Whether you are thinking about starting a business or about growing an existing entrepreneurial venture, you need to take a few key steps to turn your dream into a concrete reality and to attract attention to your venture. Yet with all you have to do every day (maybe you’re still working a full-time job, managing a busy family schedule, or finishing your education), it can feel almost impossible to set aside time to work on making your dream visible to the world. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It simply takes determination. If you allow your current life situation to shape your future, it’s unlikely that future will end up matching your dreams. These four steps will help you make progress every day toward the future you envision.
Define your purpose
To realize your dream, you need to define explicitly what that dream is. For example, aspiring to be rich, famous or a leader in your field doesn’t tell you much about what you need to do to get there. In contrast, the desire to own your own successful business or to become a virtuoso musician are tangible ideas for which you can create a plan. Take stock of your dreams. Which are you most passionate about and why? When you figure out what you truly want, dreams cease being dreams and become real possibilities.
Your determination to reach your dream will be tested and you need to be able to fully commit.
Set specific, achievable goals
Because dreams are often expressed as ideals, they can be extremely difficult to attain. Many people make the mistake of setting their big-picture dream as their goal. After weeks, months, or years of struggling, they’re disappointed when they fail to achieve what they set out to do. This can cause them to give up. It’s more effective to break your dream into smaller, short-term goals. Although you may not achieve your dream within a year, you will likely accomplish many of the smaller goals that lead toward that dream, helping to spur you on.
With your dream goal in front of you, write down what you can accomplish today, this week, this month and this year. If your dream is to start a business, perhaps today’s goal could be to brainstorm product and service ideas or a company name. You will need to make time for yourself to work on these goals, which will mean communicating with your friends and family so they can give you time and space as well as encouragement.
Eventually, you reach a point of no return. You have achieved your short-term goals and are ready to make the leap to a goal that will require even more commitment. For some, this is when they transition from their current job to their dream career. For others, it is when they put themselves out there to be judged and to see if they have what it takes to realize their dreams. Some amount of risk, whether financial, physical, or emotional, is inherent in taking this step. Your determination to reach your dream will be tested and you need to be able to fully commit. Setting up a great framework of short-term goals before reaching this point will bolster your confidence and improve your chances of success. This makes taking the risk easier.
Ask for help
Even when you set yourself up for success by laying out achievable goals, the process will not be free of pitfalls, failures and delays. Life can – and will – get in the way. The difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is a matter of will. Without determination and follow-through, your goals will remain dreams. You need to keep at it no matter how many times you are set back. This could mean you need to revise your goals to better accommodate your situation or that you need to ask for help. There are probably experts out there who have been where you are now and who have some great advice to offer. Reach out to them and start a relationship. The input of an experienced mentor, combined with the support of loved ones, can help you stay focused, determined and committed.
Remember, though, no matter how many people are there to help, you are the one who ultimately must do the work to achieve your dream.