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by Mike Vestil 

Dreamlining: How to Design Your Life and Live Your Dreams

How much of your life have you already wasted?

For most, it’s already been a good chunk of it. But yet we sit there, in front of the T.V. binge watching the entire series of Game of Thrones as if our lives depended on it.

Guess what? It does.

Every single second you waste not going after you want is another second that you can’t get back from the greedy hands of time.

“The largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.”Seneca

For the past couple of weeks now, I have been reflecting on my life choices that I’ve made so far. As talked about in my book, I was lucky to have a traumatic event spark my motivation to take action. But sadly like the quote above states, most people are wasting their entire life not living up to their life’s purpose and their true potential.

They sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours, and spend an average of 4 hours a day watching television. Oh and the remaining 4 hours in the day? They do jack shit.

Average Time Spend On Activities On A Daily Basis
Normal 24 Hour Day of Your Typical Human Being

They continue this until they are 65. And by that point, whatever dream they had is as non existent as the fairy tales you used to believe in when you were a child.

And by the time they realize exactly what it is they do want. It’s too late.

For the time being, this is not you (yet). You still have some time. Luckily for you you have the super secret technique known as dreamlining.

What is Dreamlining?

Dreamlining is a process coined by Tim Ferriss as a way to turn your big dreams, goals, and desires into a well defined action plan that can help you achieve those goals within the next 6 to 12 months.

Sounds not possible I know. But it is.

That is because it combines the parkinson’s law and 80/20 rule to turn you into a goal accomplishing machine.

The power of dreamlining is instead of having your dreams be some “esoteric” idea that seems unrealistic to you, you have a concrete plan on how to attain the things you want. As Ferris explains, “The goals shift from ambiguous wants to defined steps.” And it is these defined steps that turn the unrealistic into perfectly attainable. What you will realize after this exercise is that accomplishing your goals can happen sooner than you think.

Compass Thinking Vs. GPS Thinking

Before we can use dreamlining to get what we want, we have to first define what it is we want out of life. Think about the last time you used a GPS. What did you enter when you wanted to go somewhere? The exact address? Or did you just ask which way was north?

Even if you ask for the general direction, you will never get their faster than someone else that has put in the exact address that they wanted to end up with.

Now this is the issue with goals. Too many people take the inefficient compass approach when they could be telling their internal GPS where it is they actually want to end up. But sadly, this is how most people in life operate. They want to make more money, they want to become happier, and they what to look sexy naked. But they never will because they don’t specify what it is they exactly want to attain.

This was my problem in the beginning. In the 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss would ask, if I couldn’t fail.. what would I want to do in the next 6 to 12 months that I always wanted to do.

I had to define the lifestyle that I wanted. Hmmm let’s see. In the next 6 to 12 months I wanted to:

  • Travel the world
  • Do cool stuff
  • Make a lot of money
  • Get a six pack
  • Be happy

But the problem with that is it was too broad. Now how would my response change if I used GPS thinking?

  • I want to live in asia
  • Swim with whale sharks
  • Jump off of waterfalls
  • Get 8% body fat
  • Eat healthy meals that were cooked for me
  • Learn Muay Thai
  • Fly to a different city once a month

Ok perfect. Now that is better. Do you see the difference? The former is way too broad while the latter is extremely specific.

Now it is your turn. If you couldn’t fail, what would you want to do in the next 6 to 12 months?

  • Where is one place that you would want to visit?
  • What is one activity that you have always wanted to do?
  • What is one skill that you always wanted to learn?

The goal of this is to start designing the life that you actually want. The more specific the better. Write yours down on a piece of paper before going on to the next dreamlining step.

The Fisherman and the Businessman

There is a classic Brazilian story that talks about a fisherman and a businessman. Every single day he would wake up and go out into the ocean and fish to provide food for his family. In the afternoon he would spend most of his time playing with his kids. After they went to bed, him and his wife would drink wine, sing songs, and laugh the night away with their friends in the village.

One day a businessman approached him and asked why he didn’t stay out their longer to catch more fish to make more profit. The fisherman replied that he only takes from the ocean what he needs.

The businessman thought that was stupid. He told the fisherman that if he really wanted to help his family, he would stay out longer to catch more fish, sell the fish for the profit, use that money to hire workers to fish for him, then to sell his company to a bigger fish company so he can retire with millions of dollars to his name.

