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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

Dreams Are Imaginary But Setting Your Goals In This Way Can Make Them Come True!

Dreams Are Imaginary But Setting Your Goals In This Way Can Make Them Come True!

All of us have failed to achieve a goal at some point. In spite of our best intentions, circumstances and a lack of motivation can keep us from following through. Even the most dedicated goal setters occasionally question whether they are taking the right steps to lead a fulfilling life.

When life becomes complicated, our dreams and goals sometimes take a back seat. Over time, we can lose sight of our passion altogether. It is possible to achieve our goals if we remember that goals and dreams are not necessarily the same things.

Dreams are imaginary. Goals are based in reality. They’re different.

One of the biggest misconceptions about goal setting is that your desire to achieve is enough. As Les Brown stated,

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“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”

Wanting to lose weight, write a book, save for retirement, or start your own business are dreams. Adopting good goal setting strategies can turn your dreams into goals and your goals into reality. All goals start with that dream or desire, but when you engage in goal setting, you devise actionable steps for getting what you want. Having a dream without setting goals is like setting out on a cross-country trip without a map.

Achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty. Be ready to face the challenges.

When you see the successful people of the world – the Olympic athletes, innovators, entrepreneurs, and bestselling authors, you only see the results of their efforts. Since we can’t see their struggle, it can give us the false impression that their success materialized with little effort on their part.

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It can be easy and motivating to visualize your goals coming to life. You can picture yourself in that swimsuit after you lose weight, or you can imagine your book on a shelf in the bookstore. What you may not think about, but what you must anticipate, is that achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty.

You will experience circumstances that test your resolve. If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices or stick with your goals through the tough times, then it will be hard to succeed. You have to be prepared to face challenges to achieve your goals.

To realize your goals, you’ll have to make a good plan.

About 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by February.[1] The statistics on resolutions show that many of us have excellent intentions, but we have trouble following through.[2]

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Take the following steps to begin the goal setting process:

  1. State your vision and write it down.

    Some people use special planners,[3] others make vision boards[4] or write their goals on a sheet of paper. No matter what medium you choose, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you write your goal setting steps and include solutions to challenges. If you start to lose focus, you can refer back to these documents for inspiration and motivation.[5] The key is to be specific about what you want.

  2. Anticipate obstacles In The First Place.[6]

    If the path to success was easy, there wouldn’t be so many failed resolutions. Complacency, negative self-talk, unfocused efforts, and fear of failure can derail goal setting. Factors such as your personal life, professional responsibilities, and financial concerns can also disrupt your plans. If you can foresee areas of difficulty, you can proactively plan to address them without losing your motivation.

  • You know that you want to write your book, but you also have to work a full-time job to pay your bills. Some of your biggest obstacles are time and money. Write down concrete steps that you will take to find the time and money to devote to writing.
  • I will wake up one hour before I have to get ready for work to make time to write.
  • I will hold myself accountable to writing 500 words per day, even if that means that I have to stay up late to meet this goal.
  • I will cut back on unnecessary expenses and save X amount of money per week so that I can reduce the hours I spend at work and devote more time to writing.
  • Establish accountability. Sharing your goal on social media, participating in an online challenge, or telling your best friend about your intentions can help you navigate difficult times. You may even be able to work with others with goals similar to your own. By scheduling regular meetings to check in with them, you can stay on the right track. Your accountability buddy can also be the person you call when you feel like giving up.

3. Put Your Goal in Scope: Set SMART Goals[7]

SMART Goals are:

  • S – Specific. It isn’t enough to say you want to lose weight. Why do you want to shed those pounds? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to visualize your goals and anticipate setbacks.
  • M – Measurable. Goals have actionable steps that you can measure. How many pounds do you want to lose? What will success look like for you? Measurable goals can be broken into smaller benchmarks that you can use to keep yourself on track.
  • A – Achievable. Your dreams can be as big as you want them to be, but your goals should be things that you can accomplish. Perhaps you want to lose weight, but is it safe or feasible to lose 50 pounds in a month? Think about what it is going to take to get what you want, and decide if these are things that you are willing to do. Coming up with reasonable and achievable steps during the goal setting process will keep you from giving up out of frustration.
  • R – Relevant. Your goal should be something that you truly want to do. Are you applying to medical school because you have a genuine desire to help people, or are you applying because your parents want to have a doctor in the family? The best goals are determined by what motivates you, and not what others think should motivate you.
  • T – Time-bound. With no deadline, you can take your dreams to your grave. What steps can you take right now? Where can you expect to be in 3 months, 6 months, and one year?

