100 Dreams: Do You Know What You Really Want?

How many of us know what we really want?  Seems like most people spend a lot of time focused on what they need or the requirements of life.  That’s pretty normal.  But every now and then, I like to turn up the “want” dial and see what I come up with.  What are your dreams?

Many years ago, I read a book called The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly.  It’s a business fable about a sanitation company that is having trouble with attrition and employee engagement. The company ends up hiring a part financial planner/part coach who focused on helping employees reach their dreams.  The “Dream Manager” helped people send their kids to college, buy their first house, retire early and all kinds of other things.  What struck me about the book was an exercise recommended in the appendix.  Kelly recommends setting aside some time to brainstorm 100 dreams.  That is a LOT of dreams.

I ended up doing the exercise and still have the document to this day.  I’ve since shared the exercise with family, friends and clients and many find it powerful to indulge in a little “wanting”.  I do recognize the risks associated with turning up the “want” dial – especially after the section on Buddhism* in the book Sapiens.  If the 4 Noble Truths are accurate and the idea is to be free from suffering (which has a connection to desire), my sincere apologies.  I’ll trade all 100 dreams for a chance at enlightenment!

I saw the 100 dreams exercise as directional.  It gave me a chance to see what I really wanted and to connect with what I valued at a deep level.  I have heard that some find it challenging to come up with 100 dreams.  The first 30 or so were easy for me to write down, but I felt I got more creative as I kept writing.  Towards the final 10-15, I found some things that were deep longings that I didn’t realize were so important to me. 


Ok.  So now it’s your turn.  Why not give it a try?  Take an hour during your weekend and think about what you really want.  I’d love to hear what you come up with.  When you do sit down to write your list of 100 dreams, here are a few tips:

Divergent thinking.jpg
  • Categories – brainstorming in categories or “value buckets” can help.  Spend a little time thinking about family, travel, career, lifestyle, home, fitness, etc. – a little time for each.  You might have a bunch of other categories – those were just mine to start.  I was able to come up with at least a few dreams in each area.   

  • Just write – it’s like a business brainstorm.  No bad ideas!  See if you can stay in a mode of divergent thinking as long as you can where you sole job is to generate creative ideas in volume.  Try not to judge how difficult the dream will be to achieve or what gets in the way of it.  Just write.  A lot.  [PIC]

  • Balance – most people start with things they want or want to do in life.  See if you can balance it with some “be” dreams.  I added a few like “be considered a person of high integrity” and “be well read”.  This way it doesn’t feel like one big to do list.   

  • Size matters – but not in the way you are thinking.  Some dreams are HUGE and scary and seem impossible.  Some are tiny.  One of mine was to forgive myself for smashing a trumpet in frustration when I was in 4th grade (in my defense, it wouldn’t play like I wanted it to).  That one was so minor in the grand scheme of things, but so HUGE in my head.  I’ve finished that one…I think. 


The simple act of writing down my dreams was a fun exercise.  And over the last 9 years, I’ve been able to knock out about 31/100.  Some of them have changed.  Some of them have been removed.  But I’ve made progress.  And these are 31 things that would have sat in the back of my mind – unrealized.  Now I look at the list once a year and see which ones I can realize in the next 365 days.  A year provides a lot of opportunities when your goals are top of mind.  I use the list when making goals, planning travel and – sometimes – making decisions about the future. 

Here are just a few I’ve been able to knock out:

  • Win a road race – just had to find a small local race with “1st annual” in the advertisement.

  • Received an advanced degree – finished my Masters in Organizational Psychology.

  • Reduce blood pressure to normal range – rocked that one.

  • Drive a race car – drive Ferrari F430s on the 40th birthday.

  • Go to Fenway Park with the family – did that one years ago.

  • Visit my parents in Yellowstone – done!

  • Build something cool for the girls – built them a stage in the basement.

  • Create my own business – hello Saber Coaching!

  • Exercise 3x/week – uh…I think I crushed this one.

  • Volunteer in some capacity within the community – served on the Environmental Action Committee for 1 year and not ride the Pan Mass Challenge every year (donation link here!).  😊


I was telling my youngest daughter about this blog and I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to have people write down 100 dreams.  She said sure, but she wasn’t sure if she had 100 dreams.  But she said, “I do have one…”  And her eyes lit up.  She wants to walk down a red carpet someday and have everyone taking pictures of her.  Nice.  The joy on her face was powerful.  And I hope it happens for her.  I do know what I’m doing for her 16th birthday party in 7 years.  Check it.  Or something like that.  Can’t wait to hear more about her (and her sisters’ dreams) over time.  Maybe I can become the Dream Father?


Yes. It is  dark and I’m wearing sunglasses . At least I have the full tank of gas.

Yes. It is dark and I’m wearing sunglasses. At least I have the full tank of gas.

One of my dreams is to take a nap in a hammock once a week, so…off to go do that.  I had to find a sweet hammock that could be indoor or outdoor.  Thanks to my physical therapist (Franni) who told me about Eno Hammocks.  Lovely. 

Time to go take care of this dream.   Tell me about some of your dreams.  Let’s get there together.


*Clearly, I don’t know much about Buddhism. 

- Mike Sweeney, www.sabercoaching.com 

If you found this post valuable, please share it far and wide so others can benefit. If you’ve got your list of 100 dreams and want to start making some of them come true, shoot me a note @ mikesweeney@sabercoaching.com. Maybe I can be the Dream Coach for you.