DreamBigStartSmall: The Vision for 2017

It’s New Year. And at DreamBigStartSmall HQ, important matters are at hand. (Hence third Jack Sparrow image.)

Namely, where are we heading in 2017?

But first, the review. 2016 in a few lines. Here goes nothing.

DreamBigStartSmall in 2016:

  • All knowledge is either explicit or tacit. If you can explain but not demonstrate, it’s explicit. If you can demonstrate, it’s tacit.
  • Explicit knowledge is EXTREMELY POWERFUL. It carves out, along with your ideal-self, the path you’ll take, or the treasures you’ll be seeking. (I wonder if your Ideal-Self counts as explicit knowledge?)
  • Tacit knowledge is ULTIMATELY WHAT COUNTS. Explicit is the map, tacit is the treasure.

And that concludes our 2016 review.

Right off the bat, then, here are some important questions for 2017.

  1. Ideal-Self. Has it changed? Is our internal compass still solid?
  2. Explicit Knowledge. What explicit knowledge do we want to take in this year? In what form is the 20% of the explicit knowledge that yields 80% of the results? (Ted Talks, mentors, books, YouTube vids..)
  3. Tacit Knowledge. How do we exponentially increase the rate of tacit knowledge acquisition? How do we convert as many maps into treasure?

To go all metaphorical on y’all: Do we know which treasure maps we need? (Ideal-self.) How do we increase the rate of acquiring the BEST treasure maps? (Explicit knowledge.) Finally, how do we follow the maps as quickly as possible? (Bonus: How do we ensure we do follow them?)

Three Quotes to Rule Them All

The vision of DreamBigStartSmall this year consists of three masterful brush strokes (none of which made by me FYI).

Dream Big:The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short. but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

Start Small:The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

The Bridge: “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.” – Unknown


Dream Big

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

In 2017, we’re going bigger than ever. There’s NO WAY we want to aim too low and achieve our mark. (That’s what we do in the StartSmall section – see later). We want to aim BIG. As big as possible.


I’ve been thinking alot lately about Parkinson’s Principle, which says that work fills the time allotted to it. For example, if you’ve only got five hours to do an essay, you’ll do it in five hours. If instead you’re given thirty hours to do the exact same essay, you’re gonna make it way, way more complicated than before, making it take the full thirty hours.

I recently had a Skype conversation with a friend. She told me she’d been watching The Crown, a show about how Queen Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25 after the unexpected death of her father. We then discussed if the 25 year-old Elizabeth was any more prepared to be Queen (or King) than you or I, for example. The conclusion we reached was no. Maybe slightly, but really, she was thrust into a position that she was completely unprepared for.

This is almost the exact same as Alexander the Great, who in his teens became King after his father, King Philip, was assasinated. Again, he couldn’t have been totally prepared for it.

And this got me thinking… Does Parkinson’s Principle apply to humans too? In other words, do humans expand to the fill the challenges facing them?

I say absolutely yes. Humans, in some way or other, obey Parkinson’s principle. And there’s a major reason why we must dream bigger than ever. The bigger the challenge, the more we expand to meet it.

Here’s something else to ponder – another reason why we must all dream big in 2017.

Right now, you’re probably thinking… Yeah, but if I dream big and have big goals, I might not be able to achieve it. 

Consider this… the only way you could be 100% sure of success in your big goals is if you could already achieve them now. Thus, if you’re absolutely certain that you can achieve your goal, you’re leaving no room for who you will become in the process. You’re betting against yourself. In order to get the most out of ourselves, we have to dream big, and aim for goals that we can’t possibly achieve right now. In fact, they might seem, or maybe must seem, completely and ridiculously insane right now. And that’s the whole point. Over the next year, you’re going to become someone who can achieve those crazy goals. THIS is why we all need to dream bigger than ever.

And for sure, we might fall short. But is that a failure? Hell no! The only way you fail is if you don’t grow at all. And the only way you don’t grow is by setting a goal that you already know you can do.

Falling short… I can’t help but sprinkle in some epic-ness a lá Theodore Roosevelt..

