Goal Setting Is the Only Way To Achieve Your Dreams
‘…You have these dreams. Dreams without goals remain dreams and fuel disappointment’
We all love to dream, think about the house we want to buy, that cool car we want to own or that high-paying job we are working towards. Unfortunately, a lot of people are never able to live their dreams and are stuck in an unhappy place.
While some people like to call themselves lazy or even unlucky, the biggest difference between a dreamer and a doer is setting goals.
The idea of setting goals is nothing new. Over 2,000 years ago Aristotle explained this as final causality.
According to him, the only reason why people do something because they have a basic purpose and a need to achieve it.
This simple factor drives the world and takes us forward.
In the 1960s, Edwin Locke researched this idea and conducted tests that culminated in the ‘Goal-Setting Theory’.
His research work has been celebrated for years, especially in the business world, with corporations following many of his conclusions.
Interestingly though, most of his research has even better applications in our private lives. To get more out of your life and turn your dreams into reality, you will need to:
1. Make specific goals:
Having a big house or making that career move are great goals to have. However, uncertain or ambiguous goals might not take you anywhere. The idea is to be very specific about the goals you have and build upon them.
For example, to say that you want to lose 20 lbs. by the end of the year is not a specific goal. Humans are emotional and such vague aspirations do not motivate us.
A better way is to set a goal of e.g. losing 2 lbs every month or cutting out on sugar and carbs. Such specific goals help us to act immediately and work on our dreams.
Turning dreams into reality takes effort:
If you want to change your life, make your marriage work, earn more or buy that house, you will have to work hard for it. There are no short-cuts, no lottery tickets to be won and no one is going to help you.
The good thing about setting small, quantitative goals is that it automatically pushes people to work that harder.
For example, if you are looking to buy your dream car, your goal should be earning an extra income. This way you will push yourself to work overtime and get closer to your objective.
Goals make us more persistent:
Read How to Get and Stay Motivated
Setbacks are a part of life and usually throws a lot of people off. You might have had a bad day at work or a fight with your spouse.
A bad day at work can be emotionally challenging and a bad marriage can be life-altering.
However, research has shown that the aim of achieving well-articulated goals make us more persistent against setbacks and generally makes us more resilient in life.
Goals can change our behavior:
Research has shown that having well-defined goals can gradually alter our behaviour and make us improve ourselves. E.g. if you are trying to lose weight you might have a goal of reducing your calorie or sugar intake. With such small, specific goals, you might not only shed away the pounds but alter your eating habits for the long-term.
How to Develop effective goals
Make sure the goals you set for yourself really make you work towards your dreams. For effective goal-setting make sure:
Your goals are clear – Goals should be SMART i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Make sure your goals are simple, clear and have a certain milestone or deadline. Without setting deadlines your goals will take you nowhere.
Also, complex goals are not easy to implement, thus be practical and realistic about them. You should also be able to keep track of your progress and measure your success.
Challenge yourself – While your goals need to be realistic, that does mean they should be easy. Only by challenging ourselves can we break free from our comfort zones and do something beyond the ordinary.
Commit to it – You need to commit to your goals and set up some kind of a feedback system so you can understand how close you are to your goal. E.g. if you are aiming to lose some pounds, record your weight every week and keep on measuring it. A feedback system helps us to stay committed to what you are doing.
Most people never achieve their dreams because they are never fully committed to it. A lack of quick results demotivates most people. Hence, stay focused and committed!
Have an Action Pan – You need to have a complete action plan to turn your dream into a reality. Your action plan should consist of key milestones you want to achieve and when e.g. you dream of becoming a TV producer, you need to start with small internships, take relevant college courses and work your way up. There should be a complete strategy for whatever you want to achieve in life.
In all this, we should never forget the importance of our present. Currently, you might be a young professional or even a fresh graduate. However, 5 years ago, you dreamed of being where you are right now.
On an unconscious level, you did have a plan and goals in mind and you worked hard for it. We usually don’t enjoy the situations we are in and are always looking for a ‘better’ future. While this is human nature, we need to appreciate our present and where we are in life to fully realize our potential and prepare for tomorrow.
Hence, if you need to change something in your life, make a plan and start following it. If you believe saying sorry to someone right now can save your relationship, do it now! If you believe applying for a new job might help you increase your income, don’t think and do it now!