Ep. #37: Living Your Dream Part I: Dreams vs. Goals

Some people live their dreams. Their lives feel magical. Other people forget their dreams and start setting goals. Listen to this episode to find out the difference between goals and dreams, and how you can begin making your goals and dreams coincide so that you can live your dreams, too.


Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you get more bank with less bulk. Today’s episode is for every listener who keeps setting goals, but who isn’t achieving their dreams. You might even be achieving your goals, but getting further and further away from your dreams in the process. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth and if this is you, I have to say that I’m very glad you’re here because this is an issue we’re going to take up today and over the next seven episodes.

Why am I devoting the last two months of the year—all of November and all of December–to this topic? Because the holidays are soon upon us, my friends, and that means New Year’s Resolutions are right around the corner. And you know what happens then. We’re going to leave the fudge and the festivities behind, and find ourselves in January, pledging to eat better, exercise more, spend less, earn more, get out of debt, lose weight, and become the rock stars that we’ve always wanted to be. But most of these resolutions won’t make it past January, and here I’d like to suggest that that’s not our fault. Rather, our resolutions bite the dust because of the way we’re taught to go about trying to achieve them.

So for the next several episodes, I’d like to begin unravelling that ineffective advice that we get regarding resolutions. I want to do this to offer a little holiday gift to you, that will help you set yourself up for a better New Year’s experience this time around.

Remember back to when you had a dream

Specifically, the gift I’m offering to you for the holidays is a dream, or rather, the ability to begin dreaming again, as well as a new way to think about things so that you can actually achieve your dreams.

So to start off today, I’d like to ask you, do you remember the last time you had a dream for yourself? Close your eyes and look back, and go back to a place where you actually had a big dream, and remember feeling what that felt like. If you’re driving right now, maybe do this part later, but if you’re not, definitely do it right now, because it’s important to remember that feeling of having a dream about something and really wanting it to come true. It felt so vivid you could actually see it and feel it. and I promise you, if you try you can take yourself back to that place, and I really want you to try this because it is magical to remember that feeling.

As a child, maybe you had a vision of yourself as an adult. Who you would be, and the house you would live in, and the car you would drive, and the clothes you would wear. The friends you would have, the relationship you would have, the things you would do in your work and in your spare time. If you’re like most people, you envisioned becoming a certain kind of person. Maybe a respected person. A successful person. A slim, healthy, vibrant person who gets things done and has plenty of time to enjoy life, too. Someone who really makes things happen, who really has their stuff together. Maybe you had a dream of being in a lifelong romance with an amazing person whom you felt so excited to be with that you were motivated to be your best self all of the time. Maybe you envisioned exotic travel or an enviable job or maybe you had a vision of a certain kind of leisure time, with the money to enjoy it. Maybe your dream was more simple. Maybe it’s just a snapshot of yourself jumping into a lake surrounded by friends and feeling happy and peaceful.

Whatever your dream was, I’m willing to bet that if you’re anywhere past the age of 23, or maybe even 13, you’re not quite feeling your dream anymore. Instead, what you’re doing is acting like a grownup and setting goals. Or, you may have given up on goals entirely. I was at a doctor’s appointment recently, and I was talking to my surgeon’s assistant. She listens to the podcast, and she told the x-ray technician who had wandered into the room, “You should listen to Kelly’s podcast. It’s called Rich & Thin Radio.” And the x-ray tech waved her hand in dismissal and said, “Well those are two things I’ll never be.”

This kind of response doesn’t bother me. I hear this a lot, and of course, everyone gets to decide what they want for themselves. But every time I do hear a response like this, I find myself wondering, really? Because if we’re not Rich & Thin, what are we? Broke and bulky. And who wants that? Definitely not me, and probably not you, either, or you wouldn’t be listening to the show.

So my question for today is, for all of us who are struggling, where did our dreams go? And how do we get them back?

