Clarify your dream before setting goals: Add context to your dream

Add context to dreams

Have you ever set goals to achieve a particular dream only to realize many months later that the dream you are chasing is not what you really want? I feel for you, the many hours of effort, the energy and late nights and the money you spent on the chase. There is one simple solution to chasing the wrong dream: pause and clarify your dream. The best way to do this is to add context to your dream.

In this tutorial, I will take a popular dream that wannabe writers have and add context to it.

I want you to note two things before we start. Firstly, adding context requires you to read, watch videos and speak with people. You do these things to find out more about how the people before you achieved a similar dream. The more people you ask, the greater the number of routes you will find to reach the same dream.

Secondly, learning takes time. Yep, I’m saying it again. Learning takes time. But the upfront investment in time and clarifying your dream will spare you many hours, energy and money later on. So, take the time to add context to your dream.

Learn the many routes to a writing dream example

A popular dream for writers is to make millions from their writing.

If you leave your dream this way you will not reach anywhere because there are about a thousand routes to make money from writing. I will list some here.

  • Start a blog in a specific niche, become the expert in a particular area and write a ton of posts to drive traffic to your site to sell physical products, digital products, gain affiliate commission etc.
  • Write on writing platforms such as Medium and get paid by subscribing readers.
  • Become a freelancer and write in a specific area such as health care. Become a paid freelance blogger for health products or a health company.
  • Write novels and sell on multiple platforms such as Amazon.
  • Write nonfiction books and sell from your blog and Amazon.
  • Pitch stories or nonfiction articles to online magazines and get paid for them.
  • Write essays for college students who are too lazy or just overwhelmed with their credit loading.
  • Write product or book reviews and get paid.
  • Become a copywriter and write sales pages for companies.
  • Work as a freelance editor of books or blogs.
  • Start a small business writing resumes or newsletters.
  • Ghostwrite memoirs for celebrities or high-profile persons.
  • Edit masters or doctoral theses or dissertations.
  • Create video tutorials for others by writing the script for them.

Learn about the different ways to reach this route via simple internet searches on Google and YouTube. Create your list for your particular dream.

The next step is to explore each of the routes.

Explore each path to your dream

Exploring each path to your dream literally means doing the research for the steps to get you from where you are at to your dream.

You do not need detailed steps. You need a sequence of broad steps for each path.

For example, I learnt that people who make money in the thousands by writing on Medium typically write a large number of posts a month by writing daily. Some write multiple articles every day. They all also promote their posts on their social media channels.

So under each bullet point in your list, note the broad sequence of steps. For example:

  • Write on writing platforms such as Medium and get paid by subscribing readers.
    • Write 2-3 articles daily. Use the appropriate format to get articles curated and in front of readers. Build an email list and email readers your new posts. Promote articles on Facebook and Instagram. More readers mean more money paid by Medium.

The last step is to ask yourself, “Do I…?”

Do I want to follow this path?

Ask yourself, “Do I want to follow this path?”

The only reason for asking this question is to find out if that path is sustainable for you over the time it will take to accomplish the dream.

For example, if you want to make a million dollars from writing on Medium, you will need to make at least $8,500 per month for 10 years.

So ask yourself, “Do I want to write every day on Medium for the next 10 years?”

“Do I want to post two to three articles to Medium and promote my articles to Facebook and Instagram every single day for the next 10 years?”

Listen carefully to how you feel about doing that type of work.

Also ask yourself whether the writing activities fit into your life: “Does writing several articles every day on Medium easily fit into my life with my full-time job and three kids?”

If your answer is a resounding NO to any of the questions you ask yourself, then move on to the next route and repeat the questions.

By the time you have come to the end of your list of routes to reach your dream, you would have understood which route best suits your lifestyle.

Make a shorter list with the routes that best suit you. Using the example we had for making a million dollars from writing, the shortlist could look like:

  • Start a blog in a specific niche, become the expert in a particular area and write a ton of posts to drive traffic to your site to sell physical products, digital products, gain affiliate commission etc.
  • Write novels and sell on multiple platforms such as Amazon.
  • Write nonfiction books and sell from your blog and Amazon.
  • Pitch stories or nonfiction articles to online magazines and get paid for them.
  • Write product or book reviews and get paid.
  • Edit masters or doctoral theses or dissertations.
  • Create video tutorials for others by writing the script for them.

Review your shortlist

If the shortlist has more than four possible routes as above then repeat the “Do I …” exercise. Don’t do the exercise on the same day you create the shortlist. Instead, put the list aside for a few days, but not more than a week.

You want the routes that best suit your life.

You also want your new shortlist to be ordered into a priority list that you can try. So, take your best four routes and rewrite them into a numbered list. The route at the top of the list should be the easiest one for you to do while the one at the bottom of the list will be the hardest one in terms of the amount of learning that you need to do. For example:

  1. Pitch stories or nonfiction articles to online magazines and get paid for them.
  2. Start a blog in a specific niche, become the expert in a particular area and write a ton of posts to drive traffic to your site to sell physical products, digital products, gain affiliate commission etc.
  3. Write nonfiction books and sell from your blog and Amazon.
  4. Write novels and sell on multiple platforms such as Amazon.

Create your vision

The last step to add context to your dream is to rewrite the list into a short paragraph with a vision of how you see your life. Add context by including details on how you will approach your day to day life as well as how your year will evolve.

For example:

I am a published author who has made millions from selling my nonfiction books and novels on Amazon. I have mastered the art of marketing my books. Each day, I get to write on my current work in progress for two hours and work on marketing my backlist of books for one hour. I also play football with my teenagers and we swap stories of our days. I know if I am consistent with my writing for the next three months I will finish my book in time for my editor to review it within two weeks. While she is editing, I plot out my next novel. My covers are already made since I have been working on marketing most days. When I get my editor’s comments, I’m ready to go to make the last set of changes. I am on track to publish four novels by Christmas. I look forward to a white Christmas in New York with my loved ones.

Writing out your dream into a paragraph will provide the details that you need to read as you revisit your dream from time to time.

The best part of the written vision is that you can easily revise it as your circumstances change.

Image by Alexsander-777 from Pixabay 

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