The Good Life # 8

To Achieve Your Dreams, Build Commitment Before Courage

Gary Gilberg
4 min readJan 31, 2021

Eight keys to success

Image by Sadin C. Nair from Pexels

Dreams are fragile. That’s why we cherish them and so often fail to achieve them. We protect them from the harsh reality of how difficult they are to make happen and how much failure we will face if we try. Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel prize for his work on prospect theory which includes the insight that we overweight the possibility of future loss twice as much as future gain. Despite this fallacy, the number one regret people who are dying express is not having the courage to pursue their dreams.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

Dreams require willpower, commitment, courage, purpose, grit and resilience. Those are rare qualities. People who achieve their dreams are willing to do what most of us won’t, so they can create a life most of us can’t; they live their dreams. They take action in the present and don’t leave it for a “future self.” Neural imaging shows that we perceive our future self separate from our “present self” but in the same area of our brain as a “stranger.” It’s as if we were expecting a stranger to do the hard work for us.

“One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of modern society is tomorrow.” Vincent Foss

Here are 8 steps to achieve your dreams:

1) Clarify what you want. Reflect on your biggest dream, and be specific. Write down exactly what you want. Writing helps encode information into our frontal lobes through our hippocampus. When we write down information our brain considers it more important and flags it for better retrieval. Neuropsychologists call this the “generation effect.”

“Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity.” James Clear

2) Commit to achieve your goals. Your success is based on your commitment. How hard are you willing to work to realize your dreams? To be serious, you must pass what Dr. Benjamin Hardy calls, your point of no return, like acclaimed Burning Man artist Peter Hazel, who shut down his tile and granite business at age 52 to force himself to expend all his energy into his art. He chose to believe in himself.

“Remember to always believe in yourself. Unless you suck.” Joss Whedan

3) Make a plan. People who only fantasize about a dream are worse off than those who make a plan, acknowledge obstacles and design strategies to overcome potential obstacles. Realistic optimism leads to better results than unbridled optimism. You need to take possession of your dream and make the decision to turn it into your reality.

“The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”

4) Let go of your old identity and own your new one. As you make the transition, you may experience “impostor syndrome,” the feeling people will discover you’re not really the identity you claim to be. I’ve been hesitant to tell people I’m a writer even though I’ve published my first novel and written a newsletter for months.

5) Learn to say no. To maximize your impact in the world, you need to focus your energy into one point, like an arrow. If you spread yourself over several projects, you will have less penetration at each point. If you are always busy, you probably aren’t saying no enough. Saying no means you can say yes to what is truly important.

“We are kept from our #1 goals not by obstacles but by a clear path to lesser goals.” Robert Brault

6) Don’t wait for courage. If you wait until you have a surge of confidence, you will never start anything outside of your comfort zone. Make the commitment, despite your fear. You will seldom have all the information you want to make the perfect choice.

“Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” Woody Allen

7) Write down your goal, share it with a friend or coach and ask them to become your accountability partner. By sharing your goals, you increase your commitment to follow through. Taking these 3 steps, writing it down, sharing your goal and having an accountability partner will almost double your rate of success.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

8) Take action. Taking action builds confidence, not the other way around. The most effective way to build confidence is by achieving small wins as you train and pursue your dream. If you never take action to realize your dreams, your dreams will wither on the vine. Only you can turn your dreams into reality.

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

If you’re missing the DRIVE in your life, sign up for my complimentary FIND YOUR DRIVE program by clicking on this link.



Gary Gilberg

Gary Gilberg is a certified coach, writer and ski bum, not necessarily in that order. Sign up for his free newsletters at