If your dream is possible, it is too small. I believe this wholeheartedly. And after years, working with entrepreneurs and recording artists, I’ve learnt that most people don’t have aspirations of their own – and most often aren’t aware of this.
A perfect example is the first question I’d ask a young artist to establish whether or not I would take them on as a client:
What do you want to achieve as an artist?
80% would name a popular artist and say they wanted to be like them, or combine two artists and say: “If Rihanna and Beyonce had a baby – that’s me.”
They would aspire to be someone else, thinking that it counts as their dream. Yet, it has nothing to do with them.
This is different from “I want to be the Uber of Golf clubs” – that speaks to a way of thinking using tech to enable the customer. But, if you are only aspiring to use that technology because it’s trendy (and doesn’t deliberately and uniquely help your customers) then it’s the same as wanting to be Rihanna.
So before we can even talk about the scale of your aspiration you need to own your aspiration.
OWNING YOUR DREAM
Ask yourself these three questions: How does my goal fit into the story of my life? Will I ever be satisfied knowing I didn't try? Does my goal help a part of me be better in a way that doesn't exist in the way I need? Click To Tweet
If you can’t answer those three questions, then your goal doesn’t belong to you, because it has nothing to do with you as a unique individual.
Our goals are intensely personal and meaningful once we own them. They provide us with the direction and momentum to feel like we are making an impact.
Whether we are wanting to raise a child to be the most fulfilled version of themselves or starting a new business – our goals give us meaning.
ARE YOU LIMITING YOURSELF?
I think the way to start talking about this is by sharing the estimation of many economists that the baby boomers will be the last generation who will follow the “study/work/retire” career model of the 20th century.
It is likely that the current trend of entrepreneurship will become the way if working for most of us. That we will work less, become less materialistic and be more focused on our happiness. We are already heading that way and questioning the traditional model.
So we will be working less but for a longer time, doing work that actually fulfills us and makes a difference in the way we want it to.
Having one simple but impossible goal is important because your goal educates your perspective, it’s how you see the world and how you want to help. Where would your energy go every day if you convince yourself that you have succeeded
Most people think that a task is a goal. Most goals are stepping stones in a lifeswork.
BIG MEANS SIMPLE
The more specific your mission is the easier it is to achieve.
I want to help underprivileged orphans find families using online portals in Cape Town, South Africa.
I want to build an app that helps online customers get their lunch via drone wherever they are in Johannesburg, South Africa.
These are tasks, not missions.
What if they read like this:
I believe every child deserves a loving family.
I believe you that consumers shouldn’t find the product, but the product should find them.
It changes everything.
Now we aren’t solving a specific problem, with a specific product, in a specific area – we are facing a challenge based on something we believe in.
There are an endless amount of ways to solve either problem. Those are tasks we do every day. But there is no guarantee that those tasks won’t change dramatically in ten or twenty years. So our goal cannot be limited. If so, we are only limiting ourselves.
WE CANNOT FAIL
When we set out to solve a problem that is general and simple we know that we will fail. We know we won’t experience a world where what we are working on wouldn’t be necessary – which means failure doesn’t exist.
Instead of solving a problem our aim becomes to find the best long term solutions that are easy to adapt as people do. The aim isn’t to win. It is to try every day to make the work we do unnecessary.
The attempt is what is worthwhile. That’s what gives us meaning. To contribute in a way that is impactful and effective – trying to create a dent in an impossible problem that we wish didn’t exist.