Dream big, but take baby steps first

BY: Mohammed Issa
Dream big, but take baby steps first
Dream big, but take baby steps first

Do you have great ideas, projects and thoughts that you want to see through but don’t have the time or energy to do it all? Or somehow you became impatient and gave up on them.

If yes, do the exercise below.

This is a written exercise where we free-write in abundant, colourful detail about how our (dream) life could look 10 years from now. The richness of the activity comes from its specificity.

I did this exercise almost a year ago now, and it breathed new life into the way I looked at goal setting. I fully grasped the power of long-term thinking, as the exercise removed the superficial pull of the quick benefits that often tug at us. This freed my mind to imagine exactly what I truly wanted.

I have paraphrased and added some questions of my own, but the exercise goes something like this.

10 Year plan for a remarkable life

You are 10 years in the future. Describe where you are and what your house looks like. What is your livelihood? Are you a writer, still at your nine-to-five job, creating your own business?

How do you spend your days? Who are you living with? Who are your friends, and what do you do as a group? What clothes and furniture do you own? Do you have children? What are you doing with them? Do you own a car, a plane, a catamaran?

What are your hobbies? Are you still playing chess? How healthy are you, and do you still do yoga? Are you involved in any community service programme? How are you giving back?

Write in first person, and date the document 10 years from the day you do the exercise. Aim for a word count of 3,000 or more to capture the details. Write out all your dreams, wants and needs. Write as if this is the life you demand.

Dream big, as no one will see this 10-year plan but you.

This kind of long-term thinking goes against the current climate of instant gratification. I know it’s getting harder and harder to treat life like a marathon, especially as technology makes a point of teaching us that life is only a 100-metre dash, with rewards for the winners.

The “bling ideology” of money, status and power has cluttered our thinking to believe that getting to 1,000 likes is somehow more important than building a practice or habit that can serve us years down the line.

We have now substituted life-long values such as patience, perseverance and diligence with superficial qualities like popularity, self-centeredness and short-term success. We have eschewed good habits such as reading great books, walking outdoors, and having face-to-face conversations in favour of browsing the internet, walking on a treadmill and using emoticons instead of words.

Take baby steps

Once you’ve clarified your vision, start taking small steps towards them. Treat each project or goal as if you are just starting out as an apprentice. During the Renaissance, artists learned their trade through mentorship or apprenticeship and took baby steps toward becoming full-fledged craftsmen.

At the age of 14, Leonardo da Vinci was apprenticed to the artist Andrea di Cione, known as Verrocchio, whose workshop was one of the finest in Florence. Only after seven years did he qualify as a master; he could then set up his workshop.

The idea of apprenticeship was not confined to the arts but extended to all kinds of artisans and professionals. Aspirants learned their craft, patiently and meticulously, before displaying or selling their wares to the public.

The successful people are not only clear about their vision but know that it will take a long time before they can achieve it. They are patient enough to wait for the end goal. They will persevere and endure failure after failure so that their dream is achieved.

They will not give up when the waters become muddy and start blaming others or the universe. Instead, they know that sticking to their long-term plan is what will get them there – even if it takes 10, 20 or 50 years down the road.

The writer is a motivational speaker/CEO, KIMO Home. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.