Rules for Dreaming

Updated: Apr 16, 2018

I have coached many people, and I am struck by how many don't know how to dream. "I plan to retire at 55," said the 27-year-old with a big smile on his face. Of course, the fact that few are able to retire, at even 65, makes his a rather audacious goal. My response: "why not retire at 35?" and with that, his smile faded.



Sadly, most dreams are "realistic" projections based on a mixture of where the dreamer finds themselves currently and their history of past successes/failures. I am sure my 27-year-old friend has a spreadsheet somewhere that, if interest-rates hold, tells him he can definitely retire by 55. We are so afraid of failure that we only dream about things we feel are likely to come true.


The problem with realistic-dreaming - it does little to stir the soul. Its achievement often leaves the dreamer wondering if the goal was worth the precious time they dedicated to it. They are overwhelmed by the deafening gap between their achievement and their potential. Or worse, they give up the dream because they never really cared that much about it anyways.

While a dream is very personal and cannot be defined by some guy with a blog, following the rules below will greatly improve the chances of dreaming a dream that is worth a person's most precious resource: Their Life/Time.


The 40% Rule:

Ask yourself, "if I achieve only 40% of my dream will it still be worth the time?" If the answer is "no" then the dream is NOT big enough. Frankly 2008 should have taught us all - that crap can and does go wrong. The 40% rule ensures that not only are basic variances accounted for but black swan events are also considered.


Don't Focus on the How

The most important things in life, are not planned. A 31-year-old, at 16 years old, had NO idea - exactly - how they were going to meet their wife or the exact path that would lead them to their current job/position. Accept that any concept of "how" a dream is going to be achieved is WRONG... and frankly, if there is a solid "how" then the dream is not big enough.


5 years - No More No Less

Dream in five-year increments. If the "40%" and "not focusing on the how" rules are followed, the dream is big! For a big dream, 5 years is enough time, but not so much time that one can procrastinate. It means that massive action will have to be taken each day. This timeframe, aids in decision making. Opportunities to achieve a "big" dream will standout from those that appeal to small dreamers.


Dreams are not Plans or Goals:

Dreams are not plans. Plans are defined set of tactics based on the current situation that when executed correctly ultimately achieve the Dream. When a destination (dream) is entered into a car's GPS (God), it calculates the most efficient path (plan) based on current conditions. However, if a gas stop (goal) is needed or traffic conditions (situation) change, the GPS (God) will immediately calculate a new route. Falling in love with a planned route will only impede progress (fear/loss). Focusing on the destination (dream) and being open to change means a faster route (opportunities) won't be missed.


Write The Dream Down:

Written dreams are far more likely to come true. That is why "writing the dream down" is such common advice. However, there are a few important secrets not often shared. First, it must be written NOT typed. There is considerably more power in the hand written word than there is in the typed word. Second, it must be written in narrative format. I encourage people to start with the sentence "I am a [age+5 years] man...". Third, it must be at least 3 pages but preferably 5 or more (detail matters).


Start with things, but don't end there:

Early revisions may yield a list of "things" wanted (cars, houses, trips... etc), but documenting the dream must NOT stop there. Things are surface expressions of the true emotional state desired. Connecting to the emotional state will create a stronger pull towards the dream's achievement. In addition, a focus on the emotional state allows room for God (not the dreamer) to work out how the dream is to be accomplished (as in the GPS example above). As the dream is revised, it is helpful to ask: "How will this thing make you feel?", "How will it make others feel?", "Why do you want to feel this way?", "Why do you want others to feel a certain way?" Revisions are done when re-reading the dream stirs emotions and excitement in the dreamer.


Be Honest:

Dreams should not be some holier-than-thou future version of the dreamer. If the dreamer has an emotional response to the entire contents of Rob Report , then great! If the dreamer has their heart set on a tiny house in the woods then great! The dream does not have to include becoming some version of Mother Teresa unless that is honestly what floats the dreamer's boat. As I stated above: the dream is right when it follows the other rules and produces an emotional response in the dreamer. Anything less is not a dream worth having.


Share the Dream:

Sharing a dream is scary, and that is a good thing. Fear is a sign that the dream is important enough to the dreamer that they want to protect it. But, living in fear is a bad thing. God works through other people, and other people cannot help if they don't know what to help with. In addition, the dreamer must condition themselves to criticism and non-believers. As I mentioned before MOST PEOPLE DON'T know how to dream and hearing a real dream will be shocking, it will make them question their own values and commitment. Their response to the dreamer and his dream has NOTHING to do with the dream and everything to do with their own fears and short comings. Even in the face of scrutiny and rejection, with each sharing, the dreamer will grow in their resolve and gather the resources needed to achieve the dream. Sharing and studying the response of others, makes choosing who to associate with much easier.


If you are following these rule, you are 100 times more likely to achieve your dream. If this is your first time dreaming and want some constructive coaching on your dream, please send your dream to me dustin@seventeentwenty.org, and I will be happy to read it and respond. Good luck - this is the first step to a life worth living!

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