How to Turn Your Dreams into Reality in 5 Easy Steps

How to achieve your dreamsHow to achieve your dreamsI am a scaredy cat. A major one. When my husband gets all excited about a new idea, I am the first one to roll my eyes and tell him all the reasons his "AMAZING" plan won't work. Talk about supportive, huh? My friend recently described her "dream poo-pooing" like this, "He walks in with these dreams like fireworks blazing in the sky… and then I pee all over them."

I laughed and then told her she had just described EXACTLY what I do … but in a really strange way. I don't just pee on my husband's dreams, I often pee on my own dreams, too. You wouldn't think (based on where I live) that I am a wimp about making big dreams happen … but big dreams are high risk! They affect everyone involved, from the parents to the kids to the grandparents to the family dog. What I often forget is that sometimes that effect can be an AMAZING one, not a bad one.

While I'm no expert at making big dreams happen, I've found these 5 steps helpful in attempting to turn my own dreams into a reality:

1) Dream first, think about money later
Considering the current economy, this feels like COMPLETE FOLLY. So, if you are me … you PANIC about how you'll survive financially if you launch this dream. When these sorts of fears start popping into my mind, I tell myself: "You are right, you don't know how things will work out BUT if you choose this path YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT." Never attempting to turn your dreams into a reality is a type of failure by default. Not doing something that's been PLANTED in your soul to do is a version of loss you should never experience.

Step challenge: Dream. Dream with your spouse or alone or with a great friend. Answer the question, "Wouldn't it be great if…"

Related: 20 little ways to de-stress throughout the day

2) Stop saying: "What if" and "I can't"
What if we die? What if we can't eat? I can't risk it. I can't do it. What if we FAIL? I've said all of these things -- trust me. But here's the deal: I know that this is scary. And yes, you might fail. But does that mean if you fail, that your dream wasn't worth it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. In the midst of a failed coffee shop, I learned valuable lessons that have shaped my future plans and given me skills I would've never had. A fear of failure has the power to immobilize you -- but only if you let it. So how can you get ast this? A simple way is to get comfortable with your fear. To LIVE with it. To respect it. This may sound like a maniac's quest, but you'll realize that by labeling it "fear," you're already winning. Many people don't even bother calling it "fear"… they just say they "can't do it" and cite all the reasons why.

Step challenge: Start a version of the "Swear" Jar for your dream, and call it the "I Can" Jar. Put a set amount of $ in it every time you hear yourself (even if it's not said out loud) saying "I can't" or "What if."

3) Plan
Now that you've been dreaming big and not using those terrible horrible words from #2, it's time to get your dream on paper. When we came up with our recent big dream (I'm still not telling … yet!), we mapped it out on one long piece of paper. In this plan, you should include: the effects you want your dream to have; the tools, supplies, and man-power you'll need; an estimated cost of carrying out this plan; and a list of the steps you'll need to take. Don't let not having every little piece of information stop you -- simply start with what you have and know. Some websites that can help with this planning phase are: 99u.com, TED.com, and MakingThingsHappen.

Step Challenge: Meet for coffee with a friend (a friend who is trustworthy and open-hearted) and fill them in on your plan. What did they think? How did you feel sharing your dream? It can be liberating to SHARE it and hear the opinions of those you trust.

Related: The top 5 apps to boost your productivity

4) Launch ... even before everything is perfect
This new big dream of ours is just a few months old and it's already very near and dear to our hearts. If you're at this stage, you've risked a lot to get to this point, making it feel impossibly personal to launch it. But you know what, launch it anyways and don't close your eyes. It is a vulnerable moment, sharing your dream and your SELF with the world, but you need to lean into that uncomfortable feeling, and "go public" before everything is absolutely perfect. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you WILL NEVER open the doors of this dream. Plan well, prepare, and then just launch … imperfections and all.

Step Challenge: It's time to start.

5) Be prepared for roadblocks
Living our lives in Burundi and setting out to do the things we came here for hasn't been a cake-walk, that's for sure. The key here is to face opposition with openness. For me, openness means trusting our plans to a higher source … namely, God. I understand that this is not how everybody makes dreams happen, but remember … these tips are home-spun from my personal experiences. My process for dreaming big looks a little like this … dream big, trust God, get scared, remember that fear is normal, and decide to LAUNCH. It's not a perfect process, but it's human and it's mine.

Step Challenge: Take a moment to appreciate how far you have come. Look at HOW FAR YOU HAVE JOURNEYED! Remembering how far I have come always gives me clarity as I face difficult things.

- By Kristy Carlson

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Kristy Carlson and her husband recently moved their family of two small boys to Burundi, east Africa and founded Long Miles Coffee Project. Her husband's a coffee guy, she's a photographer (and scribbler) and together they're trying to help coffee farmers live a better life. She's also on a journey to live out her best authentic life there in Burundi, which usually means blogging the amazing, the bad, and everything in between about her life in Africa.

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