think

“Dream big.”

“Shoot for the stars.”

When I was a kid, I was told these things. I’m sure you were too. I went back and forth between wanting to play professional football and wanting to become an astronaut—goals that were totally unrealistic. But no one told me my dreams were unrealistic.

There weren’t people out there saying I couldn’t do these things. My parents would even smile and encourage me. And I didn’t think about the scale of these ambitions because I was a kid. Thinking big was part of my persona, as it is with most kids.

But as you grow up, you lose touch with your childhood dreams. I’m not specifically talking about your ambitions to pursue a unique profession such as a professional athlete or astronaut. I’m talking about your knack for thinking big. Some go after their dreams but many more will go through school, enter the workforce, get married, and during that time, their dreams gradually fade away.

But for those of you reading, you still have that dream in your head. You might have forgotten about it or gotten busy doing other things, but it’s still there. You still have thoughts of what could have been.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late to dream big.

Look at Richard Branson. He doesn’t think small. He doesn’t think 1x or 2x. He thinks big— 10x, 20x, 100x. He asks how he can take his idea, product, business, etc. and make it spread like a wildfire. He asks how he can leave an impact on the world.

Richard Branson is an excellent example because he is always thinking big. Even though he never received a formal education and suffered from dyslexia as a child, he didn’t let that interfere with his dreams. One of his headmasters even said that he would end up in prison, but that didn’t stop him. After a few failed ventures, he started a magazine in 1966 and Virgin Records in 1973 and never looked back. His estimated net worth as of June 2015 was $5 billion.

Again, all without a formal education.

He doesn’t have “credentials.” He doesn’t have an MBA. But he is a hustler and his approach has always been simple: think big and have fun.

I once worked at a company whose CEO’s mission was to turn the business into a $100 million company. I would sit at my desk and think, “That number seems too small. Why not $1 billion?” Don’t get me wrong, $100 million is a lot of money, but it seems as if these days $100 million companies are common. Who wants to be common? Do you want to leave your mark on the world or what?

So why didn’t this CEO think bigger? Why don’t most of us think bigger? There are a few reasons why—thinking big isn’t a skill anyone teaches nor bothers to learn. If you reflect on this for a moment, why would someone teach this? It’s not a tangible skill. You can’t use this skill to build a house, create software or repair a jet engine. And secondly, how do you teach someone to think big?

Is this even a learnable skill?

Even though it’s not a tangible skill, possessing a “think big” mentality will enable individuals to be extremely capable. It gives people an intangible quality that allows them to chase their dreams and think big. It encourages passion, drive, persistence.

What’s really the worst that will happen if you don’t hit your 10x goal? What if you end up at 5x or 2x? Shooting for the stars and hitting average if you fail isn’t so bad. You’ll be surprised what you can do what you when the odds against you— if you dare to think big.

This type of mindset is a skill. It is an easily learnable skill.

Cultivate a “Think Big” Attitude

1. Visualize

What is it that you truly want? Sit down in a quiet place and listen to your authentic voice. Your authentic voice knows exactly what you want. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that voice that’s telling you to take a sabbatical and backpack through Asia, open a school in Haiti, open a store selling artisanal honey.

What do you want your future to look like? How would that make you feel? How does that make you feel right now, just thinking about it? Does it make you feel good? Motivated? Great. Remember that feeling and let it lead you from now on.

2. Plan

Write down what you want to achieve, and then ask yourself a second question: “What would that goal look like if multiplied by 10?” And THAT should be your goal! Remember, thinking big is the mission.

Are you training to do one pull-up?  Aim for 10.

Are you a blogger aiming for 1,000 unique visits a month?  Aim for 10,000.

Want $10,000 in annual sales? Aim for $100,000.

For more ideas on how to think big, check out Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World and The 4-Hour Workweek. I’ve used these books to inspire my own master plan, and I’m confident it will help you with yours.

3. Grow a pair

This is another way saying “get out of your comfort zone.” This is the only way you are going to get anywhere in life. Get out of your safe zone, take chances and jump into the unknown.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff

You don’t have time for the small, meaningless, unimportant distractions. Don’t let the menial daily tasks in your life drag you down. Minimize your decision making for things that don’t matter by limiting your options. For example, create a daily routine for what you eat and what you wear.

Routines like this can be mundane, but they will help keep you on track by reducing the distractions in your life.

And don’t forget the power of the word “no.” Agreeing to everything that comes your way is a sure way to knock you off your path.

5. Get positive support

Surround yourself with good people— people who are supportive of your cause and want to see you succeed. Stay encouraged by keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues and eliminate time with the naysayers. They’re only jealous. The more time you spend surrounded by positivity, the more positive you will become the more shit you’ll get done.

6. Start small

Small steps lead to big results. Even if you are only taking small steps to your success, be sure that you are always moving forward, even if it’s only incremental progress. Set micro-goals before your final goal to keep yourself moving.

If your goal is to start a company by the end of the year, commit to having a business plan drawn up by July. If your goal is to have a business plan by May, have a minimum viable product by April. Get the idea?

7. Execute

Now comes the important part: actually getting the work done. All the planning and dreaming big means nothing if you’re not ready to put your money where your mouth is. I’m not sure what more to say. Refer to steps 1-6 and start getting shit done.

You can make your dreams come true— the bigger the better.

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