The reason I want you to think about this is because it’s horrific to live without a dream. It would be funny if it weren’t so terrible. It’s like those television commercials monster.com used to run, with all the little kids saying what they want to do when they’re grown up. “I want to get stuck in middle management.” “I want to work like a dog and bust my {bleep] for a $1500 raise.” “I want to sit in client meetings and contribute absolutely nothing.” “I want to be washed up by the time I’m 40.” “I want to fill out mindless RFPs.” And this last one is my favorite. “And I want to not get paid a [bleeping] dime for any of it.”

At some point, adults stop dreaming

The monster.com commercial is funny because it’s preposterous to even think of a kid saying something like this. It just wouldn’t happen, because kids have dreams. But this kind of commentary isn’t that far off the mark for adults. Typically, when I ask my clients about their dreams, they’ll talk about what they don’t want. I’ll say, “What’s your dream weight?” And they’ll say, “Well, it’s not this.” I’ll ask, “What’s your dream income?” and they’ll say, “Well, it’s gotta be more than this.”

And with some poking and prodding, eventually they’ll tell me that they would like to maybe make a little bit more than they are right now. They’d like to weigh a little bit less than they do right now. If they make $20 an hour, their dream is to make $30. If they make $50,000 a year, their dream is to earn $70,000. And if they’re a hundred pounds overweight, maybe they’d like to lose thirty.

And to this I’ll say, “Really? If a genie dropped out of the sky and landed right in front of you and the world was your oyster, that’s what you’d request? Ten more dollars per hour? Twenty thousand more per year? Thirty pounds gone, but seventy hanging around indefinitely?”

And this is when the clients say, “Well, I’m just trying to be realistic.” Or they say, “I’m just taking what I think I can get.”

So here’s what I’d like you to notice about this. When I’m asking for dreams, my clients who are struggling are giving me a lesser value. They’re telling me their goals. What’s the difference between these two things?

Goals vs. Dreams

A goal is what one intends to do or achieve. It’s what we think we can get, so it’s where we set our aim.

A dream, on the other hand, is a cherished ideal. A wild fancy, or an unrealistic hope. A dream is also something that is exceptionally gratifying, excellent, or beautiful.

So which sounds like more fun? A goal, or a dream?

Obviously, it’s the dream. (spoiler alert: on this show, it’s always the dream—who wouldn’t want to live in a cherished ideal where wild fancies come to fruition, and where unrealistic hopes are realized, and things are exceptionally gratifying, excellent and beautiful? I know I certainly would).

But here’s an important thing to notice here: these two things—goals and dreams–aren’t mutually exclusive. There are people out there who think that they can get the cherished ideal. Who think that they can bring their wild fancies to fruition, and turn their unrealistic hopes into reality. These are the folks who live lives that are exceptionally gratifying, excellent, and beautiful. In the vernacular of this show, these are the folks who are living the dream of being Rich & Thin, while the rest of us are messing around with broke and bulky.

Why we stop dreaming

If you want to see why it’s important to have a dream, just visualize someone who doesn’t have one.

Maybe it’s you. If right now you are the kid in the monster.com commercial, ask yourself, how does that feel? It feels terrible, doesn’t it?

So the question is, why do we stop dreaming? If it’s so amazing, why do we quit? I could talk forever about why, at some point not too far past childhood, this happens to all of us, but I’m going to sum up the reasons we stop dreaming in two words: bad advice. We’re told that living our dreams isn’t realistic, but here’s the deal: Whatever your dream is, there is someone who’s living it right now. Why are they living it? Because they took your dream, turned it into a decision, and made it happen.

Living the Dream

Who are these unicorns and why does it happen for them, and not for everyone else? It’s because of how they think, and now here you may be thinking I’m going to get into a bunch of hocus pocus, so I’m going to break this down for you.

