How to Cultivate Big Dreams Goals

How to Cultivate Big Dreams Goals

by: Emily Thomas

In the 2022 PowerSheets®, we suggested categorizing your goal efforts into one of three buckets: Habits, Finish Lines, or Big Dreams.

Habit Goals: These actions establish rhythms in your life and create consistency. You may have Habits you want to continue growing, or new Habits you want to cultivate. 

Finish Lines: These goals move you from where you are now to where (and who!) you want to be. Finish Lines can be completed in the space of a year and are specific and measurable. You achieve them by defining action steps and completing those steps in an order that makes sense. Think of them like projects!

Big Dreams: These goals are often new, bold, or life-changing—taking extra effort or a leap of faith to complete. These goals may feel thrilling (or even a little nerve-wracking) to create and leave you inspired at the thought of achieving them. Most of us will set no more than 1-2 each year, and they may take several years to complete.

These three types of goals work hand-in-hand: for example, a yearly goal (or a Big Dream!) is often accomplished through completing several Finish Line goals and a handful of Habits adding up. Categorizing your goals like this helps you to understand the amount and type of effort that will be needed to achieve them. And when we have accurate expectations, we're less likely to get frustrated or overwhelmed!

Here's a cheat sheet:

Habits, Finish Lines, and Big Dreams are best accomplished in unique ways. Today, we're sharing some easy and proven ways to break down and achieve Big Dream goals from Team Cultivate and the CWM community!

Examples of Big Dream Goals:

  • Run a half marathon
  • Make friends from the ground up in a new city
  • Save for a down payment and buy a house
  • Read the entire Bible
  • Rebuild our marriage
  • Establish life-giving rhythms for our family
  • Write a book
  • Visit every National Park

How to Break Down a Big Dream Goal:

Even if the goal feels really big, you can still break it down into action steps! Just as for Finish Line goals, there are two steps to breaking down Big Dream goals: 1) define action steps, and 2) pace yourself. Let's look at each!

First, for each Big Dream goal, define action steps that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. 

  • To know where you want to be, you have to define what success looks like for your goal - there's space for this in your Goal Action pages!
  • If you’re having a hard time coming up with action steps for a specific goal, your first step might be to do some research (listen to a podcast, read a book, ask a friend). 
  • Action steps should be small enough to be completed in one sitting.
  • But, don’t be afraid to jump in and start while you have momentum - you can always pivot later! Planning can feel like motion but it doesn’t actually achieve anything on its own.
  • Remember, you do NOT need to know action steps A through Z to start on step A. You only need to know step A.

Second, pace yourself by spreading out your Big Dream goals and action steps over several quarters or years.

  • Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given day, week, and month. Remember there are 12 months in a year to make progress, and that we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a week, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
  • Add a few action steps to the Monthly section of your Tending List and work on them little-by-little.

Tips for Cultivating Long-Term Goals:

Big Dream goals, by definition, will take you longer than a year to complete. Here are a few tips to help you go the distance:

  • Create milestones. These goals have a LONG time horizon, and so it’s important to give yourself opportunities to celebrate and check in along the way. Milestones could look like a certain dollar amount saved, number of miles logged, number of dates gone on, etc.
  • Celebrate along the way. Celebrating keeps you going and gives you optimism and confidence. Meet a friend for coffee, enjoy a movie night, tell someone about your progress.
  • Focus on the process. These goals will be your companions for a long time, so you might as well become friends. Ask yourself: how can I make achieving this goal simpler? Easier? More fun? Discovering a good strategy can be just as valuable as making progress on the goal itself. 
  • Keep your big picture in front of you. Some days are hard. Your goal will seem far off. Use a vision board, a single image, or a countdown to visualize success.
  • Find a like-minded community. For your specific goal, yes, but it's also worth finding people who believe that good things take time! We hope the Cultivate community can be that for you.

For more on long-term goals, you might enjoy this blog post

We'd love to hear: what is the biggest goal you've ever worked on, and how long did it take to achieve it? (Or are you still in the middle?) We'd love to cheer you on!

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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