The "Dream House" Goals Model for Success (Part 1): What's Your Big Dream? | by Karen Lukanovich

Happy Coach Holding Key to Client's Dream Goals

In this unpredictable and dynamic world, leadership—both of ourselves and others—requires adaptability and agility.

As we turn the corner into a new year and set out our goals, we all face two big questions:

  • How can we consider all the possibilities and opportunities that may lie before us in this uncertain environment?
  • How can both we and our coachees shift our mindset to better reach our goals?

In my many years in elite sport as both an athlete and coach, I've learned a valuable approach to goal setting and have used this model throughout my career and life.

I've always visualized the process as building my "Dream House." In this two-part article series, I share all the details of my model for success:

  • In this first article, I'll introduce the overall model, and focus on the importance of the "Big Dream."
  • In Part 2, we'll explore how to approach the process and performance goals that make up the foundation and structure of your Dream House.

The Blueprint of Your Dream House

The Dream House model draws from the GROW and SMART models, and from my own experiences in my journey as a top performer. The graphic below illustrates the model.

Karen House Goals Image

This model is a multi-level, long-term systems approach. It supports a process of action and feedback that can adapt and change course—and yet not lose sight of our Big Dream over time.

As the illustration shows:

  1. The roof of the house is our Big Dream (our big WHY?). It serves as inspiration and is aligned with our vision, purpose and values.
  2. Our performance or milestone goals sit on the first floor, and our end goals (our big WHAT?) are on the second floor. Performance (mid-term) goals serve the end goals. They are tangible milestones that measure our progress and are 99% in our control. An example of a performance goal for an athlete is to be selected to the World Championship team at a specified time, on the path to becoming an Olympian—which is the end goal and the dream.
  3. At the foundation are our process goals. These short-term tasks support the actions needed to reach the higher-level goals, and they are 100% in our control. This is the day-to-day work we must focus on to reach our milestones, the measure of our progress.
  4. It's important to remember that goals can and will change over time. Sometimes cutting our losses and changing course will save us time, money and energy. To stay on track and keep aligned to our vision, purpose and values, we need a good feedback loop in order to tweak the plan (the blue shaded arrows represent this loop).

The importance of the "Big Dream"

The Big Dream (the roof in the Dream House model) is our ultimate purpose and it's important for a few reasons. With a Big Dream:

  • Setting goals is easier, and we find the courage to face new challenges.
  • Serving our purpose makes us feel fulfilled and engaged in meaningful work. This feeds our happiness along the way.
  • Leading is easier because others share our higher purpose.

The Big Dream is key to driving our efforts and engagement over time. Rallying ourselves and our teams around the shared dream, purpose and values is vital for success.

Inspiration from our Big Dream ignites action, pushing us toward greater challenge and growth! And our commitment to action speaks to how much we or our coachees are willing to invest in the process, the effort we put in.

Keeping the plan fluid

The Big Dream provides a constant "North Star" to keep in sight while the rest of our plan stays fluid.

There will always be disruptions, some will cause major shifts in our plan and sometimes we will require a new plan altogether. If we have a clear vision, we can always find solutions to adapt and align a new plan to our purpose and keep going.

I learned way more from how I faced the challenge of chaos and change than anything else, and now instead of Olympic prep, I'm talking about maintaining focus when the plan you had went out the window. Your destination may be the same, but the path to get there is going to be different. Don't just accept the changes, begin anticipating them. Change or be changed… Envision your new path. Let it be simple at first, fill it out as things progress.
Marnie McBean (Canadian rower, 4x Olympic medallist and Chef de Mission Tokyo 2020)

A growth mindset

As we travel toward the Big Dream, what are the ingredients for a happy, meaningful and successful journey for us and others?

The power of "yet"

Adopting a growth mindset is key. It allows us, and those we coach, to focus on the process and the power of "yet." As in, "We are not there yet, we are learning, we will get there."

Embracing the power of "yet" sets the tone and ensures that we will maintain the persistence, efforts and resilience required to reach our goals.

As we journey towards our Big Dream, here are 6 ways to maintain a growth mindset:

  1. Be curious and flexible. As leaders, we can leverage the power of "not knowing." This opens up opportunities, and allows for others to contribute to the efforts.
  2. Believe in yourself and others. Confidence shows up when we focus on the journey to mastery. Confidence is also nurtured through action, learning and being willing to take calculated risks.
  3. Embrace hope and compassion. Asking how we can best serve ourselves and others enhances our feelings of value, meaning and purpose.
  4. Maintain a positive inner work life. This is essential for a happy journey. It enhances our sense of contributing valuable work to the process for both ourselves and those we lead.
  5. Emphasize openness and ethics in the process. Are values stated clearly and understood by all stakeholders? Trust is critical for success, and this requires an open and inclusive process of input and feedback at every stage of the journey.
  6. Keep up your health and energy. Being in good health and having a balanced physiology or "body budget" in order to carry out this work is also vital to achieving higher-level goals. You need sufficient energy to take action, feel positive and perform at your best over time!


The Dream House model is a multi-level approach that supports goal-setting as well as a process of action and feedback. It illustrates how we can adapt and change course—and remain inspired—while not losing sight of the Big Dream and purpose through the process.

As we've seen, the Big Dream at the roof of the house determines the direction your journey will take.

In Part 2, we'll look at building the rest of our "Dream House". We will delve into the details of how to achieve your Big Dream by setting clear process and performance goals, and transforming those goals into well-thought-out planning and actions.

Exercise: What is Your Big Dream?

  • What is your vision? What is your Big Dream?
  • What do you see as your purpose? What is the Big WHY that guides your journey?
  • What values support you on this journey?

 I would love to hear about your favourite coaching model in the comments below.

And if you like this article, you may also like:

Karen Lukanovich Headshot

Contributing Author:

Karen Lukanovich, ACC, MBA, Olympian is currently the Head Coach at Cascades Sports Club in Chelsea, QC. (Community sport to world champions in canoe kayak racing). Karen specializes in performance and personal development coaching for athletes and professionals. A former sales executive in STEM, she’s launched successful manufacturing, consulting and coaching businesses. Drawing from her corporate and sport background Karen is passionate about supporting high-achievers to become high performers with confidence and well-being. It's all about the journey! Learn more at and connect with Karen on Linkedin.

Learn more about Karen & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach with keys to your dream house by kurhan via Shutterstock


  1. Paola Henry

    I am so grateful for this amazing wrap-up , I was using words like: Master Plan, mid-term plan and short-term goals... I find "dream house" so deep and meaningful.

  2. Shirley Duff

    The house concept is similar to the Maori model of mental health Te Whare Tapa Wha and the Fonofale Model of Health that are used extensively in New Zealand.


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