Kick Start Your Dreams

What's on your personal wish list of life? To write a best-seller? Travel through Europe on rollerblades? Play the cello in a symphony orchestra? Dreams keep us going, make life more interesting. Of course, making them come true requires some action...but it may not be as overwhelming as you think. Here are ten tips to make your own dreams into reality:

1) Figure out your destination. Every journey -- even a trip to the mall -- requires a sense of knowing where you're headed. Otherwise, you'll drive aimlessly. Where is it you want to end up in life? Once you decide that, you can begin to "think backwards" for the connecting points you need to get there.

2) See your dream as already happening. Winning athletes and performers successfully use visualization all the time. Think of this exercise as "self-fulfilling prophecy" -- if you clearly imagine already having or doing what it is you really want, your brain goes on automatic pilot to reach that goal.

3) Take action-- NOW! We tend to imagine our dreams as "too big" to ever really achieve. But the greatest symphonies were written one note at a time, the greatest novels written one word at a time. If you're thinking of moving, start by picking up some real estate guides. Want to lose weight? Give up one food, just for today. Read one magazine on a subject you've always wanted to learn. Take small steps, and take them consistently.

4) Do your homework, so you can be ready when Opportunity knocks. Determine what it is you need to learn, whom you need to talk to, information you need to gather, Don't use "homework" as an excuse for putting off the real goal, however --set a deadline for completing the info-gathering process.

5) Find a mentor. Learning from their experience (and mistakes) will save you tons of time.

6) Create a strategy. Exactly how do you plan to get from Point A to Point Z? Map out each step you must take.

7) Take those steps. Do you want to learn to play an instrument? Commit one hour a day or week to lessons or practice. Keep your personal "appointments" as religiously as you'd keep a doctor appointment.

8) Reward yourself. Most of us save "rewards" for the really big accomplishments of our life. But the way to stay on track is to give yourself a little "attaboy" for the many small steps along the way. Don't wait to drop 10 pounds before treating yourself-- celebrate the fact you stayed away from ice cream for one whole day.

9) Expect some rough sailing. Rejection and failure are just part of life. Treat them as part of your dream-building process, learn what you can from the experience...and keep going! Most people claim they regret what they didn't do in life, versus any failure encountered along the way.

10) Be persistent. And flexible. Becoming a ballerina may take longer than making a perfect souffle. But if you find that your dream isn't coming to fruition, learn to be realistic. Either downscale it (taking regular dance classes) or find another one to pursue. Maybe become an astronaut???

Source: Mademoiselle, Jan. 1997