Your Future is Goals

By Brianne Daly

The human race has thrived and evolved due to our inherent ability to be dreamers and achievers. Dreaming is a part of our daily lives, from yearning for something past to be undone to imagining our idealistic futures. Some fantasies we keep locked away as daydream material, knowing they’re too fanciful to ever become a reality. Others we protect and hold close to our hearts — the aspirations we most desire to achieve. The question stands: how do we move from simple conceptual ambition to actual concrete accomplishment of these dreams? The answer is that we create goals.

What is the difference between dreams and goals? The two are very much identical in that they can represent the same idea or desire. However, they differ in the sense that a dream is quite simply a fruitless longing, whilst a goal is a plan, and contains the ability to be achieved. Deciding which are which is up to you. Start making the distinctions by recognizing which dreams are and are not plausible, balancing being ambitious with being realistic. Reach for the stars, but still keep your feet on Earth. Once you have identified your practical and achievable dreams, make them into goals.

Once you've decided to turn your dreams into goals instead, you're already on your way. However, you now face the hardest part of all: fulfilling them. Facing a goal head on is an overwhelming feat. The most crucial step to achievement is to first make a plan, also known as setting your objectives.

Think of objectives as the rungs on an upward leading ladder. Consider your goal and then deliberately identify the specific steps you must you take to obtain it. If an objective in front of you feels too large and daunting to undertake all at once (such as the ever-popular, "get an internship" — easier said than done!), try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable mini-objectives (like: make your resume, apply for a position, prepare for an interview, and so on). If you need help determining objectives, refer to the acronym, SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Once you’ve identified your objectives, start checking them off — and remember that each one, big or small, is an accomplishment and a step in the right direction.

The personal shift from dream to goal can be intimidating. It symbolizes your choice to try, which opens up the companion door, "to fail." Often times, our fear of failure stops us from pursuing our dreams, from making them concrete goals. We tell ourselves that it’s impossible, for one reason or another, when it’s actually not. We give up before we try. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, offered wise words in her commencement speech to Harvard students in 2011. She said, "The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough." I carry this sentiment with me, and reflect on it when I am seized by doubt, insecurity, and discouragement. My fear of failure is not a barrier to overcome, but a testament to my passion and my overwhelming desire to succeed. Fear can move us in the direction of what we most want, if we only listen to what it is truly saying. Achieving our largest and most personally important goals will require patience, effort, and grace. Allow yourself to fail, fall, and fear in these objectives. Allow yourself to take detours, breaks, and even have a few total freak-outs. Forgive yourself for your naturally imperfect navigation and struggles.

Start today: identify your dreams, set your goals, and start accomplishing objectives. Face your fears by going after what you love - go and pursue your greatest passion. Make your mistakes, fall short, face the possibility of failure, hear that inner-voice say, "It’s time to give up now," and then continue on still. Be brave, bold, and powerful. Now that’s #goals.