Do you have big dreams? Do you feel they might be too big? Do you worry you won’t achieve them even if you try? Do you often feel overwhelmed and discouraged? The key to overcoming these feelings is to deconstruct your big dream into small, manageable pieces, then set up a system and focus on completing each piece one by one. 

In this blog post, I’ll explore the process.

🎯 Identify Your Dream

First, you need to aim in the direction you’re going to take. There are so many directions you can go in this world, but unfortunately, we don’t have time to explore every single one. It’s like picking a major in college; you can’t major in everything. 

Once you take aim and have a clear direction toward your goal, interesting things start to happen. You begin paying attention to relevant topics and noticing things you didn’t before.

With a clear understanding of your dream, it’s time to break it down into manageable steps.

🔍 Break Your Dream into Smaller Steps

Deconstruct your dream into small, self-contained pieces or milestones. If you want to acquire a new skill, break it down into smaller skills. 

Josh Kaufman, in his TED Talk “The first 20 hours — how to learn anything,” says, “most of the things that we think of as skills are actually a big bundle of skills that require all sorts of different things.” 

Define the small, self-contained pieces that make up your dream.

Now that you have smaller steps, it’s essential to set milestones and come up with strategies to achieve them.

📅 Set Milestones and Develop Strategies

Pick realistic self-contained milestones you want to complete in the next quarter, month, and then week. During this time, decide on your strategies to meet those milestones. You might identify books to read, online courses to take, or find a coach who can help you.

Once your strategies are in place, plan your daily tasks to keep you on track.

📝 Plan Your Daily Tasks

Every night, review the milestone you want to hit that week and write down a few tasks you want to work on the following day. These tasks should be small and concrete enough to be completed.

While working on your daily tasks, stay present and focus on the process rather than the end product.

 

🧘‍♀️ Focus on the Present and Embrace the Process

Put your energy into completing today’s tasks one at a time.

Don’t think about the next task or worry about tomorrow, next week, or next month. Focus only on the task in front of you.

The Pomodoro technique, which we described in a previous blog post, can help you concentrate on the task at hand. 

At this stage, it’s crucial to prioritize deep, high-quality work rather than worrying about the end result. Remember, “Focus on the Process over the Product.”

As you complete tasks, transition smoothly to the next one without wasting time.

🔄 Move Seamlessly Between Tasks

Stack up the things you want to do that day. Don’t waste time wondering what to do next or in transition. As Carl Jung says, “Quietly do the next and most necessary thing.” Repeat this process every day.

At the end of each day, reward yourself for the progress made and reflect on your accomplishments.

🎉 Reward Yourself and Reflect on Progress

Reflect on the progress you’ve made that day, ideally by writing in your journal. Mark what you completed and, if necessary, add unfinished tasks to the list for tomorrow. 

This reflection helps you see the tiny, incremental progress you’re making and prevents you from losing hope. You need to feel you’re making progress, no matter how small it is. Without that feeling, it’s impossible to continue your efforts.

🔍📅 Periodic Check-ins and Adjustments

Just like infants need checkups with pediatricians to ensure they’re hitting growth milestones, you need periodic check-ins with your goals. 

Quarterly, check if your aim still aligns with what you want to do. Review the progress you’ve made during the last three months and celebrate your accomplishments! Then identify what you still need to work on.

If your aim still aligns with your goals, set a milestone for the next three months. If it doesn’t, consider pivoting in a direction more appropriate for your current situation. Be agile and flexible, but don’t give up just because it’s challenging. These periodic check-ins will keep you on track or help you pivot as needed.

🤔💪 Metacognition and Deliberate Practice

Regularly, on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily basis, reflect on your progress and identify areas for improvement. Work on these areas instead of only focusing on tasks you’re already good at. 

How to get to the Peak, How to Make Your Big Dream Come TrueIn their book “Peak,” Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool emphasize that “deliberate practice” is the gold standard for mastery. Focus on practicing parts you’re not yet good at.

In the early stages, you might not know which areas need improvement. If you’re working with a coach or teacher, ask for their feedback. If that’s not possible, metacognition is essential. Determine what you know, what you don’t know, and adjust your learning path accordingly.

💭🚫 Avoid “All or Nothing Thinking”

As mentioned in a previous blog, the process of change is not all or nothing. Incorporate some flexibility. 

Front cover of the book, “All or Nothing Thinking” is one of the ten cognitive distortions David D. Burns, M.D., lists in his book “Feeling Good.” 

Most days, you’ll likely complete your planned tasks, but some days you might not. Be okay with that. Don’t be a perfectionist and give up when you encounter setbacks. Embrace a growth mindset, tell yourself, “It’s okay. I can bounce back,” and move forward.

🚀 Take Action Now for Your Big Dream!

Remember, focus on process over product. You might fixate on the end product, feel overwhelmed, and struggle to move forward. If that’s the case, deconstruct the big product into small, self-contained pieces. 

Set up a good system and work with it. Complete each task fully by focusing on the “here and now.” 

You’ll soon see the progress you make, bringing you closer to making your big dream come true.