How to Qualify Short-Term Goals: Dreamlining

on January 2 | in Inspirations | by | with Comments Off on How to Qualify Short-Term Goals: Dreamlining

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As the year passed, there was a ton of blogosphere activity focused on making good New Year resolutions. We heard about making sure we picked short, actionable goals with specific targets. We heard about how resolutions are a sign of herd mentality. There were lists of good resolutions and lists of bad resolutions. Lots of material for thought, for sure.

Now that the flurry is over, though, I have to go back to the idea of dreamlining put forth by the excellent book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (4HWW, a must read, if you haven’t read it).

Author Timothy Ferris wrote:

Dreamlining is so named because it applies timelines to what most would consider dreams… This is an exercise in reversing repression.pages 53, 57

Most of the advice and general guidelines from the blogosphere don’t deal with the most fundamental question of all:
Do your goals actually reflect the life you want to live?

I prefer to do this exercise in my notebooks, but has a PDF with a sample dreamline and a blank template that you may find useful as you do this.

Dreamlining #1: Starting By Getting Rid of “Reasonable”

Sure, you’re looking to define specific goals and don’t want to put out unattainable targets just to fail. I dig that, but the first part of the exercise isn’t about setting up goals at all. It’s about figuring out who you want to be. Start with a timeline of 6 months in mind (4HWW says to do it with both 6 and 12 months, but 6 is just fine) and dream hard, remembering all those things you’ve wanted but haven’t pursued for whatever reason. Don’t worry about how these things will get done, just mirror your future self down to the paper without any limitations based on money, time, or fear. And don’t worry about whether or not you should want these things; it’s your life to live.

1. List up to 5 things you dream of being by the end of 6 months.

These are skills, like carpentry or marketing prowess in business. These are also occupational or relationship roles, like a new job. What would improve your estimation of yourself?

2. List up to 5 things you dream of doing by the end of 6 months.

These are specific things you want to accomplish, like running a marathon or lifting a personal best amount of weight.

4HWW also says to list 5 things you dream of having, like material objects. I didn’t find that exercise useful.

Dreamlining #2: Figure Out the First Three Baby Steps

Alright, so now you remember who you want to be and what you want to eliminate from your life. Good times, but how will you get there? Time to translate the dream to your life.

1. Change “being” to “doing” for a list of action goals.

Translate your “being” items to “doing”, so that if you dreamt of carpentry, your dreamline translates from being a carpenter to building an Ark (or whatever floats your boat).

2. Prioritize the top 4 action goals.

Look at your list of up-to-10 items and consider: Which four of these would make the biggest difference in your life? Which ones are the most amazing things you could consider, the best possible you in six months? Circle them. The others can wait.

3. Now figure out the first 3 steps in each.

Baby steps. What are the first three steps to accomplishing each of these four action dream goals? To get from where you are to the point of fulfilling it, what’s the very first step in each? It’s probably not that big a thing, really.

Dreamlining #3: Take the First Step

Take the first step of each of the four action goals and do it now. Or, if you can’t do it now, put it on the calendar and do your damnedest to meet it. Then put the next step on the calendar. Start doing real-life actions for your dreams.

That’s it! 4-Hour Workweek has another step about determining the financial cost of your dreams and a deeper examination of each step, but ultimately the point is that your short-term goals should reflect the life you want to live, not the life you think is reasonable.

Want to Go Deeper?

The idea of dreamlining is part of the concept of the “New Rich”, people who live their dreams now and don’t buy into idea that they should defer luxury until they’re retirement age. It’s awesome stuff! If you’re looking to escape the 9 to 5 as part of your dreamlines, you should of course get the book – but also, check out these links:

Keep on keeping on,

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