The importance of dreams
Previously we have looked at how goals give meaning to tasks. The same applies to life as life goals and dreams make our life more meaningful. A meaningful life = A life with a purpose, a goal. Striving towards achieving these goals gives us something to live for, and pushes us to get the most out of ourselves. This keeps us growing and prevents us from getting stuck at the level we are now. Our life goals, our dreams, give us a reason to get up in the morning and to get moving. Chasing our dreams helps us to give direction to our life. At the same time, picturing ourselves realizing those dreams fills us with energy.
Don’t set your life goals too low. There is a good reason for this. Goals that are set too low don’t have the same ability to inspire you as the bigger ones. If the bar is set too low, achieving the goal doesn’t provide any challenge. By this you can’t get really energized much by the idea of achieving it. Goals that are completely achievable for you at this moment don’t encourage you to push yourself, while big goals push us to grow.
When setting your life goals, don’t think too much about your present situation. Instead, think about the situation you want to be in. Don’t let yourself be constrained by your present knowledge or skills. Nothing is impossible as long as you figure out the right way to do it and stick with it long enough. Skills you are missing or are lacking can be trained and the missing needed knowledge can be learned.
For example: Say you want to become a rock-star but at the present moment you can’t even play a single note on a guitar yet. Go learn how to play it. Your potential is only limited by your own mind. Believe in yourself and allow yourself to dream big.
Why big goals are easier to accomplish than smaller ones
A funny paradox is that in practice, big goals are easier to achieve than mediocre ones. This is because only a few people really dare to dream big and believe enough in themselves. This causes the large majority to set ‘realistic’ goals, mediocre ‘easily’ achievable goals. This causes the competition to be a lot greater when actually trying to achieve it. For example, it is easier to start up your own company and find the right personnel than to find the ‘perfect’ job. This is because a lot more people are looking for a fun and decent job than people that have the guts to start companies.
Big dreams are less likely to be lost out of sight than smaller ones at times that things don’t go as planned. This is because the goal is always bigger than the obstacles that get in the way. Picture it as a giant mountain on the horizon. Even behind a large forest the top still is clearly visible. Would you have chosen a smaller goal, say a little house at the foot of the mountain, there only had to be one big rock in the way and you would have lost sight of it.
Knowing where you want to go
Having sky-high goals serves as a guide in your life. They function as an always visible landmark to keep you on the right track, the path towards the life of your dreams, a future that you create. But how do you find your ultimate goal in life?
About hobbies and work
There are people who say that as soon as you made a job out of your hobby it isn’t a hobby anymore. They recommend to leave your hobbies for what they are, your leisure time activities. These are the same people advising you to keep your hobbies and work strictly separated. Personally I couldn’t disagree more with these people. As soon as you turn your hobby into your job, it isn’t a job anymore.
Why wouldn’t you spend your days doing the things you are passionate about, when you can make a living out of it on top of that? Why would you want to spend your days at a job you don’t like to only spend time on your passions in those scarce free hours, when you could spend your whole days doing that which makes your heart beat?
Your ultimate life goal is nothing else than fulfilling your dreams. Realizing the, in your opinion, perfect life. To figure out how your ultimate dream life looks like, you could start with the following thought-experiments:
Your perfect day
Imagine how your perfect day(s) would look like, assuming that everything is possible. How would you spend your days if you had total control? If you had everything you wanted to have, and could do whatever you’d like to. Where would you spend that day, and with whom? What would you like to do all day? (You don’t have to narrow yourself down to just one perfect day, if you’re like me you’ll probably have more than one idea about how a perfect day would be.)
Your perfect life
Now that you have a picture of how your perfect day would look like, it’s time to start thinking about how you want your life to be like in five years. Where do you live, how do you make a living? And more importantly, how well does your vision about your perfect day fit into that life? Just let your imagination go wild, remember that everything is possible. The only limiting factor is the reach of your imagination.
You can never live a greater life than you can imagine. If you can’t picture yourself winning an Olympic medal you can forget about it. Not because it is impossible, but because you don’t believe in it yourself. No matter if you think that you can or can’t do something, you’re always right. Use this to your advantage. Believe in yourself and dare to dream big.
Setting the right goals
How do you know that you are setting the right life goals? It’s pretty simple actually: You will know you are chasing the right dream if the thought of fulfilling it fills your soul with energy and makes you feel fully alive. The dream you’re chasing is the right one if it inspires you. Properly set goals motivate you to get the best out of yourself. When you have something that gets you out of bed every morning, all filled up with energy, and you can’t wait to get started, you know you are on the right track.
From thought to paper
As soon as you have a clear picture of your ultimate goal, it’s time to transform the idea in an actual plan. Start by writing (or typing if you are afraid you won’t be able to read your own handwriting after a year or so, this even happens to the professionals) down what your dream is. Just by writing down the dream you already made the first step towards realizing it. Be as specific as possible in describing what you want to achieve. If you have more than one life dream write them down separately.
Make sure the goals you set are as clear as glass. Becoming rich, for example, is a way too vague goal. If you want to become rich, determine how much money you want to have at the bank and when you want to have it there.
Become a famous sport-star is also a too vaguely set goal. Write down in which sport you want to be famous, and for what. If you want to become an international champion in a sport, determine which championship you want to win. Without a clear goal in mind it is hard to determine when you’ve actually achieved it. Be as clear as possible.
