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6 Steps to Put Your Dreams Into Action

By Kerry Gallagher | Citizens Bank Staff

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” — Oprah Winfrey

What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you living that dream today? Most of us have dreams from childhood that we may not have fulfilled. Heck, those dreams may not even be relevant to us now. But we all have goals that live on in the back of our minds. You know — those familiar ideas that continuously creep out when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for your lunch order…

We stopped by Harpoon Beer Hall to ask people about their dreams, what they’ve aspired to in the past and whether they’ve achieved those dreams. Here’s what they had to say:

So, how do you take your dream and make it happen? You don’t want to find yourself a year from now lamenting over I wish… or What if? Instead, try following these steps to make your dreams come true.

Step 1: Write it down

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Start by writing down your dream, and the steps to get there. This turns your abstract dream into something that’s real and achievable. From there, break it down into individual goals or actions that support your dream — this will make the whole project less overwhelming.

For example, if you’d love to start your own business but fear you’re not ready, take the following steps:

  • Make a business plan: Articulate your vision and mission statement, your business goals, and your “elevator pitch” for customers and potential partners. As you progress, your plan will become more detailed and eventually your business plan will serve as the North Star for your team’s success.
  • Map out your finances: Start by listing out the costs you know. This will help you to estimate how much profit you’ll need to earn before you’re ready to quit your “9-5”.
  • Take control of your day: Use your free time after working hours to focus on your business. Putting in work off-hours will help you accomplish your financial goals while making strides towards reaching your dream.
  • Build Your Network: We’ll get into more detail in Step 6, but get your name out there by attending local networking events, joining relevant professional groups, and leaning on your current network to make connections.

Step 2: Keep it front-and-center

“Greatness starts with a clear vision of the future.” — Simon Sinek

In the book “Girl, Wash Your Face,” Rachel Hollis describes how she keeps a picture of her Hawaiian dream home in her closet so she can see it while she gets ready for her day, every day. Like Rachel, you should keep your goals ever-present with a visual reminder so you won’t lose sight of your end game.

Here are a few ways to keep reminding yourself of the big picture:

  • Create a vision board: Creating a vision board can be an art, but what’s key is ensuring it contains the goals that are most important to you, and that it helps to motivate you.
  • Keep a journal: Keeping a journal will allow you to track your progress and your feelings toward your dream over time. You can look back and adjust your goals based on what you’ve learned.
  • Read daily affirmations: Repeating a goal you’re working toward, as if it’s already completed, is one way to exhibit positive, productive thinking in order to reach that goal.
  • Post motivational pictures: If your dream is to visit all 58 US National Parks, hanging a picture of one of them (or a map that displays your progress) is a great way to keep that goal front and center.

Step 3: Track your progress

"Dreams don’t work unless you do." — John C. Maxwell

Keep a dedicated journal where you can jot down all the individual goals you’ve reached that are driving you closer to your big-picture goal. As mentioned in Step 2, you can also use your journal to look back and adjust your goals based on what you’ve learned. With each step, big or small, you’ll undoubtedly be excited to see the progress you’ve made — and that should propel you forward.

Say your dream is to save enough money to afford an once-in-a-lifetime experience or make a big purchase. Naturally, you’d want to have a means to actively track the money you’re putting aside toward that goal. One way to get started is by using a savings goal calculator and then tracking your regular contributions using an app like Mint or an Excel spreadsheet. Another way is to open a savings account for that specific expense.

Step 4: Drive accountability

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” — Bob Proctor

Whether it’s your best friend, significant other, parent, or therapist, tell them your dream (out loud) and ask them to hold you accountable. Once you verbalize your dream or goal, it’s real — now you’ve made an informal pact to complete it — and having an accountability partner means that they’ll be asking (bugging you, hopefully!) for updates.

You could even host a dream planning party where you can each declare the steps you’ll take to make your dreams a reality and create vision boards or journals to keep your goals ever present.

Step 5: Learn from others

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” — Michael John Bobak

Creating a network of mentors and advisors could be an important part of your journey. Take the time to seek out and learn from people who are doing what you’d like to do. If you don’t have the ability to meet with these people, there are a few additional ways to get started here:

  • Read! Look for blogs and books on the topic.
  • Listen to podcasts or presentations.
  • Join Facebook or LinkedIn groups with like-minded individuals working towards similar goals.

Read Where to Find Smart Business Startup Advice for other key business resources.

Step 6: Keep an open mind, change is inevitable

“The more you learn, the more you earn.” — Warren Buffet

As we grow and learn, we change — and our dreams do too. This is especially true when we achieve a goal; we then tend to set the bar higher for the next go around. If your goals change, or your journey to reach them doesn’t go as initially planned — that’s OK. Give yourself a break, step back and re-evaluate. Change and serendipity can be positive things.

We learn the most not when we’re at the finish line, but in the experiences we have on the way there as Geoffrey says at the end of our interview at Harpoon, “I don’t think the dream is the end point at all, I think the dream is the journey.”

What to remember

Starting with the simple act of writing down your dream and key steps you can take to get there will instantly make your goals more tangible. You’ll want to keep your dream front-and-center to stay focused on your target every day. Over time, you’ll adjust your plan according to any priority changes, and you’ll most likely add steps once you better understand needs.

Don’t forget to track and celebrate your progress along the way. Forward movement is progress, and with starting down this path you’re kicking off your commitment to reaching your goals.

More information

We are committed to helping you reach your potential by providing personalized solutions. Our dedicated colleagues can help you find the right products to reach your goals. To learn more, please call 1-877-360-2472, click here for more information, or Ask a Citizen at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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