A practical guide to follow your dreams

I dream, therefore I am!!

I am not talking about the dreams that you see in your sleep - I am talking about the dreams that don't let you sleep.

Such dreams are an existential necessity. All great achievements of the world started with the seed of a dream. Without a dream that drives you, your life becomes colourless. Dreams are the source of the ‘zest for life.’“

Dr. John Maxwell

A Dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.

Your dream is a light at the end of the tunnel which gives you strength to wade through the hardships in front of you.Your dream has the capacity to excite you, scare you, inspire you, frustrate you, delight you, break you and make you.

Such is the power of a dream that it can turn the mundane into a miracle.

Follow your dreams

A powerful dream multiplies your chances of success.

Dr. Daniel Heller of TAU discovered from his research that young people with strong callings are more likely to take risks, persist, and ultimately get jobs in their chosen fields, satisfying both their personal and professional career needs.

Following your dreams can be a transformative experience making you vibrant, alive and hopeful.

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Here are 6 practical strategies that will help you reach your dream.

1. Believe in your dream, stop calling it a dream

An idea or hope that is impractical or unlikely ever to be realized; idle hope.That’s how the dictionary defines the word ‘dream’.

So long as you call it a dream, it will remain in the realm of impossibility. Calling it a goal makes it more real and achievable.

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See it in your mind before you see it with your eyes.

Visualising your dream means seeing future events in your mind’s eye. Visualisation is a kind of a mental rehearsal.

Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind’s eye and you will be drawn toward it

Dr. H E Fosclic

UCLA's Shelley Taylor's study found that, mental simulations can assist in problem-solving, enhance positive emotions, and increase the perception of the likelihood of an event.

But just fixation on the magical outcomes will set you up for failure.It can make you vulnerable to 'Planning fallacy'. It is the optimism bias which makes you assume that the things will be much easier than they actually will be.

Instead, visualise the process/steps you need to go through.

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This process orientation can help you anticipate the potential problems and develop strategies to cope with them.

Pham and Taylor’s experiment has established that, participants who visualised themselves reading and gaining the required skills and knowledge, spent longer actually studying and got better grades.

Don't wait for perfect situation, don't wait until you’re good at it.

Perfect situations don’t exist. Start where you are and start with what you have.

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There will always be little steps you can take and habits you can develop starting today.

Set realistic expectations - according to the expectations vs fantasy research, fantasizing too much about your dream job or any other major goal can undermine success.

Pragmatic thoughts stimulate more realistic expectations. Fantasizing will inflate your expectations out of proportion, ultimately overshadowing your vision of necessary actions to reach a goal.

2. Define your dream - clarify both the end and the means

Setting the SMART goals that are specific, measurable and have realistic deadlines could determine whether you achieve your dreams or not. An effective goal clearly outlines what you need to do to accomplish it.

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Science further suggests committing your goal to paper.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, found in her 'goal-setting study’ that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

A review of Harvard MBA students found that the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

It is equally crucial to clearly define the process involved to reach your goals.

A dream is the future you are aspiring to reach, an area of focus guides you towards the activities which will lead you to that future. It is important to think both of them through.Setting measurable performance targets along the way will help you evaluate whether you are on the right track.

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The next step is to make a realistic assessment of your skills and resources.Underestimation of your abilities could put a dent in your self-confidence. Conversely overestimating them, especially financial resources could drop you into hot water.

Simine Vazire of Washington University found that people can't judge accurately when it comes to parameters about themselves, such as intelligence, creativity and attractiveness.

So, take help of you family, friends and career counsellors to determine what abilities you possess, what skills you need to develop.

Match your skills and abilities to the demands of your dream. Plan concrete steps to build yourself up.

3. Dream big, act small, start now!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Robert Collier 

Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out

A dream is a grand undertaking. It can be overwhelming in its totality to the beginner and can create a sense of confusion.

Rather than groping through the dark, break your dream into the smallest steps that you can accomplish. Break down each of these steps into processes. Additionally, break down the processes into daily action points.

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The pursuit of your dream is a marathon.

The key to winning it is pacing yourself to optimise your energy and resources. Not pushing too hard too soon that your resources are depleted. At the same time making sure you engage your maximum efforts when the need arises.

Professor John Norcross says, - “small steps together equal a giant leap.”It means sticking with your distant dream day in and day out. It means taking small steps everyday aiming for consistent progress.

Value tiny decisions - do one thing every day that takes you closer to your dream.

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Researchers at the University of Southern California and Harvard University have found that, neurobiologically, the satisfaction of completing a task creates internal rocket fuel that energizes you to keep working towards your larger goal.

According to Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. “You can make very, very small changes that are consistent with your big goals without having to understand how you’re going to get to the endgame.”

