An Inch Closer

Everyone dreams, but not everyone live their dreams. What makes the difference is choosing between wallowing in the euphoria of your dreams and doing something about it. It is easy to dream about getting a college degree or moving up in your career. What is not easy is taking action towards making it happen. It is typical of human nature to want to do more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. It is called “procrastination”.

A 2007 meta-analysis by University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel, PhD, reports that 80 percent to 95 percent of college students procrastinate, particularly when it comes to doing their coursework (Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 1).

When it comes to living your dreams, the actions that need to be taken are not pleasurable 95 percent of the time, and so it becomes very easy to push them aside. This habit of pushing tasks aside for a later time can go on and on and later may become 2 years, 10 or even never. How do you handle procrastination and strive towards making your dreams happen?

  1. Find a strong “why” behind your dream: The need for a better life could be a “why” for obtaining a college degree and not just because your parents want it. Starting a family could be the “why” for a career move. The stronger your “why” the more determined you will be. A strong “why” will be the strength and reminder you need when the going gets tough.
  2. Specify your goals: A major step towards achieving your dreams is documenting them. Be specific about what you want to achieve (output) as well as what needs to be done (inputs and actions).
  3. Set a timeline: Timeline is what makes the difference between a dream and a goal. Your dream is a step closer to reality once you attach a timeline to it. Make a list of action items. State what actions you want to take towards your goal daily, weekly yearly or as needed. Be sure to set realistic deadlines (6months, 1 year, etc. depending on what you are trying to achieve).
  4. Tell a confidant: Telling a friend or family who has always been supportive of your plans is a good idea. Such people can act as time keepers and the push you need. I have also heard people say putting things on a social media kind of gives them some form of push. For instance, updating their status on Facebook to say “one down, two to go” or something along those lines. If it works for you, why not eh?
  5. Reflect: Take a look back at what steps you have taken towards achieving your goal on a weekly or monthly basis depending on your action list.
  6. Make amends not quit: Derailment will certainly happen due to everyday life or work pressure. Pick up where you think you have fallen short and use your “why” as a reminder.
  7. Celebrate milestones: Treat yourself to a good vacation or something special at every milestone along the way. From speaking with some of my clients, some people treat their spouses or themselves to something special (bags, shoes, gadgets) at every milestone. You can never go wrong with the rewarding system.

You are an inch closer to reaching your goals just by reading this, even closer when you apply it!


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