Why Set Unrealistic Goals For Fun? Dreamlining

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Dreamlining is a technique for goal-setting and lifestyle design introduced in the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris. You can use dreamlining to outline your ideal lifestyle and turn it into systematic steps that you can perform. It’s also a concept that focuses on goals that are exciting and that you feel are unrealistic to you; which makes it so much more fun when you reach them!

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You can read more about how-to-do Dreamlining here.

Why Set Unrealistic Goals?

What I enjoy the most about the concept of dreamlining is the emphasis on setting goals that we think are “unrealistic”. It’s a piece of unusual advice. Most productivity and goal-setting advice tells us to not set unrealistic goals, but instead keep it small, break it down, and make it realistic.

Timothy Ferris’s argument against setting realistic goals is that realistic goals just aren’t fun, exciting, or motivating enough. If the goal is too boring and realistic, then it won’t be enticing enough for us to put in the effort and do the hard work that’s needed. However, if a goal is unrealistic, huge, and makes us thrilled, then we’ll be motivated by just thinking about it.

In my experience, he’s right! Whenever I set my goals, I start with a “realistic” goal, but then I add a little bit more to it. I make it just a bit more unrealistic and exciting than it was before. And that enough gives me enough of an extra kick of excitement.

Related: Identity-Based Habits: Change Your Identity, Change Your Outcome

is the opposite of Happiness Boredom?

The existential vaccum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.

Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor and founder of Logotherapy, Man’s Search for Meaning

Another theory of his that I’m fascinated about, is the theory that the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness; but boredom. And I think he may have a point here. When I think back on the happiest moments of my life, most of them are filled with excitement. The thrill of new love, doing things you’re not really supposed to, visiting a new city and traveling, experiencing something refreshing, having something unexpected happen, or feeling anticipation before something you’ve been waiting for.

Of course, there are theories opposing this as well. If I remember correctly, I read that in Japan, for example, it’s much more common to value the harmonious and tranquil life, than one filled with excitement (which is a western modern ideal). And as someone who meditates a lot, and who is a big fan of Eckart Tolle and Alan Watts, I do see a point in that as well. I’ve been feeling much happier lately when I’ve practiced daily gratitude and focused on being present.

In addition, when I think about periods of my life when I’ve been very bored and without direction, I know I haven’t felt very happy. I’m even felt the opposite; I’ve felt a sense of anguish and like I’m crawling in my own skin. Which is a feeling that has gone away when I’ve either practiced being fully in the present moment or by deciding on new challenges and goals for myself to reach for fun.

So, perhaps, the key to happiness is living a life that balances fulfillment and gratitude for what we have, as well as embraces the excitement of having dreams and ideals. If we only ever chase excitement, then perhaps we’ll never truly be grateful in the present. And if we allow ourselves to feel fully fulfilled in the now, it may make us inactive and make us miss out on many extraordinary life experiences.

Although, I’m sure that the answer to a happy life has to be tailored to our personal dreams and values. This again leads back to setting personal goals and perhaps trying dreamlining.


Thanks for reading!

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