At the end (and at the beginning) of the romantic-comedy, Pretty Woman, a man crosses the street and shouts to no one in particular, “Welcome to Hollywood! Everybody comes here has a dream. What’s your dream?”
When was the last time someone asked you about your dream? Do you remember your response?
I asked “What’s your dream?” to a group of high school students at a goal-setting workshop. Tears swelled in the eyes of a seventeen-year old teenager.
“My dream?” she asked. “Nobody’s ever asked me that question before.”
Schools typically provide students with calendars, planners, and tools to help them organize information in ways that allow them to meet course objectives. However, students rarely know how to use those tools in ways that empower them to articulate their own dreams, develop personal goals, and arrange activities within their day that allow them to align their goals with their dreams. As a result, students mature into adults who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet everyone else’s objectives but their own.
Louisa May Alcott, author of classics such as Little Women once wrote, ”Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.” Before we can develop a plan to experience our dreams, we must clearly articulate and define our personal goals.
Dr. Gail Matthews, psychology professor from Dominican University of California, conducted a study to discover how commitment and motivation affected success in achieving one’s goals. She found that the students who (1) expressed their goals in writing, (2) developed action statements, and (3) held themselves accountable to a friend, colleague, or mentor were 76% more likely to experience success than those whose goals were encased in daydreams.
George Doran first used the term, SMART goal, in a 1981 issue of Management Review. He explained that a SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, insisted that the act of writing a goal sets things into motion. “Your mind accepts the challenge and will consciously and unconsciously work to achieve the goal,” added Covey. “The momentum picks up if you tell someone your goal. The act of stating your goal creates a sense of accountability for its completion.”
Writing your goals packs your dream with power and sets the dream-to-action plan process onto a course headed towards success:
The more you can define your goals with laser-sharp clarity, the more quickly you draw those things to you, the more joyful you become about opportunities that come into your experience, and the more enthusiastic you become about your own life. Write down your highest aspirations. Make a commitment to these goals and share them with someone you trust. Hold yourself accountable for taking the necessary steps to reach your goals.
Every successful individual began their journey with a dream. They did not allow other people or unfortunate circumstances to steer them away from their goals nor did they shirk other responsibilities. They made a commitment to themselves and to their dream and supported their words with action. The process of writing one’s goals is a beginning. Are you up for the challenge?
What goals are ready to put into writing?
Think you don’t need a dream to drive your goals? Think again. Read 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.
Use these suggestions to set attainable goals into motion from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.