When I left school, eleven years ago, my friends and I all wrote letters to ourselves. The letters included answers to a list of about twenty questions and were all to be opened five years later. The questions included a lot of silly, 18 year old girlish concerns, such as “Who’s your current crush?” and “Who do you want to marry?” but also a lot of life-based ones, such as “Where do you want to be in five years’ time?” followed quickly by “Where do you think you’ll actually be in five years’ time?”
When we opened them, I think we were all quite struck both by how little we’d changed in terms of voice and outlook, but also how many of our predictions, or goals, had come true. We quickly set about writing an updated letter to ourselves: these were opened last year.
A friend recently asked me what my dream was – what did I want to do with my life? I struggled to answer, and this shocked me. I always had so many dreams when I was growing up: I wanted to live abroad, write a book, start a charity etc. However, I don’t think that my present lack of ‘a dream’ is a sign that I’ve stopped dreaming, or aiming, but just that I’ve been so absorbed by the here and now that I haven’t really stopped to think about the future. I probably just had more time to dream when I was younger (and doing a university degree that required two hours of contact time a week…).
This week I’ll be setting some new goals. This isn’t just because I want to reassure myself that I still have a dream, but also because my last few goals have almost all come true in one form or another, even if I forgot it was ever a goal. Perhaps the cogs were turning subconsciously and I was following some projected dream that I’d set myself all those years ago. If this is the case, setting goals isn’t just a nice way of keeping yourself motivated, it’s an important part of actually getting somewhere.
This is a fairly straightforward challenge: in its most simple form all you need to do is write a list. If you have more time though, and really want to take your goals seriously, look a little further into them. Is there someone who is currently in the position you would like to be in? This could be your boss or it could be a complete stranger, maybe even someone famous. Take a risk and email them. Invite them for lunch or, if this isn’t possible, schedule a call with them. Ask them how they got to where they are – what would they recommend you do in order to improve your chances of one day following in their footsteps? Use this as an excuse to meet some inspirational people and put yourself on their level. Forge relationships, expand networks, ask questions. Dream!