Now you have determined and wrote down your life goal(s) it is time to find out how to achieve them. Fortunately you got a supercomputer at your disposal to help you with laying out the way towards this destination. This supercomputer is your brain. We’ve all been blessed with a wonderful machine that is built to solve problems, like figuring out a way to make the impossible possible. It’s crucial to know how to take advantage of this.
When you re-read the life goals you wrote down and think it is impossible, the thinking stops right there. Should you, on the other hand, look at your goals and ask yourself ‘how can I achieve this?’ You will start the whole solving progress. Search and you will find. Asking is nothing more than searching for the answer. Ask and you will find the answers.
When confronting yourself with questions you really want to know the answer to your subconscious mind will look for that answer. Your subconscious is a master in finding the answers to these kinds of questions because it has access to all the information you ever took in during your life, even though you can’t remember that information consciously anymore. Trust your intuition; it’s nothing more than your subconscious mind working for you.
We will now look at some ways to get your mind started. We’ll start with a small thought experiment.
Since large goals aren’t achieved overnight and they might seem a bit intimidating, it is wise to break them up in smaller steps. One way to do this is by the ‘steps back’ method.
Picture the ultimate goal in your mind. Now, imagine the milestone that comes just before that. For example, if we take the rock-star dream. The step just before achieving the last one might be being broadcasted on TV and the radio. The step before that might be a big successful concert, and the step before that could be winning a national talent show. Continue to take steps back until you reach the point where you are now. When you’ve done that, the only thing left is to write these steps down in the reversed order you just thought of them and you got yourself a plan.
Once you have the plan written down it is time to apply positive laziness. See which of the steps you could eliminate without jeopardizing the end result. Then think of the most efficient way to take the steps that remain. Again use the KISS principle. Don’t make things any more complicated as strictly necessary. The simpler the plan is the better.
Ask for advice
Should it ever happen that you really can’t figure out how to achieve a certain goal, there is always something called advice. You can always ask for advice from those people who already achieved a comparable goal. You can learn a lot from the persons who went before you. Should it happen that in the history of mankind no one ever achieved something comparable to the goal you are aiming at, you could always turn to your friends. Ask them if they want to help you brainstorming. The more people take part, the more good ideas you can come up with.
Achieving your goals
Now you have determined what your goals are, and which step you have to take to achieve them it is time for the final step, achieving those goals. We will see how we do this by starting to look at some ingredients of a successful life.
Make priorities and don’t be afraid to eliminate tasks. Always apply the methods of the art of positive laziness with your life goals in the back of your mind. These are the ultimate underlying goals of all your actions. Make sure you don’t waste so much time on trivial matters that you never achieve your goals.
Skip as much tasks as possible, but do the remaining tasks immediately. Train your self-discipline on a daily basis. You don’t have any excuse to stall or not perform the tasks that bring you closer to your ultimate life goals. The longer you wait with taking those steps, the longer you’ll have to wait to realize those dreams. Don’t make yourself wait. Your dream life is already in sight. The only thing left is just taking the steps towards it, and that’s something that only you can do.
Don’t be taken out of the game by the obstacles you might face on your path. Know what you are striving for and conquer the obstacles. The reason why so few people get the most out of their life is because most people don’t have enough faith in themselves, not because they are unable to.
Don’t pay much attention to the doomsayers that try to talk you out of your plans by saying you’re unable to realize them. Often this behavior is just a reflection their personal lack of confidence. When someone is trying to convince you that you can’t do something, use this as a motivation. Prove that they are wrong by accomplishing it anyway.
A formula for success
We talked about the definition of success earlier in this book. We will briefly look into it a little closer. This is as well a summary of the materials discussed in this chapter so far.
Step 1: Choose your goal
Know where you want to go. Set clear and challenging goals. If goals are too big to achieve at once, break them down into smaller steps.
Step 2: Keep your goal in sight
Don’t lose sight of your dreams. Never stop asking yourself if the things you undertake bring you closer towards realizing those dreams or are just distracting you from them. Keep moving towards them until you realize them.
Step 3: Achieve the goal
This last step is all about taking the right steps. Just go for it. It’s that simple. Whoever said things should be complicated to work properly anyway?
The success formula above is applicable every time. No matter how big or small the goal is. The only difference is that with the really big goals you sometimes need to break those up into smaller steps. This doesn’t change the principle behind it. You can apply the same formula to these smaller steps.
This concludes this short book on the art of positive laziness. Apply the methods discussed in this book on a daily base and you’ll be amazed by the time you’ll save and how fast you’ll achieve your goals. Not applying the principles of positive laziness is just foolish. Why would you refrain from looking for the most effective and efficient ways to achieve your goals? Why would you worry about trivial matters? And, why would you waste time and effort doing pointless tasks? And is it such a weird thing to give yourself a chance to get enough rest?
From here on it’s all up to you what you do with the information. Just keep in mind that not knowledge but applied knowledge is power. To benefit from the information, you have to start using it.
The only thing left to say is the following: Thanks for reading this book. I wish you all the luck and I hope you’ll live a relaxed effective life full of positive laziness. And don’t forget to tell your friends about it.