Awhile back I was at a writing conference hanging out with a group of friends. I happened to catch a fragment of a sentence one my friends asked another: “What are your hopes and dreams?”
That caught my attention for a couple of reasons.
First, hopes and dreams are the things that keep you going. They’re the fuel that powers your jet engine (or your go-cart, if you’re not a high-flier).
Second, the writer who asked the question IS a high-flier. He’s won some major awards and has been on the New York Times bestseller list a few times.
If you’re a beginning writer, one of your hopes and dreams is probably to get published someday. Once you get published, one of your hopes and dreams is probably to hit a bestseller list somewhere or to win an award. (Generally, the folks on the bestseller lists are dreaming about winning an award, whereas the award-winners are all longing desperately for bestseller status. Everybody wants whatever they don’t have.)
Hopes and dreams come in all flavors and sizes. Maybe you’d love to shave off a few pounds (or add them in strategic locations). Maybe the thing you long for is a fatter bank account. Maybe you just wanna be a rock star. Whatever. Your hopes and dreams are yours, and you don’t have to explain them to anybody or justify them.
The one thing you should try to do with your hopes and dreams is to achieve them. And that is most likely to happen when you know what they are and when you regularly remind yourself about them.
Typically, those pesky hopes and dreams are of three main types:
* Something you want to HAVE
* Something you want to DO
* Something you want to BE
I find it useful to keep a “Hopes and Dreams” file. (Actually, it’s about a dozen different files, covering all areas of my life.) When I think of another thing that I want to have or do or be, I write it on a sheet of paper and stick it in the appropriate file.
Of course, files are useless by themselves. The point is that when you’ve got it written down, it becomes a little more real. If you review your Hopes and Dreams files regularly (say once every week or once every month), at some point, you’re going to commit to one of them.
Understand that many of your Hopes and Dreams are going to lie fallow for years, maybe decades. Many of them will NEVER happen. You can’t do everything, be everything, or have everything that you want. There just isn’t time, energy, or money enough for them all. But when you want something bad enough, eventually you commit to it.
At that point, it becomes a project that you can move to its own project file and start working on. This is actually not very hard. Just ask yourself: “What’s the next action I should take to get this or have this or be this?” If you don’t know the answer to that question, look it up or ask somebody.
Then go do it.
Hopes and dreams never materialize unless you take action. You can’t achieve all of your hopes and dreams in this life, but . . . there’s a good chance that you can achieve some of them — those that are most important to you.
That’s what the Hopes and Dreams file is for — to remind you of what you want, to help you decide what you want most, and to motivate you to take action to achieve it.