It’s Not About Your Dream, But How You Reach It

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Dreaming with Goals

I was out to dinner with my wife this past weekend, enjoying some time without our son. As a parent, you never know how valuable alone time is until you don’t get it for some time. I haven’t had so much fun at a dinner in a long time. Either way, we were both talking about what’s going on in our lives and our goals, dreams, fears, and all that jazz. It reminded me of a conversation I had with some friends not long ago, but with a different tone.

See, my wife and I have different dreams, but similar goals. That’s why our relationship works. We both strive for the same goals, but dream of different things. When talking with my friends, they all had grandiose dreams, but very few goals. They really didn’t have any steps or road markers to them them to the achievement of those dreams. It got me thinking about how we dream and what some of us do to reach said dreams.

It’s Fun to Dream


Who doesn’t love to dream? I catch myself day-dreaming here and there about this and that. It can range from traveling to Fiji, growing my business, or finally completing all of our house projects. Who knows what it’s going to be. I certainly don’t know! We all dream of different things and I think many of those dreams inspire us.

While it’s fun to dream and everyone should partake in such exercises, what happens when the dream is over?

What separates those who dream from those who act on their dreams?

I would have to say goals. Actionable and attainable goals.

Achieving Dreams is Like Climbing a Ladder


You often hear about climbing the corporate ladder in an effort to earn more money, and a more prestigious position. It takes time to climb a ladder, but we all understand the notion. I think of achieving dreams as the same thing. Let’s call it the dream ladder. Each rung on the ladder is a goal. You can’t step up a rung until you achieve a goal. It’s a simple premise, but some people miss the mark. Let me explain.

When looking at a ladder, you see rungs which are evenly spaced out, but still allowing anyone to step up each one. The problem with some peoples’ dream ladder is that their rungs are not evenly spaced. They try to make large jumps from one rung to another. Let’s say my dream ladder has 20 rungs. They’re close together allowing me to climb each one until my dream becomes a reality.

If another person has the same ladder, but their rungs only total five, it’s going to be much harder for them to get from one to the other. It’s going to be a challenge. This is where some fail and others succeed.

Always Create Actionable/Attainable Goals


No goal is good if you can’t reach it. Yes, we dream big many times, but it doesn’t mean you can’t reach those dreams. You might have to postpone the dream in order to make the goals (rungs) more attainable (closer together). If I wanted to change my entire life around as part of a dream, I wouldn’t set only a few goals.

There are a lot of moving parts to my life, as is the case for most people. Trying to shift everything in few steps is a cause for failure. While I don’t mind failure (in fact, I thrive on it), I also know when failure was due to me overshooting my abilities or just making a simple mistake.

When I asked my friends about their dreams during a conversation, many of them couldn’t answer how they plan on attaining the dream. Were they just dreaming and thinking it wasn’t attainable? I don’t like to dream like that. There are a lot of things going on in my head, but most of them are really things I can reach for and grab. There are probably outliers, which I would never try for, but most things I dream are certainly possible. I also have actionable goals in order to help me get there.

Maybe some people just like to dream, but have no desire to turn their dreams into realities. Maybe they would love to reach them, but they don’t know how to create goals. There is nothing more important in dreaming than setting goals. Those who have big dreams and reach them have used actionable goals to do so.

It’s not rocket science, but the process has to be played out in the right way. Remember, those rungs on your dream ladder need to be spaced appropriately, or you will struggle to climb it. Dream big, set goals, take action on those goals, and achieve your dreams. These are the steps you take!


What does your dream ladder look like? Can you climb it with ease or do you have to jump from rung to rung? Do you dream just to escape or do you want to achieve your dreams one day? If you want to reach your dreams, what are you doing to make that happen?

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • Our ladder has many rungs, each one a milestone along the journey to reaching our goals.

    When I was younger, I made the mistake of too few rungs. I wanted to be debt free in 6 months and therefore had 2 rungs on my ladder. Not surprisingly, I failed miserably. We all want to reach our goals, we just have to make it a point to create steps to make them attainable.

  • Reece says:

    I like the idea of comparing dreams to ladders- I’d never thought of it like that before.
    And you’re so right about creating more rungs. I may actually have to sit down tonight and add some more interim goals to my grand plans.
    Thanks for a great read!

  • Another insightful post, Grayson. When we first started our debt payoff plan, we kept looking at total debt freedom, and kept failing and getting discouraged. Once we put doable rungs on our ladder instead of trying to jump from the floor to the top, our whole mindset changed, and we are now kicking debt to the curb like rockstars. This plan really does work!

  • I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that some people like to dream, but won’t ever take actionable steps. I see that all around me! I don’t get it- if you don’t want to try to make those dreams come true, what is the point of talking about it?

  • I think one reason people don’t reach or pursue their dreams is because they balk at the sacrifice it will take. Every dream requires the sacrifice of something else. And if you don’t want to sacrifice then you won’t reach that dream.

  • Average Joe says:

    I saw this morning that Fiji is the happiest place on earth. When you dream about it you get most of the benefits of being happy and it costs you zippo. You’re one frugal dude, Grayson!

  • I think dreaming big is OK, because sometimes it’s not that actual big dream you might achieve, but some smaller version of it with baby steps. For instance, it’s my “big dream” to act in a movie. Geez could I pick a dream that is tougher? Well, maybe flying to outer space would be harder to achieve. Anyway, I have actionable steps in my every day life that at least move in that direction, like with my videos. I may never be an oscar winner (or who knows!), but I certainly can fulfill a passion of mine with those tiny goals. In Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, he describes that you dreams may have more “vehicles” than just one. The point is to keep moving in that direction.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      You are taking the actions to work toward your dream. There is no issue with dreaming big, but you need to make those rungs available to try and get there. Remember, the higher you go on your ladder, the closer you are to your dream. You could already have achieved some version of it near the top of the ladder, but you can’t get there without the other rungs.

  • Kim says:

    I think people don’t make actionable goals because it takes them out of their comfort zone. I used to say things like “I want to quit my job.” That does absolutely no good unless you have enough money to quit or have another plan to replace your income, and I think that’s where people give up.

    Once I made a plan, I found I didn’t really want to quit, I just wanted to work a different way. That was doable. Even going to Fiji isn’t so out of the question if you really start to map it out and figure how to make it happen.

  • Love this, Grayson! I love to dream but am I always careful to separate daydreams (or fantasy) from a true desire that I want to obtain. I don’t think there is anything wrong with daydreaming, as they often give us glimpses of our true desires. As you said, what really matters is what steps or work will do to make it a reality. What I find is so many people have dreams that they believe are unobtainable but really aren’t. They just have no idea what they need to do to make it reality. They think the plan needs to be big and complicated but simple, consistent forward-moving steps is all they need.

  • Hmm, there are times I daydream about what I would like to do and how I can get there, but other times it all seems so much and discouraging. My goal is not to be too discouraged like others around me and make sure that my dreams do become reality in the best way possible.

  • Clear actionable goals with milestones that can be tracked are definitely the key to long-term achievement. I preach this myself constantly.

  • Climbing the dream latter! I like that. If you don’t have the how, you’ll likely never get to the what.

  • You are right. It’s fun to dream, but without an actionable plan in place (goals) to get there, there’s no point in dreaming.

  • Sassy Mamaw says:

    I see my young adult kids doing this all the time. (Aarrgghh!) Too few rungs on the ladder. I think setting more attainable goals is something we learn as we mature.

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