Discerning goals from dreams - Rethink Central

Discerning goals from dreams

by | Oct 9, 2012 | Goals

“Goals are dreams you actually set out to achieve.”
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People chit-chat about their goals and dreams as though these are interchangeable. They aren’t.

Sure, they are both things you want to accomplish, but there is a vast difference between them.

Goals are dreams you actually set out to achieve. If you were to list your dreams and goals together, there probably would be a hodgepodge of things you want. Take this (very standard) list of desires:

    • To buy a home instead of renting.
    • To win the lottery.
    • To make sure the kids graduate.
    • To earn more money.
    • To have a holiday in the Seychelles.

Believe it or not, most of these dreams can also be goals. Winning the lottery is not, simply because you can’t effectively controlit. But, the rest of these items can all be transformed into something you can have – depending on your commitment to your desires. But, they all need more work.

Defining a goal

All goals have 3 things in common. They must be:

Realistic and achievable

You must be able to control it in some way (unlike the lottery). And, you need to be able to accommodate the parameters of what you want. For example, you can’t become the president of the United States if you were not a citizen by birth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t influence politics in the US, or in your home country.

Specific and measurable

A goal has to state specifically what you intend to achieve. Buying a home is one thing, buying a home in the county of your choice is another thing. You need to ensure you are specific about what you want to achieve. If not, a few pounds more a month technically qualifies as earning more money.

Time specific

This can be sticky, and quite frankly the reason many goals remain dreams. Perhaps you want to holiday in the Seychelles before retirement. It may be a far point in the future, or, it may be edging up on you quickly. Either way, it is a point in time that you can work towards.

Making a dream into a goal

As an example, let’s take the first dream on the list above and change it into a goal. You want a home of your own.

Now, ask if it is realistic and achievable. In today’s economy, it can be a stretch, but unless there are legal restrictions to your owning a home, you can make this into a goal.

Goals must be specific and measurable. Is the home you are striving for in a certain location? Is it in your name only? Is it any piece of property that you own such as a bachelor’s flat, or does it need to have certain requirements, such as 3 bedrooms with a garden? If you can clearly outline your goal, then you will know that you have achieved it.

And finally, assign a deadline. Do you want that home before your children are in high school? Are you rather waiting until retirement, when you can move to the countryside? Of course, you may want to move in the next year. As long as you have a time frame, you can break the steps down into manageable pieces.

You now have a goal, and the next step is to set about achieving it. All the other pieces will fit into place, such as what needs to be saved each month, when to start actively looking for your new home, and what it must have before you put in an offer.


Get inspired by this? Read some more here:

3 ways to improve your friendships (and why you should)

Prioritise your dream life

Goal making… or rather, goal breaking

Difficulties breaking it down?

Have a look at last week’s post. It’s filled with fantastic tips and a link to further resources. And, if you have a top tip, please share it here. We really enjoy hearing from our readers.


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