Dreams vs. Goals

Do you remember, as a kid, dreaming about the future? Your mind could be as creative as it wanted to be. There were no limits. As you got older, you may have thought about turning those dreams into something real. If you were truly serious about it, you would turn your dream into a goal.

Although dreams and goals are both important aspects of life and they may seem similar, they are actually quite different from one another. Just as when you were a kid, goals often start as dreams. If you want to really make a difference in the world, however, it’s crucial that you understand the difference so you know where you are in your journey and don’t get distracted on the path to success.

What is the difference between a goal and a dream?

Goals have time associated with them

When something is a goal, it will have a time limit, or time line attached to it. Dreams, well since they are just dreams, don’t require this same timeline. For example, if you dream is to be a fitness model, that is it, there are no other details given. A goal along these same lines would be wanting to become a fitness model by going to the gym every day, each week, and making sure every meal that you eat is balanced. Notice the differences?

Goals require action

Dreams are passive, and goals are active. Goals are something which are affecting you in the here and now and that you are constantly working towards completing. Dreams, on the other hand, just exist, and they don’t require any input on your part.

Dreaming, because it requires no action, may seem easier, and indeed it is often easier to dream rather to act. But because you aren’t acting while you dream, you will never be any closer to achieving your dream unless you start to act and turn it into a goal. Think of it this way, dreaming of becoming a doctor requires you to do nothing but sit and think about it, actually having the goal becoming a doctor would require you to attend school, study hard, and get your doctorate.

Goals have a cost

Dreaming is free, for anyone and everyone, while goals have a cost associated. In this case, the word cost doesn’t necessarily mean money, but it can. You’ll know you’re working towards a goal and not a dream when what you are doing costs time, effort, or money.

And honestly this cost is what makes a goal worthwhile. Referring back to the above example, dreaming of becoming a fitness model involves no costs, while having the goal of becoming a fitness model requires a gym membership, spending money and time meal planning, and perhaps a personal trainer. But these costs are all worthwhile as the person with a goal of becoming a fitness model, with those costs, is likely to succeed if they stick with it.

Goals Will Change Your Life

This one is basically a no brainer. A dream is just that, a dream. It isn’t affecting, or impacting your life in any real way. A goal, even if you haven’t achieved it yet, will be making a difference in your everyday life. Back to the fitness example. If your goal is to become a fitness model, it likely won’t happen in a single day, but the journey on your way to becoming a fitness model will be changing your life as you go.

You’ll likely start to become more fit, learn new things about nutrition, and you may even see the world in a different light. This is so much different from just sitting on the couch thinking you’d like to be a fitness model, because dreams don’t change your life, they just exist.

Although having dreams isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not necessarily a good thing either, this is why it is so important to work towards transforming any true dreams you may have into realizable goals.

Goals are more solid than dreams because they have a timeline, require input, and change your life on a daily basis. Meanwhile, dreams are just there. So now that you know the difference it’s time to transform your dreams into goals today!

How can you tell if it is a goal or a dream?

When you think of the things you want in life, it can be difficult to know the differences between which are dreams, and which are goals, even in your own mind. Even so, something you may think has a timeline may not when you actually sit down and think about it, so here are some examples of dreams vs. goals to help you get started on evaluating your own.

“I want to be rich.” vs. “I want to build a business so that I can build it, be successful, and make enough money to sell it and retire.”

When you look at these two sentences, they generally imply the same thing. In either case, you are no longer working, but you have lots of money. The difference? Well, the first one is a dream, it’s something you want but has no way to get you there, no timeline to be completed in, and no explanation of how it will work. The second one, on the other hand, establishes just how you will make a lot of money (by building a business). Although this goal doesn’t have a specific end date, it is implied that at some point, the business will generate enough cash that the individual no longer has to work.

“I want to be a fitness model” vs. “I want to go to the gym every day, eat healthy, and get back in shape.”

In this example, both of these sentences could lead you to becoming to a fitness model. However, the second one, which is the goal, is likely the one which will actually get you there. This is because the first sentence has no drive behind the statement, and no expectation of when this will happen. The second one establishes when you will be working on this “fitness model” desire (every day) as well has additional specifications on how you will get there.

“I want to invent something cool.” vs. “In the next two years, I want to build a better version of a car, which is better for the environment.”

The second sentence here is clearly the goal, as the motive, nor the invention is even mentioned in the first example of wanting to invent something ‘cool’. The second sentence also clearly has more planning which is much easier to break down into steps in order to make this individual’s goal a reality, as well as a timeline in which the individual wants to complete the task.

“I want to write a book.” vs. “I want to write a book about my life up until now, and send it in to multiple publishers to try and get it published so I can share my story.”

Almost everyone on this earth has wanted to write a book at some point, but just as in this first sentence, for most people this is just a dream, as they have no idea what they would write about nor what they would do with it once it is written.

The second sentence, on the other hand, is a well thought out goal because it not only includes the same ultimate result, but also what will come after and the motive as to why the person is pursuing it.

Overall, if your dream or goal topic wasn’t listed here, think for a second about what you want to achieve. When it comes to mind, does it look like the first sentence in these examples, or the second?

If your answer was that it looks like the first, then if you want to achieve your dream you truly need to begin to expand upon it, adding details like a timeline, motive, and steps you would follow. In no time at all you’ll soon have a viable goal to work on, which will lead you to success.

There are good reasons to have both dreams and goals. Whether it is a dream or a goal, you already have the power, and all the tools inside of you to accomplish them.

Find your purpose – find your joy!

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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.

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