How to Reverse Engineer Your Goal

I think everyone is a dreamer. Everyone wants to give something, make something, contribute something. But then “life” gets in the way, we get busy with meal batching, working, cleaning, and being with the fam. There isn’t a lot left over for our ambitions. So we tuck them neatly into a box and put it up on the freshly Marie Kondo’d shelf for later.

But there your dreams remain, collecting dust while all the other things keep directing our lives.

Talking to people about their dreams is one of my favorite things to do. When you say, “okay, okay, but what do you really want to do?”

They pause for a second. They get a little nervous like they are even afraid to say the thing out loud. Finally, apologetically, they say what they really want to do. It’s their passion, their hobby, the thing they do even for no money. Then I see their energy change. Lights come on. Their body opens up, shifts in a way that tells me they are, for a moment, allowing the dream out into the open.

That’s my favorite.

But then they quickly follow it up with a “But I know it’s totally impractical. When would I find the time? I don’t have anyone to watch the kids.”


“It’s way too much for me right now. I don’t have training.”


“I don’t have the time.”


“Someone else can do it. It’s not really for me.”

Then they deflate and go back to whatever they were doing before. The dream goes back in the box.

But I want to help keep the box out. I’ve had my fair share of dreams. They started small, like

  • Afford my own place

  • Be able to pay all my bills

Once I'd tackled those few, then they got bigger:

  • Buy a new couch out of pocket

  • Adopt a plant

  • Have babies

Until they are at where I am now:

  • Write content to help people organize, plan, dream, and feel great about themselves

  • Hire a coach

  • Build a blog and a suite of digital resources

  • Enjoy the outdoors

  • Enjoy my family more

I’ve accomplished everything on these lists and I’ve done it through a combo of practices and strategies. One of my favorites that I want to share is “Reverse Engineering a Big Goal.”

How to Reverse Engineer Your Goal

  1. You must believe that your dream is bigger than your challenges.

  2. See the end result.

  3. Break it into “what happens right before this step” steps.

Let me illustrate for you:

Amanda wants to write a self-help book that tops Amazon’s Best-Seller List. She visualizes the end result first.

End Result: My Book is on Amazon’s Best Seller List

Then Amanda visualizes what she did right before that to make that a reality.

Step Right Before that: Pre-sell 1 million copies

Step Right Before that: Robust Marketing Campaign (Radio Shows, Podcasts, Blog collabs, bookstore readings)

Step Right Before that: Book complete

Step Right Before that: Edits

Step Right Before that: Write a draft

Step Right Before that: Hire a literary agent

Step Right Before that: Write a book proposal

See how it hows? Amanda just thinks, visualizes what the end result is that she wants to create, and asks “what happens right before that that would make this result inevitable?”

This works for giant goals and for small goals. It doesn’t matter how big it is. It’s important that you just start and continue. Some seasons will go slowly, some will be super-charged. Keep the course along your Reverse Engineered Path and you will eventually get there.

PRO TIP: When it comes to your dreams, ask yourself this: Is it more important that it happens or when it happens?

No goal is too big or small for this Goal Mapping Template. This guides you through breaking down complex or big goals into bite-sized, doable tasks that you can sprinkle in throughout the year. You can prioritize the important stuff while you get it done hustle-free!

Neither answer is wrong, but it is important to your determination that you know where your intentions are.

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