No fluff. No frills. No filler.
Here are 12 fundamental steps for turning the dreams and ideas in your mind into realities in your life.
We all have our own life to pursue,
our own kind of dream to be weaving.
And we all have some power to make wishes come true,
as long as we keep believing.
– Louisa May Alcott
Step #1 – Lose the negative attitude. Think positively.
Negative thinking creates negative results. Positive thinking creates positive results. Period.
Every one of the other suggestions below are irrelevant if your mind is stuck in the gutter. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. For some practical positive thinking guidance I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking.
Step #2 – Figure out what you really want out of life.
You’ll be running on a hamster wheel forever if you never decide where you want to go. Figure out what’s meaningful to you so you can be who you were born to be.
Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar. Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose. Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish. And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.
Don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires. You must follow your intuition and make a decision.
Step #3 – Surround yourself with great people.
You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you. But if you hang with the right people, you will be far more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone. Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives. Tribes by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.
Step #4 – Work on it for real.
The harder you work the luckier you will become. Stop waiting around for things to work out. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By “working on it,” I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result. The rest of us never act on our decision. Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-assed effort.
Remember, life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Achieving your dreams can be a lot of work. Be ready for it.
Step #5 – Don’t make life harder than it needs to be.
Life is challenging enough without you senselessly complicating the simple.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.”
Read our article 60 Ways To Make Life Simple Again for good a reminder.
Step #6 – Exploit the resources you do have access to.
It’s not about having the right resources; it’s about exploiting the resources you do have access to.
Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.
Step #7 – Focus on things you can change.
Some forces are out of your control. The best thing you can do is do the best with what’s in front of you with the resources you do have access to.
Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can change.
Step #8 – Don’t avoid things you don’t understand.
Right now there’s a lot you don’t know. No matter how smart you are or how much you learn there will always be more to learn. Hiding from what you don’t know will bury you right beside your dreams.
So embrace the things you don’t understand and study them. Achieving this understanding is what living your life is all about.
Step #9 – Ignore negative naysayers.
When you receive negative feedback, remember, it doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it, it matters how many do.
Still, no matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares.
When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
Step #10 – Take good care of your body and your brain.
Your body is the greatest tool you’ll ever own. It impacts every step you take and every move you make. You won’t get anything done without it.
And don’t forget that your brain is part of your body too. The human brain only accounts for roughly 2% of the total mass of the human body, yet it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients the human body intakes.
So nourish your body, exercise it and rest it appropriately. Read The 4-Hour Body.
Step #11 – Work on your dreams when you first awake.
The mornings are a fresh start, peaceful and free of random mid-day distractions. If you get the things done that are the most important to you first thing in the morning, it puts you in a better place, emotionally and creatively, for the remainder of the day.
So put your dreams first. Even if you only have time to work on them for 30 minutes each morning, do it. It truly makes all the difference in the world. Each day, no matter what else happens, you will have done something to make your dreams come true.
Step #12 – Enjoy the pain of your greatest challenge.
Lots of people have achieved their dreams or conquered formerly impossible feats and continue to enjoy the possibilities of new challenges. These people will all tell you there’s nothing more gratifying than the thrill of your greatest challenge – making your dreams a reality. The inherent bruises and pains along the way are simply mile markers on your trip to the finish line.
And when you finally do finish, you may actually find yourself missing the daily grind. Ultimately, you’ll realize that pleasure and pain can be one and the same.
As I’ve said before, if there was ever a moment to follow your heart and do something that matters to you, that moment is now. Nothing ever gets done by reading an article about doing it. You’ve got to put in the effort and take action.
So go for it! Now! Make yourself proud.
Photo by: Per Ola Wiberg
Shanie Matthews says
Great list! I completely agree with all 12. One other that I would include would be to go with the flow…sometimes we don’t know the extent of our dreams until life presents it. In other words, have a dream but don’t control the dream so much that it can’t have a life of its own.
Armen Shirvanian says
I feel you on #8. The things we don’t know are worth pushing up against. Leaving them in the category of things we don’t know will just create regret later on. It’s always better to look stupid today than tomorrow.
