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Dream big, and then make them a reality (by goal setting)!! This blog post is about how to make your dreams come true by seeing into the future with a technique called Mental Modeling!

Let use a metaphor: building a road. We will call the ultimate destination location “The Dream”, and we are trying to build the straightest road to get there.

How would one go about building this road? Should we begin by thinking about what materials we are going to need to build this road? Would we send a scout(s) out to see which way is the fastest route? You know that there is a river ahead that we will need to build a bridge to get across. When will you start planning and thinking about how to cross this bridge (when you get there or beforehand)?

Thinking about all the many possibilities that the future could hold is called mental modeling.

To quote Dwight D. Eisenhower (the 34th President), “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. ”

Goals are dreams with a deadline.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Goals: 

Ask yourself, by what date would I like to have this dream become a reality? Is it possible in a year? You should have long-term and short-term goals. Think of long-term goals as ones that can take up to 2-5 years to see to fruition. Whereas short-term goals can be completed within a year.

Remember, if you don’t know where you want to go… Anywhere will do!

road to the futureIdeally, you should have a five-year plan, a one year plan, and milestones that you will complete within the current year.

Writing Down Your Goals:

Writing down your dreams, goals, and plans is essential to this process. Start a journal, if you don’t already have one. Writing your goals down makes us more accountable, and provides a standard to which we can compare what we said we were going to do and what we actually did.

The journal becomes the map of what the future looks like, and is a tool to reflect on our past actions, achievements, and areas to improve.

Back to the metaphor of building a road: If we know that we must cross a river, why wouldn’t we send a portion of our troops to start gathering materials and preparing the riverbank (so that when we get there, the site is already half-built)?

If we use the concept of mental modeling, we have spent time thinking about the foreseeable traps, potholes, and rivers down the road.  We may not be able to see all of the obstacles, but at least we are prepared for some of them. Knowing is half the battle. The other half is preparing yourself so that you have all the tools to deal with the situation when you arrive.

A Life Long Student:

Success is an art and a skill. As with any skill, it must be honed and practiced.

Warren Buffet reads a book every week, while Oprah Winfrey has her very own book club. Trust me, I know what you are thinking… I don’t have time to read. Well, the good news is that you can always listen to books on Audible.  You can’t possibly tell me that you are busier than Warren Buffet and Oprah… Click here if you want to learn more about how to structure a successful morning routine!

Recently, I just finished listening to a book called “Grit“, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in studying the secrets of success.  Angela Duckworth is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

She has devoted her life to finding the secret to outstanding achievement. Her conclusion is that the common factor is not talent, but a focused persistence called “grit”.

To be gritty means to find your passion, and to stick with it for the long haul. In her book, she discusses how to find/develop grit and how to parent your children to have grit.

Goal setting book GritAnyway… Back to Goal Setting:

According to Angela Duckworth (the author of Grit) the higher the goal, the more abstract it is. The lower the goal, the more concrete it is (a means to an end).

Example of a long-term goal: I want to become the CEO of a fortune 500 company!

Short term goal: I will arrive 15 minutes before my boss gets to work. This will allow me to prepare a summary of what items I accomplished the day before, and what items we need to complete today.

The completion of this short-term goal will prove to my boss that I am hardworking and organized. My boss will remember this when she completes my yearly review, and I will be promoted!

Here is a Ted Talk that Angela did about Grit. She is a super interesting character, and this video was what made me want to read her book in its entirety.





DreamsA Real Life Example:

An anecdote from my life: Two years ago I wanted to “read more books”. This goal wasn’t very specific, so I set a lofty goal of reading one book per week. This means 52 books per year (remember to dream big).

I asked myself, “How can I possibly read a 300-500 page book each week when I stare at a computer for 8 hours a day?”.

Then, I asked myself the same question, but in a different way. “Is there a way to intake the information without reading?”

My solution: Audibles!!!

Looking back at my user history, I can see that I listened to 30 books last year.

On average, it takes me about a week and a half to listen to a book. I have listened to books that I would have probably never read, like “The Grand Design” by Steven Hawking. It would have been really difficult to read about “M Theory”, but listening to it was super easy!


The 10,000 Foot Overview:

When I look back at my journal (my map), I didn’t accomplish reading 52 books last year. I did, however, “read more books”, and absorbed 30 books worth of information. Not too shabby! 

I love the saying, “shoot for the moon because even if you don’t land on the moon, you are still amongst the stars”.

Want to know how to get more out of your time? Read my article on efficiency “How to Aggregate time“.

What are some of your big dreams?

Is your dream to retire and just manage your own wealth (see a prior blog post to understand what your number is)?  Are you stuck and don’t know how to get there? Post a comment, and I will gladly help you design a map to get you there (create short-term goals to get to your long-term goals).  You are the creator of your future!!!


Photo Credit by Pexels for the Dream Photo

Photo Credit by Pexels for the Rock Collection Photo

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Lynzee Lai

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