By life coach Muriel McClymont
If we want to achieve our dreams, being optimistic is important but it's not quite enough. If we look at our idols and think, “I could do that,” but take no action to achieve whatever it is, we’re unlikely to get very far.
To give yourself the best chance of making your dreams come true, you need to be optimistic but you also need a plan. Or as comedian Rowan Atkinson in Black Adder says, “a plan so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.” Well… perhaps not that cunning.
Seriously though, your dreams will remain in the realm of fantasy, if you don’t take the time to put a plan together. An effective plan includes:
- Goals, objectives and targets that excite you
- Motivation to do what it takes
- Resilience to keep trying when there are setbacks
- Means to measure and assess and reward your progress
- Flexibility to make any necessary adjustments
- Hard work
Goals and motivation
First of all, if you are going to spend time and energy chasing your goals, it’s worth making sure that you really want them. Find somewhere comfortable, sit down, and imagine having all your plans work out just the way you always wanted. Now take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
- What’s it like?
- What’s great about it?
- What are you enjoying?
- What have you had to give up or lose to get there?
- Is there anything you don’t like about it?
It’s essential to ask these questions because, if you charge boldly ahead, harbouring secret fears, for example, none of your friends will love you anymore if you get where you’re aiming for, you’ll sabotage yourself (probably subconsciously) to avoid arriving at your destination and having to deal with imagined negative consequences.
It’s also essential to ensure that your goals are really what you want rather than those that others want for you or those that you think you should want.
Motivation comes from being sure about the path you are on and being eager to do what it takes to get there.
Once you’ve clarified your dreams and ensured that they are truly meaningful to you, it will be easier to set clear, achievable goals and milestones. The specific actions you need to take will almost write themselves!
Resilience comes when you understand it’s not personal. All criticism is invaluable feedback and enables you to do better next time.
You stay resilient and motivated by nurturing your passion and keeping in touch with what inspires you. Find ways to remind yourself why you are on this track, and why you care about it so much.
Measurement and reward
As management consultant Peter Druker said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” There are all sorts of things you can start to measure including the amount earned doing what you love, number of days per month/year doing what you love, number of followers on twitter, number of good contacts in the industry, number of invitation, etc, etc.
You need to keep track of where you have been and where you are going, so you can recognise and appreciate your progress. Then, instead of comparing yourself to the best in the business and coming up short each time, you can compare where you are now to where you were six months ago, and celebrate your progress.
If you need some help planning or feel there is never enough time, check out this link, where coach and entrepreneur Scott Dinsmore explains his five step planning process.
Your plan is not something you follow blindly. Consider all feedback. Assess where it has come from, how much you rate the people giving it, how often you have heard the same things. Then use your own criteria to evaluate it, and, if it has merit, adjust your plan accordingly.
Keep close tabs on your progress, check out why you aren’t making the necessary headway. If there is a good reason, fine, keep monitoring, if not then it’s important to try something else, not just keep banging away with the same strategies that are not working.
Hard work and optimism
Finally the key success factor in any good plan is the persistent hard work and optimism that this plan can and will succeed. It’s the combination of this optimism and taking practical steps to make it happen that make this optimism realistic.
Your plan doesn’t have to be as cunning as Black Adder’s, but you definitely need to have one.