Example on a Complete Passionate Goal Setting

  • Saying that you want to write a novel isn’t going to make one appear. Use positive statements and direct language. The top of your goal setting page might say, “I will write a book,” or “I am a writer.” The rest of your page might say something like, “By the end of this month, I will read one book on the craft of writing. By [insert date here], I will complete an outline for my novel. During [insert time frame here], I will research information about editing best practices.” “When I experience self-doubt, I will read a chapter from Stephen King’s On Writing.” The more details and deadlines that you give yourself, the better you’ll be able to check your progress.

You can do this! Goal setting helps you keep moving forward at any time.

If you are able to establish SMART goals and you are willing to make sacrifices to achieve your them, you are on the right track to making your dream a reality. Know that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and slip up from time to time.[8] Goal setting isn’t just about visualizing the perfect outcome. It is also about planning for the times when things aren’t so perfect and developing strategies to keep moving forward.

Reference

More by this author

Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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1 Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins 2 How to Find an Accountability Partner to Help You Reach Your Goal 3 4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions 4 What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful) 5 How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals

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Last Updated on May 16, 2021

Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins

Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins

Are you looking for ways to cultivate more motivation, engagement, or life satisfaction? Celebrating small victories consistently could bring the energy boost you need.

We all have big goals in life, like owning our own home, writing a novel, or building an NGO. Big goals are key to helping us find satisfaction in life, but when they are long-term goals, we can risk losing motivation and energy along the way. This is why celebrating small victories can be so essential for success.

What Are Small Victories?

First, let’s establish what a “small victory” is. Small victories are anything you accomplish that aligns with your intentions. They can be related to work, personal or professional relationships, habit changes, and or finances. Small wins can be easy to gloss over, especially if you’ve been raised on a diet of self-criticism and perfectionism.

Let’s say that you intend to be less judgmental of others. A small victory might simply be noticing when you start to think something judgmental about how someone else says the word “milk.” Even though the thought still popped into your head when they pronounced it “melk,” you at least noticed yourself in the thought.

Paying attention to your thoughts opens the door for you to question why everyone must pronounce words the same way. This is awareness, and as they say, awareness is the key to successful life changes.

Why Should We Celebrate Small Victories?

Instead of celebrating small victories, why not just wait for the big victories to sweep you to happiness?

Imagine that the doorbell rings, you answer it, and a spokesperson with way too much fake tan yells, “Congratulations, you have just won 3 million dollars!” Balloons and confetti fall around you. How would it feel to celebrate a big win like that?

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Surely, with that sum of money, you would not only feel motivated and engaged, but you’d also have everlasting happiness and fulfillment, right? According to research, people who win large sums of money are more satisfied with the quality of their lives overall.[1] However, they don’t experience more day-to-day happiness than anyone else—so much for big wins.

Small wins keep us on track and moving forward, which can help us avoid procrastination. If you find that this is a problem for you, you can also check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class: No More Procrastination.

In fact, the internet is already abuzz with articles that extol the virtues of celebrating the small stuff. But happiness is only one of the dozens of reasons you should celebrate routinely.

The reasons for celebrating small can be broken down into the following categories.

1. Energy

When energy is low, it can be challenging to accomplish anything. Try as you might to set goals, without energy, it’s understandable why the couch would have so much more magnetic pull than the treadmill. When you celebrate your small victories, you will give yourself little hits of energy that will add up over time.

Try it right now for yourself: think of something small you achieved today. Maybe you took out the garbage even though it was really cold outside, you’re extremely tired, and you didn’t want to. Tell yourself, “I’m so proud of you for braving those terrible weather conditions to keep the house running smoothly.”

Or maybe you’re celebrating choosing tea over coffee in the afternoon. How does it feel to congratulate yourself? What does your body experience when you point out the little win to yourself?

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Over time, you’ll notice that the little celebrations inject you with boosts of energy that will accumulate. Although you’ll probably still hate taking out the garbage, you’ll at least have the energy to do it.

