Dreaming Big: Useless Without Setting Real Goals

A recent study showed that 80% of Americans do not have goals. I’m not talking big dreams to be rich and successful with a latin pool boy – everyone has those (right?). I’m talking about the difference between just having dreams and actually taking the steps necessary to attain them. So what happens when people go their whole lives without ever coming close to their dreams? A big part of it is failing to create real GOALS. I am constantly revisiting Napoleon Hill’s amazing book Think and Grow Rich, and he stresses the importance of setting clear, incredibly specific and measurable goals. As he says, “Success comes to those who are success conscious” – so here’s how to set yourself up for success by setting real goals:

Dream huge, but set smaller goals too

You want to be the CEO of your dream company? That’s amazing, but if you don’t have the proper education, you may just be setting yourself up for unnecessary challenges that will make it easier to get frustrated and potentially give up. While it’s important set super high goals for yourself, use it as the motivator that drives you to pursue short-term goals like getting your degree or getting a job at the company that will be leading you towards the big picture vision.

Are you crazy passionate?

In the book, Hill stresses the importance of having real emotion behind your goals. This burning passion will make sure you’re absolutely committed to achieving them. When you visualize yourself achieving them, and how these goals will change your life for the better, it should get you pretty freaking excited. This excitement is going to play a huge part in keeping you committed and focused.

Be super specific and give a deadline

“Get a better job” is not  an effective goal. An often overlooked part of creating goals is to make them super specific, and put deadlines on them. For example: Increase monthly views for my website to 50k by September 1, 2013, or “increase sales by $10k by April 1”. You need to have quantifiable goals, otherwise they’re just going to stay dreams.

Important: Write your goals down!

put goals in writing

Writing your goals makes it that much more real, and you are more likely to commit to them when you have a visual reminder. Put the list somewhere you see often – near your desk or kitchen fridge, and it will help to keep you on track. The book actually suggests that you read your goals out loud every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep (unless you’re not sleeping alone – that could be weird). Lastly, write them in a commanding way, almost as if it’s already happened “I will run a half marathon” vs “I want to run a half marathon.” Hill suggests as you read your goals, visualize (see and feel and believe) yourself already in possession of the goal.

Make a plan and act now

Having goals out there in the world won’t do much for you if you don’t take any ACTION to make them happen. Most goals will require consistent effort and specific action steps that need to be taken on a daily basis. If you shift your focus to give most of your time and energy towards achieving your most important goals, you won’t have to wait long to see results.

Really want it? Then don’t give up

Too many people give up on their goals far too early because they aren’t getting the results they’re looking for fast enough. Wanted to lose 10lbs by July but you only lost 5? Tweak your strategy, do something different and keep working towards your ultimate vision. Temporary defeat is not permanent failure. As it says in the book, “our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds!”

set real goals

Goals will give you a clearer picture of what you want in your life, and will help you to focus on what you should be giving your attention to (like using your time to read that textbook for class instead of that tempting OK magazine). If you are continually failing on taking action on your goals – it may be that you don’t really want it. Reassess what will truly bring you happiness and fulfillment (because it’s not always a better job or more money).


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