At the end (and at the beginning) of the romantic-comedy, Pretty Woman, a man crosses the street and shouts to no one in particular, “Welcome to Hollywood! Everybody comes here has a dream. What’s your dream?”
When was the last time someone asked you about your dream? Do you remember your response?
I asked “What’s your dream?” to a group of high school students at a goal-setting workshop.
“My dream?” asked Anthony, an 18 year-old student. “I don’t know. Nobody’s ever asked me that question before.”
Schools often provide students with calendars, planners, and tools to help them organize information in ways that allow them to meet course objectives. However, students rarely have opportunities to think about their own dreams or develop personal goals. They often have the tools, but rarely does anyone show them how to create goals that align with their dreams. As a result, students mature into adults who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet everyone else’s objectives but their own.
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women once wrote, ”Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.”
We can help youth – and one another – clarify dreams and develop action plans to transform dreams into reality.
Dr. Gail Matthews, psychology professor from Dominican University of California, conducted a study to discover how commitment and motivation affected success in achieving one’s goals. She found that the students who (1) expressed their goals in writing, (2) developed action statements, and (3) held themselves accountable to a friend, colleague, or mentor were 76% more likely to experience success than those whose goals were encased in daydreams.
George Doran first used the term, SMART goal, in a 1981 issue of Management Review. He explained that a SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, insisted that the act of writing a goal sets things into motion. “Your mind accepts the challenge and will consciously and unconsciously work to achieve the goal,” added Covey. “The momentum picks up if you tell someone your goal. The act of stating your goal creates a sense of accountability for its completion.”
Writing your goals packs your dream with power and sets the dream-to-action plan process onto a course headed towards success:
- Writing your goals will provide you with clarity. How do you reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going? How do you know when you have arrived? You start your course by selecting a destination. The more specifically you define your goal with razor-sharp clarity, the more vividly you can visualize it and set a course of action into motion.
- Writing your goals will motivate you to take action. Articulating your intention is important, but you must also take action. Writing down your goals and reviewing them regularly motivates you to make choices and choose tasks that align with your goals.
- Writing your goals will provide a filter for other opportunities. There are many responsibilities and activities competing for your attention. These opportunities can quickly become distractions that pull you off course. Review your goals on a regularly basis. Examine tasks on your calendar. Do your tasks align with your goals? Goal alignment allows you to make meaningful choices when you plan your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual calendar selections.
- Writing your goals will help you overcome resistance. Every meaningful intention, dream, or goal encounters struggle or opposition. Focus on your goal, not on the things that block you from achieving your dream.
- Writing your goals will enable you to see and celebrate progress. Written goals are like mile markers on a highway. They enable you to see how far you have come. They also provide an opportunity for celebration when you attain them.
The more you can define your goals with laser-sharp clarity, the more quickly you draw those things to you, the more joyful you become about opportunities that come into your experience, and the more enthusiastic you become about your own life. Write down your highest aspirations. Make a commitment to these goals and share them with someone you trust. Hold yourself accountable for taking the necessary steps to reach your goals.
Every successful individual began their journey with a dream. They did not allow other people or unfortunate circumstances to steer them away from their goals nor did they shirk other responsibilities. They made a commitment to themselves and to their dream and supported their words with action. The process of writing one’s goals is a beginning. Are you up for the challenge?
What goals are ready to put into writing?
Think you don’t need a dream to drive your goals? Think again. Read 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.
Use these suggestions to set attainable goals into motion from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.
Discover tools in my personal goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, to transform dreams into reality.