LifeThought: It’s OK to have Dreams; It’s better to set Goals!

It’s OK to have Dreams; It’s better to set Goals!

What do you want to be? What do you want your life to look like? What do you want that you don’t have now?

You can answer these questions in just about any way you can image. In fact, I encourage you to think about these questions and imagine wildly fantastic answers to them. But I have to caution you on exactly what we call the answers, the results of your imaginings.

It’s perfectly acceptable to answer the question “What do you want to be?” with “a doctor” or “a famous rock-star” or “a billionaire.” Nobody can criticize you for your answer because it is what you imagine, and I just encouraged you to imagine extravagantly.

However, if I change the question to “what are your goals?” and you gave the same answers, I would have to tell you that those are dreams, not goals. It’s perfectly acceptable, even highly recommended, to have dreams for your life, but it’s better to have goals.

Dreams are vague, non-specific desires. Goals are specific and measurable. “I want to be a doctor” is a dream, a good dream. “I want to be a pediatric cardiologist by the time I’m 28 years old” is a goal, a very specific, measurable goal.

In my marathon training book, You CAN Go the Distance!, the first thing I ask my readers to do is set a goal. Saying “I just want to finish” is not a goal. However, “I want to finish the Chicago marathon next year in 6 hours or less” is a goal. It has a specific marathon and date (Chicago, next year), and it has a specific target pace (6 hours). With this goal, a runner can determine how many weeks there are until the race and can build a specific, actionable training plan to accomplish the goal.

The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they are desires instead of goals. “I want to lose weight” is a desire (dream). “I want to lose 25 pounds this year” is a goal. It can be measured. What can be measured can be achieved. Without specific objectives and a realistic plan for accomplishing them, there is no goal and there is no accountability, so it’s easy to give up.

The reason most people never accomplish their dreams is they never convert them to goals. “I always wanted to be a writer” is a dream I hear so many people claim, lamenting that their dream never came true. Here’s a wake up call for you: Dreams will not come true as long as they stay dreams! You must take action! You must turn your dreams into goals with specific, measurable, actionable steps, and then get busy working on them.

Accomplishing your goals is how you make your dreams come true!


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One Response to LifeThought: It’s OK to have Dreams; It’s better to set Goals!

  1. Glenn January 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM #

    Brilliant & useful post Bruce. All goals must be realistic, measurable yes and obtainable within the bounds of your own perception if you want to establish your dreams effectively.

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