Leah has a big dream of being a best-selling author. She’s set a goal of writing an hour a day. She’s on day 10 and has written a total of 3.5 hours so far. Important things just got in the way – kid’s field trips, broken washing machine, Dr. Phil. You know … life.

Alyssa has a big dream of becoming a singing superstar. She’s set a five year goal of being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, a two year goal of being signed by a label under Universal Music Group (the #1 music label), a six month goal of writing 25 songs, a one week goal to write one song and today she’s writing lyric ideas.

Which of these women have a greater chance of achieving their dreams? Which one is acting on their vision?

Here’s the thing, we may have our great dream and may even have the immediate to do’s written down to achieve it … but we’re missing several steps in between to actually enable us to achieve our vision.

First, dream big – and make the vision as specific and real as you can in your mind. What does it look like when you’ve achieved it? Who else is there with you? What will you be able to do once you’ve achieved it? How will you feel? This needs to be a vision you can easily get to in your mind when things are going rough so it can re-energize you and propel you forward.

Second, think small(er) – Here’s where we tend to skip straight from the big picture vision to todays to do’s. However, we realize that in addition to our dream activities, we also need to go to 4 meetings today, present in 2 of the meetings, get the oil put in the car, and we are in charge of car pool today. So, how easy is it to let go of the big picture dream of writing just an hour today in place of all the other harried/important things we have to do? If you don’t have intermediate goals between now and your big dream, it is way too easy to stop at the first or second hurdle. Your big dream just too far away, too unattainable. So, think about where you want to be toward your big dream 10 years from now, 5 years from now, 1 year from now, depending on how long you think it will take you to achieve your dream. Based on your 1 year goals (that are getting you to your 5 year, 10 year, and big dream/vision), what is your 6 month goal, 1 month goal, this week goal, today’s goal? By going backwards from the big vision, it’s easier to see what you need to do today. These goals all together help make your priority decisions easier.

Third, chunk & calendar –Then calendar your goals. Create chunks of time as appointments for your dream achieving activities and make them inviolate. They are as important as any other commitment you’ve made to anyone else!

Fourth, decide if “this” action you’re about to take leads to the big dream – and if it doesn’t, how important is it to do “that” instead of a big dream action right now? Each action we take, day in and day out, needs to fall into one of 3 categories. Ask yourself if it is important to:

  • My physical wellbeing – think of the airplane rule: “when the oxygen mask falls, put it on yourself first, then help others around you.” If you can’t take care of yourself, how are you going to be there to help others by achieving your dream?
  • My family & friends – another part of taking care of yourself is having a solid, integrated support system – they hold you accountable and hold you up, and you do the same for them. This is vital in achieving our dreams and helping them achieve theirs.
  • My big dream – if this is important to you, are you devoting the time to really achieve it? Think of the people who are extraordinary in their fields – Michael Jordan (known as the greatest basketball player to date, Michael was on the court hours before and after the rest of the team – practicing, practicing, practicing); Michelangelo (known as one of the most exalted artists of all times – “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”). They focused every day on their goals of being the best in their fields.

Then there’s everything else. Gary Keller in The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth behind Extraordinary Results says that there is one Focusing Question that can help with all of this: “What is the ONE Thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

What is your big dream? What is the action you are taking today to achieve your goal for this week, this month, this year, 3 years, 5 years, and on to your big dream? Are you acting on your vision today? As a leader, are you showing others how to achieve their big dreams?

But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas all ran away and hid from one little Did.” ~ Shel Silverstein