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  • Jenn Steliga

Dreaming to jump start your goals: why it matters in personal finance

When I ask people what their dreams are in life, many of them seem to give me a mental eye roll or just go blank. They find it frivolous and unrealistic. They simply do not (in their opinion) have time for dreaming; there are too many things to do on a daily basis that require their full attention and energy. Dreaming, to them, is for idealists and people who don’t know how to work hard and make things happen.

On the other hand, sadly, are many folks who simply believe they cannot afford to have dreams. They are in debt, or perhaps live paycheck-to-paycheck with nothing left over to save. Their perspective has been narrowed to what they lack. Because they have lived this way for so long, they now truly believe nothing else is possible. For people in this situation, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, hopeless, anxious or depressed. They might numb themselves from these feeling by ignoring their financial situation and living for the moment, which often translates into living on credit. The cycle of living on credit will lead to many painful challenges in life, including decreased relationship satisfaction as couples and families feel the strain of struggling to make ends meet (that’s just one example of how financial stress impacts people).

But what if the perspectives described above simply keep us stuck? What if dreaming is the entry point for ensuring our hard work and energy are used most efficiently? Perhaps dreaming is the process that can fuel us in tackling our daily to-do list and help us get through the drudgery that daily life can often become (thought it doesn’t need to be this way)! Dreaming can lead to meaning and purpose. Think of it this way: each of us has only so many heartbeats in our life – how we choose to use each of those heartbeats is up to us. If we embrace that perspective it can force us to be intentional. And to truly be intentional, I need to start with a dream. In essence, I need to know what it is I want in life and then have a plan to make it happen. I need a map. I need to know where I’m starting on that map. In financial terms, I need to start with a budget.

The ultimate realization of our dreams may not look exactly like the dream we originally envisioned. That’s ok. Life changes – we change. But because we’ve actively engaged in a planning or designing process for our life, we’ve developed skills and perspectives along the way that help us continue to move forward and respond to the unexpected. Quick example: I spent 10 years in the Air Force as a logistics officer, and one of the most valuable lessons I learned during that time was that we do not always plan in order to execute that plan perfectly. We often plan so that we are as prepared as we can be to face a situation while being skilled enough to respond to the unknown elements in that situation. The process of thinking things through, researching, practicing, and making changes along the way is a developmental process. Developmental processes create change: you grow and learn along the way. The unknown and the unexpected will always be present; that’s just life. We get thrown curve balls when we least expect it, and it’s how we respond to those curve balls that pave the way for our future. If we do not have even a glimpse of where it is we want to go, how can we start to move forward or correct our course when needed?

For many of us, that’s where we get stuck. We’re stuck because of what I mentioned in the opening paragraph. The narratives we carry in our head tell us dreaming is a waste of time. There’s real work to be done, and dreaming isn’t real work. Change those narratives and you’ll be able to change your perspective on dreaming. When you can begin to articulate what it is you want in life, verbally and even visually through the use of vision boards (more on this later) you are more likely to succeed at moving forward with intention towards your stated goals. If you cannot find a way to acknowledge what you want in life, you will more than likely wander through life, unsure of where you’re headed, and so you will settle for anything.


Spend some time dreaming today. Ask yourself these questions to jump-start the dreaming process:

- Where do I want to be a year from now? 3 years? 5 years?

- What do I want retirement to look like? Be specific! Do you want to travel? Buy a vacation home? Start your own business? Develop a hobby?

- What are my values and how can I live those out on a daily basis?

- What are 3 activities that bring me joy?

- What would a perfect day look like to me? Describe it from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.

Along the way, if you find yourself struggling with the stories you’re telling yourself about having dreams or having enough money for those dreams I want you to remember that everyone can afford to have goals and dreams.

If you need some guidance on where to go next, reach out by scheduling a quick phone call using the button below! We can decide together if coaching might be a good fit for you.

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