Achieve your Dreams through Successful Goal Setting

Achieve Your Dreams Through Successful Goal Setting

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Dreams are a dime a dozen, everyone has them. Just ask someone buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot is super huge and you will hear a dream. We are sorry to tell you that dreams do not come true, that is, until you attach a goal and a date to them.

To turn your dreams into action you must first set a goal and have a structured plan to achieve the goal, thus achieving the dream. Goals must have an action component to them or they are just a dream.

You can be inspired by a dream, but goals can change the direction of your life for the positive.

Here are 5 main differences between goals and dreams:


Dreams exist only in the mind; goals require an action of some kind.


Dreams do not have a timeline; goals have a deadline.


Dreams have no plan; goals have a plan to accomplish them.


Dreams require little or no effort on your part; goals are hard work.


Dreams are free; you have to pay a hefty price for your goals.

So start with a dream, something as simple as, “I want to visit the Grand Canyon someday.” Then take that dream and set a goal. Your goal needs a plan and a deadline. “I will save $50 a week for two years and save up my vacation time to visit the Grand Canyon in the summer of 20XX.”

Notice the dream did not have a specific plan of achieving it. It was just a dream. The goal has a plan for success and a deadline for achieving it.

Achieve Your Dreams by Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

To know if a goal is a goal or just a dream, you can use the S.M.A.R.T criteria. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Specific. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

When you are setting a goal, be sure to run the goal through the S.M.A.R.T criteria:


Target a specific area of improvement or accomplishment.

    • “I want to vacation more often,” is vague. “I will take two vacations this year. A cruise to Alaska, and a week in Las Vegas,” is much more specific.


Quantity or at least suggest an indicator of progress.

    • 10 new enrollments
    • Lose 15 pounds
    • Increase revenue by 5%
    • ePacket completely written, ready to print


Able to be brought about or reached successfully.

    • Example: For most people (amateurs) taking a dance class to improve your skills is within your power, landing a starring role on a dancing television show is likely next to impossible.


Can be reasonably achieved within the available resources.

    • Example: Increasing your savings account balance with a plan and the knowledge of your current and projected income is within your control, relying on lottery tickets to become a millionaire is a pipe dream.


Give yourself a deadline and specify when it can be achieved.

    • By March 30th
    • By end of Quarter 4

When you sit down to write your goals, take each one and give it the S.M.A.R.T. test. If it fails, you will need to alter the goal until it fits the criteria.

Goals Should Stretch You

A goal should stretch you and scare you a little. It’s ok if it scares you a lot. For many of you, a high school diploma was once a goal for you. Some set out to obtain a college degree, others set their sights on marriage and raising a family, and many of you may have had a dream of business ownership.

Set your goals high, very high. Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times to invent the light bulb. When interviewed, a reporter asked him how it felt to fail over 10,000 times and if he felt like a failure. His response? Quite the contrary. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You will only fail if you quit trying. Thankfully, Thomas Edison did not quit and we all get to benefit from his inventions.

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”

Orison Swett Marden

If there is no one laughing at your goals and dreams, they are not big enough! A goal must cause you to stretch harder than you ever have before, or obtaining it will not seem as sweet. A goal is like a rubber band; it works best if it is stretched.

So don’t be afraid to set big, hairy, audacious goals and prepare to have the most amazing life you have ever imagined. No great accomplishment in human history has ever been successful without someone setting a goal that stretched them way out of their comfort zone.

Enjoy the journey!

ACTION STEP: Now spend some time writing down 5 dreams that you have always wanted to accomplish in your life, and then turn them into goals by creating some actionable steps to achieve your dreams using the S.M.A.R.T Goals method above.

Please let us know if you have a great story of reaching your goals using any of the methods described above. We’d love to hear from you at

This blog contains excerpts from The Happiness Guide: Secrets to Living Your Best Life in and Out of the Classroom. Click here if you’d like to order a copy of this transformational book.

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