(This post originally appeared on my Mommysavers.com blog)
If you had the ability to wave a magic wand to create your ideal life in every possible way, what would it look like? How would things be different than they are now? Are there certain things you’d like to experience or accomplish? Are there certain things you’d like to be? When it comes to living well, it’s not just important to know where you are right now, you need to figure out where you’d like to go so you can be clear about what you want your most valuable resources – your time and money – to do for you.
When we were children, our dreams had no limit. However, as we grew older and made career choices, family choices, financial choices, some of our dreams had to take a back seat to more practical matters. Don’t let your current financial situation limit your dreams and goals. Your life right now is a product of the decisions and mindset you’ve had thus far in life; your future will be a result of the dreams and actions you take from this point forward. Don’t let the past limit your future.
Many of us walk through life spinning our wheels without having something to really inspire us. Keeping your dreams in the forefront of your mind and revisiting them frequently can act as a motivator and help you accomplish them. Often, this means putting your own dreams ahead of more immediately “gratifying” things like the Target endcaps and Frappucinos at Starbucks. It also means prioritizing the way you spend your time so that you can make progress towards your goals instead of logging too many hours on Facebook, or getting sucked into yet another reality TV show on Bravo (which, by the way, are good things in moderation – just don’t let them consume your life).
Write down as many of your dreams and goals as you can. They should encompass all areas of your life: personal, professional, financial, spiritual, and so on. What would you like to learn? What kind of person do you want to become? What can you do to improve the relationships with those around you? What do you want for yourself and for your family? Don’t just write down the things you want to do or experience, think of the person you’d like to be. How do you see yourself in five, ten or twenty years?
The more you write down, the better. In fact – shoot for 100. Include long-range plans and things you’d like to make happen this year, or even this month. Don’t worry if you don’t think you will ever have enough wherewithal to make them happen, if it’s a dream, write it down. There is nothing too extravagant or too illogical. After all, isn’t that what dreaming is about?
- Write it in the Positive Form – When you’re writing down your dreams, write them out in the positive form. Visualize what you want to achieve instead of what you want to avoid. For example, instead of writing “getting out of debt” write down “being financially stable”. Stating what you want to achieve creates a mental blueprint in your subconscious about what to strive for.
- Make it Personal – When my husband took a look at one of my bucket lists, he laughed. After that reaction I was embarrassed to let him see some of the ambitious and downright bizarre things I was striving for. Then he explained that he wasn’t laughing at the list itself, but rather the fact that only I could have come up with it. If your list looks in any way generic, it might be a good idea to refine it.
- But I’m Happy the Way I Am! – Contentment is great, and dreams can only enhance that. However, without dreams you stop growing as a person. You’d never tell your child, “I love you so much the way you are that I want you to stop learning and evolving,” so don’t do that to yourself either. Use the things you’re most grateful for in life as a basis for creating more of the same. Let’s also suppose that whatever you put on the list you were guaranteed to achieve. Better relationships? More security? Would you say, “No thanks, I’m fine”? A lot of us, especially those of us on a budget, don’t allow ourselves to dream anymore because we don’t see our dreams as feasible. Or, maybe it’s a protective mechanism because we don’t want to get our hopes up about something only to have them not happen and be let down. Try to break past those psychological barriers and allow yourself to fantasize about what you would do if you have unlimited funds and unlimited ability.
If you have a hard time thinking of 100, try to think of at least a couple short-term, medium and long-range goals in the following categories. Doing that will get you to 100 in no time! Categories to focus on include:
Extra Credit: When you’re writing down your 100-thing bucket list, use a spreadsheet. It makes it easier to organize your list and tweak it in the future.