Boost your confidence with a Dream List

Think about this. What’s on your dream list? I don’t mean your bucket list – that’s not quite the same thing. I mean your list of real stretch goals – major lifetime achievements? Things that will get you out in your stretch zone – playing for real in the place where people make major leaps forward in confidence.

This is a great exercise to do alone, or with partners and collaborators. Get a big sheet of paper and some markers and just write down in bullet point form all of the people you would love to sell stuff to, work for, or collaborate with. And don’t forget the major things you’d like do with your life and career.

If you are an artist or maker, what are the key shops or galleries you would like to work with? If you are in business, who are your aspirational ‘blue chip’ clients – the people that you aspire to work for above all others. Do you want your exhibit your work in Liberty? Do you want to make guitars for rock stars? Do you want your films to be at the big national and international film festivals? Do you want to do a global speaking tour ? Do you want to be in a national ‘collection’?  What’s the lifetime dream?

Only you will know what these aspirational goals are. Unless you write those goals down, unless you begin thinking about how you might actually achieve them, you will simply end up muddling along. Having a dream list is a really powerful thing. It’s no good having the list, however, if you don’t then work at building the relationships that will help move you towards realising them.

‘Often what stops us in life is much less to do with the quality of our work than with the quality of our courage and ambition.’

It is really important when you are trying to do something ambitious to find somebody to hold you accountable, to drive you along. Somebody you can meet with regularly to review your goals and make sure that you are actually making some progress. We all need an irritant to keep us moving – the grain of sand in the oyster shell, so to speak. Sometimes our own conscience simply isn’t enough.

Why is this all so difficult? Psychologically speaking, we are actually hardwired to avoid danger, to stay in our comfort zone. The bit of your brain that is responsible for making sure that you stand up straight and that you avoid obstacles and that you continue breathing is hardwired to keep us out of danger. That means every time we try to do something new, something challenging, that bit of our brain kicks in and says no, you don’t want to be doing that, there is a risk involved in that – stay safe, stay within your comfort zone. This is the root of procrastination – and you have got to force yourself to break through that.

Here it the Dream List process, step by step:

  • Make your ‘dream list’
  • Find someone to hold you accountable – someone you respect
  • Work your way through it stage by stage.
  • Find out who the gatekeepers are (influential people that can open doors for you) and build relationships with them – step by step.
  • Stay close to people who support what you are doing and radiate warmth and energy in your direction
  • Stay away from those who drain you or seek to diminish your efforts.
  • Be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.
  • Remember – being successful requires that you have to overcome resistance and challenge yourself.

The Dream List featured in my TEDx talk on March 22nd, and is one of the key action points featured in my second book – The Art of Shouting Quietly.