Also, working on your dreams when you first wake looks like it is the only way that works. I have noticed that the things we do right when we wake are what get done, and the things we leave for “right after that” barely get done.
it couldn’t have been said better
i liked 6 and 7 so much
thank you 🙂
celia milton says
Thank you for this. I am one of the lucky people who started yet another dream career (I’m a full time wedding officiant) six years ago, and you have put my thought process into exact, succinct words. I’ve retweeted this and posted it on several sites full of talented pros who would love to follow their bliss instead of going to punch in on yet another Monday morning. Your timing is perfect.
This was a great post for me to read today! I am returning to school to become a registered dietician (a huge passion of mine!) even though I am currently a full-time violinist. It’s not easy, as I’m supporting myself and paying for classes, but (after ignoring my inner voice for 2 years) I knew that I would not be happy as a violinist for the rest of my life and so I am daring to make a change. But it’s scary as heck…not going to lie. Failure however, is NOT an option!
Justin Popovic says
This was an awesome post…thanks.
I just want to quickly chime in about the most important point… #1. Belief.
This is the hardest thing in the world to do. To convince yourself to believe in a dream that, on the surface, may feel impossible. You have to *know* that belief is key and go to work on making yourself believe that you can accomplish your dream.
This does not happen overnight. You can strengthen and reinfornce your belief through repetition. You focus on your goal/dream and you read blogs like this plus listen to motivational people who remind you every day to believe in your dreams. In fact, find inspiration anywhere you can get it and keep hammering into your mind the fact that your BELIEF is what will make you create the reality.
Perfect for me today too…
I’ve been invited to the London Blogger Meet Up where Leo and Arvind are speaking. I was nervous, felt out of my depth. But then I read this and realised that here is a chance to fulfill my blogging dreams, to learn from the best and try to improve.
I took a deep breath and I signed up…
Brilliant advice! I applied many of the same concepts when pursuing my dream to start my own business. So I can definitely say that this will work.
Great post. My problem is that I feel like I don’t have a dream, I don’t a have a passion that stands out, that I can pursue a career in, I feel as though if I knew what my dream career was I would be putting 110% into it. I really envy people who know what career they want and frustrated with people who know where they want to be and aren’t doing anything about it.
AE Thanh says
You really hit it with this post. You have to be absolutely clear what you want. If you don’t, it’s like driving a car in foggy whether; you go slow and tend to get lost a lot faster.
One thing I always remind myself is to work on things EVERY DAY that bring me closer to my dream. I’ve been doing this for years and it also one thing I tell everyone to do. Once you commit to doing it, you will get the success you want.
The only step I can’t get behind is #11. I am just not a morning person. I think that one should be to carve out a daily time to work on your dream. Some of us can make that happen at 7am, some are better at 7pm.
Cassie Lang says
Thank you for this list. It’s amazing how much you can change your life by thinking more positively! It can take a while to see major results but it is so worth it! I must say, I now find negative people quite frustrating!!
Fred Tracy says
This is some excellent info! I really like condensed lists of things. Entire volumes could be written about the subjects here, but even reading over a general version of them really helps.
#12 is my favorite. Enjoy learning and enjoy the challenges. If you don’t already, then learn to. It’s well worth it.
Such insightful comments, as always. 😉
Thanks so much for keep the conversation alive, everyone.
Now go make today count for your future.
I have problem with step 9. It’s not easy to ignore and forget other people, but I try hard.
Thanks for great post.
Michelle Saunderson says
Great list. Now, I just have to find some great people. They are few and far between…..
Marquita Herald says
Great list. I think for many people the hardest thing to do is not just getting clear about what they want, but having the courage to think outside their comfort zone.
Legit information. I took the link, forwarded it to a friend and said, work on your dreams. Then we can get to goals.
A lifechanging experience.
Good work guys.
Wonderful list! I do have a few issues, though.
First, I’ve always had a problem with just “believing” which then leads to “knowing.” Some of the worst people in the world “believe” and then “know” some very unproductive things. Then again, some of the best people do the same thing… How do I know which one I am?
Second, for #s 3 and 9, isn’t that practicing closed-mindedness? If I only surround myself with people that agree with what I’m doing, am I not missing out on some good perspective, even if it’s somewhat uninspiring?
And third, for #2, the problem I always come to is that even if I think of something that I really want to do, I always reach the issue of the real value of it. Yes it’s valuable to me, but will this help others? Isn’t it selfish to devote your whole life just to yourself?
I bring this up not for that sake of criticism or “trolling”, but because they are legitimate issues I run into. Any advice?
