Dreams suck sometimes.
They’re not always inspiring or joyous, because sometimes, you feel like your dreams are overwhelming. You don’t feel like you’re making progress, and you barely know where to start.
The reason I know this, of course, is not because I read it in a book. I’ve lived that frustration over and over again.
Luckily, I’ve also achieved many of my dreams. But there are other, bigger dreams that frustrate me even now.
So I’m writing this article as a reminder for you and as a reminder for myself. There’s a path to all of your dreams, and there are 2 keys to navigating that path.
But you must remember these 2 things every day that you’re pursuing your dreams. First, though…
First Things First…You’ve Gotta Play a Long Game
I was recently on a mastermind call with my friend Jason Connell. In typical fashion, he said something that I already “knew” but that I really needed to hear again.
He observed that all of my dreams and goals were very large and long-term. But (and this is the part I needed to hear again), he also pointed out that my mind is still wired for short-term results and rewards.
“Jeremy, you just need to slowly get your mind accustomed to playing a long game.”
I love that Jason intentionally suggested “slowly” getting my mind accustomed to the long game. This isn’t a change that happens overnight. And even though I’m not there, I can definitely say that I’m much better at focusing on the long game than I used to be.
Your big dreams and your long-term goals will often seem like they’re not getting any closer. This is true for building a business, becoming a best-selling author, or even finding the perfect romantic partner.
That’s why playing the long game is hard. Because it’s difficult to even tell if you’re playing the game well, much less winning at it.
But the thing is, nothing happens until you’re ready for it to happen. And although you think it’d be nice to achieve all of your dreams immediately, you wouldn’t really value it without having gone through the trials and tribulations.
As far as I know, there is no secret to learning to play a long game, other than to continually be aware of your ultimate goals and also of your inclination to desire immediate rewards.
However, there are 2 not-so-secret keys to making any dream a reality, so long as you’re willing to play the long game.
As an aside, the above story is just one reason why mastermind groups are so useful. I’ve been running this one for 3 years, and the value I get out of it is immeasurable.
Key #1: You’ve Gotta Focus on Fundamentals
I’m a huge fan of focusing on the vital few things that make the biggest difference (also known as the 80/20 principle).
In fact, when I consult on marketing projects, my primary goal is to find 1-2 changes or tweaks that will make a quick and large difference. It’s also the approach that works best for many other areas of life, such as losing weight or getting a date.
But when it comes to playing the long game of achieving your dreams, that approach will only get you so far. And here’s the reason…
Without fail, achieving your long-term dreams and goals requires that you master certain fundamentals.
Anybody who is truly great at anything has mastered the basics of their art or profession. Picasso mastered the basics of drawing before painting masterpieces. Oprah Winfrey mastered the basics of interviewing before becoming a TV legend.
And here is perhaps the best example:
John Wooden is considered to be one of the greatest basketball coaches ever. But his coaching consisted of teaching his players the fundamentals. And he was coaching some of the best college players in the country.
Every practice, every day, Coach Wooden ran drills on the basics of basketball, such as running, ball-handling, change of direction, and free-throw shooting.
In fact, John Wooden was so obsessed with fundamentals that on the very first day of practice every year, he taught new players how to properly put on their socks and lace up their shoes. In his words, “if there are wrinkles in your socks or your shoes aren’t tied properly, you will develop blisters. With blisters, you’ll miss practice. If you miss practice, you don’t play. And if you don’t play, we cannot win.”
It’s tempting to focus on new or unique approaches. In fact, when I write articles, I often catch myself trying to craft a unique and fascinating topic or perspective.
But more often than not, the desire for newness and uniqueness is rooted in vanity and ego. Being new and unique aren’t bad, of course – in fact, they’re often very good. Still, it’s the fundamentals that truly matter for the long game of your dreams and goals.
Here’s what this means for you…
You must identify the fundamental skills required to achieve your dreams. And then you must build those skills on a regular (hopefully daily) basis. You can do this through study and coaching, but mostly, you’ll need to practice.
If you want to be a great entrepreneur, you’ll likely need to master marketing, management, and/or skills specific to your industry.
If you want to be a great writer, you’ll need to master basics like storytelling, clarity, and editing.
If you want to be incredibly fit, then you’ll need to master eating well, working out, and sleeping.
There are always hacks and tricks along the way, but they’ll only get you so far. And if you don’t master the fundamentals first, many of the hacks and tricks won’t help you at all.
Another interesting fact – Joseph Juran, who was primarily responsible for coming up with the 80/20 principle (partially based on Wilfredo Pareto’s work) lived to be 103 years old. He clearly figured out the 80/20 of living a long time.
Key #2: You’ve Gotta Do the Work
Yeah…you know this already.
But knowing it isn’t the same as “knowing” it. Because once you really know it, you stop looking for advice on how to get there.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you’re reading my article. It makes me feel good. And I truly hope it helps you achieve at least some of your dream goals.
But if – deep down – you fully accepted the work you’ll need to do to achieve those dreams, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. You would be working.
I barely need to give you examples of why this is so important…
Alex Haley, the author of Roots, wrote every day for 8 straight years before getting published. Colonel Sanders was 62 years old when he franchised his first KFC, some 22 years after he first started serving the chicken at a gas station.
I’m not lecturing you by any means on this point. For many of my own dreams, I’ve deferred the work. I’m an above-average speaker, but I’ve put off most of the work to become great and to start generating more opportunities.
Sometimes, it’s because you don’t want the dream as much as you think you do. But other times, it’s because you simply haven’t made the commitment and gained momentum.
Momentum is enormously important when it comes to motivation, confidence, and, ultimately, success. And to gain momentum, there’s only one solution. Just do it.
If you haven’t seen this speech before, I highly encourage you to watch it until the end:
Art Williams is a billionaire and great speaker because he’s done the work – whatever work has been necessary.
It’s not hard to figure out the work you need to do to achieve your dreams. It starts with the fundamentals, and then it’s everything else that comes up. It really is that simple.
But apart from these 2 keys, there’s one final point…
You’ve Gotta Forget Everything Else
All of my biggest successes – both in business and personally – have come when I’ve been slightly obsessed.
The businesses I’ve built, my ability to dramatically change my body, and even my successes in music and dance – they all came because I was obsessed with doing the work and mastering the fundamentals. And at those times in my life, pretty much nothing else mattered to me.
So if your dreams are big, then it’s likely that they’ll require a lot of focus from you. That’s a choice you need to make or not.
And it is a choice, because there’s a price to pay.
Everybody thinks they want to be Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but I truly believe that very few people would actually enjoy their lives. And that’s not meant to denigrate their own choices – just that most folks probably wouldn’t enjoy the path the way that they do.
Doing the work and mastering the fundamentals aren’t things you do on the weekend or when you feel like it. They’re a way of life.
And the question that you ultimately must answer is if that’s a way of life that you love.
More Articles by Jeremy Hendon:
Jeremy is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author who helps folks live the good life, – from to building businesses, to planning amazing adventures, to finding the world’s best food.
Get the ManTalks newsletter. Every week we’ll send you an email with the week’s top articles and interviews.