What Will You Do to Achieve Your Dreams? The Lab Rats Take Action

  • Someday Lesson: Dreams mean nothing if actions don’t accompany them.

Kevin Luffs on flickr.comA few weeks ago before looking at their supports and their naysayers, I asked the Lab Rats to come up with a plan. In case you don’t remember, here’s a quick summary:

  • Wendee’s plan focuses on getting her MFA and increasing her creativity outlets (through teaching workshops and doing more art).
  • Alessio wants to save enough money to fund his new career and in the meantime he will start putting himself out in the field to gain experience.
  • All of Lizzie’s plans include some sort of communication, whether improving communication with her partner, opening herself up to new friendships, or making herself accountable somehow for weight loss and clearing out the clutter in her life.
  • And Horatio is concentrating on the job search (not surprising given his lack of job at the moment).

When I posted the summaries of these plans last time I asked you what you thought each person would choose as their actions. Would Wendee focus on the MFA, Alessio starting to design websites, Lizzie making a commitment to herself, and Horatio pursuing the job? (Those would have been my choices ā€“ what did you choose?).

And in three out of the four cases my guess was right. Only in the case of Wendee’s plan was I wrong, but then in looking back at Wendee’s last two weeks, with our focus on her need to find work to support her enough that she has some breathing room, it’s not surprising she chose to create a calm creative space in her life from which to make her life-changing decisions.

Here’s what they each had to say. Note how everyone has a slightly different format and way of interpreting their top five actions (which is what I asked from them). Wendee went two steps farther and came up with seven actions. Alessio has very measurable actions that are slightly broad in scope. Lizzie took her five actions, interpreted them as her five goals, and then broke them into little bits that she committed to get through quickly. And finally all of Horatio’s actions focus 100% on the job search with very specific repetitive actions.


  • Walk or run in the morning, almost every day
  • Be creative (draw, paint, collage, write) almost every day
  • Create clear space to think and work: spend 15 minutes at a time sorting through, getting rid of or preparing to sell stuff.
  • Get into the habit of spending more time outside: stop by a local botanical garden or museums to sit and sketch, or go for a morning walk.
  • Update my resume for different scenarios (engineering, design, teaching, office)
  • Contact old friends, colleagues to let them know Iā€™m looking for work.
  • Schedule lunch with one of my painting gal pals.


  1. Learn as much as I can from the Internet about web design. The internet is a free resource and there’s so much out there that’s free.
  2. Further my web design studies. This is a bit more formal and will include some sort of certification.
  3. Start making websites. For friends, charities, etc. This will help me compile a portfolio of my work.
  4. Learn more about graphic design. I’d studied graphic design before, but have found that the interest and passion for it has re-surfaced while doing web design.
  5. Do something design-related or creative at least once a week to keep the creative juices flowing.


  1. (Toward goal of finding a new house)
    • Email the friend who told me that there is a particular person in town who knows when all of the great houses are about to be listed, so you can make a deal BEFORE they hit they the market. (I have a friend who has bought two houses that way.)
    • Email the agent person once I have his/her contact info
    • Set up an appointment with the guy who has plans for prettying up our pond–the major minus is eventually selling our current house
  2. (Toward going back to work in the city)
    • Post on Facebook about my general excitement
    • Pick the day next week to go in
    • Book a train ticket
  3. (Toward working at the local college)
    • Email my old student who is currently a big wheel in their grad school
    • Email my acquaintance who is currently working there
    • Make plans to stop by with new friend who is student in the department
  4. (Toward improving Italian)
    • Twenty minutes a day six days a week on Rosetta Stone. If I DON’T meet my daily quota, no coffee the next day until I’ve made it up.
  5. (Toward looking better)
    • Hit the gym four times
    • Hook up my Wii (and WiiFit)
    • See if I have one week’s worth of everyday outfits which could charitably be described as cute.


  1. Every Wednesday – and only every Wednesday – do a broad sweep of the job ads and opportunities. Decide on the spot whether they are any good or not. Save those that are.
  2. Push one job application out every week. Make it part of the Wednesday ritual. Obviously, this supposes that there is something worth applying for, and isn’t an invitation to apply to just anything. But see if I can find one thing each week and ship an application in for it.
  3. Have one project / potential publication on the go at any time. Start writing the end product (the actual journal paper) at the start. This will clarify the aims of the project (what are we going to write about) and get over the hump of starting the writing-up.
  4. Book my passport interview within the next week. It can take months for these things to work out, so may as well start it now. Having a Euro passport opens a lot of opportunities.
  5. Seize one brazen opportunity for self-publicity every week. It can be posting an announcement of some paper or work to a mailing list, it can be a querying email to a potential employer or collaborator, or it can be attending a conference. Just do it.


I totally applaud all the Lab Rats for their commit to their plans with actions, but sometimes that’s not enough. As Lizzie noted in her plan, she needs to somehow make herself accountable.

And for that reason, here at Someday Syndrome, we have the Accountability Clinic. It doesn’t matter how much you talk about your desires, unless you act all your talking means nothing.

And so saying that, even though this group of Lab Rats leaves the maze next week, I’m going to interrupt the beginning of the next series to get an update from our four volunteers to find out just how they’re doing.

In the meantime, next week there’s one more Measuring Progress report, where the Lab Rats will compare where they started to where they are now.

I can’t wait to see their answers!

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2 thoughts on “What Will You Do to Achieve Your Dreams? The Lab Rats Take Action

  1. Horatio says:

    Ah well, the repetitive actions mean that I am at least doing something (and hopefully making some progress) all the time. A little dull maybe, but the unstructured nature of my (now) unemployed days is proving a bit trying.

    I’ve come to recognise that accountability is a big thing. It’s all too easy to have vague aims and keep thinking “tomorrow” (in fact, I’m thinking that about the gym right now), but being forced to keep track of what you do is a big aid to actually doing it.

  2. Alex Fayle says:

    Accountability is a big thing for sure. I note that when I don’t follow up on my own accountability touch points I don’t get as much done. Good luck with the job search and I’ll definitely be checking in with you to see how you’re doing (think of it as a pop quiz). šŸ˜‰

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