Dreams, Goals, Ideas, and Plans – words that are commonly used interchangeably but actually have different definitions and different outcomes.
Once you understand the different outcomes of these words, you might change your vocabulary.
Do you have a dream board or a goal board?
Do you have an idea or a plan?
How can you turn your dreams your reality?
Do you know how to create a goal?
Words are power.
I asked Google for the definitions of these words. Below are the first two definitions for each one.
a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.
a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.
(in football, soccer, rugby, hockey, and some other games) a pair of posts linked by a crossbar and often with a net attached behind it, forming a space into or over which the ball has to be sent in order to score.
the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
a concept or mental impression.
a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
a program that facilitates the regular payment of contributions toward a pension, savings account, or insurance policy.
Understanding the power of words
When you look at the definitions, you start to see how these words are actually different.
Brendan McCaughey wrote, “We must not ignore the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the words we hear and use often.” He continued by saying, “If words help shape and define our reality, then etymology is physics. Understanding the words we use regularly is as important as understanding the physical laws of nature.”
Using these words incorrectly could be blocking you from having the outcome you desire. Contrarily, using these words correctly could be the key to your success. Let’s explore a little further.
The difference between an Idea and a Plan
If you have the idea to start your own business, you might say, “I plan to start my own business”. But in reality, if you haven’t actually put a specific time-bound plan together, you technically have an idea. It is a thought in your head.
People often say, “Things never go as planned’. Yet, people rarely put together a plan. They are going off of an idea and hoping things come together as they envisioned it.
Stephen R Covey stated, “All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically. The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blueprint of the desired result.”
Covey is saying that we first have to dream about it (have an idea). We then have to set out a plan to achieve it. If we follow the plan, the result is the second creation.
When you think about your plan as your blueprint, your perception of the word changes. Now when you say, “I plan to start my own business” and you have a blueprint of the steps needed to start a business…what do you think the result will be?
The difference between a Dream and a Goal
Do you have a Dream Board or do you have a Goal Board?
If we revisit the definitions from above, a dream board would consist of aspirations and thoughts that exist in our mind (when asleep). Whereas a goal board is the object of our ambition. You could even use the sports definition and say a goal is a specific space (between two uprights) we are working to achieve.
Knowing how to create a goal that you can obtain is important. Goals need to be specific. Does the quarterback need to pass the football 10 yards or 23 for the touchdown? Where is the goalpost?
Now let me ask you… do you want a Dream Board or a Goal Board?
We all want to turn our dreams into reality. Unfortunately, we don’t know how. Keep reading and you will learn some steps to create a goal that you can obtain.
How to turn your dreams into reality
Let’s start by waking up! Dreams are in your sleep! Let’s turn your dream into an idea – something you can contemplate while conscious.
Once you have formed a solid idea, you will need to create a goal. A goal in this scenario would be the outcome you want to achieve. Once you know what you want to achieve, make it SMART.
S = specific
M = measurable
A = action
R = result
T = timeframe
Goals can’t be vague. Either you are pregnant or you are not. You can’t have a goal of earning $100,000 – $150,000 next year. Do you want to earn $100,000 or $150,000? Where is the goalpost? Where is the finish line? You can not make a SMART plan around a goal that moves.
Your action steps must be measurable. If you want to lose 10 pounds and you have a plan to walk every day, your action isn’t measurable. Will you walk one mile or one hour?
“A” stands for achievable in many SMART acronyms. I’m not here to tell you if your goal is achievable. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, anything is achievable in my mind. I’d prefer to define the action needed to hit the goal.
“R” stands for realistic in many definitions of the SMART acronym. After years of people asking me, “Is my goal realistic”, I created my own definition of the word. Realistic in my world means – the work you are willing to do to get the result you desire. If you are willing to do the work, then yes it is realistic. If not, then no. Simple. However, the result still needs to be defined. If you say you want to lose weight but do not have the result clearly defined, you will not know if you hit your goal after shedding one pound or 20 pounds. Define the result you want.
In what timeframe will you take the action steps? When will you accomplish your goal? This step is so important! Do not put arbitrary dates on your goal. Look at your calendar. What are your other commitments? When will you be able to complete the steps necessary? Put dates on your action steps. Identify the timeframe for achieving the goal.
Putting it all together
Hopefully, you are starting to have a clear understanding of the differences between dreams, goals, ideas, and plans.
You have a dream that you want to start a business (literally you have a dream about it one night). You wake up and tell your significant other about your dream. As you go through the day thinking about your dream, the idea of starting your own business becomes a great idea.
Over dinner, you tell your significant other that you would like to start your own business. The two of you sit down and put a plan together. You discuss the following:
- How much money will you need to start the business?
- Will you keep your current job or go all in on this new business venture?
- What tools/equipment/space will you need to get up and running?
- Who can help you?
- Who is your target customer and how will you attract them to the new business?
- How many customers will you need to replace your current income?
- By what timeframe do you expect to have this accomplished?
- How much time per week will you be able to commit to the new business?
From the answers to the above questions, you create a goal and formulate a plan to reach it. As you progress towards your goal, your focus will need to tweak from time to time. It is also important to always measure your results. Identify where you are, where you desire to be, and what you need to do to get there.
- Dreams are what you have in your sleep.
- Ideas are not plans.
- Plans have to be SMART
- Goals can’t be vague.
Anyone who has ever achieved anything had to overcome obstacles and hardships along their path. These are the LESSONS of the UNSTOPPABLE ones. Unstoppable Lessons shares the skills, techniques, and mindset necessary to face the challenges of our professional and personal lives. If we embrace the lessons and practice them, excuses will no longer have a place in our lives.
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