Do you know the difference between a goal and a dream? A goal is specific and measurable, with steps you will take to reach it. A dream is a fantasy. You say you want something, but you are not doing anything to realize the dream and make it a reality.
Thinking and dreaming about something does not make it happen. Deciding you want it, outlining a plan, then implementing each step of the plan will make it so. Let’s see how you can turn your dreams into goals that become reality.
First, make your goal specific. Saying, “I want to have more time with my family,” or “I want to make more money,” is not specific. A goal might be, “I will work no more than 30 hours a week, with no reduction in income.” Or, “This year I will earn $100,000.” Your goal may be anything. You might decide that you will finish your degree, start a business, acquire a new skill, take the trip of a lifetime, homeschool your children, start a blog, or anything at all.
Put a time frame to your goal. When will you accomplish it?
Next, break the goal into chunks. What do you have to do to make your dream real? You might want to start where you are and determine each step you will have to take to reach your goal.
Or, you may find that it is easier to work backwards from your goal. If you have ever planned a wedding or other big event, you know that by planning backwards you get a better idea of what you have to do when so that all of the tasks are completed in time for the big day. For example, if you have to have the final numbers to the caterer one week before the event, you need the RSVPs one week before that. That means the invitations should go out two weeks before that. And to get the invitations out on time, they should be on order six weeks before they have to be mailed.
Either way, when you break a big job into smaller pieces it does not seem quite so overwhelming.
Put a time with each of the steps you have identified, as you did for the overall goal.
Visualize your success. If you can not imagine what your life will be like when you achieve your goal, it will be hard (or perhaps impossible) for you to get there. Imagine yourself in more activities with your kids, or in Paris, or working in your new job or business. Put up pictures of the places you will go, the things you will do, your new office, the car you want, whatever your goal involves.
What do you need that you do not have? If you want to reduce the number of hours you work, will that mean hiring help? Determine what kind of help you need and how you will find the right person. Do you need to determine how much going back to school will cost, and how you will pay for it? Make an appointment to talk with a counselor at the school. Will a coach or other professional be able to provide the guidance you need?
Take action now. The first step is usually the hardest. Do it and it gets easier from there. Do not spend so much time planning that you fail to do. If there is no clear first step (i.e., there are several possible first steps) just choose one and get it done.
Celebrate milestones. When you accomplish something important to your goal, savor the feeling. Reward yourself. It might be as simple as taking an afternoon to go to the movies, or buying a little something you want.
Enjoy the feeling of success, then keep moving toward your goal.