How to Reverse Engineer Your Dreams - January 2018

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So, this is a really embarrassing, really funny story. And let me preempt it by saying I’m NOT crazy, and I swear it was a really funny joke (in my head) (at the time).

When I first started out, maybe a year or two in, the local paper here in Chattanooga, TN asked me if they could come interview me for an article. Of course, I said yes! So the reporter came to my house along with a photographer, and we just chatted away while I was shooting a recipe for the blog.

Fun fact about me that you might not know from just reading my blog: I have NO filter.

Like negative amounts of filter. This is a problem when talking to reporters. On the record. And I’d never talked to a reporter before.

Sooo…yeah, I was in full-on unfiltered mode and making self-deprecating jokes and off color comments like it was my freaking j-o-b.

Aaaaand you can guess what happened.

She printed them. All of them. And the picture of me they printed looked like I wasn’t wearing a bra (I swear I was!) Seriously. It was just AWFUL. I wanted to crawl under the house. But one quote, in particular, stood out as particularly mortifying.

I joked (it was a JOKE, guys!) that I, and I quote, wanted to “Drink the blood out of Martha Stewart’s heart and consume her life force & energy!” I didn’t know it was on the record. Feel free to face palm on my behalf.

That was my (admittedly bizarre) way of saying how much I respected and looked up to Martha as a business woman & lifestyle empire powerhouse. I was determined to be like her one day (minus the prison part). I'm really strange guys, forgive the dark humor. But that little story brings me to my point: this little weirdo from Tennessee was dreaming BIG.

It’s no secret that I believe in big dreams.

Like really big dreams. Wanna be the next Oprah? Sure! Permaculture on the moon? Why not! Consume Martha’s life force and rule her queendom? Yeah…okay, weirdo. *backs away slowly*

But here’s the deal, in all seriousness, when we limit our dreams by being “realistic”, we’re putting a self-imposed governor on what we can achieve. I don’t like to call them dreams at the end of the day.

Dreaming is where I start. Goals are where I finish.

So the very first thing I would like to challenge you to do is to take whatever you have in the “dream” box and move it to the “goal” box.

That’s the first step.

That small perceptual change can make a huge impact on it’s own. But I want to give you more than that. I have a system for myself inspired by all the things I’ve read, heard, and resonated with over the years, and I use this system to set and pursue goals in all areas of my life.

Before I dive into how I reverse engineer my biggest, wildest dreams in to real, actionable goals, I want to talk about how to know what goals to set in the first place. I truly believe that where we look is where we go, so before I set goals, I check in with myself to see if I’m looking in the right direction.

I want everything I’m working towards to align with my WHY.

Your why is the thing that, at your core, inspires you. It’s your reason for getting up everyday, personally and professionally. It’s what fires you up & excites you. What you could spend hours doing and time disappears. It’s the place where your values, passions, talents, and skills intersect to bring value to the lives of others.

Before you do anything, figure out that WHY. Why do you do what you do? For me, I love using my unique combo of creative passion for beauty and my nerdy, technical strategy brain to teach others to make their dreams reality and make the world a better place in big & little ways. That’s my why. Find yours. It will be your north star.

I recently watched a little goal setting mini series by Melyssa Griffin, an entrepreneur that inspires me so much, and she gave me the idea of setting “core goals” that rule over all the other goals.

I used my why to help me determine my core goal.

Core goals are not destinations. They are journey oriented, which I love. Core goals are how you want to feel and what you want to do each day. My core goals are:
1. To wake up each morning excited, with no fear, and energized to tackle the day without any overwhelm.
2. To be fully present and love on my husband & daughter daily
3. To be surrounded by beauty

If a goal doesn’t align with those core goals, it gets scrapped or reworked.

Once we know our why and our core goals, we can start concrete goal setting mindfully with intention. Here’s my system:

I see my life as running, like an engine, on multiple cylinders. This is an idea from the book The One Thing. Those are:
1. Spiritual & Personal Growth
2. Physical health
3. Key relationships
4. Career/business
5. Finances

These are the categories in which I set goals. I list them in order of importance because I believe that our personal well-being has to be intact for our relationships, careers, and finances to truly thrive.

To start, I set my 10 year goal in each of these categories. In my biggest, wildest dreams, where would I be in 10 years? I don’t let any of that “realistic” nonsense put a damper on these dreams.

Then I ask myself, where would I need to be in 5 years to hit those 10 year goals? Where would I need to be in 1 year to hit my 5 year goals? Where would I need to be in 6 months? Where would I need to be in 1 month? Where would I need to be in 1 week? What do I need to do today? What do I do right now?

I use the “guiding question” from The One Thing to determine these. That question is, paraphrased, “What ONE thing can I do that will make everything else either easier or unnecessary?”

So, working backwards, I create an outline, a map, to my wildest dreams.

For instance, I always knew that books, television, consumer products, and a publication were all steps in the Martha journey. Incidentally, after aligning with my why and my core goals, I no longer want to be Martha, but the point is, I knew there were concrete milestones I needed to make if I wanted that. And for my new dream, which is to be ME and grow this community and teach you guys everything I know, there are also milestones I know I need to hit.

I set one goal in each category each quarter. For instance:
1. Meditate daily
2. Weight train 5x/week for one hour
3. Take one day off a week fully devoted to family time
4. 5x our email list
5. Save ⅓ of what I pay myself as an emergency fund

I choose the goal that will make the biggest impact, the one that will make all the other things I desire easier or unnecessary. Once I feel I’ve formed habits or completed a goal, I move on to the next.

If i’m still working on something, it carries over to the next quarter. For example, to simply stick with weight training is my goal for my health for the whole year. I don’t try to do a million things at one time.

As an example, here are my quarterly goals for my business this year:
1. Grow the email list 5x. (Q1)
2. Launch a podcast + website to house it (Q2)
3. Write a cookbook (Q1, 2, 3, 4)
4. Double revenue. (Q4)

The book is a bit of a weirdo, because it spans the year, but I know Q3 will be the most intense period, and all of the other work builds towards that Q4 goal of doubling our revenue so we can grow the team & create opportunities, create more resources for you guys, invest & save, and give more.

Once I know my goals for the years, I break them down into projects. For example, to grow and maintain my email list in Q1 my project list included:
1. Write a heartfelt Welcome Series
2. Write a monthly newsletter
3. Create 3 high value freebies

I can then break those down into even smaller, bite sized steps. And those steps are what fill my day. But I never lose site of the big pictures and feel lost in minutiae because I started with the big picture.

This method of goal setting can also give you more time, because you know exactly what you need to be doing to move towards the dream, and you can scrap the rest of the noise and say no to it while you focus in.

I can confidently go through my days writing copy, editing, developing recipes, and dealing with the day in/day out because I know it’s all getting me closer to those big dreams.

Okay! I know that was a LOT of information. But I’m really passionate about this stuff, and I didn’t want to water it down or hold back. I hope this helps you create an actionable plan to take your crazy dreams to realistic goals!

Don't forget to grab the workbook!