Once you start experiencing more energy, you might notice feeling more motivated to accomplish all those items—large and small—on your “to do” list. This becomes a positive feedback loop. You accomplish something, celebrate, increase your energy to accomplish more, and repeat. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that celebrating the small victories leads you to accomplish even bigger ones.

The opposite is also true. When you don’t accomplish the little things, imagine how much more challenging it will be to chip away at the big ones.

2. Personal and Professional Growth

Acknowledging small victories helps you keep track of how far you’ve come. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to instill a new habit or make a lifestyle change.

Behavioral changes can be some of the biggest challenges we undertake.[2] They can also be the most beneficial when you’re on the path to personal or professional growth and development. It can be easy to fall into the “all or nothing” trap.

For instance, a lot of people feel that if they can’t achieve a behavioral change—like quitting smoking—the first time they try, then they might as well give up.

Positive reinforcement through celebrating small wins helps you get back on track after taking a temporary detour. “I only had 3 cigarettes today” might be the small victory that would lead you to only having 2 tomorrow.

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Growth in any area of life is a process, and this process requires the use of tools. Celebrating the little things is an intentional tool you’ll want to use when you’re in the process of becoming the person you have been saying you want to be.

3. Self-Love

They say that education is the most important investment you’ll ever make. Imagine if you are trying to get your degree, but you self-criticize to the point of having major test anxiety. If you don’t offer yourself some patience and compassion, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at your education—you’ll never finish the degree!

Therefore, self-love is the greatest investment you will ever make.[3] You are the only person you will know for the entirety of your life. When you love yourself unconditionally, you will be able to navigate any life obstacle or storm. Celebrating your small victories is just one of so many ways to take care of yourself[4].

Self-Love Languages

    When people get married, they celebrate. On our loved ones birthdays, we celebrate. We celebrate because celebrations demonstrate our love for others. Therefore, when you actively celebrate small victories, you affirm the love you have for yourself.

    Celebrating your small victories is a powerful way to demonstrate that you notice how amazing you are. It helps you rely more on your own positive feedback rather than looking to the outside world to tell you what it thinks of you. Here’s something that nobody ever said: “People-pleasing is the gateway to the Kingdom of Joy.” Stop waiting for other people to tell you how incredibly valuable you are and start acknowledging all your little successes!

    As a side benefit, self-love has also been known to lead to better relationships with others.[5] It turns out that when you love yourself, you will show others how you want to be treated.

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    4. Happiness

    According to Jungian psychologist, Dr. James Hollis, our quest for happiness is actually not the focus of our lives. Instead, it would be in our best interest to design our lives around finding meaning.[6]

    So, why is happiness mentioned in almost every single article about celebrating small victories, including this one? Because it’s what we want. As it turns out, the path to what we want is not a direct one.

    According to Hollis, “Joy, and happiness, are not goals in themselves, but they are the by-product of those moments when we are doing what is really right for us.”[7]

    Happiness is a by-product! When we are fully engaged in our lives, our confidence runs higher, our actions match our intentions, our love for ourselves grows, and we experience a life filled with meaning. So, if you want to experience happiness, you must find ways to incorporate meaning into your life. Celebrating your little wins can be a catalyst for finding this meaning.

    Put another way, if you’re not ready to let go of the pursuit of happiness, try viewing happiness as something you practice.[8] And if you want a proven way to engage with that practice, try celebrating all of your small victories.

    Final Thoughts

    Consider keeping a daily log of your little victories. At the end of the week, you can read everything you celebrated, which will help you experience the accumulation of all the little wins. And if you want to experience an even bigger win, re-read your celebration journal at the end of the year!

    More Tips on Achieving Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Paulette Wooten via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES: Long-Run Effects of Lottery Wealth on Psychological Well-Being
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: Why Behavior Change Is Hard – and Why You Should Keep Trying
    [3] Medical News Today: Why Self-Love Is Important and How to Cultivate It
    [4] Blessing Manifesting: Self-Love Languages, What’s Yours?
    [5] Psychology Today: Self-Love is the New #RelationshipGoals
    [6] Jung Society of Washington: It’s Not About Happiness
    [7] Jung Society of Washington: It’s Not About Happiness
    [8] Psychology Today: Happiness is a Practice, Not a Destination

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