The Time is Now
by Sydney-based psychologist Jocelyn Brewer
Imagine yourself at your 80th birthday party. You’re surrounded by good friends, family and food. When it’s time for the speeches, what do people share about you and your life?
Hopefully it’s how you’ve been living a life you love, following your dreams and making a positive contribution to your community.
For many people it’s easy to come up with ambitions and aspirations, such as starting your own business or owning a holiday home by the ocean. And how often have you found yourself daydreaming about early retirement or a lavish wedding? Sadly, recent research from SocietyOne found that just over 40% of us take the step of committing to concrete actions to make these things happen. Instead, much of what we long for gets tossed into the too-hard basket and shelved along with New Year’s resolutions.
So with over 90% of Australian women declaring they have aspirations to achieve something significant in their lives - what’s stopping us?
When we’re in the thick of the daily grind, it’s hard to make time or find the cash to turn big dreams into a reality. The need for assistance holds over a third of us back from making the changes needed to build that MasterChef-worthy kitchen, jump on a plane to Italy or change your career direction.
While there’s a difference between fantasy - that list of things you’d do if you won the lottery - and more concrete life goals, like saving to take a year off work to travel around Australia, neither are likely to happen unless you take the first step and develop a sustainable plan.
Here are four ideas to get your mind into gear to pursue your dreams:
1. The cost of inaction is regret
How would you feel if you failed to realise your dreams in this lifetime? This is a reality for 83% of Australians who have at least one thing they regret not doing in their life.
Perhaps you should start with appreciating little things such as your birthday or family. Almost half of us regret not enjoying the small moments in life, including not doing more fun things with the family or spending more time on hobbies and interests. It’s said that we only regret the chance we didn’t take – so consider whether you want to feel a sense of regret for not giving chasing your dreams a red-hot go.
2. Make your goals SMARTER
The SMART goal methodology is a useful way to frame goals so that they are more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. Add an additional two criteria of ‘Emotionally Resonate’ and ‘Reviewed Regularly’ to empower your goal statement further.
By identifying an emotion which connects to your feeling of having achieved the goal, you can anchor in the desired feeling and empower action. Similarly, by taking time to review your progress and adjust your plans you can keep edging successfully towards your target.
3. Challenge your fears
The SocietyOne research found that an increase in savings or earning capacity did not necessarily result in an increase in happiness, so what’s really holding you back? Fear manages to hold many of our dreams hostage for long periods of time. Close to 1 in 10 Australians reported that one of the barriers to their dreams was lacking the courage to start. For many of us the fear of failure looms large in our psyche, so imagine – what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
4. Get coaching and build tools
Sporting teams use coaches to help clarify their strategy for winning – so it’s not unrealistic to think that the complex game of life might require additional support to help you conquer your goals. Coaches come in a variety of forms – from trusted friends who challenge you to read books and take online courses, to mentors and professional counsellors. How can you develop a tool kit of resources that can assist you to reach your dream?