How To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
Use quick and easy strategies to get more out of life by setting goals
With all the lockdowns and craziness we’ve all experienced over the last 12 months, many have probably been contemplating their lives and goals. I’m no exception. As I looked back at my life, I thought about the goals of my youth and the big dreams I had years ago.
As I evaluated those against my current life, I could honestly say that I’m happy. I can’t complain. I graduated from college. I’ve had a successful career and am happily married. I have a gracious home and two beautiful daughters. Indeed, I accomplished many of my dreams and even had some success in areas I hadn’t expected.
However, I couldn’t help but notice there were some huge goals and some monumental dreams I had that seem to have been left on the roadside. I’m not sure why that is.
I have some future goals that I want to accomplish and started wondering what I could do to make sure they didn’t suffer the same fate. That started me on a journey of finding out how I could better track and accomplish my new goals. What follows are the insights I gained during my quest.
How Important Is Goal Setting?
There’s an old Earl Nightingale quote about goals I love. In the quote, he describes what happens to a ship set to sea without a captain, crew, directions, or guidance. He concludes that if that ship were to even get out of the harbor, it would be lucky and that most likely the ship would probably sink. He equated the ship to goals in life.
If you don’t set goals for yourself, you’ll end up like this ship. Aimlessly wandering about and eventually sinking. That’s not how I want my life to be.
I dug deep into my life; I realized that the major accomplishments I achieved all started with the setting of a goal. Sure, there were some random good things that happened to me, but most of my fortune resulted from setting and accomplishing goals. Do you see any similarities with your life?
In a great (but long) article by Professor Leslie Riopel, MSc in PositivePsychology.com, she goes into detail about how beneficial goal setting is. Goals provide motivation, improve performance, and even shape behavior.
Write Down Your Goals
Are you familiar with the Reticular Activating System (RAS)? It’s basically an internal filter that prevents your brain from being overloaded by everyday information. In short, you get what you’re looking for.
Goals are a way of programming the RAS of what you’re looking for. I know the concept may seem a little weird. But examples are all around us. For instance, have you ever wondered how people can sleep through loud traffic or trains passing by, but wake as soon as their alarm clock goes off? You guessed it, RAS baby.
If you want more detail, you can look here to learn more about the reticular formation in the brain. Not looking to read a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo? Watch this fun video instead and marvel at how effective your RAS is.
So now you may wonder how you can make sure the important things in life don’t get filtered by your all-powerful RAS? Luckily for you, there’s a simple way. Best of all, it’s free. Simply write your goals and review them. As fate would have it, goals help program your RAS. As an added benefit, your RAS helps you keep your goals in mind.
Give Your Goals a Fighting Chance
Write your goals on paper! Written goals provide clarity, commitment, and connect your goals to your RAS. Here are some other actions you can take to help turn your goals into accomplishments:
Share your goals with others
Sharing your goals with trusted friends and family helps in several ways. First, it solidifies your commitment. Second, your family and friends can be a strong support system for you. Peer pressure is a powerful motivator and your friends can provide that for you, but only if you share.
Finally, consistency is the sixth law of persuasion. One of the hardest parts of accomplishing goals is persuading yourself to put in the effort. Using persuasion techniques can make all the difference. If you share your ambitions, you’re more likely to keep working on your goals to maintain consistency with yourself.
There’s an old African proverb that states “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” If it’s at all possible, build a team or join a group. Find some way to create a tribe that has a common goal. As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Take Daily Actions & Make Incremental Progress
Consistency is key here. Every day, take some action towards your goal. No matter how small. In his book Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg describes how tiny repeated steps can lead to big results. Not only will this help you be consistent, the act of finding a tiny step will help you break down your goal into smaller, manageable chunks.
Be SMART About Your Goals
Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) to set yourself up for success. The best goals are SMART goals. Making your goals specific will help with the RAS thing.
Goals should be measurable so that you can validate when you’ve achieved them. There’s no need to set an unattainable goal – that just leads to heartache and stress. Making goals relevant will help with motivation. Finally, every goal should have a time constraint to create a sense of urgency and commitment.
Click here for our article about SMART Goals and to download your free SMART Goal Template
Plan & Track Goals
Planning, reviewing, and tracking your goals is a crucial step in accomplishing large goals. You may be able to “wing it” with smaller goals. But for truly life-altering goals, it pays to put in the work. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools and apps that can help you track progress, evaluate where you are, and help identify areas needing improvement or attention.
Besides technology, there’s an old-fashioned notebook or planner. I’m biased, but there’s something about writing on paper that is satisfying to me. I’ve recently learned about Tony Buzan’s Mind Map process and read his book Mind Map Mastery. I’m incorporating Mind Maps into my daily planning and hope to use them for long-term planning and goals as well.
After all of my research, I’ve concluded that I need to write my goals more. I have written my goals down in the past, but wasn’t strict about it and rarely managed or reviewed them.
As a result, some became afterthoughts because there was no accountability. It’s obvious that I need a formal procedure around all of this. To help with this, I created a goal tracker template.
I hope you’ve found some value from my journey. If you’ve also become more deliberate in managing your goals; I applaud you. As JFK said, “Every great accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” Good luck.
Turn Your Wishes Into Goals with A FREE PDF Goal Planner
In case you haven’t already read it, our article on how to improve your goals includes a link to download a free SMART Goal tracker to help you organize your goals. If you would like additional tools on your journey towards greatness, click below to sign-up for our email list and receive a free PDF goal planner. In addition, we’re constantly sending out free goodies to help inspire and motivate our audience.
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