“I have a dream.”

That single sentence—proclaimed by Martin Luther King Jr.—marked a defining moment in the American civil rights movement. And that speech has been repeatedly named the number one speech of the 20th century. Why?

Because dreams matter.

That one sentence has been plastered on protest posters from Tiananmen Square to Budapest to Sydney to the West Bank. Why?

Because dreams matter.

Yes, not all dreams hold the same weight or importance. But all dreams share similar qualities, and those qualities are critical to reaching your goals. So why, exactly, are dreams so important?

Dreams give you direction.

They give your life purpose and intention. Where are you headed? Why are you going there? Your dreams will tell you what you’re aiming for. After all, as the Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). Dreams keep you from wandering through life as a spectator.

Dreams give you focus.

When you get distracted and start wandering off the path you want to take—whether it’s enjoying a secure retirement or losing those extra pounds—dreams get you back on track.

I’m an old-school football player. My coaches would tell me, “Keep your head up. Your body will follow where your eyes are focused.” If you look down, that’s where you’ll go. But if you keep looking up and ahead at your dream, your actions will follow.

Dreams require courage.

And courage is the backbone of a life well lived. Nobody looks back at their life and says, “Wow. I wish I’d shown less courage.” That’s why you’ll see bumper stickers that say, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” It takes courage to achieve anything significant.

I get it. It’s scary to dream because you know what it’s like when a dream doesn’t come true. But with retirement dreams (and lots of other dreams), you determine the outcome. You control your choices. You dictate your attitude and your response to obstacles. But it takes courage. Courage keeps you going when you want to quit. It fuels your determination when your passion runs low.

Dreams connect you with others.

In 2016, I launched the Hogan’s Retirement Challenge Facebook page. And I’ve been astonished at the conversations that have been taking place. The people in that group are sharing their dreams, talking about their obstacles, encouraging each other, and offering advice. The shared dream of retiring well binds them together. And having fellow travelers is better than going it alone, especially when it comes to retirement planning.

So what is your retirement dream? If you don’t have one, what’s holding you back? Without a dream, you’ll waste your money and your time. You’ll get distracted by the Joneses and the cultural pressure to have the newest, latest and best.

I want you to avoid those traps. I want you to look beyond the present moment. I want you to envision the retirement of your dreams, set goals to get there, and do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality.

Take time to dream. And then get to work!

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