I won $180 million!!! Well, not really, but that is what I use to dream about. I use to drive past the Mega Millions billboards just about every day. I would see what the jackpot was up to and start to dream about how my life would be different if I won that money. From time to time I would buy a ticket, but usually I would just dream about if I were to win, even though I hadn’t bought a ticket. It doesn’t make much sense, right? How could I win the lotto without buying a ticket?
I can’t. There is no way that I could ever get the end result I spent so much time thinking about because I wasn’t even putting in the simple effort of purchasing a ticket. Honestly, now I don’t spend any time dreaming about winning the lotto. I don’t purchase any lotto tickets because even though I know that some people do win, I personally feel convicted that this is not the way God is going to choose to bless me or the way He wants me to be a good steward of His money.
But, this lesson translates over to the rest of my life as well. Now, I spend time dreaming about other things. My husband and I have a goal to move to a different state, I would like to be out of debt, I would like to be able to stay at home (and not working hour upon hour from home) with the ability to homeschool our children or afford to put them in a school of our choosing. I would love to have a Disney Vacation Club membership someday and dream of future vacations where we can afford to take our children and their families (in the far future when that date comes) to Disney all together. I dream of publishing a book for wives with lessons I have learned from my mistakes in marriage. I dream of living on lots of acreage, with animals, and gardens, and going back to a simpler life.
I have no problem dreaming about these things, but if I have not planned out any steps to take to reach these things, it’s just like dreaming for that $180 million. Things in life are not going to be just handed to us. And while it can be fun to dream for a short time, if we are not putting work into achieving those dreams, it is just a dream.
A few years ago I heard someone make a comment that really stuck with me. He was talking about a dream he had for something, but he started by calling it a goal. He quickly corrected himself and said it was just a dream because if it were actually a goal he would have a plan and be working to achieve it.
So, that gets me to thinking about if the things that I dream about are really only that…dreams. Have I made a plan to work towards or them? Or, is it just something that I enjoy thinking about but don’t really ever plan on putting the effort into achieving it?
In his book, The Big Picture, Tony Horton tells a story about a man that worked hard to eat right and exercise and went from 370 lbs. to, as Tony described, a “super-fit dude”. After sharing the story he goes on to say, “Whether or not they’re in good physical shape, a lot of people are like the old Jeremy. They’re stuck. They can’t see the forest for the trees because they don’t even know why they’re in the woods or which way they’re headed. So many people suffer from lack of purpose. They’re in survival mode 24/7. From the moment they wake till the second their head hits the pillow, they’re on autopilot, and the idea of changing course is not only scary – it feels impossible. But flying on autopilot isn’t doing your best – it’s not even taking active control of your journey. It’s sitting back and letting something or someone else make the decisions for you. It’s hidden behind false priorities (I’m too busy) and limitations (my ankle hurts). It’s essential to wake up, take control of the joystick, and keep your eye on the proverbial prize.”
Dreams and goals are great to have, but they do not benefit you in anyway if you do not have a plan to reach them. The best way I have found to establish steps to reach a goal is to work backwards.
- Write down what it is you want to accomplish – add some detail. This part should be fun because you are getting to do a little dreaming.
- Write down the steps that it will take to reach that goal. Once you think you have completed this task, take another look to see if you can break each step down even further. The smaller you get the steps broken down the easier they are to accomplish and move on to the next one.
- This needs to be very specific. For example “Exercise” or “read the Bible” just won’t cut it. It needs to be more specific like “Do 30 minutes of cardio 4 days a week” or “read the Bible for 15 minutes each day”. You need to be able to easily determine if you have completed your task or not.
Stop Worrying about failure! I can become so scared of not accomplishing my goals that I let fear paralyze me and I don’t even begin taking the steps to reach my goal; I fail before I even begin. It helps me when I stop and think about the fact that there pretty much isn’t any one decision that I will make working towards my goal that is a make-it-or-break-it moment. If you have set good Godly goals for yourself and do a little research, it empowers you to take a few risks and be comfortable with them. Not every risk you take is going to work out the way you hoped it would, but that is the chance you take to reach your goals.
Include God in your planning. Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord…” God has plans for you! This means that we can plan anything in the world that we want to, but it doesn’t mean we will accomplish it or if we do accomplish it and it isn’t God’s will, it won’t be the best thing for us. Proverbs 16:9 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” I can’t think of anyone better to help me with my plans than God.
So, follow God in making your plans, but be careful not to let this be your excuse to not take action. I have been guilty of this and I have watched a lot of other people fall into this trap as well. Some Christians take no action in life because they are waiting for God to make things happen for them. I believe that God can make anything happen for us if He desires, but He also wants us to put in the work and effort. God designed us with strength and a brain so we could use them. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” A sound mind does not tell us to sit around and wait for that dream job to come, or the chance to go back to school to fall into our laps, or the weight to just melt off our bodies; fear tells us those things and that does not come from God.
Do you have a plan to reach your goals? Or, are you trying to win the lotto without buying a ticket?
To read more about what can keep you stuck in life follow the series here.