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At the beginning of every New Year I take the time to reflect on what I’ve achieved during the previous year on a personal and business level. I assess how far I’ve come, the lesson’s I’ve learned, and of course, evaluate myself against the goals I set the previous year. Then, when I’ve gathered all of my data, I set my goals for the New Year. Does this exercise sound familiar?

Many companies that I deal with have their own version of goal setting and strategic planning and often ask for help during this process. Some questions I’m frequently asked include: “How far do I stretch in my goal setting?” or “Do I dream big knowing that it might take nothing short of a miracle to achieve what I set out to do?” “Is it best to plan conservatively and to be ‘practical’ in my expectations?” How would you respond to the dilemma “to dream or not to dream”?

My suggestion is that having a dream, a vision, and an audacious goal are essential in setting you passion and vision on fire! If you don’t dream it, you won’t achieve it, but at the same time, if you only dream you won’t achieve either. So, what can you do to ensure you’re realizing your dream and achieving your goals? Incorporating the following four suggestions may make a difference:

Identify And Clarify Your Dreams

Whether it’s a personal dream or a business vision, it’s essential to get clear and specific on what it is you really want. Going through this step allows you to gain greater clarity and determine why you want it. It will also allow you to begin the process of creating a plan and help you identify your “why”. Having a big enough “why” or reason to do this can be the driver that propels you forward. Your “why” could be that you want to provide a better life for your family and loved ones, to introduce “the greatest and the best product or service to the world”, or to experience building something from nothing and taking it global! When I recently asked a client who had experienced breakthrough success what it was for them, they said “We could have stayed a small company but our vision and talent was bigger! We knew we could go big and had to try.” Find what it is for you and go for it!

Stay Balanced – Don’t Spend Too Much Time Dreaming With No Follow Through

Once the dream has been clarified (and turned into a plan), it’s important to take the “right” actions in order to fulfill the dream. I often see people spending way too much time refining and adjusting their business plan (which lays out the dream and how to achieve it) but they don’t take the appropriate steps or actions and so their dream remains ink on paper. Sometimes, they take too many steps – and not necessarily in the right direction – and are steered away from their dream. So what do you do? They key is to stay balanced. Ensure that the action is appropriate to fulfilling an essential step in the plan and that controls and balances are in place to do so.

To achieve this, you may choose to incorporate monthly or quarterly reviews to examine and measure your progress and ensure you stay on track. Doing this also ensures you aren’t getting sidetracked into other areas that may not necessarily capitalize on your strengths.

While I encourage you to dream big, I also suggest being “realistic”. What I mean by this is I often see clients spending large amounts of money and investing a large amount of time pursuing what should be considered a hobby versus a commercial pursuit and they feel frustrated and defeated when they don’t realize the success they anticipated. It’s not to say that a hobby can’t be turned into a viable business opportunity, it’s rare, but it happens. But if you find yourself in the above situation (where you’re spending too much time and not achieving results) your plan and vision may need fine tuning. Get the support and guidance of experts to help balance your plan.

Develop Tactics But Don’t Get Lost In The Minutia

While it’s essential to have the right tactics in place to help you realize your strategic plan or dream, putting the strategic plan into practice is where many either get caught up in the dream or lost in the minutia of the details. They fail on the execution. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, keep your goal in view (from a higher perspective) and delegate the details. Too often, the details or tactics can take up your time and sidetrack you away from the vision you’re trying to achieve. I recently walked into a company’s boardroom to see a detailed project plan listing every interdependency for each and every task hung up on three walls (and let me tell you, it was a huge room). Yes, it spanned three walls and included every item required to execute their plan – right down to ordering the coffee and toilet paper! Don’t get bogged down with the details, maintain your focus on the goal and not the details.

Make “Your” Dream “Their” Dream

Make your dream come alive by inspiring others to make “your” dream “their” dream. This may mean translating your corporate vision into a more personal team vision that has a place for everyone to express their talents and passions and that offers a sense of belonging. Doing this creates a company culture that goes beyond the product or service you’re offering and can turn any job into a vocation. When you inspire others to adopt your dream and translate it into their own, you greatly improve your chances of success. You become a collective group that is working in sync to achieve a common goal! Lookout, you may exceed your expectations beyond your wildest dreams!

So dream and dream big! But, to ensure your dreams become reality, get clear, keep a balanced and focused view, and inspire others!