As a child, you likely dreamt about what your life would look like as a grown-up. Maybe your dream centered around your career, where you’d live or what your family might look like. As you became an adult, whether that dream came to fruition or not, your dream may have changed. You may have dreamt about a career change, mastering a new hobby, achieving financial freedom or enjoying your retirement. Sometimes our dreams get set to the side because life has a way of, well, getting in the way.
You may have put off your dreams to be the cheerleader for other people chasing their dreams. You may have fallen into the trap of believing your dreams weren’t realistic, or you may have been following someone else’s dream. Maybe you put your dreams off until the time or money was right, or perhaps you have given up, thinking you’re too old to go chasing dreams. Whether your dream is the same as it was in childhood or it has morphed into something new, it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to chase your dreams.
How exactly can you find success in chasing your dreams later in life? These five tips are a great start:
Write Down What You Want to Accomplish
When your hopes and dreams remain in your head, it becomes easy to ignore them. In order to make them seem more “real,” it helps to talk about them or write them down. This can make your dreams feel more tangible and allow you to think through them in a deeper, more meaningful way. Research supports this concept: Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, performed a research study in 2015 that found that 70% of participants who wrote down their goals or checked in with friends about them reported “successful goal achievement,” compared to 35% who kept their goals to themselves and didn’t write them down.
Create a Vision Board
The Law of Attraction is a concept that was popularized by the 2006 film and book “The Secret,” but it’s a philosophical idea that dates back to the early 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the Law of Attraction is “based on the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person's life.” A vision board serves as a visual reminder of the positive things you want to work toward in your life. Once you create a vision board of the goals you want to achieve—and how you want to feel when you achieve them—you should keep it in a place where you can see it every day to help you stay motivated to keep going.
Break Each Goal Down Into Smaller Steps
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a big goal, but you have to work backwards from there to identify the smaller steps you can take that will get you to the finish line. Coaching platform BetterUp recommends creating a ‘goal ladder’ by writing your main goal at the top rung of the ladder,” then adding action items to each step on the ladder to be clear about “the smaller goals you need to achieve in order to achieve your main goal.” Of course, the goal ladder is really just a visual tool you can use to map out a plan to conquer your dreams.
Stay Positive, Even With Setbacks
The concept of the Law of Attraction, or putting positive thoughts out into the world so you receive positive feedback from the world, is basically encouraging people to maintain a positive mindset. When you’re optimistic about still achieving your dreams despite setbacks you might experience, you’re more likely to accomplish them in the long term. The Mayo Clinic stresses the importance of adopting a positive mindset by incorporating daily lifestyle changes such as self-evaluation, an openness to humor, and positive self-talk, among others.
Learn From Failure and Adjust Accordingly
When you do inevitably experience a failure, you can use your positive mindset to turn the bump in the road into a positive learning experience. Experiencing a setback or obstacle isn’t a sign that you should stop trying to reach for the stars; it’s a chance for you to merely change your tactics for how you will achieve your goals. And once you finally accomplish your dream, it will be that much sweeter. As Ellen DeGeneres once said, “It’s failure that gives you the perspective on success.”