Turn dreams into goals like Edison did with his search for a good lightbulb

Five Steps Turn Dreams Into Goals in One Hour

Noted radio personality, Earl Nightingale, talked about the power of dreams and goals when he said,

People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.

Goals in that quote sound a lot like dreams. Are dreams enough? Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell,  said

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Combining the two quotes, we find there’s more to success than dreams. Our dreams guide us and we need to give our them our best efforts.

This post is part of our chapter on Goal Management. It uses the prioritized list of dreams you created in 5 Steps to Discover Your Dreams.

Turn Your Dreams Into Goals

Will dreams and effort always succeed? Other authors say you won’t get you that far unless you demand results. Author Napoleon Hill said:

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Now we’re talking about goals as actionable dreams, but while we’re at it, is there anything else we need in addition to a dream+deadline+hard work?

Peter Drucker, founder of management by objectives, wrote about another element needed for success, the measurement of results from our hard work:

Work implies not only that somebody is supposed to do the job, but also accountability, a deadline and, finally, the measurement of results —that is, feedback from results on the work and on the planning process itself.

We call measurement of results by another term, success metrics, or sometimes just metrics or criteria. Metrics are the scales for our quality standards. The best use of them is to define how close you are to success at any point in the process and to know when to stop because you’re at your dream. We’re talking about quantitative metrics and qualitative metrics. It’s not always possible to assign a number, or quantitative metric, to a goal. Take relationships, my wife Debbie firmly rejected my attempts to define a metric on that. On the other hand, we can use qualitative metrics, such as for relationship quality: needs to end, needs improvement, improving, satisfying, fantastic.

Let’s use an example. Say you have tickets to Disney World, and you’re helping your kids achieve their dreams of going there. In driving terms, you’ve turned their dream into a Goal to visit Disney World, with your odometer as your success metric, and the date on your tickets is your deadline. When your kids ask, “are we there yet” they are stakeholders asking you to report on the success criteria.

Empower your dreams by rewriting them into goals with metrics and a deadline. Like we did for dreams, let’s get the answers down on paper.  Writing your goals greatly improves the chance you’ll accomplish them. Mark Victor Hansen, the author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” wrote about the importance of writing to create action, summarizing it with

Don’t think it, ink it.

Ink Your Goals

Start with your list of prioritized dreams, and pick the top three dreams that take at least a few months to years to complete. If your dreams are shorter than that, you can treat those with in your planning and execution phases.

  1. Review and update the reasons that each dream is important to you. Try to get 2-3 reasons per dream. Describe who benefits, why, and how. As you write, think about how you’ll feel, what you can do, who you’re with, and why it matters so much. If any dream is not as important as it first seemed, feel free to modify or replace it.
  2. For each dream, write down how you will know the dream has been achieved. Can you measure your progress or is it simply done or not done?
  3. Take another 5 minutes per dream to list all the necessary steps or obstacles to overcome.
  4. Review the list of steps and obstacles to overcome. Rewrite them in a positive rather than negative form. From this you build a set of 2-5 subgoals called milestones. For each milestone, give it a deadline. A milestone can be proper subgoal, such as “rent a location for my business in town, and on the road to the slopes” for the goal “operate a successful ski shop in 5 years.” The deadline could be the beginning of summer. A performance milestone is one like “breakeven in year three.”
  5. Share your goals for feedback and commitment from your stakeholders who will benefit and the people whose cooperation you need. After taking their feedback, write a commitment to the goals that you share with the people who are impacted. This last step helps you stick to your goals and milestones; recruiting stakeholders and allies ensures you have the emotional support and resources you need, and it creates a promise to them that will help drive you when Powell’s “sweat, determination and hard work” appear.

Next Steps

Stick your list on your fridge door. Put a review of your milestones on the due date. Learn to make a habit of reviewing your progress as you plan your next batch of work on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly pattern. You’ll learn to do this, the hard work part, in the next post.

This post is in the Chapter on Goal Management. The chapter covers the steps from discovering your dreams, to celebrating their reality. In this chapter we cover a system that integrates five year, one year, quarterly, monthly, and daily planning, execution, assessment, and adjustment so that your dreams become your reality.

Use the steps and posts below to transform your dreams into accomplishments!

  1. Direct Your Life
  2. Discover Your Dreams in 5 Steps
  3. Ready for Your Future? How to Commit to Your Dreams
  4. You are here => Five Steps Turn Dreams Into Goals in One Hour
  5. Ten Challenges to Goal Setting (and how to resolve)
  6. Set Your Quarterly Milestones
  7. Create Your Agile Monthly Plan
  8. Master Taskers Prioritize and Execute
  9. Nine Steps Adjust Your Plans and Improve Your Progress with Your Monthly-Assessment in One Hour
  10. Nine Steps to Celebrate and Learn from Your Quarterly-Assessment in One Hour
  11. Reflect Annually to Celebrate with Loved Ones and Continue Directing Your Future
  12. Read our post, Improve Anything – How to Give Feedback That Works,  and don’t forget to sign up for your free coaching tool.

Image Credit

Edison’s company was said to have tried 10000 ways to make a light bulb before his researchers found a successful design. That’s the hard work, dedication, and sweat that Colin Powell talked about. The image of an Edison light bulb was contributed by Photo by Nakita Cheung and downloaded from unsplash.com with full permission to re-use.