If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You, They Aren’t Big Enough

In a poignant book entitled, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was quoted as saying, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

Everything comes in time to those who can wait. — Francois Rabelais

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard this saying before. But how much do you wholeheartedly believe in it? If you think about the achievements of some of the world’s most famous or successful people, it all started for them with a dream. Surely, their dreams scared them. But that didn’t stop them. It fueled them.

No matter what it is that you want in life, it’s achievable with the right amount of focus, effort and action. Of course, it’s not just about having big dreams that scare you; you need to also do something to turn those dreams into a reality. You need to execute a plan to bring them into fruition.

At the very heart of any successful person’s goal, is a plan. That plan needs to be acted upon on a daily basis, and not simply set and forgotten about. However, we all know that achieving big goals is hard. It’s easy to give up along the way rather than suffer through the torment and pain of one failure after another.

But that’s just what it takes. It’s been said that it takes an average of 3.8 failures before an entrepreneur achieve’s success in whatever endeavor they’re after. The thing that sets them apart from the average person that sets a big dream that might scare them? Persistence.

So it’s not just about having big dreams that scare you; it’s about having the wherewithal and an immense capacity of persistence to actually see those dreams through. It won’t happen overnight. But with constant dedication, in time, it will happen.

Do Your Dreams Scare You?

The question then remains: Do your dreams scare you? Of course, by saying dreams, we’re actually talking about your goals. What do you want out of life? What do you want to achieve or become? What ideals do you want your life to represent? What value do you want to add to society?

In order to answer those questions, you need to get specific about what you want by setting some goals on paper. This absolutely must be done on paper. Why? What the mind can see, the mind can believe. Remember that everything in your life, whatever you have right now, was created by the mind.

The mind is the most powerful tool. It can be razor sharp when focused, helping to attract good things into our lives. But it can also work against us as a deterrent, focusing on negativity and seeing only problems, thus begetting more problems. Like attracts like.

Wherever you point your mind, that’s the direction that your life is going to move in. So be excruciatingly careful about what you focus on. That’s also precisely why your dreams should scare you. Because, no matter what your dreams are, it’s purely an element of focus. You might as well focus on something really big rather than something minute, since whatever you focus on, you’ll move towards.

That’s likely why Sirleaf stated that the size of your dreams needs to actually exceed your current capacity to achieve them. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that whatever we focus on, big or small, we’ll move towards. Of course, as the first female elected official in an African state, Sirleaf can testify directly to that. Her statements aren’t merely words, they’re based on her own achievements.

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How to Set Goals the Right Way

It’s not just about setting goals and forgetting them. You need to approach the process the right way. If you want to develop and foster a set of dreams that scare you, quite literally, you have to engage in goal setting the right way.

Yes, there is a right and wrong way to set goals. The biggest problem? Most people set goals once a year. They do it on New Year’s, and we refer to this as New Year’s Syndrome. Why? Because most people that set goals on New Year’s don’t actually follow through. Walk into any gym in the first week of January, and you’ll see it jam-packed with people. Come back just three months later, and you’ll wonder where everyone went.

How many people actually set New Year’s goals and don’t follow through with them? 92%, according to a company called Statistic Brain, which measured New Year’s goal setters’ success in one study. They determined that 75% were able to maintain their goal for just one week, 71% made it past 2 weeks, 64% past one month, and 46% past 6 months, and just 8% saw the goal to fruition.

Those are some staggering numbers and it paints a relatively familiar picture for most of us. We all tend to set goals then forget about them. We set goals the wrong way, which leads to an eventual loss of motivation and drive over time. Then, after we hit a major stumbling block or failure ensues, we give up, calling it quits.

So how do we set goals the right way? How do we create a set of dreams that are so big that they scare us, yet still attainable over time with the right approach? How can we go about setting a goal on New Year’s, or any other time of the year for that matter, and actually stay committed to it and see things through? Is it just some fairytale fantasy, or is this actually possible to do?

To be continue in part 2: How to Set Goals the Right Way

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