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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them)

Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them)

It’s very easy to go through life without ever having a worthwhile goal. It is very easy to avoid the challenge of setting goals and being accountable for achieving those goals.

But without any goals, your life will drift and lack any meaningful purpose. The worst thing that could happen to you is to reach your final days and look back at your life, and wonder how you screwed up the amazing opportunity you had to build an incredibly rewarding life.

In this article, we’ll look into the reasons why you should start setting future goals, and how to set ones that will help you lead a fulfilling life.

Why You Need to Set Future Goals

The Source of Happiness

Having meaningful goals gives your life a purpose. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning, get out of bed and live life with a direction.

Goals give you energy and vitality and something to aim for each day. Ultimately, your happiness will be enhanced when you begin to see you are making progress on your goals, and as each day passes and you move that little bit closer to achieving what you set out to achieve you gain more focus and energy to push that little bit more.

A Roadmap to Travel Down

But having goals is more than that. Goals give you a roadmap to travel down.

Your goals could be related to your career. Imagine you want to one day start your own business. An idea such as starting your own business begins as an image in your mind.

As you think more about your idea, you start to visualize what it would be like to be running your own business. No boss breathing down your neck watching what you are doing, no annoying colleagues interrupting you with their problems and complaining about how much work they have to do. Having the freedom to make your own decisions about what you will do and when.

As you visualize your idea, you begin to ask yourself: how? How will I start my own business? What do I have to do to start? These questions are the beginnings of a plan and a goal is simply a plan for the future.

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It does not have to be as professional as starting your own business. It could be wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before your fiftieth birthday. Once again, it begins with an idea, you may have seen a documentary about Mount Kilimanjaro, or a friend did it a few years ago and tells you it was one of the best experiences she had ever had in her life.

Wherever the inspiration comes from, you begin to visualise yourself climbing to the top, exhausted but exhilarated having achieved something only a very few people manage to do in their lifetimes.

Once again the question: “how?” Jumps into your mind, and once again the beginnings of a plan begins to formulate. Another goal.

A Clear Intention to Live

When you think about it, our whole lives are centred around goals. Getting up for work on a cold, wet Monday morning requires the goal of getting out of bed at a specific time. Not a pleasant goal for many, but it’s a goal nonetheless. Getting home in time for dinner with your family is a goal.

Pretty much everything we want to do and achieve in our lives requires an intent to achieve something. That is what goals are. An intention to do something by a specific time.

How to Begin Developing Future Goals

1. Start with Your Vision

Begin with a vision of what you want to achieve. Whether it is a professional or personal goal, you need to have a clear vision of what it is you want to achieve.

You can get a little help from this article: The Best Way to Create a Vision For the Life You Want

Take some time to really see what the end result will be like. Close your eyes and see it, see yourself achieving your goal.

If you want to build a secure financial future for yourself and your family, what will that look like? Will that be cash in the bank or a portfolio of investments?

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If you want to take a holiday of a lifetime with your closest friends this summer, where will you go? What will you do? Imagine yourself already achieving your goal. How will you feel?

Feel those emotions in your imagination. Feel the smile on your face, feel the laughter, the joy and the excitement as you board the plane.

2. Ask the Right Questions

The best question to ask is: What do I have to do to…? This is an incredibly powerful question because it opens up your mind to the possibility of achieving your goal. The way this question is phrased means you are only considering ways to achieve, not ways you cannot achieve.

The wrong question to ask is “how can I achieve this goal?” That question often elicits the tempting answer “you can’t”. What you want to be doing is opening your mind up to possibilities and the actions you will have to take to make it happen.

Now the “what do I have to do?” Question often brings up actions you may at first feel are impossible, so you ask the question again.

For example, let’s say you want to build a secure future for you and your family, and your initial answer comes up with a figure of USD$1 million. Now if you are earning USD$50,000 a year, that means you will have to work at least forty years saving half your salary each month.

Let’s be honest here, that is not going to be easy and for forty years, probably impossible. So you will need to ask the question again. “What do I have to do to have USD1 Million in savings by the time I retire?” The answers you come up with from asking this question again will take you closer towards building your goal into achievable steps.

3. Look at Your Daily Habits

Our daily habits and behaviors are the driving force behind the results we achieve in our lives.

If you smoke twenty cigarettes every day, drink several glasses of wine each evening and go to bed slightly drunk, over time, this will have a profoundly negative effect on your health. If it does not send you to an early grave, you are almost certainly going to experience difficulties with your health at some point in time.

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Couple that with eating unhealthily and being excessively overweight, you are going to become a burden on your family and friends later in life.

Because our daily habits and behaviors have such a large impact on the results we achieve in our lives, you should take some time to analyze yours.

Identify the ones that give you negative results. Unhealthy eating, excessive drinking, smoking, complaining and gossiping are common ones, but others such as waking up at the last possible moment, going to bed late and spending all night playing computer games are a few others that, over time, will result in negative outcomes in your life.

If you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before you turn fifty, then get yourself out in the evening and exercise. Turn it into a habit. Spend thirty minutes every morning reading about and researching Mount Kilimanjaro instead of checking your email, Facebook or Instagram feed. Use your time in more positive ways.

This guide can give you some nice advice on how to quit bad habits: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

4. Set a Date

If your goals do not have a timeline and an end date, you will find excuses to put off what you need to do to make it happen.

You can, of course, adjust your deadline if you find you were a little too ambitious with your initial enthusiasm. But you do need a deadline.

If your goal is to have USD $1 Million by the time you retire, your goal needs to be based on what you need to have saved by the end of the year. For most of us, retirement may be quite a few years away, but by beginning now, you will give yourself enough time to build up your savings and investments.

Likewise, if your goal is to run a full course marathon before you turn forty, then depending on how old you are today, you may want to set goals for running a 5KM, 10KM and half-marathon each year before you run the big one.

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Setting dates and deadlines gives you the sense of urgency you need to make progress. You do not have to achieve the ‘big goal’ in the first year, but you do need to have an annual goal that is taking you a little closer each day, month and year toward the big, future goal.

5. Visualize and Review Regularly

Whatever your future goals are, you should have some form of vision board to keep you reminded of your final destination.

Whether that is having a secure financial future, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or running a full course marathon, having some form of vision board — either digital in the form of a photo album in your digital photo storage, or a board on Pinterest or a physical board in your room with photographs and clippings of what you want to do — will help keep you motivated when you feel ‘not in the mood’.

It will give you something visual to help you review your progress and adjust deadlines if necessary.

Final Thoughts

We are all different and we all want different things in our lives. Many of us want to build a successful business, others want to develop a successful career in medicine or law.

Whatever it is you want out of life, it is your life and it is up to you to create it. You have the good fortune to be able to decide, act and achieve and it all starts with an idea and a vision, then a few questions the answers to which will give you a plan and a destination to travel towards.

Don’t waste this chance. You do not want to end your days full of regret and disappointment. You want to end your days knowing you lived an extraordinary life on your terms.

More Tips About Setting & Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Evan Kirby via unsplash.com

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