Practical Dreaming: How To Transform A Big Goal Into Reality

A planner, an action notepad, and a pair of scissors on a white desk.

What is a big goal that you’ve always wanted to achieve?

We pursue big goals because they challenge and excite us. They compel us to call forth the best version of ourselves. The version that can stay focused, maintain discipline, and harness our strength and energy to fully commit to our goals. 

But there’s also a less exciting, less romantic side to big goals. The monotonous routines, the daily drudgery, the boredom. Going to the gym. Waking up early to write. Practicing the scales. Eating your veggies. There’s no magic formula or superhuman feat of strength. So much of realizing your goals is doing the grunt work, day in and day out. 

No wonder so many people tend to abandon their goals within a month after setting them.

Perhaps it’s not necessarily the fear of failure that holds them back, but the sheer boredom of doing the same thing over and over again. That’s why everyone from artists to Olympic athletes to CEOs say that when it comes to realizing your dreams, you have to love the process, not the result.

But how do you love the process when you’re bored out of your mind?

If you’ve been suffering from goal-setting boredom, don’t worry. We’ve put together some creative ways to hit refresh on your goals and inject them with a sense of novelty and excitement. Keep reading below to fall in love with your goals all over again.

Tools you’ll need

Shorten your timeline

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your goal-setting strategy, shorten your time-frame. That’s right. We all know big goals take time to achieve, and that depending on the goal, we could be looking at a year or even several years before we see the fruits of our labor.

So if you want to start seeing results, set shorter deadlines. Shorter deadlines means small wins. And small wins means you’ll have something to look forward to. Give yourself these mini challenges to hold yourself accountable and hold your attention span.

So let’s say you have a year-long deadline to finish a screenplay. Shorten the time-frame by giving yourself 3 months to finish the first draft. 

Shortening your timeline and creating some external pressure will give you the urgency you need to attack your goal and finish strong.

Get an audience

We know that deadlines are important, but how do we ensure that we stick to them? Hold yourself accountable with a friend or coworker and share your deadline with them. Not only will this compel you to finish something, but it allows you to work out any kinks before you release the final version of your work. 

So to use the screenplay example, ask a friend to read your first draft so that you’re forced to finish your script by a specific time. This gentle pressure will make your goal feel more immediate. 

Add some “cross-training” to your routine

Take a cue from athletes and add some “cross-training” to your current routine. If you’re a writer, take an improv class to get out of your head and away from your computer. If you’re a graphic designer, take a writing class. If you’re a runner, sign up for something fun and social like a dance class. 

For athletes, cross training ensures that they’re building strength while also preventing injury. The same principle applies to your goal-setting routine. If you’re working intensely in one area, you’re bound to suffer from boredom, or risk burn out. Complement your work with something that will nourish you or round out your skills. 

What are some new activities that you can add to your routine?

Change your environment

If you’re a runner who always runs at the gym, explore a new outdoors trail or try running on hilly terrain. Not only will a new setting challenge you physically, but it will provide your mind with new stimuli and prevent you from getting bored.

If you’re a writer who works from home, maybe try working from a cute coffee shop or a local library or a college alumnae club. I know some writers who have even worked out of the lobby of a fancy hotel. Explore different options to get re-inspired by your work. 

Use your to-do list to get pumped up

To mentally prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, swimmer Caeleb Dressel printed out his competition schedule which listed every session that he was competing in. Then, after completing a session, he would put an X through it on his print out. This technique is no different from checking things off a to-do list. Cross things off so you feel a sense of accomplishment and then move on to the next task. If this method works for Olympic gold medalists, then you know it can work for the rest of us. 

You can apply this same technique to your own big goals. Write down a list of all your upcoming tasks and deadlines. Then, as you complete each one, cross them out or put an X through them. Tracking your progress will allow you to see how much you’ve accomplished and how little you have left. You’ll start to see that you have twenty tasks left, then ten, then five, then none.

This method allows you to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about upcoming deadlines or feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the entire project. 

Another technique that Dressel used was to write motivational words on his schedule, phrases like “pressure is good” and “progress not perfection.” If Olympic medalists use positive quotes, we should too. Try writing inspirational quotes in your planner or even on your to-do list to motivate yourself. 

So start crossing off those tasks today and you’ll be crossing the finish line in no time.

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