Everyone has a list of wonderful things they want to accomplish: faraway places to see, books to write, mountains to climb. Some people call it a bucket list or a wish list, but I call it a dream list. There is something deep and beautiful about having a serious list, because it reveals the inner truth about what you want in your life. At the Handel Group®, I have my clients take stock of all the areas of their lives and write a dream for each so they can get connected and inspired.
I find that the area where people tend to be most complacent in their dreams is career. It’s easy to get stuck in your career, even, and in fact especially, if you are in the field that you want to be in. It’s easy to be comfortable doing what you always planned to do, but not really challenging yourself or going for more. Dissatisfaction and boredom can quickly find you, deflating your confidence in choosing your career. What you really need to stay inspired is a dream on which to focus.
A few years ago, I reconnected with a friend from childhood, Craig. When we were kids, he and I attended summer camp together and his dream then was to become a famous rock star and change the world with his music. When we reconnected in our mid-30s, he was doing really well in his career. He had been the lead singer of the popular indie band Shudder to Think in his twenties and had become an accomplished TV and movie composer. All very impressive, yet he had lost sight of his dreams and inspiration, despite doing “what he always wanted to do.” He knew exactly what he wanted at 20, but at age 35, he hadn’t continued to push for his dreams.
The art of knowing what you want is critical to getting what you want.
To get Craig back to dreaming, the first thing I had him do was write down everything he really wanted in his career. Most people hit a point in their lives where they stop dreaming entirely or relegate their lists to the backs of their minds. You need to put it down on paper so that you can define exactly what it is you want to do. I asked him if there was anything on his list that he would be heartbroken if he didn’t achieve. He told me he had been thinking of doing a modern update to the classic rock movie genre (think of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy). He really wanted to tell an epic story through his music and had already created the concept and title: Wand. As a film composer, he had been writing music to fit with other peoples’ images, but what he really wanted to do now was create visuals to fit the music he’d written. I’m telling you all these specifics, because there’s a point to being specific on your dream list.
Often people avoid following a specific dream because it will take years to achieve what they want.
With every client, I make sure they come to terms with how long it will take for their dreams to happen. If you want to be a great skier, it won’t happen in a month; it may take five years or longer to master it. It’s important that you understand and accept the amount of time it will take to achieve your dreams. When Craig committed to doing this new project, he wasn’t sure how long it would take, but he really wanted it and was willing to spend years to make it happen.
To turn a dream into a reality, you have to put in the time.
Once a client makes the decision to follow a dream, we immediately write and implement an action plan. Craig was a working composer, so he wasn’t able to spend all his time working on Wand. After carefully considering his schedule, I had him commit to working a certain amount of hours a week on it. At HG, we call this a promise. I’m talking bite-sized commitments; you must commit to real steps toward achieving your dreams. Even if you only give one day a month toward a dream, because you’re finally aligning yourself with your highest ideal, this commitment will change how you think and improve your entire life.
Once Craig had his plan in place, I had him create consequences to help him honor his work promises and keep him focused on his dream. I like to find something that will really motivate a client. In Craig’s case, it was coffee. Craig really loved his espresso, so if he didn’t clock his daily hours on Wand, he had to forego his shots of espresso the following day. He was also accountable to me with his progress and had to email me details of his work onWand every week. When going after a dream, it’s important to have someone hold you accountable and help you stay on track to your dream.
Your dreams can become reality with your strong commitment, integrity and a smart plan. For Craig, working on his dream project daily forced him to have it on his mind all the time, leading him and the director to creatively pioneer a new, interactive, 360-degree visual style for Wand. This regular energy and attention to your dreams can produce amazing and unexpected results, just as it did for Craig. So, in summary, here is how to turn your dreams into reality.
How to make your dreams reality:
1. Write out your dream list, then ask yourself what item on that list would break your heart if you didn’t go after it.
2. Make peace with how long it might take you to achieve your dream.
3. Set up an action plan committing to a specific amount of time each week to work toward your dream.
4. Create some consequences for yourself to help you maintain integrity with your plan of action. Have someone you trust hold you accountable.
5. Go after your dream! Then discover how proud you feel for pursuing something you really want in your life.
When I started working with Craig four years ago, Wand was just an idea in his head. Through coaching and a solid commitment and plan, Craig discovered what he really wanted to accomplish and was able to figure out how to go for it. Now, the first installment of Wand, Are We is getting some serious online love and has been nominated for MTV’s O Music Award for Most Innovative Video. If he had never written his dream and seen what he really wanted, Wand would never have become a reality. Following your dreams is the act of loving life. Now it’s your turn!
P.S.- If you’re ready to turn your dreams into reality, the Design Your Life Weekend will help you integrate this system into your daily life.