Dreams are reached by hard work over time rather than one specific act. Always see the big picture but take baby steps.

4. Take care of your needs before starting to reach for your dreams

Albert Einstein

​Success is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration

Leap and the net will appear - more like leap and fall flat on your face!

Has there ever been a more misinterpreted piece of advice?

It's true you need to start from where you are right now. That does not mean you should be walking into a sub-zero weather with a swimsuit.

Not immediately jumping on to your dreams seems counter intuitive on the surface, but there is a logic behind it.

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"Until you take care of your lower needs, you will never be able to fulfill your higher needs."-Abraham Maslow

​Your dreams definitely fall in the category of self-actualization. They are aimed at providing a deeper purpose that drives you beyond your existential needs.

Basic needs like sleep, food, health, and security need to be met continuously from the moment we are born. You may make the folly of sacrificing any of this on the altar of your dream. But they will crop up later in the form of existential crisis, which makes you abandon your dream.

It's true - in real life all these goals co-exist.

We don't always pursue our goals in the order of hierarchy. One life is too short to do all the things you dream about one after the other.

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What you should be aiming for is the higher degree of ‘vertical coherence” among your goals.

Our lower level goals (which happen every day) and higher level goals (in distant future) should all fit together so that, lower level goals actively feed into advancement of higher level goals.

Understand that achieving your dreams is not an exclusive option.

Your dream is not an isolated entity. It can grow along with you.

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Use this period of preparation to generate enough momentum, so that you can take your leap when the time comes.

5. Share your dream and involve the people you trust in your journey

Share your dream with the people who matter to you.

Your dream is your baby. Thanks to the 'confirmation bias' your natural inclination will be to see only the elements which confirm your premises. As far as its negatives are concerned you’ll have a blind spot. This will hinder your ability to tackle the real life challenges associated with your dream.

Follow your dreams

People who wrote goals down, and enlisted friends to help them by sending regular progress reports succeed closer to 75% of the time. Telling your dreams out loud makes them real and holds you accountable. Your loved ones will cheer you through the ups and downs of your journey.

Getting an alternative perspective from an unbiased observer will ensure your ideas are grounded in reality.

Does this mean, pursuit of your dream should become dependent upon opinions of others? Definitely NOT.

But you can put a contingency plan in place to deal with the genuine concerns raised by them.

Further, share your dreams with people already working in the chosen field. Interactions and conversations with professionals will help you refine your dreams.

They could even provide you with valuable contacts and resources.

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No man is an island. Involve your team on the journey to your dream.

Share your vision and tell them how they are contributing to it.

Attach value to their work - make it more than a barter for money. Share a little bit of your heart with them. This will inspire them to put a little bit of their heart into your dream.

Don’t hire people just to fill the spots. Select people who are driven enough to develop a stake in the advancement of your dreams.

6. Prepare to fail and set up a plan to rebound

Stay flexible about how you fulfill your dream.

The road to your dream will hardly be a straight line.

Check the example of anyone who has succeeded in reaching their dreams. Each one of them has had to contend with some degree of setback. But they all continued with a fixed aim towards a shifting goal.

Follow your dreams

You are trying to achieve your dreams in the real world and not in a vacuum.

As such, even if you put in the perfect effort there will always be extenuating circumstances that interfere with your best laid plans. You will be derailed, you will have to change direction and you may even have to take a break.

Winston Churchill 

Success Is Going from Failure to Failure Without Losing Your Enthusiasm.

In fact, expect to be derailed and be ready to start over.

In the ‘implementation intention and goal achievement’ research by Gollwitzer and colleagues, the subject of “if-then” plans was discussed in relation to how we set and stay consistent with our goals. The thing is, researchers found that planning for failures along the way helps people stay on the task under duress.

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Be open to changes and challenges that come along the way. Develop a growth mindset and learn from them.

With the growth mindset, you see mistakes as learning opportunities and setbacks as opportunities to stretch your skills.

You accept your weakness as the inevitable side-effect of being human. But believe that you can develop the strengths you need to compensate for them.

None of your efforts are a waste because experience itself is a form of success.


Christopher Reeve 

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.

Dreams are not just about the material achievements. They are the generators of aspirations and accelerators of human effort.

Moreover they are essential for living a meaningful life.We all have different advantages depending on our luck or our choices. What we need to do is “play it as it lays”.

No matter what you are going through right now, you have immense potential to make your dreams a reality.

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Start from where you are, start by doing what you can right now.With the right mind and right effort, in time the impossible will become a reality.

Always remember - it is the minutes that add up to years. So, in time, what you do this minute has the potential to make your dream come true.

What are you going to do today to get yourself closer to your dream?

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