How to Dream Bigger

Goal Setting, Thinking Tools

Tactic: How to Dream Bigger

Thinking Tactic Overview

What: This is a process to help you open up your imagination as you contemplate your future.

When: Use this tactic as a first step when your life seems stuck in a rut or directionless or you have no major goals.

How: Use “thinking on paper” to answer the questions below in full sentences, then percolate on your answers from the perspective of “how could I make that happen?”

Why: Major goals, when they are motivated by values and pursued with passion, are a powerful source of meaning and joy in your life. Without them, life is mundane.

But for various reasons, many people have trouble coming up with ideas for major goals. They have a bucket list but nothing meaningful that they want to create or do with their lives. This usually means the values they desire are cut off from consideration due to a pile of practicalities. This tactic helps uncover hidden desires and start the process of understanding the values that underlie them so they can be transformed into major goals.


1. Warm up your dreaming circuits.

Spend three minutes answering each of these open questions as “thinking on paper” in full sentences:

  • Why do you want to dream bigger?
  • If there were no constraints on you, what would you do?
  • What would you do if it were impossible to fail?

2. Figure out your standard of success.

Again, answer these questions using three minutes each of “thinking on paper.”

  • What would it mean for you to be ten times (10x) as successful as you are now? Would you have 10x the money? Would you have 10x the satisfaction from your relationships? Would you have 10x the creative output?
  • What would your life look like if you were 10x as successful?
  • What do you want to say about your life at your 100th birthday party? Or, if it’s easier, what do you want other people to say about you at that party?

3. Now make a list of everything you want to achieve in your life.

What do you want to create, communicate, or embody in your life? (This is an achievement list, not a bucket list.)


  • Start the list with everything you want to achieve but haven’t yet
  • Then list everything you have achieved that you did and still do want as part of your life
  • Then see if your list of things you have achieved suggests other things you want that build on what you already have
  • Don’t forget to include goals in all three major areas of life: relationships, work, and recreation

4. Set yourself up to percolate.

Reread everything you wrote. It will be multiple pages. Then answer these questions:

  • What surprised you?
  • What most interested you?
  • What is the most important thing that came out of this exercise?

5. Percolate with positivity.

Over the next week, when an idea from this list occurs to you and you wish you could achieve it, ask yourself, “How might I maybe make that happen?”

More Explanation:

This tactic combines brainstorming, concentration, and mindset practices.

The first set of questions helps you access possible goals that you have ruled out for one reason or another. All answers are acceptable. Nothing is off the table.

The second set of questions helps you dig deep into the values and standards that already guide your life. These are hidden principles that you may take for granted but that will naturally lead you toward major goals.

The third step is designed to keep you looking at your whole life.  If you only think of things you want as things you lack, making a list of possible goals is demoralizing. The truth is, your major goals will come out of what you have already achieved in your life.

The fourth step gives you a stopping place in what will be an ongoing process. It is good to review and draw some initial conclusions to organize what you wrote.

However, the final step is open-ended. Bringing these things to awareness will start you thinking about what you want. Random conversations and chance occurences will trigger thoughts about possible goals. The trick is — don’t shut down that idea with a practical objection. Instead, give yourself permission to brainstorm on how it might be possible.

Before you set a major goal, you want to know you have tapped into a source of significant passion. You do that through a process of percolation in which you get more and more excited about a possible goal.

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    • Jean Moroney

      Rohin, thank you for linking to these very interesting articles from Burgess Laughlin. I met Burgess in 1989 and was friendly with him until his passing. I appreciate having these links here.

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