Dreams are similar to wishes: They are things we fantasize about, yet do little to make happen (but we're certainly ecstatic when they do happen). Goals are those things to which you commit and take action to ensure their attainment. Goal setting is the means of turning your dreams into reality.
Overcoming Mental Obstacles
Goal setting is tied into the reticular activating system. Our senses, particularly sight, are constantly flooded with a vast amount of stimuli, yet we are consciously aware of only a fraction of that data. Most of that information is not necessary for our well-being, so it gets screened. In essence, we have programmed filters (or in some cases, blinders) in our brains.
The inability to actualize goals is usually related to unclear goals, lack of commitment, conflict or negative conditioning. Very few people write goals, and those who do, don't always write their goals in a way that easily produces results. Sometimes they write what they think they should want or what their spouse, parents, boss or peers think they should want. Other times they claim to want something, but what they really want is what that thing represents.
Occasionally conflicts exist in relation to the achievement of goals. The attainment of one goal may preclude the fulfillment of another, or the consequences may not be viewed favorably by someone's immediate family and colleagues. Quite often, people have a lot of negative conditioning to overcome.
Sometimes people write goals that aren't real for them—they know they could never achieve them. They set unrealistic deadlines or have goals that are dependent on other people. Some have page after page of goals and yet hardly ever accomplish anything. And then other people are so detail-oriented they lose sight of the big picture.
We have a tendency to get so caught up in the list-making and the things we "ought to do" and "should do" that we don't always take into account the overall picture and consider what would be the most appropriate action to take. Life isn't about just getting by, making it from day to day. It's about reaching for and attaining our full potential at all levels. Often we do something out of habit, or because it's easy or because we do it well.
Write Your Goals Down
Effective goal setting is the groundwork for success. I advocate that you actually have written goals in addition to any other techniques you employ. The written word is powerful. By inscribing your intentions, you say to yourself and the world that you know you deserve to have these things happen.
Sometimes people are afraid to write down their goals because they don't think they can achieve them, and they don't want a written reminder of their failure. Failure, however, doesn't really exist in goal setting. Usually when you don't accomplish a goal, it's due to setting an inappropriate deadline, having inaccurate information, experiencing blocks, encountering conflicts, not really wanting the goal or being unwilling (or unable) to do what's required to accomplish the goal.
Having written goals can only serve to support and teach you, enhancing your self-knowledge. What is crucial is the way you actually state your goals and the individual steps necessary to accomplish them.
Follow the suggested goal-setting techniques and most important of all, be sure they are your goals.
Setting goals can be creative and exciting: it is a necessary component of success, but it doesn't have to be a burden. Remember, the purpose of setting goals is to make your dreams become reality.
6 Proven Goal Setting Techniques
- Always state your goals in the positive, present tense. If you write in the future, they may remain in the future—never attained.
- Personalize your goals: Use a pronoun or proper noun (I, we, they, your name) in every sentence.
- Do not use the terms "try," "will," "not," "never," "should," "would," "could" and "want."
- Make your goals real: something you know you can accomplish on your own, without help or without someone waving a magic wand over your head.
- Include deadlines whenever possible.
- Keep your goals SMARTER: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible, Enthusiastic, Rewarding.
"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own." —Mark Victor Hansen, founder and co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.