Dream Big written on a chalkboard

The Dream GPS

I mentioned in my previous post about using a “Dream GPS” approach to setting long-term goals. Dream GPS stands for “Dream, Goal, Process, System”, and it is a way to look at ambiguous or vague dreams you might have and work out a way to bring them down to more specific systems of implementation.

It is also helpful that “GPS” also has the connotation of finding your way since it is also the acronym for the Global Positioning Satellites that power our location and map apps.

Here is how it breaks down:


Dreams, are basically, the “Why” of what you want to make happen.

These are super vague, as the name implies. Your Dream might be to “be super fit”, or “win an Olympic medal” or “be rich”. Those are Dreams because (1) they don’t have any sort of method to make them happen and (2) they are poorly defined. A Dream, by itself, is just a dream. It is a nice idea or thought, but you need to figure out the details if you want to make those dreams a reality.


Goals are essentially defining the “What” and “When” of your Dreams.

Goals are a bit more specific than a Dream. It adds parameters to the dream and measurable results. A lot of us already know about “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals. That stands for goals that are “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Actionable”, “Realistic” and “Time-Based”. I tend to think of goals more in terms of providing a metric, a time, and a result. So, if the dream is “to be fit”, then the goal might be: “reduce body fat by 10% by June 1, 2024”.

Of course, you can add specificity and measurable results to the Goal, but I think simpler is better, and having a singular vision of the result you want to get often helps focus your energy to achieve it.

You can also break down a Goal into specific milestones. This is helpful if your Goal is very large and you need to set up some sub-goals to help you maintain your momentum over the long term.


The Process is the “How” of your Dreams.

A Process is taking the Goal and figuring out the specific methods (or processes) that you’ll use to accomplish those specific results. It is great to have a goal, but how are you going to achieve it? This is the Process.

So, if your Goal is to “reduce body fat by 10% by June 1, 2024” then you might have a Process of adjusting your caloric intake, exercising in a specific way, or getting more sleep.

Of course, there are many ways to accomplish your Goals, so figuring out the best Process for who you are and what you can do is a big part of achieving success with your Dreams.


Finally, a System is a set of daily or regular, consistent routines that you have set up to help you know what to do each day. This is where you set up your Process (or method) to make it happen with less effort and exertion.

If you have read Atomic Habits, these are the processes of setting up your environment to encourage the behaviors that will make you take the right steps to achieve your Dreams.

If you have a Process of reducing your caloric intake, for example, then your system for doing that might include subscribing to a meal service that sets those calories for you. Or removing all of the high-calorie foods from your cupboards. Or maybe you remove certain food delivery apps from your phone so that it is harder to order unhealthy options when you’re feeling lazy.

These Systems allow you to implement the Processes that bring you closer to your Goals and Dreams.

The basic idea of all of this is to take something ambiguous and turn it into a direct path for implementation. To go from a vague idea and create a system that helps you, almost effortlessly, make it become a reality.

Is this easier said than done?

Of course. Anything worth doing is probably going to be challenging.

The key, I think, is to try to remove as many barriers and obstacles as you can to make those Dreams achievable despite the challenges.

But, this requires a lot of front-loading and working out the details of your Systems, Processes, and Goals ahead of time.

But at the end of the day, I guess that is probably the whole point.

Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash