Dream Big, Set Goals and Make Things Happen

In my dreams, I wake up when it’s still dark. I grab a cup of coffee and a fresh bagel and start changing the world. Then, as the sun rises, I put down my keyboard and gently wake up the rest of my family. We spend hours having fun together, but also get some work done. Not too much – just enough to keep the business rolling.

I dream that I can create something important that will have a lasting impact on other people’s lives. And I dream that my work and life will be in a perfect balance.

I dream a lot.

Did I mention that I also dream that one day I will have an article published in Wired?

I know I shouldn’t say all of these things aloud. But dreaming is fun.

Too bad that dreaming alone won’t get you anywhere.

You need dreams, goals and action plans

It all starts with the dreams. Without dreams you can’t have goals. And without goals, nothing can happen.

So, let’s start by collecting your very own list of dreams.

Take a piece of paper and a pen, stop censoring your thoughts and write down every little things that you would like to do in your life. The things don’t have to make sense to anyone else than you, they can be corny like mine, or they can be just emotions and vague memories of some feelings you had when you were a kid.

If you can get 100 items on your list like Shane, that’s awesome! But if you can’t, that’s OK too. On my list, I’m currently tracking 67 dreams.

And if you get stuck, here are a few questions to help you keep coming up with ideas:

  1. Where do you want to be five years from now? Paris? London? Dakar? Vantaa?
  2. What kind of work do you want to do? Who do you want to be with? Who do you want to be?
  3. What do you want to experience before you die? One of the items on my list says: “I want to take a ride in a hot air balloon.”
  4. Is there something in your past that would have done differently equipped with the understanding and knowledge you have today?
  5. What are the things that inspire you the most?
  6. What kind of things do you recommend to your friends when they ask for life advice? Is there a common trend that in fact speaks more about you than it does about your friends?
  7. What gets you in the state of flow and makes you forget all about time and place for hours?
  8. Who do you want to help?
  9. Who do you admire? Why?
  10. What do you want to own?
  11. What do you want to give?

By no means do your answers have to be definitive or final. All that matters is that you get some answers that feel real to you so that you get going. The next time you do this experiment, you will probably add some new items and drop some that don’t feel important anymore. That happens because when you work to reach your dreams, you learn more about yourself and find out more details on what it is that you are trying to describe with your dreams.

When you have done your list, if you are brave enough, I’d love to hear your answers in the comments. But if you don’t feel like sharing them, keep the list to yourself, put it in a safe place (I keep my list in my pocket) and then we can move on.

Turn your dreams into goals

What makes a side business different than your regular job or business venture is that you run it in your spare time. When you get to work on it, you have already spent about eight hours working on your day job and you feel like you need to get some rest.

That’s why I started this blog post by asking you about your dreams.

I believe that if you give up TV, sleep less than before and add new deadlines and projects to your life, you need to make sure that the reason for doing this really is worth it. To me, the only way to do that is by planning my side business goals along the guidelines set by my dreams.

If your side business is just about money, you will burn out pretty soon.

But when it is something you feel passionately about, you are already much more likely to survive it.

  1. Do something you love. I am going to talk more about picking the right side business idea, but there is one thing above anything else that I want to point out: Make sure you don’t pick a business based just on its profitability but rather on how fun it will be. A side business is a great opportunity to do something different that what you do in your day job!
  2. Set goals that support your dreams. Good goals get you going, but even more importantly, they remind you of why you are working hard and doing all the things you do. When I’m about to get discouraged, I remember my monthly goals and how I’ve set them as a path so that they ultimately lead to less work, although right now it might feel like work is just increasing.
  3. Set goals that work as prizes. One of my dreams is to own a Mac. So, I have made that into one of my next goals: to buy one with the money earned from my side business. That gives me a clear image of what I’m working towards.
  4. Set some big goals. Think of how you want your business to grow in the long term: how long do you plan to keep it as a side thing? Maybe at some point you want to divide your time between your main job and your side thing differently (50/50, for example) ? Or maybe you want to keep it as a side thing but make it function without requiring so much effort from you?
  5. Set some small goals. The way I handle goals is that in addition to the big goals, I plan monthly goals and weekly goals. The monthly goals can be something like “Write two magazine articles” or “Pitch a new article for April”. I also try to assign some monetary value to them. This way they are measurable, but still rather abstract so that I can get them done in many different ways. In my weekly goals I then get more specific, setting goals like “On Monday, write a post for my own blog”, or “By Sunday, finish a post for NORTHxEAST”.
  6. Set goals you want to achieve. And finally, don’t set goals just because they sound like something you should do. I’ve said this many times already, but I’ll repeat once more: This is a project that runs on your spare time. A project that competes with TV, long walks on the beach and all that relaxing stuff you are used to doing. So, set only goals that you really want to do.

This was part two in my series of articles on balancing your side business. Share your dreams and goals as well as experiences and tips on deciding which goals you want to achieve in the comments! In the next article we will continue by talking about which side business ideas help you best in maintaining a good work-life balance.

Until then, have a great weekend!

