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How Can a Dream Come True?
It must come from the mind of the dreamer to the light of the world
How can a dream come true if it forever remains a dream? It must come from the mind of the dreamer to the light of the world where it can be shaped into reality, and seen by all.
Over my lifetime I have produced many things that are simply not valuable to me today. I had no real plan or vision for my life. If you are not building something, progress is not important, and completing the work is not even an issue.
However, if you are building something, if you are working towards a dream, if you have big plans in life, then you want to make progress. Yes, you really want to make progress. Are we there yet?
“Let there be light: and there was light.” —Genesis 1:3
God the Creator speaks, and boom, things come into existence.
For us, there is a gap. The gap is the long span of time between what we envision and what we create. The work during this creative gap is very fragile. The gap is where we can struggle. It’s where we lose motivation. It’s where we are tempted to quit.
How do you make progress, stay focused, and avoid giving up?
One of the tools I use to lead me through the gap is measurement.
Measure What Matters
I was trained to measure everything. Everything had a code. If it didn’t have a code, you wouldn’t do it. I worked for a global information technology company and they wanted to know exactly how every hour was spent. It makes perfect sense.
When I first began to work full time on my dream, I spent hours creating and refining my spreadsheet. I tracked research, training, projects, maintenance, overhead, marketing, etc. At the end of each week I would fill the appropriate spreadsheet cells. Tracking my time became a management activity (that I also tracked). After months of filling spreadsheet cells I became frustrated and demoralized. It had beaten the life out of me. It was pointless, so I quit tracking everything.
Years later, as I started studying success, I realized that measuring did have value, but it must be done at the right scale — the scale of a solo dream builder, not a global IT company.
As a solo dream builder, the work that matters is the time we spend creating and the time we invest in ourselves. These are the only two metrics I track on a daily basis.
Protect That Time
If we need two hours a day to work on something meaningful, then protect those two hours. Make sure they are the priority of the day. At the end of the week we should have a minimum of 10 hours. At the end of the year we should have 520 hours.
Measuring builds a protective wall around what matters to us. We measure to have concrete evidence that we are achieving our goal. When we have evidence, it empowers our feeling of progress. When we are making measurable progress, we are less likely to give in to negative feelings.
Measuring means capturing data in an organized way that can be utilized for the short-term and long-term. Even for a lifetime.
Measure What You Can Control
We have a tendency to try to achieve vague goals, and create timelines that are out of our control. For example, someone might set a goal to be a millionaire by the age of thirty.
Becoming a millionaire is too vague. You could become a millionaire in many ways; you could win the lottery, inherit a fortune, invest in stocks, or build a business. Additionally, setting an arbitrary target date, such as "by age of thirty" is not useful, and in reality, it is out of our control. Money can come and go. In forty days you could go broke! Ray Dalio has such a story.
A better way is to create a goal that builds a skill. Then, year after year, we will accumulate measurable knowledge and skill. For example, a clear and achievable goal is: I will continuously improve my understanding and skills of obtaining wealth.
Once a clear and achievable goal is determined, then create a system of daily actions that will push you toward your goal. For example, set aside one hour a day to read a financial book. Set aside one hour a week to create and maintain a financial plan. At the end of the year you will have 260 hours of study and 52 hours of practice. That is evidence of work and something you can build on year after year.
Add to What You Build
My past building efforts were not well planned, mainly because I was unclear about what I wanted. I didn't have a purpose. I didn't have a plan. I went with the creative flow. I build many different things.
Today I invest in things that add/accumulate value to my life year after year. Self knowledge, financial knowledge, relationships, skills, reputation, wisdom, and love, are just some of the things that have life-long value. For me, it has become important to have something that I can build on each year. This is the key to abundance and creating wealth.
There is a gap between the time we start building our dream and the time we begin to see the outcomes we hope for. This gap is where we can struggle, where we lose motivation, and where we are tempted to quit.
In order to make it through this gap it is good to have a clear target and solid measures of progress. This “evidence of work” gives us peace of mind that we are indeed making progress, even without a big result. We can keep going, when others give up.
The key points for measuring what matters are:
Have a clear goal (target).
Measure only the work each day that contributes to the goal.
Measure the activities that are within our control.
Invest in creating things that you can build on each year.
What we measure is concrete evidence of what we have invested; proof we are achieving our goal. Evidence of work (what we measure) empowers our feeling of success.
To your success!
"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed." -Booker T. Washington
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