Why Thinking Big Is The Worst Way To Achieve Your Dreams

“Your success in life will be Why Thinking Big Is The Worst Way In Achieving Your Dreamsin direct proportion to what you do, after you do what you are expected to do.”

-          Thomas Jefferson


Sometimes, too much focus on a goal can be a bad thing.

I had just landed a cool appointment and I was so determined to close the deal.

So, I wore cool blue jeans with a pair of black suede shoes to match. I was so excited and all I was focused on was completing the project, even though I had no idea how to do it.

With loads of enthusiasm, I set out to meet with my newest client. Not even a, “Hi Lanre” from a friend would stop me in my tracks.

But then, I forgot that it had rained….

I didn’t even watch my steps but kept focus on the road miles ahead of me.

Splash! The worst thing that could ever happen to a nicely dressed young guy had occurred…..

My right leg, from my knee downwards, was covered in thick, brown mud.

Perhaps if the mud was blue, I wouldn’t have turned back. But it wasn’t and after 15 minutes of walking, I just had to.

That was 30 minutes wasted!

How much time of your life have you spent trying to focus on something bigger than you?

How much time have you wasted working towards achieving a huge dream, only to discover that you were on a journey to Neverland?


From the guy with no vision of a future to the executive who wants to launch out and start a small business, everyone just loves to recite the phrase, “dream big”. I guess that’s because the gurus tell us to do so.

They’re right in telling us to dream big, but we’re wrong in misinterpreting its true meaning.

So the question is, “what does it really mean to dream big?”

What You Didn’t Know About Dreams

Just like the to-do list which contains all tasks that’ll make your day productive, your dream also has a to-do list that, when planned out and carried out, would make that dream achievable.

But how many of us truly know how to create a to-do list?

Regardless of how this may sound, if you can’t plan your day and accomplish most of the tasks you set out to do, then how would you plan out a 3 year dream?

When walking on the road, a normal to-do list would contain;

-          Watch my steps

-          Look out for puddles

-          Be careful of passing vehicles

-          Buy a vanilla lollipop (this is optional :-)).

Out of all those obvious things to do, if I were to score myself, it would be 0/5.

I didn’t do a single one!


Your Dream To-Do List

I’m not telling you to stop dreaming big. But when you do so, don’t let your thoughts wonder to the top of the Mount Everest.

Whatever that dream of yours might be, whether it is to own a new car, or to own a thriving tech startup, in order to achieve it, you need to think of the small steps.

Planning a to-do list would help you streamline your thinking into focusing on the small things you need to do or get while still dreaming those big dreams.

As an example, let’s use Joe as our dreamer and the “owning a new car dream” to build our to-do list.


Before Joe can own a new car, he needs to make enough money to buy it. The money is the resource he needs to make the dream come true.

Ask Yourself: What resources do I need to make my dream a reality?

Task 1: If your dream requires lots of money, then money is the resource. Note down an estimate of how much money you need. If your dream requires lots of people, then friends and connections is the resource. Note that down too and just how many you need. If your dream is to help people build better family lives, then building a better family life for yourself is your resource. Note it down.


Back to our example…

Example: Since money is the resource Joe needs, his next question should be, “how am I going to get this $xxxxx? Remember, in task 1, Joe has estimated just how much money he’ll need.

Ask Yourself: How do I get this resource?

Task 2: If money is your needed resource, then you could either save a specific amount every month, take a loan from the bank (definitely not what I’d do), or gather it from family and friends. Write down your preferred method of obtaining it.

This will help you know the “how” of achieving your dream.


Back to our example…

Example: Now that Joe knows that he needs to save in order to get the money, his next question should be, “What do I need to do in order to save this amount?”

Ask Yourself: What do I need to do every day so that I can achieve this?

Task 3: If money is your needed resource, then perhaps you need to cut down on your daily expenses. If people are your needed resource, then you probably should visit or have a phone conversation with one every day- just for a few minutes. List out every single thing you need to do daily.

It is very important that you break down your dream to-do list into daily activities that you can do. This will really help in keeping your focus.


Back to Joe…

Example: A dream doesn’t end once you attain it. You need to nurture it. When Joe gets his car, he needs to use it. And he probably doesn’t know how to drive. So, his next question should be, “How do I ensure that I keep this car working?” At this stage, his list could contain;

- Always drive it (everyday)

- Keep it clean (wash it everyday)

- Maintain the parts (take it to the mechanic every week).

Ask Yourself: What do I need to do to make my dream last long?

Task 4: This is where drive comes in. You need to stay motivated in nurturing that dream so that you don’t misuse it. Here’s a post you should read on finding a drive in life.

If your dream entails you leading a group of people, then focus on grooming your leadership qualities and skills. All you have to do is to find the core reason why you want that dream and then stick with it.

I really can’t do that for you.


Achieving a dream takes time.

Imagine yourself relaxing on a couch and all you’re thinking about is how, a few years ago, you struggled on getting the dream you have now attained. Then you realize that it was those small steps you took, that small to-do list you planned out and religiously followed everyday that actually made your whole dream life a reality.

How would you feel?

You’d feel glad that you did it, right?

That’s how I felt when I closed the deal. Although I had to return home to change my outfit, which made me a few minutes late, I had learned something priceless.

Hope you’ve learned something priceless?

Your Turn

What do you think about this to-do list? Do you think focusing our thoughts on small tasks would help us achieve our big dreams? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Image credit: Flickr.com


  1. Planning and execution are fundamental to achievement. So, the checklist is good and fundamental. However, I think it is really fundamental to dream big dreams, to think big. We are far too prone to shrink back for a number of reasons. Better to learn and embrace our strengths, and have faith that they will produce. We must have that courage that although we cannot see exactly HOW it will workout, we should proceed with a sense of adventure and excitement. THIS FAITH AND INTENTION energizes the checklist. Neither mission nor execution can survive without the other. They are complementary.

  2. Hi Lanre, this is a great piece but I also agree with david that dreaming big is fundamental. In fact, one of the fundamental requiirement of success is having UNREALISTIC dreams. You see the difference between the a goal and a dream is that, a goal must be realistic but a dream may or may not be realistic. Have you forgotten whatt happened with the tower of babel. Those geeks imagined a tower that reached the heavens and they decided to build it, the distance of the sky from the earth is millions of kilometers, you will agree with me that it was an unrealistic dream, God saw that this people will achieve it since they’ve imagined it, so he scattered there plans because it wasn’t His plans.

    Now I agree with you that when you have a big dream, you must also develop a workable plan to actualize the dream. But having a big dream is the first and fundamental step.

    Great insight anyway, I like the way you play around your articles. Keep it up
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