Eight Steps to Reaching One’s Dreams

A reader writes, “I love the articles you’ve written. They give me a very interesting perspective, but I have a problem getting the ideas installed into my life. There’s an interesting sentence that goes like this: Knowing something but not doing it is like not knowing it.  So, my question is, how do you implement the ideas into your life? Do you have a plan to keep track of your progress? I noticed that some people use life, sports, or career coaches. Do you know an effective way of self coaching?”

Answer: Thank you for your questions. I’ll start by telling you what works for me and end by answering your question on self- coaching.

Yes, I have a plan. Plans are road maps that show us how to reach our destination. Without a map, we’re not sure where we’re heading and bound to get confused. There are many different maps or paths to success, and many books have been written about them.

I’ll tell you what works for me and then you can follow or revise my plan to suit your personal aspirations. Or, once you understand how plans are formed, you may decide to start from scratch and devise your own.

I call my plan, “Eight Steps to Reaching One’s Dreams.” Before I share the eight steps, let me say that I love to ask questions. After all, questions are the keys to unlocking solutions to problems, answers to dilemmas, and resolutions to difficulties. Think about this for a moment. You see, answers don’t appear until we ask questions. This being so, it shouldn’t be surprising that my eight steps are built on eight questions. Here they are:

1. What is it that I don’t like, am troubled about, or am unsatisfied about now?

Does that sound like negative thinking? Well, it is not the question, but the INTENT of the question that determines whether it is negative or positive. Here’s what I mean. If the intent of my question was to find something to complain about, then it’s negative. But if my intent is to find areas in my life that I can improve, that’s positive. Because some of our forefathers were dissatisfied with the amount of time it took to travel over long distances, they invented cars, trains, steam ships, planes, and space craft. So, you see, we can use whatever we’re unhappy about in a positive way.

2. What do I plan to do about it?

Now that I know what I am unhappy about, I ask myself what I plan to do about it. That forces me to look for solutions, find opportunities, and become a better person. Don’t you want to be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today? Before continuing, let’s look at an example. Tom is unhappy with his lowly position in the company, but instead of complaining he asks himself what he plans to do about it. Once he asks this question, many possibilities flood his mind, including these three ideas: I can go to night school and study marketing; I can explain to my boss that I want to build my career in the company and ask him to suggest ways I can contribute more to the company, and I can join Toastmasters International to increase my confidence and public speaking skills.

3. How can I improve my plan?

Now that I have a plan, how do I improve it? How can I make it grander? How can I make it worthy of my unlimited potential? How can I change an ordinary aspiration into a magnificent dream?

Why do I take this step? Well, if my dream is ordinary or mediocre, it’s hard to get excited, isn’t it? But if it is a real challenge, a magnificent dream, then I can become enthusiastic and passionate. And these are the emotions that will propel me (or anyone else) forward.

4. Am I willing to pay the price?

Anything worthwhile requires the expenditure of energy, work, or effort to accomplish. If I’m not willing to pay the price, I’m barking up the wrong tree. I would be better off giving up on that dream and moving on to another. On the other hand, if I’m committed, if I’m willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, you can be sure I will be victorious. For once we are committed, we can overcome any obstacle.

5. What is stopping me from getting what I want?

No matter how committed you are to your dream, you will probably find obstacles standing in your way. What are they? Write them down. Once you have, study your list. Now understand that none of the items on your list were holding you back. It was only your BELIEF that they were blocking your way that stopped you. Use Question No. 5 as a wakeup call to remind yourself to give up childish, self-limiting beliefs. Rather, like Barack Obama, get into the habit of saying, “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!” And even if you seem to be facing an impenetrable brick wall, understand that wall is not there to block your way, but to prevent others from reaching your dream. It’s only purpose is to give you the opportunity to prove how badly you want to succeed. Don’t fail the test!

6. When will I begin?

Do you know what the most difficult part of your plan is? It is STARTING. Daydreaming about your magnificent dream is fun and easy, but shifting from dreaming to ACTION requires determination or firmness of purpose. So, now that you have a plan, when will you begin? There can be only one answer, and that is NOW. After all, now is the only time we have the power to act.

7. Why do I want it?

One secret to achieving our dreams is to focus on what we want, not on what we don’t want. We need to run TO our goal, not AWAY FROM what we don’t want. What do alcoholics and drug or TV addicts have in common? They are all running away from what they don’t want to do. What do champions, winners, and the highly successful share in common? Yes, they are all running to what they want. That’s why Question No. 7 is important; it helps us to remain focussed on what we want, which are the benefits of our dream.

8. Can I see it in my mind’s eye?

Our conscious mind and subconscious have different languages. The language of our conscious mind consists of WORDS while that of our subconscious consists of IMAGES and FEELINGS (EMOTIONS). So, whenever you are daydreaming, you are ‘speaking’ the language of the subconscious, making it much more likely that the message will get through to your subconscious. This is important to understand because our subconscious will accept any message it receives as the truth and will then cause us to act upon this ‘truth.’ So, if you are daydreaming that you will make a poor presentation at the next office meeting, you are actually programming yourself for failure.

On the other hand, when you use the power of your imagination to daydream about your magnificent dream, you are programming yourself for success. What is a good way to start daydreaming yourself to success? Well, a great way to start is by asking yourself two questions: “What would it be like if…?” and “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?” Let’s say Larry’s dream is to become a V.P. in his company. So, while daydreaming, he asks himself “What would it be like if I were V.P.? Wouldn’t it be nice if I become V.P.?” These questions keep him focussed on the benefits and build powerful positive images and feelings, which will take him to his dreams. So, don’t merely plan your goals, but take the time to see your success in your mind’s eye.

Whether your dreams are big or small, I hope these eight steps will help you on your way.

Now, to answer our reader’s question about effective ways of self-coaching, click on the link at the end of this article for the titles of many excellent books on the subject. But before you do so, here are some hints:

1. To narrow your selection, only investigate books that have a rating of 4 or 5 stars.

2. Double-click on any title that interests you to learn more about that book.

3. Be sure to read the Reader’s Reviews. That’s where you will learn the most.

4. When you have settled on one or two books, borrow them from a library or buy them from a local bookstore or Amazon.com.

5. After you have the book(s) of your choice, study ten pages a day.

6. By “study,” I mean, as you read the material, ask yourself, “What steps do I have to take?” And write down your answers.

7. Apply what you learn by carrying out the tasks in your “Steps I Have to Take” list.

8. Keep a Success Journal. Use it monitor your results by asking the following questions, “What did I do right today? What did I do wrong? How can I improve my performance? What can I learn from my mistakes? How did I benefit from the positive steps I took?