My dream, for example, surrounding where I live and work was that I wanted to own waterfront property in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, and live here full time but still make New York-type money. My thought about this? Totally doable. And I’m currently living this dream. But all the time I talk with attorneys who are slogging it out in New York or London or D.C., and they look at me and scratch their heads. They think, that’s impossible. And with this thought, it is impossible for them because their brains are absolutely blocked on how to do it, although I’m living proof that it’s really not that difficult.

Another example: My friend and coaching colleague Adriane Nichols gained weight in college, but then she decided that she wanted to maintain a weight low enough for her career as an actress while still eating normal meals and without crazy dieting. Her thoughts about this? Totally doable. In fact, in her mind and in her experience, it’s the crazy dieting that causes weight gain. So she decided to be thin without dieting, and she’s currently living that dream, whereas most of us are looking at her and scratching our heads and thinking, that’s impossible. And with this thought, for us, it is impossible, because our brains are blocked about how to do it, although she’s living proof that it can be easy if we let it.

So we formed a group, Adriane and me. Right now, it’s a group of two, and we’re working on exactly two things, overeating, and overspending. Not overspending is easy for me. I never do it. I just don’t even think about doing it. Similarly, not overeating is easy for her—eating for emotional reasons, for reasons other than hunger, is simply not part of her universe. She doesn’t do it.

And the amazing thing is that we’re seeing so many parallels between these two things. Conventional wisdom says that the parallels are budget and diet: if you overspend you need a budget and if you overeat you need a diet. But we’re discovering that’s not the case at all.  What we’re doing is we’re going through a process where she’s learning to take what she knows about not overeating, no diet required, and apply that in her spending life, no budget required. And I’m learning to do the opposite. I’m learning to take what I know about not overspending, and apply it to my whole relationship with food.

And here’s what we’re discovering: It starts with a dream. She defined her dream about money, and I wrote out the dream that I wanted to live in surrounding food and my weight.

Here’s how my dream goes:

I weigh 105 pounds. I maintain this weight effortlessly. My weight is very consistent, so my wardrobe is amazing. I enjoy an extremely civilized relationship with food, and an elegant social life that includes lunches and dinners with friends and business colleagues. I’m pleasantly hungry when I sit down to eat, I thoroughly enjoy my food, and I feel good when I get up from the table. I enjoy all types of food, and I confidently eat and enjoy whatever I want without gaining weight. I also look forward to holidays and get-togethers with friends and family where food is part of the fun.

The last part of the dream: I have thigh gap. Enough said about that.

Now I can’t speak for Adriane and exactly what her dream around money is, she’ll be on the podcast to share it with you at some point, but I realized the other day that my money dream, in which I’m currently living, is very similar to my dream with food that I want to begin living in. I was shopping with my mom the other day, and I realized, I can have whatever I want in this store. And a really funny thing happens when you are in that place. You really want very little once you know you can have whatever you want. This is where I want to get to with food, and Adriane wants to get to a similar place with money, her dream place, however, she defines it, and what we’ve found is that, of course, the process begins by defining the dream.

Why is it important to define the dream?

If you don’t say where you’re going, you’re not going to wind up there. That’s one reason that defining the dream matters.

The other reason it matters is because your brain takes things very literally. If you paint a compelling picture for your brain, if you say, “Look brain, here’s where we’re going” and describe it as a wonderful place, your brain is going to want to go with you.

We’ll discuss how to do this in the next episode. For now, what I’d like you to begin thinking about is, what are my dreams for my life? Really have fun with this and let your brain go there, put your heart into it, too. Treat it like the hokey pokey and put your whole self in, if that’s not too corny an image for you. And please be sure to join me for next week’s episode because I’ll tell you some tips for how to draft your dream in an effective way to get your brain on board.

Thanks so much for joining me for this. I love that we have something magical to work on during this upcoming holiday season. I’m confident that this work on your dreams will set you up to make 2019 the year that your dreams really do come true. I’m so grateful to have you as a listener, and I really look forward to connecting with you next time.

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