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When was the last time you felt fired up, purposeful, and energized about your goals? How can you dream big and make a difference while honoring your values, passions, and current realities?

United Way of Central Iowa recently invited Christi Hegstad, PhD, PCC, to talk with its LINC members, a group of young professionals dedicated to giving back through volunteerism and an annual pledge to United Way, about dreaming big and setting bold goals as part of its LINC ‘n Learn event series. Hegstad has coached and trained professionals around the globe to achieve big dreams and goals while keeping their purpose at the forefront of everything they do.

Below is a summary of Hegstad’s advice for how to achieve boldly, ignite your motivation, and make your difference – starting where you are right now.

We all have dreams. As children, dreaming comes easily because we experience fewer limitations. As adults, however, our dreams can be interrupted by practicality. We think more about our responsibilities, what bills we need to pay, and the people or pets who depend on us. Having dreams as an adult can feel scary and selfish. Good news—these obstacles to dreaming, and dreaming big, can be overcome.

Dreaming big is essentially a skill we can further develop with practice and by connecting to our purpose. You may think you don’t have time to dream. It can seem like a luxury as we focus our energy on just getting through the day. But setting big dreams and bold goals really just comes down to envisioning what “could be” and also acknowledging the here and now.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Shoot for the moon—at least you’ll land among the stars”? When we think about achievement, we often jump to what it would look like in the end. Instead, we need to realize it is a process, and who we become along the way while working toward the achievement is important. Now, more than ever, the world needs our big dreams and bold goals.

Five steps for setting Big Dreams and Bold Goals:

 1. Prepare your mindset.

They say the best time to set goals is right after you’ve landed from skydiving. Why? Because you’re in such a place of excitement, you feel like you can do anything. If skydiving isn’t in your near future, start from a place of success, abundance and celebration.

What are some of the areas where you have felt really great about yourself? What are some of the successes you have experienced? We live in a society that too often experiences achievements and then moves on. But by sharing and hearing from others, we can inspire each other.

Action item: Create a celebration of triumphs. An easy and quick way to celebrate your wins is to keep a success journal. Jot down one win per day. You will start to see the series of successes you have, and small successes will evolve to grow into bigger successes. It can also help clue you in on your passions and purpose as you start to see a pattern.

2. Dream big.

Dreaming of big future goals can be challenging when we’re feeling like we need to navigate through the day-to-day. Focus instead on how the journey toward achieving your big dream could be fun! We have preconceived notions of what counts as dreams. The dream can be anything you want—leadership, personal growth, education. When we have the ideas or visions of what could be, it fuels our actions.

Action item: Create a list of 101 dreams, at a minimum. The first few items on the list might be items you’ve been thinking about for years or things you think “should” be on the list. But as you continue, you’ll start tapping into areas around what’s really meaningful to you.

3. Choose your influence.

Think of a leader who you really admire. It could be someone in your life, a teacher or a historical figure. What makes that person stand out for you? Are their redeeming qualities intentional? Consider that you might be the leader who comes to mind for someone else. Your position, age or title doesn’t matter—it’s about intention.

As you walk out of work for the day, have you ever considered how people have thought about their interactions with you? The greatest way to choose your legacy is to decide with intention who or what we want to be in the world. Consider your core values, which are the heart of who you are and who you want to be. Take some time to determine what those are for you, then live and work in that manner.

Action step: Think about the words you want to most describe you—then live those intentionally. Choose the influence you want to have in your family, the community and in the world.

4. Practice courage.

Do you know who was cut from their high school basketball team? Michael Jordan. Do you know who was cut from a broadcast for being too emotional? Oprah Winfrey. The Chicken Soup for the Soul authors endured more than 150 rejections before their first book was published. Re-think and re-frame failure. This is what keeps us moving forward. When we set out to do something, and it doesn’t turn out as planned, we can learn to grow from that.

Think of courage like a muscle. It’s something we build with practice, time and experience. When you’re trying something new, it’s ok to take a healthy risk, even if you’re not sure you’ll succeed.

Action step: Think about a time in your life when you felt like you failed and re-frame it. What did you learn from it? How did you grow? How did that experience shape you into the person you are today?

5. Start where you are.

One of the biggest hold-ups in setting big dreams and bold goals is getting wrapped up in the “how.” We can always talk ourselves out of them due to things like time, money, etc. As the saying, attributed to Karen Ireland, goes: “Waiting until everything is perfect to make a move is like waiting to take a trip until all the traffic lights are green.” If you wait, there’s a chance you will be waiting a long time or perhaps forever.

What resources do you have at hand right now? Don’t be afraid to reach out for necessary support. Maybe that even means working with an expert—hiring a therapist, a coach or a personal trainer.

Action step: Consider the small steps can you take in the moment to move toward your big dream. It’s perfectly o.k. to dream big but start small.

Christi Hegstad, PhD, PCC, is known as the Executive + Personal Coach for Difference-Making Achievers. As President of MAP Professional Development Inc. since 2003, Christi has coached and trained professionals across the globe to achieve big dreams and bold goals, all while making a positive impact and keeping their values and purpose at the forefront. In addition, her work has been published in a variety of books and resources including Forbes, Huffington Post, and Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace (Pfeiffer). Christi is also a book addict, literacy advocate, and mom to three children who inspire her daily. You can learn more at  ChristiHegstad.com.

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TAGS: Health, LINC, Purpose, Powered by Purpose

Erin Drinnin

About The Author: Erin Drinnin

Erin Drinnin is United Way's Community Impact Officer for Health.