For some people, setting and achieving dreams comes easily and naturally. Many of us, however, get lost or distracted along the way. If you use the following steps as a road map, all you will need is the effort to reach your goals fearlessly.
Step #1 – Establish your objectives
You accomplish goals by first choosing a small task you want to accomplish. This is your objective. Objectives can be anything from losing weight to earning a degree. Many people confuse objectives with goals. Objectives generally are the big picture while goals are the small steps that need to be completed in order to reach the big picture.
Step #2 – Create your goals
Now that you have an objective, it is time to break it up into smaller goals. Goals must be specific and measurable. If losing weight is your objective, then losing 10 lbs could be a goal. If earning a degree is your objective, then enrolling in school would be one of the goals needed to get you there. Losing 10 lbs and enrolling in school are both specific (not general), concrete (not vague), and measurable so you can evaluate your progress as you move closer to the goal.
Step #3 – Make a plan
Having a goal is generally not enough to help you reach your objective. You also need to have a plan to achieve the goal. Your plan will work best if it is realistic, taking into account the other responsibilities and happenings in your day-to-day life. Plans that are not realistic set you up for failure. To lose 10 lbs you will need to exercise and/or change what you eat. You could develop a plan that has you exercising daily and eating no more than 1,200 calories per day. You would lose 10 lbs in no time, but for most people, that is not realistic. A more realistic plan might be to exercise three times a week, replace soda with water, and eat fruit instead of cake for dessert for three months. The more time and thought you give this step, the more likely you are to be successful.
Now that you are clear on the relationship between objectives, goals, and plans, choose an objective. Start small and work your way up to bigger achievements. Set your goals and make a plan. If you have trouble reaching your goals, try not to get discouraged. Instead, examine the barriers so you can find ways around them. Look at your plan and attempt to make it more realistic to your life and circumstances.
No one plans to fail, but you are guaranteed to fail without a good plan.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather, a lack of will.”
~ Vince Lombardi
You have identified an objective. Now, you should divide your objective into achievable, measurable goals. Your plan is feasible. The last step you need to make your dreams a reality is never to stop moving toward them. You have to act on your plan continuously to achieve your goals and make progress toward your objective. Many people start out to achieve their dreams with vim and vigor and then lose steam along the way. There are few guarantees in life, but you are guaranteed not to reach your dreams if you stop moving toward them. Below are the three keys to staying motivated so you can keep moving forward.
- Stay positive – Surround yourself with positive reminders that you can achieve your goals. Supportive friends, affirmations, mottos, and stories of others who have achieved their goals can all help you stay positive and keep plodding forward until you reach your dream. I enjoy reading about the challenges other authors faced before they “made it.” Stephen King wrote about having his first book, Carrie, rejected 30 times before he found a publisher.
- Take control of your fears – In my book, Metamorphosis: Journaling the Path from Domestic Violence Victim to Victor, I tell a story about overcoming my fear of heights by flying high on a trapeze. Pushing past my fear to swing 25 feet in the air serves as a reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself – “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” ~African proverb
Our objectives can be overwhelming. So big and looming that we can’t imagine how we will ever achieve them. I first encountered this experience at the end of graduate school when it was time to write my dissertation, an approximately 200-page book about my unique research.
Success is more about persistence and tenacity – the word I keep up on the wall in my office to help me stay motivated – than about anything else. The lessons learned from early failure are just part of the path to success.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
~ Zig Ziglar