How to make your big dreams come true in 2023
By Micah Yongo
Jan 20, 2023
“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams… they do not come true just because you dream them.”
So says award winning writer, director and showrunner Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal etc.). Which begs the question: Why and when do dreams come true?
We decided to cobble together the combined coaching experiences of two of our favourite Flock facilitators, backed by a hefty dose of behavioral science, to put together a package of proven practices and resources designed to power you toward your big dreams in ways that work.
Don't know what a Flock is?
Flocks are online deep work sessions designed to free you from distraction and take the willpower out of productivity.
Try a Flock for free today, and see how much you can tick off your to-do list!
Flock facilitators Georgie and Richie had great fun guiding over a hundred FLOWN members through our online Big Picture workshop this past week to put these insights and practices into action. And it’s fair to say those who attended found it to be a truly transformative experience in the best way.
But, I know what you’re thinking — lovely for them, but what about those of us who weren’t able to make it?
Fear not, dear reader, we’ve got you covered.
We’re making our handy assortment of big dreamy resources available to you here, to help you discover your Big Hairy Audacious Dream (BHAD) for the year ahead, and build the plans and practices you’ll need to reach it. You can download our Big Picture Planner below.
For winning insights on how to use it to make your big dreams a reality in 2023, read on!
Go big or go home
A big problem when it comes to setting goals is the temptation to aim too small. We ask, how big is too big? Where do I start? What if I fail?
Before you know it your attempts at setting sail toward your big dreams are swamped in doubts and procrastination without you even leaving the dock.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
To set your best goals you need to begin by getting your ideas detangled from past experiences and expectations. Biography does not equal destiny. What you’ve experienced in the past does not define what you can achieve in the future.
An especially effective way to trigger your mind to do this and open to new possibilities is by forcing it to switch into divergent thinking mode.
What is divergent thinking, and why does it matter?
In basic terms, divergent thinking is the ability to generate novel but useable ideas from a single starting point. It’s what happens when you brainstorm. You take a topic or theme, and try to think of new and alternate possibilities by asking: ‘What if...’
Unfortunately, this happens to be a style of thinking we can struggle to do well as adults.
There are exercises you can do to awaken those dormant divergent neurons, to get your mind thrumming with fresh perspectives and possibilities.
Do the divergent speed challenge
Set a timer for 5 minutes, and think of 25 things you’d love to have achieved by 2024. Your goals can be professional or personal, and as realistic or fanciful as you like. They can include things as small as learning to cook a particular meal or as big as building a business.
The important thing is to set a time limit and think quickly. Doing this will help you to use the more instinctive parts of your brain, to bring up the ideas and goals that matter most.
Become a dreamcatcher
“To have good ideas, you must have many ideas.”
Having lots of ideas is great. It offers a handy trove to draw on when it comes to whittling things down to the goals that matter most.
But… the process of choosing which ideas to act on can easily become overwhelming and complicated, or worst of all, cause you to succumb to the intimations of your inner critic.
The truth is you already know which of your ideas you really want to be celebrating at the end of the year. To keep negative thoughts from sabotaging your ability to identify them you need to calm the body’s fear response. This will help to keep doubt and insecurities from governing your thinking, so that the goals you need to focus on can emerge naturally.
Breathwork is a powerful way to do this. Follow the guidance of our specially designed Airflow video below to help still your nervous system, and allow fresh thinking to surface.
Breathe light for 5 minutes of calm
Once you've slipped into a calm and meditative state, bring your mind to the ideas you captured during the divergent thinking exercise, and as best as you can, note the ideas that come to mind first.
Take your time to do this. Ask yourself, are there any bodily sensations or feelings you notice as you think on these ideas?
Then, after a few minutes, ask:
What achievements will I be celebrating at the end of this year?
How to organize your big dreams
Taking time to journal your big dreams, especially following exercises like the ones above, can be a powerful way to discern the goals that matter to you most, and filter out lesser priorities.
To refine your goals, use a timer and a calming playlist to spend a few minutes writing in response to each of the following prompts:
Which of your goals for the year ahead stand out? Which ones are just filler goals? (3 minutes)
Which of your goals feel most important to you right now? (3 minutes)
Settle on three big dreams for 2023 that you’ll retain and focus on (3 minutes)
Build your big dream community
Recruiting supportive people to hold you accountable and encourage you toward the changes you want to achieve can be especially helpful when it comes to achieving big dreams.
