Big Goals And Dream Chains


BIG Goals And Dream Chains

Today I learned about the concept of dream chains for achieving big goals. As I browsed through I stumbled upon a new project from MJ Demarco: GoalSumo - A tool for setting and achieving goals. The name seems to be inspired by AppSumo, but I might be misled here.

The app is supposed to help you set goals and split them into subgoals and sub-targets that are refined using the SMART goal-setting method. Since I'm currently in what other people might call the quarter-life crisis, I lean somewhat toward a new approach to finding purpose and value in life.

In my previous post about my goals: [[I already achieved goals that I said would make me happy.]] I mentioned that most of the goals I set for myself were not "big enough", since I achieved them quite quickly. So maybe my goals should be more ambitious and dreamy… Feeling like they are far away. A pipe dream.

One of the problems that I'm facing with the system is that I don't really have any "big" dreams at the moment. Most of the stuff that I dream about is just something, some arbitrary number, nothing I would really dream about.

Big dreams

I'm going to list my current thoughts anyway, I'll come back to this list later and refine it:

  • Buy an apartment in Cologne with a roof terrace, at least 3 rooms, and 120 sq m of space. So that I can host dance parties there, live there for some time, and rent it out if I don't need it.
  • Travel with my van throughout Europe with a future girlfriend: Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal
  • Climb a 8a outdoors, have a steady bouldering crew that I go outdoors with regularly, and climb hard stuff.
  • Own a house and home climbing wall in Spain, where the climate is more friendly and sunnier, especially in the winter. The house should be reasonably big, offering space for a family of two kids, a dog, my wife, and me. I want to be able to do grilling sessions with friends, have a really fucking awesome home climbing wall, and have the opportunity to go climb outside easily within a 1-2 hour drive.
  • Build and sell a business for 25 million euros, be free from the money game, and afford the house from above.
  • Create and own a personal brand in the software engineering, climbing, and self-development fields.

MJ mentions in his tutorial video about dream chains that we as humans are usually pretty bad at estimating what we can achieve in a time span of 6–10 years, but greatly overestimate what we can achieve in a shorter time span. So these big goals should be something that for now seems completely unachievable, but in terms of 10 years of really pursuing something, it is.


Once we have our dream goals set, we should split them up into mid-term goals. So something that is achievable in a time span of 2–6 years, which is the halfway point to our big dream, These midterm goals are supposed to be specific, numerical, and task-oriented.

For example, regarding the personal-brand goal, I set myself the goal of writing 300 blog posts and creating 300 YouTube content pieces. These goals are specific, measurable, and controllable. Reaching 100,000 YouTube subscribers, for example, would be a bad goal since it is not controllable.


Now we would repeat the same process, but this time for a shorter time span. What goals need to be achieved as short-term goals in 6–24 months in order to achieve the midterm goals?

Creating 600 content pieces in six years requires simple math. 600 / 6 / 52 = 1,9230769231, that would mean about 2 content pieces a week. With a few weeks of slack. It does feel stupid to now set myself the goal of creating 208 content pieces in 2 years, as that would be simple math, but isn't that kind of the same goal as the midterm goal? And that would seem as if it were "easy"? Tough, it is not. Creating two superb bangers of content each week is not easy, I suppose.

Monthly goals

Repeat the same, but this time for an even shorter time span of 1–6 months, which are our monthly goals. So we can make progress toward our short-term goals.

Continuing with our simple math, this would require us to create 48 pieces of content in less than 6 months.

Weekly goals

And we repeat this process one more time for your weekly goals, with a 1-3 week timeframe.

Now we could split the goal up a little bit more; sure, we would have to create two pieces of content per week, but we could get more specific and task-oriented around the how and what. A specific example would be:

  • Write a blog post about transforming your CLI applications and making them STDIN/STDOUT compatible, using an example in Rust.

In this example, I simply assume that the output of creating X amount of content would lead to a decent following and the creation of a personal brand, evolving around the topics I write and vlog about.

Once you have done this, congratulate yourself! You set yourself up for success by creating a blueprint for achieving a spectacular goal for yourself.

My personal take

Setting yourself up for success can be daunting. This system is probably capable of setting and achieving your goals, though one common pitfall that I see for myself is that I set too many aspiring goals, work towards too many things at once, and don't progress anywhere in a meaningful way.

I will use the app, and maybe I'll come back in 2–3 years and see how it affected me and if I actually progressed towards my goals. One would assume I should.