“It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbles; or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the Arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worth cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

2017 then. High achievement, or fail while daring greatly.

Let’s dream as big as possible. Let our imaginations run completely wild in the prairie of ambitious dreams.

But wait… Iain. Isn’t the whole point of DreamBigStartSmall about building up small wins to form habits? Isn’t all this talk about dreaming big just setting me up for failure? What happened to your philosophy, man!

DreamBigStartSmall. When you start with making small changes, when you build up those small wins by changing your habits, they build up into a win that is definitely not small. So, by starting from where you are, with what you have, you soon become someone you couldn’t even imagine at the start of the process.

So really, the philosophy is exactly the same. DreamBigStartSmall. In 2016, we were focusing on small changes. Small wins. Now we’re gonna combine that with the other half – DreamBig.

But a goal that I can’t possibly achieve is just pure demotivating!

First, whether you think you can or think you can’t achieve it is irrelevant at this point. Because you don’t know who you will become. As soon as you set that big goal, and start small to carry it out, you set in motion a chain of events that will change who you are. Thus, I don’t think it’s possible to know what you can and can’t achieve in a year’s time. You need to account for personal growth. (Paradoxically, I’m convinced I can achieve crazy goals because I know I’ll grow in the process of chasing them.)

Now granted, if you aim super high, sure, you might fall short. Which leads to the next point – being detached from the outcome. If personal growth is the outcome, that what do we care if we don’t quite make it?

Do the thing not for what you’re gonna get, but for who you’re going to become. Elliott Hulse 101.

Detaching ourselves from the outcome.

Here’s a fantastic Ted Talk about this that I had the pleasure of watching live last year..

To conclude…

Let’s make 2017 way, way bigger than 2016. Let’s start Dreaming Big again.

Let’s not fear that we we’re gonna be a small fish in a big pond, or that we won’t reach our mark. Let’s fear being a big fish in a small pond, and reaching our mark… because that’s when we plateau.

And for emphasis… DREAM BIG. It’s not DreamSmallStartSmall. It’s not DreamKindaBigStartSmall. It’s DreamBIGStartSmall. (Maybe I should change it to DreamAbsolutelyGinormousStartSmall. You get the picture.)


Start Small

The successful warrior is the average man with laser like focus.” – Bruce Lee

Focus. Focus. Focus. One of the shiniest gems I ever picked up from Daryl Urbanski’s Best Business Podcast was the following..

“What is common knowledge is not necessarily common practice.” 

Nowhere else is this more true than focus. Everyone knows it’s important, yet only a few actually apply it. (Explicit vs tacit, am I right?)

Here’s how focus meets 2017:

Determine EXACTLY what is the most important thing for you to work on this year to reach your goal. 

To do this, use the 80/20 principle, which says that 20% of your time produces 80% of your results. That’s not all. The most important question for us is perhaps… out of all the sources of stress in our life, what is the 20% of the sources of stress that gives us 80% of the negative emotions. In other words, what’s the ONE situation that gives us the most amount of negativity in our lives?

I’ll play guinea pig:

My sources of stress:

  • emotional eating
  • post-procrastination
  • following head over heart
  • not getting enough done – not making progress
  • not being courageous when the need for courage arises (saying no, enforcing barriers and standards, socialising, dating etc.)
  • not taking action

I realised that not taking action encompassed some of the others (lack of courage, head over heart, post-procrastination, not getting enough done…) and was by far the one source of stress that gave me the most negative emotion, and would ultimately stop me from achieving my crazy goals.

So to address the ROOT cause, I asked….

Why do I not take action as much as I’d like to?

Because I think way too much about future scenarios. What will happen it doesn’t work out, what will happen if she says yes, what will happen if I don’t get the project done, what will happen if I do get the project done, what will happen if it’s not funny, what will I lose out on, what will they think of me, yada yada yada.

Why do I think way too much about future scenarios?

Because I’m not present enough. I’m living in the future most of the time.

Why am I not present enough?

Because my brain is not yet my tool, it’s my master.

Why am I being controlled by my head rather than following my heart on a regular basis?