Choose 2-3 trusted people to share your three big dreams with. These could be family members, members of a community group, friends, or coworkers. Try to notice their responses, and which of your big dreams draw the most attention.
When boiling things down to what will be your Big Hairy Audacious Dream for 2023, it’s important to identify the dream you want to do, rather than dreams you think you should do. So, after reflecting on your experiences of the exercises we’ve covered so far, ask yourself…
What is your Big Hairy Audacious Dream for 2023?
Take note of the first idea that comes to mind, and make that your 2023 goal.
How to achieve your big dreams in 3 simple steps
Having big dreams is great, but understanding how to work toward making them a reality is even better. When it comes to making the hard yards to arrive at goals, having the right resources and routines is essential.
We’ve broken down three key elements you’ll need to make a priority.
Building a supportive community around the changes you’re seeking to make is a great way to stay motivated and keep on track when you hit bumps in the road. A good BHAD community could include:
Family and friends
Colleagues and professional networks
Hobbies and clubs you’re a part of
Choose your big dreams squad
Choose 3-5 people to share your BHAD with, then explain how you’d like for them to support you toward taking the steps needed to reach it. For example:
- Support with new habits
- Accountability with your mini-goals
- Coffee meet ups to reflect on your progress
- Occasional nudges via text message
- A friendly face to weep and laugh about it all with
Writer and historian Will Durant said it best…
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then isn’t an act, it is a habit.”
Achieving any big dream will always come down to the routines we build into our day-to-day lives. To build toward your Big Hairy Audacious Dream you’ll need to develop new habits and stick to them. Habit stacking is a great way to do this.
What is habit stacking?
Habit stacking is a type of implementation intention. It’s about pairing behaviors together so that you can use a familiar habit to trigger the building of a new one. The formula usually goes as follows:
After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
An example would be:
After I have my afternoon coffee, I will go out for a walk.
By using a current habit in this way, you make it easier to adopt the new behaviors you want to build, and thereby progress toward your big dreams.
What 3 habits will support you to achieve your big dreams this year?
Checkpointing is a way of creating meaningful mini-goals to work toward, to help keep you motivated on the journey toward your big dreams.
Whenever you reach a goal, your brain floods with feel good hormones like dopamine to reward and motivate the behaviors that led to it. Creating mini-goals or checkpoints provides you with opportunities to trigger the motivating power of this dopaminergic response, so that you can be spurred on to your Big Hairy Audacious Dream.
Pick 3-5 checkpoints you’d need to reach on the way to making your Big Hairy Audacious Dream a reality.
Download our Big Picture Planner and set aside 20-30 minutes to plan how you’ll make use of these practices by filling it out. Writing down the people you’ll make part of your BHAD community and the habits and mini-goals you’re going to work toward will help you stay accountable to your vision.
You can also use our Big Picture Notion templates if you prefer to note things down digitally.
“People often overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years”
When filling out your Big Picture Planner, try to think about what potential roadblocks could get in the way of your progress e.g. unexpected work commitments, a sick child etc. Then, where possible, think up ideas for what you could do to stay on track if those events were to arise.
Having a strategy for when things don’t go to plan is an ideal way to ensure you’re mentally and practically prepared for challenges. This way you’ll be better equipped to navigate hiccups as they arise, and keep them from scuppering your progress toward your big dreams.
Why big dreams matter
There’s a huge benefit to finding the boldness to pursue big dreams. You learn new skills, you take risks, and in so doing you arrive at your goal having become more than who you were when you began. As Eleanor Roosevelt once put it:
”You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
And with good reason. Setting and pursuing goals has been proven to positively impact everything from career outcomes to general health and wellbeing.
There are even studies to show that merely thinking about a positive outcome or experience in the future can raise endorphin levels in your brain — a hormone responsible for reducing stress, increasing your sense of joy and euphoria, and your decision making and learning retention.
In other words, dreaming about your goals before you set out to achieve them can actually empower your journey toward making those big dreams a reality.
So, if you’ve taken the time to think intentionally about what you want to get from the year ahead, and planned toward it, pat yourself on the back. Perhaps even take a bow. You’ve earned it… Then get started.
Dreams are good for you. And when you plan them properly, they can come true.