don’t like the dream you picked, it’s okay to change your mind and pivot. But let me tell you how I figured out what I’d write down for my big dreams – and at the end of this article, there’s a link to download a worksheet to help you sort it all out.
I use a fun three-step process:
- Verbalizing your dream
- Writing it down
Alright, here’s the deal. You need to set aside your logical brain and just relax. It’s time to pretend you’re 8 years old again so you can dream up the biggest dreams your imagination can handle. Remember when you were a kid and you would lie on the grass for hours just watching the clouds float by – trying to identify which character the cloud looked like. Horse! Clown! Kitten! Dragon! That’s what this process will be like. So go grab a cup of tea… or… a milkshake and prepare to have some fun!
This is the daydreaming part. Just let your mind wander and figure out what you want your future to look like. Think about what type of house you want to live in – is it big or small, do you have servants or are you alone with your family, what’s the yard look like, what color is it, how close are the neighbors. (Come visit me at my dream beach house.) Think about your financial situation – are you rich or have just the right amount of money to live comfortably, what types of things do you want to buy, what’s it like to go grocery or clothes shopping, what kind of car are you driving. You get the idea… think about each area of your life and make up whatever scenes you want.
Verbalizing your dream
This part might actually be combined with the visualization part – it’s up to you. Don’t judge me, but this is my favorite part – verbal dreaming. I have a long commute to work each day. I spend almost 3 hours per day in the car. Normally I’m listening to podcasts or books on tape or the radio, but sometimes I just shut all of it off and enjoy the silence. And it’s often in those times of silent driving that I end up dreaming about how life would be when I achieve my goals. And yes, you guessed it – I talk about my dreams out loud in the empty car and I’m the only one listening to myself. (Well, I supposed technically God is listening too, but He listens even when it’s not spoken out loud.) Oh? Not crazy enough for you yet? Well, I pretend to have actual conversations with people. For instance, if I’m dreaming what my new house on the ocean will look like, I pretend that I’ve hired an interior decorator and I’m doing a walk-through of the house, telling her what I want done in each room and verbalize the picture in my head of my new house.
How is verbalizing different than visualizing? It’s different because you’re speaking out loud. There’s some science behind actually speaking things out loud rather than just letting it bounce around in your head. It has to do with hearing the words out loud so you’re using more than one of your senses – speaking and hearing. It’s also important to think about how you’re referring to yourself when you talk to yourself – using “you” vs “I” has a different psychological effect on your thinking. See, I’m not crazy after all … science backs me up!
Write it down
Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about and talking about what your big dreams are, it’s time to write it all down. I find it most helpful to only focus on one area of my big dream list at a time and go through the entire process for that one area, then move on to the next. But there are no rules here… just do whatever you think is best for you. Even though you’ve imagined all the details of what your dream is like once you achieve it, try to be more concise when you’re writing it down. Be specific, but you don’t need to write down that the master bedroom of your new house has blue carpeting. But whatever you write, make sure that it’s detailed enough to be real. Download the worksheet below to help you write down each of your dreams. Don’t worry about the details of how you’re going to achieve them yet, for now, just write it all down.
Here’s a twist. Now that you’ve written everything down it’s time to review what you’ve chosen for each of your big dreams. Are your dreams big enough? No, I’m serious. Take a close look at them. Do these dreams scare the crap out of you? Do they make you sweat a little bit and make you question your own sanity? These dreams need to be BIG and feel like they’re a couple steps outside your comfort zone. If those dreams aren’t big enough … then double it! Yes, really! Did you write down that you want to make $10,000 per month to live comfortably? Why not $20,000? Did you write down that you want to take a 10-day cruise of the Mediterranean? Why not three weeks? Did you write down that you want three kids? Why not six? Oops! I’ve gone too far… scratch that last one. But you see my point here, right?
So often we think we’re dreaming big dreams but really, we’re basing those dreams on our current reality. You can’t do that! You need to base your dreams on the reality you are going to create for yourself as your work toward achieving your dreams. Remember in the last article I wrote about growing bigger? As you complete each step toward your big dream, you grow bigger too. Your dream might seem too big right now, but as you take small steps toward your dream, you grow bigger and stronger and smarter… so that when you finally get to the big dream at the end, you’re just as big as that big dream.
Take your time
Don’t rush this process. Take a week or two and really have fun. This is not something you can do all in one day … so don’t try. If you get it done in one day, then you didn’t do it right. Go back and play some more. And don’t worry about how the heck you’ll ever accomplish any of these dreams. We’ll work on figuring out those steps in the next phase of this process. For now, go have some fun and look for cloud animals in the sky.
Subscribe to our newsletter
to receive the free worksheet
The first step in setting big life goals is dreaming.
This three-step process will help you turn your daydreams into BIG dreams. Follow these steps and you'll have fun while you identify your life goals.
Let's start dreaming!
Pam, I love the call to action. But I’m also reading a book right now called ‘inventing the rest of our lives’ that speaks to a phase called the ‘fertile void’. I know that’s where I am. Feeling the flow of energy mixed with confusion and doubts – WHO am I now? In flux and changing minute to minute. Allowing time to slow down so I can be in the present and maximize my ability to say no, or yes! Thank you so much for your insights.
Melissa: Yes, I think you absolutely need to be in a holding pattern right now as you transition to retirement. And you need to PLAY with your art and see where it takes you creatively. I’m working on a new article that’ll be ready in a week or two focused on “know thyself” to help us explore our personality types and how the world sees you and then adjusting your goals and actions according to what your greatest strengths are. I’m interested in the book you mention too – it’s going on my read list!