How to stop dreaming and start doing? The 90-10 rule

“The world belongs to the dreamers,” some people say. I don´t agree. I think that affirmation is incomplete. Something more accurate and realistic would be: “The world belongs to the dreamers who, after dreaming, make the effort and work to make that dream come true”. It’s not a catchy or commercial affirmation, but it´s closer to reality.

The web is full of motivational phrases and pictures with paradisiacal beaches inviting us to believe that “Those who dream are those who achieve”. How many, after reading that kind of motivational content, really do something? How many of those who read that will remember the phrase the next day?

There´s something wrong with that type of situations: People spend more time dreaming than doing.

Currently, people spend 90% of their time dreaming and visualizing, and only 10% doing something about those dreams. Why? Because it’s easier to dream than to do. Dreaming doesn´t require any effort, and it’s a natural process. We see a TV commercial and we start dreaming about having that thing we saw. We are on our way to the office and we start dreaming we are somewhere else, where we don´t need to follow a schedule and there´s no traffic on the road. But everything ends there, in a simple illusion, in a “How nice would be if …”

Everything stays there, in a visualization with no action behind. And that´s the problem, if we want that visualization to become a reality, we need to confront the other 10%, we need to face that moment that a few people dare to: The execution moment. Few people do it because that’s the moment when things materialize, when you need to start thinking, organizing, being creative and making decisions. It becomes less “natural” and less comfortable. Now it takes effort and spending time thinking how to execute.

We spend our lives thinking about what we would like to do, but we get scared when it comes the time to think about how to do it.

Have you ever wondered why there´s so few people in the “elite” levels of their professions? Why so few achieve mastery? There´s no “natural law” that limits the number of entries for the “elite club”. Most people don´t realize that most of their time and their energy should not be spent in dreaming, but in executing that dream.

The 90% – 10% law

The equation should be the other way around: 10% of the time should be spent dreaming, and the other 90% should be spent executing that dream.

It´s not easy to follow that rule and close the gap between dreaming and executing. It’s difficult to make that change after so many years of being “programmed” to think as we have always done.

But there’s a way to start doing it. Now it´s the moment to use that time to think on how to execute that dream. We need to focus on the process. We are still not executing; we are just thinking about something more synchronized with reality.

Try to answer this simple questions. This will help you to face the transition between the process of dreaming and doing:

  • What can I do today to get closer to that dream?
  • What benefits will bring to my life that dream?
  • Do I see myself one year from now still “obsessed” with this dream?
  • What tools and resources do I have today to start getting closer to that dream?
  • Who do I know that can help me to start getting closer to that dream?

After answering those questions, two things can happen:

  1. There will be a lot more motivation to start executing that dream. You will have a clearer perspective about why you want to achieve that dream. You will train your mind to think more about reality and specific steps to execute, rather than keep thinking in fantasies and dreams.

2. You will realize that you don´t want to execute that dream. Many times, when we start thinking about how to achieve a dream, we realize that we like the idea in our heads, but we are not willing to invest time and energy in working to achieve that dream. That´s normal. You don´t need to worry. If this happens, there´s an advantage: The faster you realize you don´t want to work on a plan for that dream, you will have more time to start thinking about other ideas and dreams.

Applying the 90% – 10% rule prevents making the mistake of dreaming about something for years, and when you finally decide to start executing, you realize that this thing don´t really add you any type of value and you feel no passion working for that dream.

This approach will increase the probability that, at some point, you learn how to synchronize your dreams with what you really want to do and work for. Maybe, at the less expected moment, you will be driving your way to the “elite” club. You will be part of that group of people that understands that is not worth dreaming if you are not going to execute.