11 thoughts on “Dream Big, Set Goals and Make Things Happen”

  1. Hi Jarkko – what a GREAT post!

    I am a firm believer (in at least attempting) to turn dreams into goals, and your post has given me even more inspiration.

    Lately, I have been referring to Scott Rigsby, and the tremendous accomplishments he has been able to achieve with his “Do the Unthinkable” mindset.

    Have a fantastic weekend.

  2. 1. 5 years from now, I’d like to still be in my house, except at that point, $1200 a month for a mortgage feels like pennies.
    2. I would like to continue to work for myself with time to pursue many different avenues of business. I would like to have 3 kids (first coming in 2 months!!) and weigh 200 lbs.
    3. I want to see my children start, run, and prosper in their own business or chosen career. I want to take a trip around the globe lasting at least 6 months (all first class).
    4. Looking back, I would have built a bigger emergency fund before quitting my job to start a business. I would have scaled my lifestyle down BEFORE quitting my job and I would have spent a few weeks getting the details of my new business in place before quitting my job.
    5. My wife, My unborn baby boy, my new house, reading, awesome movies, and American Idol.
    6. When giving advice I tend to talk about thinking outside the box, and getting outside your comfort zone. I say “you’ll never know how comfortable you can be until you step outside your comfort zone.” The idea being that as you continually step outside your comfort zone, it expands and grows. Then, things that were not previously in your C.Z. are now! The first thing outside of the ‘norm’ is always hardest. It gets easier and easier and then it gets fun!
    7. When I’m with my buddies with a nice Cigar and Nice Beer, I tend to forget about time and place and all other worries!
    8. I want to help people that are feeling less than thrilled about what society is telling them to do with their life (i.e. go to school, get good grades, wait till you graduate to get married, get a good job, don’t take risks, and play it safe). I want to let them know that life outside what their parents and teachers tell them to do is awesome if it’s truly what they want. Don’t do stuff because you’re “supposed to.”
    9. I admire my Dad because he always took risks, worked hard, played hard, and still figured out how to send a boat load of kids to college and private schools and every sport imaginable. He’s a loving father and husband and a great business man!
    10. I want to own my house. At this point, I own about 11% of it. I want to own many businesses, patents, copyrights, buildings, and houses. I want to own my future.
    11. I want to give money to people who REALLY REALLY want to send their kids to Providence Christian Academy but cannot. I know how much of an impact that place had on my life and I want to make it possible for other to have the same experience. I want to give my kids the necessary tools to be successful in life, in business, in relationships, and in their faith.

    I want to give credit to Jarkko for pulling all this out of me! Way to inspire!


  3. For nearly 20 years, I dreamed of doing the Race Across America (RAAM) which is a 3,000 mile bike race that is done in 12 days or less. The clock never stops. I never actually thought I’d do it. Slowly I did longer and longer races and then I qualified for RAAM. In 2006 I attempted it and made it 2,000 from California to the Mississippi in 8 days before an injury forced me out.

    In order to get money to try it again, I started doing more things on my site. Now not only does it look like those things will help me have the money to do RAAM again but now I’m dreaming of the day I won’t need a day job. I have some short term goals set up that will help me get there. Right now I’m having trouble with balance because I see so much potential. I have so many ideas and I want to implement them now.

  4. Have you thought about how you would want the evenings to go? If you wake up significantly earlier than the rest of your family, you’ll either sleep less or sleep earlier. Being in sync with one’s family is a great joy, too.

  5. Getting rid of TV mentioned – I like this post :-)

    Many of my dreams are a bit expensive to fulfill, so figuring out different ways for extra income keeps my mind busy. I am in a lucky situation having no debt and I have decently paid job but I am not there yet, not even close ;-)

  6. @Mark: I read your interview with Scott some time ago, it was really inspiring stuff! And actually, you’re an inspiration in making things happen as well :)

    @Graham: What a great list! Thanks for sharing it.

    @UltraRob: Wow, that’s a great story (and 2,000 is already quite an achievement)! It’s encouraging to hear how chasing one of your big dreams (the RAAM) also helps to reach your other dream (not needing a day job anymore).

    Good luck, keep up inspiring the rest of us! :)

    @Lynoure: Good question. So far, my answer to this has been to sleep less than the rest of the family. Let’s see how well that works in the long run.

  7. Hei Jarkko! Löysin Kaisan sivuilta käännöksen kysymyksistäsi liittyen tähän artikkeliin ja julkaisin omat pohdintani niistä omassa blogissa. Kiitos inspiraatiosta! Teki hyvää miettiä välillä näitäkin ja ruveta “aikatauluttamaan” tarkemmin omien unelmien toteutusta ;) Sinulla on hienot sivut, usean jutun kävin jo lukaisemassa ja aion lukea jatkossa lisää.

    Mukavaa Pääsiäistä!

    Poplar’s last blog post: Haaveita ja tulevaisuuksia

  8. @Poplar: Thanks, kiitos! I’m glad you found my questions useful and took the time to answer them. That’s a great start in moving your dreams into reality.

  9. My dreams are something I think about a lot. I think my life is made meaningful by my dreams, both in their longing and in their realization.

    I don’t remember how I found your site, but I’m glad I bookmarked it. Because I like you and its fun to read!

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