Are dreams the same as goals? If not, what do you absolutely need to do to transform an idealistic dream into tangible reality? This is a challenge facing many professionals. But why?
Perhaps many people live lives of quiet desperation due to today’s hyperactive, 24/7, constantly “connected” lifestyle. When you’re constantly “on,” it makes it difficult (if not impossible) to take the time to think and create a strategic action plan. But without a plan, you’ll never be able to create success on your own terms.
But how would your life change if you consistently took action to achieve your dreams? Quite frankly, having dreams and then taking action to achieve (or even surpass) them is what makes life a satisfying, exciting adventure! But dreams do not automatically morph into goals — and it’s the goals you set that keep you on track or push you off course toward achieving your dreams.
Let’s look at a popular professional dream: making a lot of money — and then having the time to travel the world. Sounds pretty nice, huh? But, while the desired end is known, the path to get there is often murky. And that’s where many people get off course.
But let’s break this dream down by asking: what does it really mean to “make a lot of money?” This dream isn’t really an empowering goal for 3 reasons:
- It’s too vague — in other words, there are no quantifiable metrics attached to it. (What’s “a lot of money” to one person might be viewed as the bare minimum by another.)
- It may not be based on current reality — exactly how do you get from where you are right now and where you want to be? In other words, is the professional path that you are currently traveling leading to what you really want?
- It overlooks very real sacrifices — every goal requires you to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to turning the dream into reality.
Contrary to what others may advise, I believe that you can’t have it all…BUT what you can have is a life based on the things which are important to you.
To achieve lofty goals,
you must be willing to sacrifice that which is unimportant.
Sometimes you might even have to
sacrifice the important things…at least temporarily.
If your goals are compelling, the sacrifices are usually acceptable. To aspire to greatness, you must say ‘no’ to mediocrity!
How to Turn Dreams Into Reality
So, what if your dream is too vague, unrealistic, and/or doesn’t consider the necessary sacrifices?
First and foremost, begin with what YOU really want: what is important to you? What are your needs? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices? Perhaps most importantly, do you recognize the unique contributions which you alone can provide in a job and career?
Making these decisions requires soul searching — but you can begin by answering 3 fundamental questions:
- What do your dreams really represent? We’re not talking Freudian psychoanalysis here. For many people, lifestyle dreams represent the effects of achieving something else. In the case of “making a lot of money,” does that mean security…or is it for “bragging rights?” But if the money is simply a stepping stone to traveling, it might be time to search for a different job that offers you the ability to travel.
- What are you qualified to do? We’re getting a little bit deeper here — and it’s time to engage in unabashed objectivity. Everyone has strengths that separate them from other workers. What are yours? Find them not only in your work experiences, but in your volunteer or personal activities. And don’t overlook those KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) that are easy for you — they are often important clues to finding the job of your dreams and differentiating you from the competition.
- How committed are you to achieving your goals? Here’s where the sacrifices come into play — and this is also where many people let their dreams die a silent death. It’s the moment of truth: will YOU make the necessary sacrifices to turn your dream into a reality?
The ultimate choice of how you live your life rests with YOU! Do you want the legacy of your life to be a lesson in the unrealized dreams arising from the goals that you ‘woulda, coulda, or shoulda’ achieved? OR will you take those important three deep breaths…and make the commitment to live your life in the way that you want it to be? Are you willing to move forward to create success on your own terms?
If you’re ready, then today is the first step on your path. Creating success on your own terms requires courage to commit to what you really want and how you really want to live — even if the people around you aren’t very supportive. To help you identify and understand the dream stealers in your life AND take proactive steps to prevent them from sabotaging your success, click here for my FREE 3-lesson eCourse on Letting Go of Dream Stealers.
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout: Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources. An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.