While doing our research we realised that there are two skills that always go hand in hand when talking about any type of project management – analysing and goal-setting. In order to see the link, just remember Napoleon Hill’s quote: ‘Goals are dreams with a deadline.’ There’s nothing wrong in thinking big, quite the opposite in fact: only those who have the courage to dream, have the strength to go the extra mile and reach those dreams. However, it’s pretty obvious that this beautiful vision comes with a price attached – that of anxiety and fear. People react to stress in different ways but it’s never constructive in the long run and can actually trigger serious health problems. In order to cope with negative emotions, try to make them smaller and simpler. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mathematics geek, renaissance-humanist or any other stereotype, analysing and compartmentalising should be your thing (if it still isn’t).
Here are eight tips to help you turn dreams into action, no matter how complex:
Try assessing your level of commitment. It’s crucial for you to understand how important this dream is for you. Create a makeshift scale for yourself. If your commitment to a dream is anywhere near the top of your scale it’s definitely worth translating into a goal. If it doesn’t seem like a priority now, keep it as a dream that you’d like to come back to and check on later in life.
Assuming you’ve got your priorities straight and you’ve set a clear goal or goals, it’s now time to check they’re SMART (that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound). Passing the SMART test means your goal is specific and actionable enough to move forward to the next phase, meaning you can now create a list of sub-goals. This is basically a step-by-step guide that should help you execute on the plan on a daily basis. Realising the big dream is actually a steady, hard-bitten daily routine that might be the biggest challenge of the whole process, so it’s worth pausing and conducting a proper, deep analysis of the situation. It also serves to verify the starting point – your commitment to the cause. Now that you have it, try setting a realistic timeline for each step. If you fail to meet the deadline for one of these, don’t give up, just go back and revise it – maybe you were being overly optimistic about the difficulty level. This actually leads us to the next step – managing crises.
Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best.
Planning for obstacles is a must, especially if your goal is complex and has many sub-goals. Try imagining the worst-case scenario and don’t forget about yourself and the possible health issues or worst days that happen to everyone. If you’ve properly calculated this, you’ll be set on the right path and be able to maintain your attitude positive since you won’t be missing too many deadlines.
Having said all that, it’s now time for the execution. Create the right environment, keep yourself motivated, turn off your self-defeating mindset and make sure to keep a track of your progress. Putting it another way, work hard! Effort and hard work are the keys to success, there’s no two ways about it!
Be a team player
Sometimes, the fault in our dreams lies in the simple truth that they might be far too big for us alone to undertake. But here’s the kicker: Working alongside others who share your passions may prove crucial to you attaining your goal. Engage these individuals and make them participants in whatever it is that makes you tick. Passion is contagious, and rightfully so.
Acknowledging your shortcomings and failures is the first step to self-realisation. No one attained greatness simply by going for it. Instead, more often than not, they had to fail indescribably badly just to get a grasp of the low that would enable them to aim high. Understanding your flaws, recognising when you have made a mistake – this will provide you with the strength needed to never surrender in the race to achieve your ambitions. After all, self-improvement is a long-distance race.
Life is convoluted and ever-changing. Thus, what may first strike you as a failed enterprise may actually turn out to be no such thing. Remember, plans evolve, mature and mutate with time, and you may end up somewhere you never expected to be when you first started. Sometimes everything changes, but it’s the essence that really counts. If you wind up somewhere new and unexpected, consider whether it resonates with your expectations, and overall, how it makes you feel. Maybe the new situation can be just as fulfilling and rewarding as your original plans.
Be willing to let go
Dreaming comes easily. But to turn dreams into action is never as easy. Dedication remains the utmost requirement for accomplishing a long-held goal, and with it often comes sacrifices. Some things in life are but ‘filler’, and while enjoyable in and of themselves, they risk diverting you from the path you’ve set for yourself. No matter how heartbreaking, just know there are things you’ll need to let go of along your journey.
With this preparation, it doesn’t matter what type of dream you have or how impossible it may seem to achieve – the only thing holding you back is your own hesitation.
Learn more at Social Innovation Academy
Are you interested in similar topics relating to social innovation? Limitless and four other partners have launched a project aiming to develop the first online Social Innovation Academy in Europe (Social Innovation Academy), with a focus on key issues in social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? It is necessary for entrepreneurs and for people who intend to use social innovation practices to gain a thorough understanding of what social innovation has to offer. If you are interested in following this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to join our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.