@Connor: sure it is good to have some people who disagree. It makes me realize that I’m on the right way since even their efforts to ruin mine are unfruitful. Some negative comments can even be a good warning. But I think that Mark mentioned people who just criticize without knowing what they’re talking about. They’re not negative to make you improve, they’re negative to stop you doing something, usually because they’re jealous or ignorant. Those toxic people are everywhere and will never help you any which way.
Nea | Self Improvement Saga says
It’s great that you included #6 because a lot of people let resources go to waste. There are so many opportunities available that just sit there because there aren’t enough people willing to find out about them and make use of them.
Lilian Saum says
Great post, great advice. All the 12 steps you’ve mentioned are important and it’s good to know that for fulfilling a dream they must be handled simultaneously (at least 85% of them).
You’ve pointed out great insight in steps #1, 3, 4 especially. The mind has to congruent with and lifted up to the scope of the dream and this is the hard challenge of continuous change and monitoring yourself.
And, yes, negative people and naysayers are NOT to be reason with but completely ignored. They know it too, they should go for it and although you may be pursuing the right thing and standing up for the greatest values, your example of courage throws the emptiness of a life without vision and purpose into their face and that’s painful and even devastating to handle.
Yet, what must be clear, at least to you, the dream pursuer, is that everything is choice and you’re doing the right thing.
So as Marc said with the final thoughts, go for it no matter what !
Huy Nguyen says
I’m using your thoughts to teach my 10 years old son. Thanks so much.
Thank you. I think I find my way . You have a talent of reminding people of something important and cheering their hearts up and more.
I am deeply touched by wonderful works .
This is great advice. The thing that stumps me are the two contrasts:
“Subject: 12 steps to make a dream a reality”
“Step #7 – Focus on things you can change.”
I have a few big dreams, yet it appears to be not possible. Not in my timeline at least. One dream is I want to physically visit another (habitable) planet with other sentient beings.
I’ve read many essays and blog posts on topics like this which say ‘anything is possible!’ but they shy away from ‘unrealistic’ dreams – ideas which could even greatly change and better the world we currently live in.
How would a person go about focusing on an ‘impossible’ dream? More importantly, do they spend their focus on the end result (location), or the method (eg, teleportation device) they would need to work on? I would assume the former would be more aligned to their dream but leaves them waiting indefinitely for something/one to help get them there. The latter might be one’s legacy to the Earth, but could die of old age before it is even completed!
While I personally fancy the above dream, other dream ideas could be having super-human powers to stop un/natural disasters, curing the mind/body of all wounds (in self/others), remove world hunger, and so on.
I’m sure time will make ‘impossibles’ a reality eventually, but what to do in our own timeline?
I have trouble with number 12 sometimes. The pain stops me. I’m scared of it, but I wish I wasn’t.
Kimberly Stearns says
Your article has been a great read. I am impressed. I consider myself a fairly good judge of the self help and improvement info. And I think you’re spot on.
Thanks & good luck,
Thank you! I have been chasing my tail for so many years & spent so much time whining about life I exhausted myself, aswell as most people around me. I kind of feel like a talentless blind person that has been given sight. A very good read I have found is “Feal the Fear and Do it Anyway”. One day in the next couple of years I’m coming back to find this sight & post our opening day. My Dream is to Build & Open our own Health Retreat & Accomodation – “Whispering Winds” will be a 4 star Holiday destination outside of Mackay in QLD, Australia. Where there is will there is a way.
The first step to take in life is to believe on your self and focus, all there are very throughly ways of acheiving goals, step #7 and #11 make us things. My people take better determination and focus to take a right step today, i remember what my teacher say “The step you take today determine your future” Thank you!
Great post. Just what I needed to hear! I left a comfortable, 5-year job to pursue this dream I have of making toys for kids before I’m too old to be as risky! Sometimes I think it’s crazy – I left a comfortable retirement if I had been willing to sit in a cubicle for the next 20 years. But, the risk was worth the work I love what I do. It’s very motivating when I hear kids and parents tell me this toy idea is fabulous. Hopefully it will be world-famous someday, and change the way kids play and problem-solve. All because I took a chance, and the people around me believed in me.
Famous and wealthy people have done riskier things, and have fallen many times before they made it. I remind myself the only change I can affect in the world is by starting with me, so it’s a daily question – am I willing to take the risk? Yes! I start each day with a huge grin.
Great post… This was a day starter for me to achieve my dreams for which I am fighting for currently…