The fisherman curiously asked politely, “Then what would I do after that sir?”

The businessman excitedly responded, “Then you can fish only when you want to, spend the afternoons hanging out with your kids, and your evenings playing your guitar with the people that you care about!”

“I do that now sir”

And with that, the businessman left with his tail between his legs, questioning his life’s choices.

Story of the fisherman and the businessman
Be happy now, not later

This story depicts the problem with people today. Many people believe that they need to work their entire life before they can begin enjoying themselves. When in fact, we all have the capability of enjoying our lives now instead of when we are older.

For example, the specific goals that I had written down in this dreamlining exercise, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do them until I was in my 30’s or 40’s. Boy was I wrong.

After writing down my super specific goals, I went over to handy dandy Google and found out the cost of each one of my goals.

  • I want to live in asia – $250/month for an apartment in Chiang Mai
  • Swim with whale sharks – $20 In Oslob in Cebu Philippines
  • Jump off of waterfalls – $20 for a 4 hour guide in Kawasan Falls Philippines
  • Get 8% body fat – $15/month gym membership
  • Eat healthy meals that were cooked for me – $8/day in asia
  • Learn Muay Thai – $117/month
  • Fly to a different city – $200/month for most round trip tickets from Thailand to neighboring countries
  • Random F.U. money that I can blow for no reason – $500/month

The grand total of everything was only $1,362/month. Are you serious. And here I thought that I had to wait my entire live before I could live my dream. Nope. Turns out I can do that faster than I thought.

This monthly cost is known as TMI. Or as Tim Ferriss calls it in his book, the Target Monthly Income. And if I was able to find a way to make that in the next 6 to 12 months, then I can pack my bags and fly straight to Asia.

Take into account your goals. How much do each of them cost? What is your TMI? Was it a lot more attainable than your previously believed?

Giving Myself a Deadline

“If a gun was held to your parent’s head, and you had 24 hours to give me $10,000.. How many of you would have the money ready by the time of the deadline?”

Gruesome I know. But hearing this from my mentor made me understand the importance of setting emotionally charged deadlines.

I had my specific goals, I had my TMI, the only thing left was finding the motivation to accomplish my TMI in the next 6 to 12 months.

So how did I emotionally charge my deadline? Simple. I made myself believe that I only had until age 30 to live. Think about it. If you only had 7 more years left to live, would you put anything off? Or would you do what you needed to do now to enjoy what life you have left.

After I did that, the day to day struggle in building my online business was no longer an issue.

The beauty about figuring out my TMI definitely took away a lot of stress. Before when I set out to pursue my dreams I had no idea what it took to actually live them. But knowing the exact target, I felt relieved. And giving myself this year to figure it out was exhilarating.

My first goal was to build a cash flow business that can pay me  $1,362/month. The first thing I did was to look for people who were accomplishing similar feats – many of them having businesses based on the internet.

I first started off with eCommerce. Other ideas to help hit your TMI:

After trial and error, hours of trying to figure it out, and pacing my room back and forth in the middle of the night in my underwear trying to put pieces of the internet game together, I hit my TMI.

And if I made more than my TMI I would put most of it in an index fund (as advised by Warren Buffet)

And POOF. I fled the country and now run around in Asia making YouTube videos. Where I lived happily ever after. The end.

Final Thoughts On Dreamlining

Ok you got me. It’s not “the end” for me yet, and no, I did not live my “happily ever after.” I am only 23 at the time of writing this and I still have a lot of room for growth and error. So I am just beginning. I’m still young and can take as many risks as I can because this stage of my life is all about the growth.

And isn’t that what life’s all about?

Living your dreams, crushing your goals, and growing in the process.

The power of dreamlining is that it can allow you to live those dreams in a shorter time frame than you thought was possible.

And If you are reading this and wondering it’s too late for you, understand this. Later is better than NEVER. And even though a large portion of our lives may have already passed, the opportunity is knowing that we still have the rest of our lives to only commit to designing the lifestyle that you want. So don’t waste the time that you have left. Create your dreamline today and I’ll see you on the other side.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is the author of the Lazy Man's Guide To Living The Good Life. He also has a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers where he talks about personal development and personal finance.

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