Where do you see yourself five years from now? What about near the end of your life? At which point in your life do you expect to have fulfilled your dreams for your career and other aspects of your life? Most of us have been told since we were younger to “follow your dreams!”, and never give up on what we want in life. What most of us have not been told is that the belief to follow our dreams is relatively toxic and a delay in the pathway to achieving what we want for ourselves. Now, having dreams sure sounds inspirational, and potentially motivates some to create some sort of larger meaning for their purpose in life. But these dreams we all come up with will likely never happen if they stay just as we define them: as dreams. What we need to do is renovate those hopes and aspirations we have for ourselves into achievable and realistic structures called goals.
The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline and accountability. Taking your dream and turning it into a SMART goal increases your ability to create an ideal life for yourself. SMART goals are defined as goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific Goals are sensible and clear. This is the who, what, why, and how of your goals. What is this goal, why are you doing it, who is involved in this goal, and how are you going to accomplish this goal?
Measurable Goals keep you motivated and on track. This is a more in-depth identification of how your goal will be achieved.
Achievable Goals are attainable and realistic. They create opportunities and learning experiences to challenge you and help you grow as a person. They keep us in tune with reality in order to make sure what we want is something we can actually accomplish. The also tell us how we can get there. Don’t be afraid of failure. Success is a long and bumpy road, not a straight pathway. Failure builds character and resilience to brave future obstacles you may face on the way to achieving your goals.
Relevant Goals matter to you and coincide with other goals you have for yourself. These goals are within our control and are something we not only need to do, but want to do. It keeps the responsibility and ownership of our actions for our goals solely on us.
Timely Goals have a deadline but can be adjusted to the unpredictability of life. Identify your goal as long term or short term. Having a deadline for your goals is important because otherwise we label our dreams as being achievable… “someday.” That can turn into days, months, and then years. There is a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and a Sunday in a week. But nowhere in there is there a SOME-day.
Your goals should help take you to a place in life where you find happiness and fulfillment. While planning these goals, keep in mind that success doesn’t always equal happiness, but happiness will always equal success.