We’ve all heard the saying, “dream big,” and having lofty aspirations is admirable. Yet because of our busy lives, we may relegate our smaller goals to a “tomorrow” that never comes. However, our smaller achievements may set the stage for larger ones. Plus, they can be satisfying in their own right.
So rather than focusing on the time you wish you had to get in shape, take guitar lessons, or learn a second language, why not try a different approach to making the more manageable dreams a reality? After all, if you wait until retirement – or you meet the perfect match – to do the things you want, you’ll deny yourself experiences that might bring enrichment to your life right now.
There are countless goals you can achieve in as little as 20 or 30 minutes a day – in between work, family and daily chores. Forget all the excuses that have been holding you back. Here are some life-enhancing ambitions that you can satisfy quite easily.
Eager to get into better shape, but just can’t find the time to fit exercise into your hectic schedule? Developing a fitness regimen you can stick to is easier than you think. Independent activities such as walking, jogging and weight-training can be performed any time – day or night. Even if you can only devote 20 minutes per day to a physical activity, fitness experts have developed dozens of “express” routines that work different areas of the body – such as abs, legs or arms – in just 15 minutes. By rotating two or three different routines, you’ll get a full-body workout each week. Even the simple task of walking briskly for 20 minutes burns approximately 100 calories. Do that every day, and you’ll burn 700 calories per week.
Bust a move
More than 22 million people watched the premiere of Dancing with the Stars this season. It appears that there’s a big group of happy feet secretly yearning to demonstrate a little fancy footwork of their own! Dancing is a timeless art that not only keeps you in shape, but also provides tremendous entertainment. Whether you tango, mambo, swing, foxtrot or engage in hip-hop moves, dance lessons are an incredible way to meet new people and are usually held only once a week – which is perfect for even the busiest lifestyle. Even if you never reach the level of Ginger or Fred, you’ll have gained a skill that will please you and impress others – and you’ll burn calories while you’re at it.
Learn a foreign language
Yes, we’ve all heard that the best way to master a foreign language is to immerse yourself in its nation of origin. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the ability to pack up and move to Paris, Tuscany or Madrid. But that shouldn’t prevent you from living out your dream of being able to converse in another tongue – you can now download language lessons online, and practice during your commute. There are hundreds of books and DVDs available that will assist you with everything from pronunciation to vocabulary. In fact, even if you can only devote 30 minutes a day, you’ll accomplish a great deal. By setting a goal to learn 20 or more new words each week, you’ll build a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words in your first year.
There’s never been a better time to get your finances in order. Whether you’d like to pay down student loans, save for a vacation, put money away for retirement or reduce your mortgage, big-picture thinking can be daunting when it comes to money. Rather than limiting spending in extreme ways or taking on a second job, implement small measures that save money but don’t deprive you of the things you love. For instance, the $3 you spend on lattes every morning may not seem like much, but those little purchases add up. Enjoy coffee at home four days a week and you’ll save more than $600 a year – money enough for vacation airfare, or to cover unexpected expenses such as an automotive repair. Take it one step further by depositing $20 a week into a savings account – the equivalent of one dinner out with friends – and you will have accrued more than $1,000 in a single year.
Savor the journey
No matter what goals you set out to achieve, it’s important to remember that the process is part of the journey. If you focus only on the endgame you won’t enjoy the little milestones along the way. When it comes to dreams – big or small – little successes should be just as gratifying as the final outcome.
You should also be flexible about the time it takes to reach your goals. As we all know by now, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. If you can’t fit in a workout one week, or you miss a few guitar lessons, don’t give up in frustration – or convince yourself that you simply don’t have the time to make your dream a reality. Resume the quest as soon as you’re comfortable doing so. Stops and starts are a part of all such endeavors, so turn dreaming into doing. It’s easier than you think!
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