My husband and I recently had a discussion with our adult child about the difference between DREAMS and GOALS. She boasts of her dreams for a great life. A life of success, joy, and peace. A life that eludes her, as it presently appears her life is directed by the shake of a Magic 8 ball. There is no rhyme or reason to explain her recent choices.
Both DREAMS and GOALS are fundamental and necessary for personal fulfillment and success but there is a distinct difference between the two.
She may have a dream to have her own apartment but after 10 months on her own and without a job she is no closer to that dream than when she started. Why?
DREAMING is easy. Achieving GOALS take work.
We’ve long used the New Year as reason to create RESOLUTIONS. A resolution is defined as, “resolving or determining on a course of action; decision or determination.”
Dreams and resolutions are just nouns –things – without any action added. DREAMS and RESOLUTIONS need verbs – some action – to turn them into GOALS.
At the risk of sounding redundant, here are some actionable steps for you to create actionable steps to achieve your goals in the New Year.
STEP 1: CONSIDER ONE WORD or GOAL
Let’s just be real honest from the beginning: GOALS are not decided upon while you scroll through social media feeds, watch television, or spend time with your extended family at holiday gatherings. Goals takes time and mental bandwidth. To contemplate goals means you are quiet, thoughtful, perhaps discussing with your spouse, consulting the Bible, or in prayer.
If nailing down one specific goal onto the year 2017 proves too difficult, consider choosing ONE WORD to focus on for the year. I have made this a practice for the past 10 years and found it is an incredibly powerful tool for change. My ONE WORD has both personal and family goals. The beauty of ONE WORD is how it can encompass a multitude of goals for growth, development, and success.
Some examples of ONE WORDS you could choose are: Joy, Action, Change, Brave, Allow, Trust, Balance, Gratitude, Restore, and Abide. The possibilities are endless. So much life and possibility can flow from one word so don’t second guess yourself if your word seems too generic or complex.
Whether you have ONE WORD or ONE GOAL, set ink to paper and get it in writing. No goals are achieved if given only the atmosphere of your own thoughts. They are still dreams at this point. They need oxygen and life outside your consciousnesses. Speak it, write it, draw it, define it, research it, meditate on it – however you can, embrace your ONE.
STEP 2: WHAT WILL THIS LOOK LIKE
Write down what you envision it to look like if this WORD or GOAL 100% manifested throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to record all your hopes and best case scenarios. If you want to see it to fulfillment you must acknowledge it first, then work towards it.
Nothing is off limits, detail everything you long to achieve regardless whether you feel its possible.
Additional to the tangible benefits, record how this WORD or GOAL will enhance personal/family development. How will you be different? Your children? Your spouse? Your relationships? Your job?
What affect, if any, would this have on the community around you?
STEP 3: WHAT FEARS/LIMITATIONS COULD HOLD YOU BACK
We have to be practical. There will always be some fear or some limiting factor waiting to hold you back from accomplishing this goal or seeing fruit produced from your one word. We all have deep rooted convictions and inclinations that direct our lives and can limit what we achieve.
List these fears and limitations out. It’s better to be honest in advance, acknowledging these rather than ignoring their existence and acting surprised when they rear their ugly head.
What personal fear has held me back from this in the past?
How could my job/children/finances/health limit my ability to accomplish this?
How could others/the world discourage me (whether intentionally or unintentionally)?
STEP 4: WHAT STEPS WILL I TAKE
These are essential. This is the action that transforms our DREAMS and RESOLUTIONS into accomplished GOALS.
Aim for a list of at least 3 Action Steps, although you could list as many as need. Include a baby step and a giant leap. For example, if your goal is to get out of debt, your baby step is creating a budget and your giant leap is paying off your college loans by the end of the year. If your word is BRAVE, your baby step is to have coffee or dinner with brave families who’ve adopted and your giant leap is to be licensed as a Foster Parent by the end of the year.
Each action step may have several levels of steps contained within but you must at least create your outline of steps.
Include time goals with each step if possible. Some goals, such as character or spiritual growth, cannot be measured with time but others certainly can be. Give yourself a date to work towards as motivation and accountability.
STEP 5: SHARE YOUR WORD/GOAL AND STEPS
Sharing your ONE WORD OR GOAL and it’s STEPS with your family is imperative. It is okay if there are personal aspects of the word/goal you choose not to disclose. The overarching mission, however, is essential for success. Children need to see their parents working towards goals and the struggles within to teach them perseverance and drive. The family unit is the best arena for growth and improvement, both for parents and children. We can all learn so much from one another if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable together.
As you share and discuss with your family be sure to include any of your children’s visions, fears, and steps towards this goal along with your own. Do not be discouraged if at first they don’t understand or get excited. Children easily rally around a goal given enough exposure.
Additionally beneficial, if you listed family members as a potential limitation, their inclusion can be a catalyst for their support.
STEP 6: WHO WILL KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE
Once a family goal is shared and owned by everyone there can be mutual accountability. Grant one another permission (with grace) to call out areas you’ve fallen short of the goal or behaviors that don’t line up with the goal. Likewise, celebrate with one another as you complete steps towards the goal and any small successes along the way.
Your personal steps contained within this goal also need accountability. Don’t just assume your spouse or best friend will naturally keep you accountable after you’ve shared your goal – you must ask for accountability.
Give permission to those you love and trust to keep you accountable and prepare your heart for the accountability to come.
STEP 7: PRAY
If you could do this on your own, it would be done already right? We set goals to work towards because we desire growth and positive change but, sadly, we give up when they feel impossible to achieve on our own. The good news is, you are not on your own.
In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches us to Ask, Seek, and Knock:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
This is not Jesus’ way of saying “name it and claim it.” Rather, this Son of God giving you permission to access him through prayer. To ask, seek, and knock is presenting our heart and desires before the Lord and surrendering to what His will is.
We may ask for what we want, but God gives us what we need because he knows us intimately.
We may seek selfish pleasure but God gives us everlasting joy because He knows this is what our soul is seeking.
We may knock on the closest, easiest door but God opens a better door further away instead.
When we pray, one of two things will happen:
- We will access the power of heaven to aid in achieving our goal or
- We will access the power of heaven to change us or change our goal to exactly what our soul needs more.
BRAVE PARENTS: we should not be satisfied with remaining the same or staying comfortable. We must be seeking transformation for ourselves and our children daily, monthly, yearly – always pursuing improvement. Yes, it takes BRAVERY to own a goal and accept accountability for achieving it. Yes, it takes VULNERABILITY to be honest and admit you don’t have it all together. But this is how we build character and integrity both in ourselves and our children.