How many of you think you have to work harder to achieve your dreams? What you really need to do is start working smarter.
People who dig ditches work really hard, don’t they? And I have nothing but respect for them and the hard work they do. However, they’re not usually going to get ahead with their dreams.
Working smarter means having a plan, using your focus, and finding ways to outsource.
Creating Your Plan
Do you have a plan for your goals this year?
So let’s look at the important things for igniting your dreams by working smarter.
Be Concrete In Your Goal
What do you want? What do you REALLY want?
For example, if you want to be able to take a holiday between Christmas and New Years, how much time will you have to take off. Where will you go? How much money would you want to have to feel comfortable with taking this holiday?
I’ll continue using the special holiday as an example as well as reducing debt. But remember that it’s your dream and can include getting a promotion, or any number of things.
If you’re having some difficulties, think also about what you do not want. That may help you see what you would like to achieve.
Journal Your Dream
Write down your dream vision in as much detail as you can. What will you see and do? What will you smell and taste?
Some people print out pictures so they can visualize themselves experiencing their dream.
When you get in a tough space, this is going to help you find your courage to stay strong.
A tough space? Yes. If you’re setting aside some budget, as we’ll discuss in the next section, and you see your dream shirt, you’re going to have to make a tough decision. Will you get the shirt and delay the holiday? Or will you want the holiday more than the shirt?
Or maybe you dream of paying off some credit card debt. Whatever your dream is, your journal will help remind you why you’re making the decisions when you are feeling like spending the money you want to save.
Now comes the tough part. Or maybe it will be easy!
I’d rather think it’s easy.
I’m going to use the holiday example and then we’ll talk about other ways to work backwards.
First, you’ll figure out how much money approximately that you’ll need. Then you’ll figure out the time you need to save it up.
Can you save that much each week? You may also want to look at ways to earn additional money.
The bottom line is can you put aside that amount of money each week to achieve your goal?
And if it’s not an easy “yes!” then you’ll have to look into making some adjustments. Only you know if you want to make some small cuts like your morning cup of coffee from the fancy coffee house.
Plus maybe that coffee is one of your very few indulgences, and you won’t want to give it up. That’s okay too.
You know yourself best, and you know your cashflow.
And remember that it’s not forever. Or maybe you’ll find some new habits along the way.
Other Ways to Work Backwards
You may want to learn a foreign language or get a promotion. When you work backwards, you start with the final achievement, and then think about what you would need to do just before that to achieve it.
That’s when you’ll start to come up with your plan.
So let’s say you want to learn to speak conversational Japanese. You’d first research programs and courses that teach Japanese. Then you’d decide if you want to learn to read and write Japanese, or just be able to speak it.
If you want to get a promotion, your first task is to talk with your manager as to what skills you need for that promotion. (And just maybe you already have them and will get the promotion right away!)
Then you can make a plan to acquire those skills and get them into your calendar.
Next, let’s look at how you can stay on track to ignite your dreams by using focus.
Using Your Focus
Focus is a special word. It means “Follow One Course Until Successful!”
Okay, I’m kidding a bit.
When I find myself scatting my energy, I remind myself that focus means to follow only one course until I reach success. And it helps bring me back to where I need to be.
So let’s look at how to improve your ability to focus.
How to Build Up Your Focus Muscle
There are ways you can trick yourself into working until a task is complete, or until you make a lot of progress. One funny thing I’ve discovered is that a task often doesn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would.
What takes time is when I let myself get distracted with social media, or thinking about all the other things I could or should be doing.
The Pomodoro Method is a fun strategy invented in the 1980’s by Frances Cocirillo. All you need is a timer.
Then you choose one task to get done, and then set the timer for 25 minutes. Give your entire focus over to the task.
Hopefully you finish the task before the timer goes off. If not, take a short break, and then set the timer for 25 more minutes and keep working with full focus. Just make sure your break has nothing to do with anything work related. Go for a quick walk or get a glass of water.
For every four sessions, schedule a longer (20-30 minute) break to give your brain a chance to relax.
So why did he call it the “Pomodoro Method?” Well, Frances’ timer looked like a tomato.
After you’ve been using this method for a time, you’ll find yourself better able to estimate how long a task will take. You’ll also have better focus because your brain knows you’re going to pay attention to other things when you’re done.
You can set a timer for a longer period of time. Some recommend working for 45-50 minutes, take a 10 minute break, work for another 45-50 minutes, and then take a 30-60 minute break.
A mentor recommended keeping a pad of paper and pen near me when I work. Then when a thought pops into my head, I write it down, and go back to work. That way, I’m reassuring my brain that I will remember to add batteries or saline solution to the shopping list rather than letting myself go down the rabbit hole.
I’ve even written down things like “Check Facebook for today’s memories.” It’s incredible how distracted we can let ourselves get with social media.
Tapping Into Other People’s Efforts
If you’re like most women, you think you need to do everything yourself. It’s a TRAP.
The best thing you can do is find areas in your life where you can offload some of your responsibility to other people. It could be house cleaners coming in.
It could be getting family members to help with dishes, laundry, and vacuuming. (Plus, you’ll be helping them by teaching them some good life skills).
You don’t have to do it all yourself. When you free up your time from certain tasks, you’re also freeing up your mental energy, and that can really ignite your life.
My Final Thoughts
Working smarter is a great way to ignite your dreams. It’s going to take some time for you to identify what you really want, and what tasks you need to get there. It also takes a lot of courage to stay focused on your dreams as well as knowing when to outsource a task that someone else can do just as well if not better than you can.
One other key to remember is that The Universe is an amusing teacher.
Spend the time coming up with a clear dream of what you want and how happy you will be achieving it. But try not to get too attached to specifics.
Take the next step in front of you, but don’t try to think too far ahead. You may find a shortcut opens up.