Year 2013 was an amazing year for me. I got new entrepreneur friends who I chat and meet with regularly. I spent several months traveling (mostly in Italy) and learned how to make web apps with Rails. And just a couple of days ago I saw the first working views of our upcoming baby product.

On the top of all that, we got little financial impact from not having day jobs anymore, mostly due to our downshifting and planning.

As I’ve been reading awesome annual report posts like Amy’s, Nathan’s, Brennan’s and Colin’s, I’ve also spent a moment thinking about the people who didn’t make it. All those people that I met on my journey who had a dream, but then they just disappeared.

What makes them different from the people who reached their dreams?

Nothing, I say. And it’s never too late, just get back on the track.

You can reach almost any dream with this simple formula:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Decide what you want and why
  3. Plan your way to your dream
  4. Do what’s important and invest in your future
  5. Just show up

1. Believe in yourself

I’m not special. Amy is not special either. Neither is Nathan, Brennan or Colin… or Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. You only need to be special if you want to become a world-winning athlete on certain few sports or a member of the Royal Family.

The skills and traits that you need to reach most of your dreams aren’t built into your genes. You acquire them. But only if you believe you can.

The people who have reached their dreams often have interesting stories of how they didn’t fit in. They were sickly or weak, teased at school (me too!), introverted, abused, what have you. And then they fixed things.

It’s a process. But to finish it, you’ll have to start it first.

They didn’t talk themselves down, telling themselves that they were “too poor”, “too busy”, “too fat”, “too shy”, “too dumb” or any other excuses people give themselves. They just believed things can change if you want hard enough.

And if you are talking yourself down just now, telling how YOU still can’t, I’m happy to tell you that’s fixable too. You can stop the negative self-talk and learn how to love yourself.

2. Decide what you really want and why

If your motivation isn’t hard enough, you are not going to endure the work needed to reach your dream. But motivation isn’t just some random thing that comes and goes. The true motivation is in understanding your goals in detail and the consequences that they have on your life.

It’s also important to see notice when you are substituting for things, like wanting to lose weight when all you really want is to be loved. Or jumping to building a SaaS product or an iPhone app when you want financial freedom.

Is reaching your dream going to get you what you want? When? How? And why?

Sometimes reaching your goals needs that you change fundamental things in your life, like letting go of people who pull you down. Sometimes, they just need doing some work instead of watching your favorite series. But if what you want isn’t important enough to you, you are not going to break the status quo.

3. Plan

People don’t end up in Maldives by watching travel documentary. Getting there actually involves doing something, like getting some money, buying flight tickets and packing your bags.

Here’s part of my plan for Virtual Financial Officer as a Curio mind map.

Part of VFO plans  I use a method learned in 30x500 called bassackward planning. In an essence, I’ll just list the absolutely mandatory steps to reach my goal, starting from the goal itself.

Obviously that trip to Maldives doesn’t need this level of planning, but many of the bigger dreams do. I’ll explain in a jiffy.

4. Do what’s important and invest in your future

The mistake that I often see the plan-less people do is to work very hard and do things that don’t really advance their goals. They get that nice feeling that they are working towards their dreams, but after a year they have nothing to show for that.

The more time you spend talking and writing about your dreams and reading inspirational stories of others who reached them, the less time you spend actually reaching them. And when you have a plan, you can keep yourself on check.

Is what I’m doing taking me forward? Is my strategy working? Am I any nearer to my goal? What do I still need to do?

The beauty of doing the right things is that you don’t need massive investments of time and money if you just do what counts. When it comes to building online businesses, you can do wonders with just a handful of hours in a week - if you spend them wisely.

5. Just show up

The biggest part of reaching your dreams is actually doing the work. The boring, day-to-day work. Just showing up, ticking an item from your plan and repeating 100 times. Then planning again. Giving up the things that you need to let go. Acquiring the things that you need to get.

Like most things, this can be learned too. I warmly recommend BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits.

Are you in?

One of my favorite experts on metabolic damage, Scott Abel, always says:

“Some of you will get it; some of you will not”

If you aren’t ready for the change, you can’t see the world like I see it.

But sometimes just realizing that there are things you don’t understand can get you forward. Get in touch with people who have done what you want. Talk to them. Surround yourself with them. And you’ll become one of them - their worldview will open to you.

With this I want to wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year of 2014!

May your dreams become a reality.

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