Home » Lifestyle

Define Your Life: The Having, Being, Doing Dreamline

13 May 2008 2 Comments

Are you in your 20s, but already sick of spending all day, every day, in a cubicle or in your small office? Well, it’s time to define and focus on some things in your life that actually make you happy.

In my new favorite book, The 4-Hour Work Week, the author Timothy Ferriss talks at length about defining what you want in life. He uses a concept called a “Dreamline” to write down goals in three distinct areas of life. This is the first step in ensuring you live a life that you want. A life not confined to cubicles. A fulfilling life full of accomplishments and experiences that you desire.

Ferriss’s Dreamline has three areas: having, being, and doing. The idea is you should write down 3-5 things for each category. What are 5 things you dream of having? What are 5 things you dream of being? And lastly, what are 5 things you dream of doing? Ferriss recommends having two dreamlines, one for a 6 month time horizon and one for a 12 month time horizon. He thinks that anything past 12 months is too far in the future to have actionable steps involved. The goal of the dreamline is to have goals that involve steps you can begin taking immediately to accomplish the goals.

My Dreamline (this may change as I think about it more)


  • I want a nice house for my wife and future kids
  • A second “passive” form of income
  • A blog with 10,000 visitors a day


  • A fantastic husband
  • A great mentor to the 7th grader I spend time with each week
  • An efficient employee (my day job) maximizing productivity to allow time for other things in life


  • Run the New York Marathon in 2008
  • Take a road trip with my wife
  • Take one trip domestically and one trip internationally this year (and every year)
  • Outperform the S&P in 2008 with my investments
  • Read several books on becoming a father

In a future article, I will explain the next step which helps identify actual steps to make each of these goals become a reality.

What does your dreamline look like? Tell us what this would look like in your life by adding your comment below. Additional examples will help our readers better implement this in their lives.


  • Shamir Patel said:

    I read this exert and instantly thought of my life. Its points on anticipation being key to investing and business hit home. I wanted to add it here for the “doing” portion of this article.

    Eddie Lampert
    Chairman and CEO, ESL Investments; Chairman, Sears Holdings

    Almost every weekend when I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, my father and I would toss a football in the yard or play basketball in the driveway. When we played football, he’d say, “Go out ten steps. Turn to your right.” The ball would reach me just before I turned, and it would hit me right in the chest. Why would my dad do this? He told me, “If I waited for you to turn, you and the defensive player would have an equal chance to get the ball. Your opportunity is gone.”

    This idea of anticipation is key to investing and to business generally. You can’t wait for an opportunity to become obvious. You have to think, “Here’s what other people and companies have done under certain circumstances. Now, under these new circumstances, how is this management likely to behave?” The plays my father designed for me helped me learn to think ahead. Lots of days I asked him, “Why can’t we just invite kids over and play a game?” In order to do something well, he explained, you have to keep practicing and preparing