Because my brain is so active and I can’t turn it off.

Why can’t I turn it off?

Because I haven’t yet learned to turn it off.

Conclusion: The skill I need to FOCUS on is learning to turn off my brain. This will give me what Tim Ferris calls a positive cascade effect, and will drastically improve the quality of my life.


Now that I have what I’m going to focus on, I can break that down into the most important 30 day challenges by asking:

What are the minimable learnable units? What learnable units are most important? In what order should I do them? How can I raise the stakes to ensure I follow through with the 30 day challenges?

First off, who is incredible at being present? Who is the best at this in the world?

I’d say Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins, Elliott Hulse etc.

So straight off the bat, I have SPECIFIC resources to FOCUS on. Books by Eckhart Tolle (Power of Now), Tony Robbins (Awaken The Giant Within) and Elliott Hulse (King). They all offer workshops, they all have videos online… So I now have a TON of explicit treasure maps to sift through.

From here, I can start breaking down individual 30 day challenges based on minimal learnable units.

I reckon (though I need to research more) that the most important essential units of being able to switch between head and heart/ being present are:

Breathing. Research Elliott Hulse bioenergetics. Do a 30 day bioenergetic challenge.

Appreciation/Gratitude. Do guided meditation with Tony Robbins each day. Start gratitude journal. Practice radical positive optimism.

Act into a New Way of Thinking. Positive radical optimism. Do things I’m afraid to do.

Strengthening Existing Habits. Maybe I can change the way I journal to become more present?


Thus, by focusing on the ONE thing that will make the biggest difference to my life, I now have a set of specific resources to research, people to get in contact with, and 30 day challenge ideas.

Try it. Try the 80-20 analysis, then follow it through to the ROOT CAUSE of your biggest obstacle to your goal. If you solve that, you’ll get a positive cascade effect.  Don’t just address the surface problem. Tim Ferris uses the following example which illustrates the point perfectly:

Goal: Drink less coffee.

Ferris: No, that’s a bad goal. Ask WHY you drink too much coffee in the first place.

Why do I need so much coffee?

Because I’m tired.

Why am I tired?

Because I go to bed too late and don’t get enough sleep.

Why to I go to bed too late?

Because I go out partying 3-4 times a week with friends.

Why do I go out partying 3-4 times a week with friends?

Because I can’t say no to their invitations.

Why can I not say no?

Because my friends will think I don’t like them.


Because I haven’t communicated my needs with my friends.


and so on and so on…

The point is, instead of addressing the drinking coffee, this person should address the ROOT CAUSE, say, not honestly communicating his needs with his friends. Thus, through meditation or however he does it, they’ll make a huge impact to their life, and not endlessly getting wound up over coffee.


Bridging The Chasm – or How to Follow the Map

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.” – Unknown

The brain is an insanely powerful weapon. To quote James Allen,

“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”

At DreamBigStartSmall, we’re all about growing stronger. Becoming our ideal-selves… To do that, we have to change. We have to do things that scare us. That push us out of our comfort zones and into the great unknown. Nothing great was ever achieved in comfort zones… so true!



Whatever your goal is in 2017, and whoever you want to become, I believe that your brain is always going to be a double edged sword. At times it’ll help you – when you journal, when you strategise, when you problem solve….

But other times, it might hinder you. It definitely hinders me.

When that happens, just say to yourself.. “Hey, I’m not thinking. I’m acting into a new way of thinking. Just acting.”

That’s the beauty of the quote and the idea behind it. A powerful reminder that the head and the heart are different, and at times we all need to shut up the former and follow the latter.


“It’s easier to act your way into thinking like your ideal-self than to think your way into acting like your ideal self.”


If you act like who you want to be, you’ll become who you want to be…

Ralph Waldo Emerson.. If you do the thing, you have the power.




Dream Big – seriously.

Start Small – focus, focus, focus.

Bridge the Gap by disengaging brain. Act vs. Think.

Finally, “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and immortals in all that you desire.” – Seneca

Not this year bro, not this year.


As Always,

Dream Big Start Small!

I’m with you in 2017 all the way!

Much love,