Is This Your Story?
Do you have a “bucket list”? We all have things we would like to do, and places we would like to see. But sometimes the bucket list makes us think of kicking the bucket and none of us wants to go there.
You may think about the somedays when you can do this or that. But first, you need to get through _________ (fill in the blank). Potty training, multiple kids with multiple schedules, the teen years, graduations, weddings, downsizing…
Truth is, life is lived in stages. When we were in our teens we could not wait to be adults like it was a destination to arrive at. In her book, No Cure For Being Human, Kate Bowler reminds us that “adulthood contains many lives”.
Pablo Picasso says the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. I believe this is an ongoing process.
What’s Your Big Dream?
Whenever this question came up in a book, or conference, or discussion with friends, I would draw a blank. Especially phrased as “…if money, time, responsibilities were no object what would you do?” Being a practical thinker, I couldn’t get past BUT- money, time, and responsibilities are the things I have to consider so I’ll opt out of the question!
So I had to rephrase the question because, deep down, I knew it was a good one. Maybe you heavily weigh the here and now over the someday. When you find your voice you can find your balance. Dreaming isn’t wishing today away. It’s being intentional today to get where you want to be. You need to look ahead to what you are called to. Don’t let someone else will write your story.
What’s Your Why?
Why do you say something is important to you but you never seem to make time for it? We all have self-defeating beliefs that hold us back. Maybe it’s a fear of failure, feeling like we are not good enough (compared to what?), or a feeling of selfishness for asserting our talents and dreaming our dreams.
All are lies that hold us back. Identify them, confess them to a trusted friend and let them go!
Otherwise, no matter how much you want your life to have meaning and no matter how many steps you take in the right direction, you will find yourself stuck or walking in circles continually facing the same obstacles.
How Do I Do This?
Goals are about results, systems are about action. We all have made the New Year’s Resolutions or set goals for ourselves like getting out of debt or losing weight. The problem is you need to know how to get where you want to go instead of just wanting it.
Motion is planning, strategizing and learning. Action is behavior that delivers a result. Both are needed to move forward toward a goal or dream.
Here’s an example: Say your goal is to write a book. You can research how to write a book. You can learn about how to write. You can commit to writing a paragraph each day or writing for 15 minutes every afternoon. Then you can say, “I am a writer” even before your book is published.
Start thinking about saying no to this so you can say yes to that. Focus on your next best step. Master the habit of showing up. Steady progress by the process.
Step By Step To Get Your Dream on Today’s Task List
You will identify your Big Dream. I like to think dream instead of goal because a goal implies a finish line. You will be setting goals, but at this step you are pursuing a dream.
For example; a dream can be, “I want to be financially independent with extra resources to bless others”. Or “I want to use my gift of hospitality by hosting retreats at my event center”. Think BIG picture.
Time to brainstorm! Think of all the things that are involved in pursuing this dream. What do I need to plan, strategize, or learn? Do I need to involve someone else such as my spouse, my boss, or a mentor? What are the biggest obstacles, as you see them, between today and that someday? Time? Money? Education?
Imagine a timeline- remember the timeline on the wall in elementary school where we plotted historical figures and events on a horizontal continuum that wrapped around the room?
The far right on this timeline is your BIG DREAM.
We are going to set in motion the pursuit of your dream. Think of a future long-term goal(s) that would take 3-5 years to reasonably reach.
For the example above of being financially independent, a 3-5 year goal may be to pay off all debt except your mortgage. You will be revising and updating these goals, extending your timeline if needed or adding a new milestone if you have achieved the ones you originally set.
Think about what will need to happen in the next 12-18 months to reach the 3-5 year goal you have set. Consider where you are today and what you need to do. Do you need to completely change direction? Do you need to get started? Are you headed in the right direction and need to accelerate your progress?
In the financial independence example above, this would something like this:
- I need to stop using my credit cards and pay off my credit debt or
- I need to start a savings account with direct deposit and have this amount of $ saved or
- I need to add extra principal payments to any loans to pay off my car faster and save (specific amount $) towards paying cash for my next car.
This Month/ Week/ Today
This step is where you start to feel very motivated because you are pursuing practical steps toward your BIG DREAM and prioritizing your time and energy to reach them. What do you need to do this month to reach your 12-18 month goal?
In our example, this month’s goal may be to get a clear picture of your debt and your budget. It may be this week listing all of your credit card balances, interest rates, and payment amounts and coming up with a payoff plan. Today’s task could be to take your credit cards out of your wallet and use debit cards only.
How Do I Start?
Overwhelm isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing where to start and move forward. You need to consider the time and other obligations you have. I have a feeling that once you prioritize your time, resources, and energy toward your big dream and feel the momentum that you will see the things you are filling your calendar with from a new perspective.
Don’t dismiss the small changes that don’t seem to matter in the moment; those are the things that bump you forward on your timeline. Change can take years before it happens “all of a sudden”.
Everyone has a story worth telling, a dream worth pursuing, and new territory to take on. What’s yours?