I went on a Facebook Live the other day, and I was talking about dreams versus goals. It hit me how many people never move past the dream phase. Honestly, it made me a little sad, because I know it’s possible for you to move past it, and I’m tired of seeing people give up after running around expending all of their energy on things that keep them running around.
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The dream phase is the initial conception of an idea, where you’ve reached the promised land—where all is magical and all is wonderful. You’re floating on air because everything has worked out somehow. Don’t get me wrong, I love dreaming. I love creatively imagining my future. The problem with the dream phase is that you don’t know how you got there. The tangible steps didn’t happen, it’s just you imagining, (*insert heavenly angels singing*), I’m finally here and it’s glorious.
The issue is dreamers tend to not make it past the dream phase.
This phase is supposed to be the spark and energy to get you going. Every friendly neighborhood pyromaniac knows that a spark doesn’t just turn into a flame on its own.
The dream phase can end up being an addicting trap because of that initial spark of excitement. You keep running around hoping something will catch, but we need more than excitement and good feelings to make a flame ignite.
Putting It Into Action
Now you know, the dream phase can sound like, “I made a living in music, I’m there, and I’m experiencing a successful career.”
Ok, awesome!! Let’s dissect, where did that success come from? What does that mean?
Well, if we edit that thought, and bring it into a goal mindset, now it turns into, “I want to make a tangible living, and a viable income off of music through doing a couple of things: this, this, and this…”
The goal phase just turned from a spark into a flame, now getting a specific idea going.
So what is it you want?
Maybe you want to play better paid live gigs.
Or, maybe you want to be a work-for-hire who is the go-to person for vocals or guitar, etc…
That big goal of making a sustainable income and providing you a comfortable living, now produced three other goals—when those are reached, they’re going to get you to the overarching goal.
Then, we’re going to take each one of those little goals that were spawned by the big one, and we’re going to work backward from there, continuing to find the smaller, more tangible steps.
So for example, what does it mean you want to be a work-for-hire? Do you have the right equipment yet? Have you been practicing to a metronome to make your recording process smoother? Basically, have you been upping your game in the area you want to work?
These are the types of questions that will really help wrap your head around what you want to do.
Then, it’s about producing these tangible things, because when you do that, now guess what? You get specific, and you’re more on target.
Your Happiness is Counting on You to Get Focused
So I’ve seen this so many times. This person, let’s call him Doug, has this imagined dream in his head, he never got specific, but he feels like, “things are great”. He actually does get a lot of different opportunities. He’s told that focusing would get him to his dream so much faster. Doug responds that he would feel like he’s limiting himself.
I saw Doug saying yes to everything. He’s constantly distracted because he’s even saying yes to things that he knows have little to do with what he really wants to do, but still thinks it could just work out somehow.
Doug just doesn’t want to give up that great sparkly feeling, because in the end, isn’t that what he’s going for?
Sure, maybe. But what happened to Doug is that his time and energy were wasted on a lot of different stuff, he watched other people find success, not understanding why he wasn’t there too, and his dream kind of fizzled… it got a little smaller and smaller until he didn’t even believe in it anymore.
He reached the bitter phase.
What does the bitter phase sound like? It sounds like an angry, ”I guess I wasn’t meant to do this…”
Once you reach the bitter phase, it really takes a lot to get anywhere else.
Although it takes a lot to go from dream phase to goal phase at first, it’s so much easier than going from thinking things like: “the system is rigged,” “there’s nothing good out there”, “I can’t believe so and so is doing this thing,” “I’m sure they probably had way more time and money to do it., to “I can, and I really want to do this thing.”
In reality, you need to flip the mindset to “I see now that they realized they needed to focus and work on things …. now I know I need to get specific too, and that means I need to say no to things” or “I need to say yes to this thing because it’s in line with what I want to do”. “This is important, that matters,” etc… Your decision-making abilities start to get some exercise.
Moral of the Story
The dream phase and the goal phase are two different things and if we aren’t aware of that, it doesn’t matter how nice the dream is, you’re never going to get to that other side.
If you’re looking for help getting out of the dream phase and into the goal phase, this is what I specialize in as a guitar coach. I want to peel back the layers and show how you can do this too.
Book a session through American Songwriter and I’ll see you on zoom!
Mike Meiers is an Emmy Award-Winning songwriter, producer, and guitar coach. Mike currently writes for indie artists, has had placements for MTV, VH1 NPR, FOX Sports, History Channel, Showtime, and Target. He’s also the founder of Songwriting For Guitar, helping songwriters enhance their guitar skills so they can write better songs and get them out into the world! If you love fun and educational podcasts with caffeinated hosts and insightful guests, visit and subscribe to the Songwriting for Guitar Podcast.