Goals, Dreams and To-do Lists

All three of the above things are a big part of being successful in any creative or business field so I thought I’d talk about all three, what they are, how they fit together and how to make the most of them, especially from a creative perspective.

Dreams are the things that make us get excited and buzzed, they’re a big part of living life and pretty much everyone has them. Often they consist of things like getting married and having kids but they also include things like writing novels, making movies and starting a business.

From that point dreams can get even more specific. You can dream of starting a business that eventually makes millions a year, or owning a bookshop chain across the country, or making the NYT bestseller list with a novel. They’re still dreams though as a lot of different factors need to come together to make them happen and not all of them are in your control.

Goals are milestone markers on the way to getting your dreams, but controllable by you. So if you were starting a business, the first goal might be to get your product and unique selling point defined, your next goal might be have your product in a shop of some kind, the next might be obtain an advertising plan so people can hear about you.

If you were doing something creative, it might be get a gallery worth of finished paintings, or write a series of novels. Either way, goals should be achievements that get you closer to those dreams, but something you can control and see yourself getting towards. It should be something relatively measureable, but it can still be a long-term thing and take years of effort to get to.

That’s where to-do lists come in. Sometimes each goal is huge and breaking it down into a list of tasks to tackle one by one can make the dreams and goals come closer inch by inch. It gives you something to focus on today in the here and now that isn’t as scary and overwhelming as dreaming of the NYT bestseller list or a million pound company.

Say that you’ve got your product and know why it’s good but you aren’t sure how to get the shop side of things going. The to-do list would make that easier. You can break down your goal into tasks, like:

  • Approach ‘this relevant’ shop chain about stocking your product.
  • Research the cost of getting a website set up to sell through.
  • Get website set up/Raise funds to pay someone else
  • Set up a facebook page that takes orders (or other useful social media)
  • Set up an Ebay account to sell through
  • Promote a launch event either physically or digitally (dependent on product)

Some of those can be broken down into smaller tasks again, but it gives the general idea, and each day when you get up you’ll have something you can work towards without worrying about how far you are from the dream. Before you know it you’ll have some of those goals passed (I fully believe in rewarding yourself at each milestone), and be well on your way to seeing your dream become a reality.

There will be tough days, there always are when you’re chasing dreams, but on those days I try to make sure a little something is done towards the goals and to-do list, even if it’s just to write a few more words of a story. Every day chipping away adds up until, step by step, you’ve reached the end. I personally don’t like making to-do lists, but time and time again, making one has helped my brain get through the fog of having a goal and feeling like I can’t get there. And there’s something amazingly satisfying about ticking things off to-do lists.

So if you have something that you’ve always dreamt of, work out what the exact dream is, break it down into milestones along the way and start making a to-do list of tasks to get you to that first goal. Then every day until you reach that goal, do something towards those tasks. And most importantly, keep dreaming.

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