Last week, one of my coaching clients told me that while she was walking her new puppy one evening the previous week she had this overwhelming realization that stopped her in her tracks that she was actually living in the exact house and neighborhood that she'd always wanted to live in. After separating from her husband, she moved into the house without consciously thinking about, writing it down as a goal, putting it on her vision board or even realizing that she had reached it until MONTHS later. It was simply a dream, a vision in her head, something she occasionally mentioned to her children and friends.
I had a similar experience last week as I was prepping for the coaching call with her while on vacation with my family. I paused for a moment as I was setting up the call - This is the kind of life I've always wanted! Leisure time with the family at the beach with coaching calls sprinkled in. It was a dream fulfilled, maybe not to it's fullest extent because there's much more to come, but definitely a good start. The realization hit me in an almost spiritual way, much like (I think) it did my client. It felt like an a-ha moment, like how did I just realize this and how did this happen? Like walking into your surprise birthday party hands over your mouth and repeating OMG!
I've been contemplating the difference between dreams and goals ever since. My Google research shows that most people think that dreams are intangible, airy fairy, pie in the sky and mostly a waste of time. Goals; however, are tangible, action-based, SMART, and worthwhile. The message I heard from my research was loud and clear: Dreams will get you nowhere and goals are how you really get shit done.
My questioning of dreams and goals has been furthered in my new role. On our first day we were all asked to write down 3 personal goals for the next 30-60-90 days. I decided I wanted to start running again, at least 10 minutes 2x's per week for my 30 day goal, book Chris and I's trip to Italy for my 60 day goal, and book one more coaching client to have a full coaching roster for my 90 day goal. Tangible, actionable, achievable but a bit of a stretch. Just by clarifying and writing those 3 things down, I've run 10-15 minutes 5 days/week (and everyday while on vacation!) and I booked our trip to Italy (learn more here).
I wasn't sure what angle to take with this post, or what the overarching message would be - but I do know what my question is: "What's the best way to get what we want? By dreaming or by setting goals?"
Then I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King and his "I Have a Dream" speech. He did NOT say, I have a Goal. In fact, it sounds super-silly to say that at all, He said "I have a dream" over and over again to paint a picture of a world beyond what he'd be able to create on his own. This vision propelled us through the Civil Rights movement, and though we still have a ways to go to get to the FULL realization of his dream, we are further along than we would be if he would've said, "I have a goal."
Dreams inspire us.
Dreams open our eyes to something that we can barely imagine.
Dreams paint a picture of a vision of a better us, a better life.
Dreams are magical.
And while I don't want you to get stuck in dream land, I do want you to practice dreaming more than doing. Goals are all about checking stuff off our lists and many of us have already been conditioned to do this fairly well. But have you written out 100 dreams or your bucketlist of what you want to achieve between now and the time you leave the Earth? Have you gone all pie in the sky to paint a picture of the BIG life you want to create and the legacy you want to leave?
Dreams require us to be a bigger and more evolved versions of ourselves, to live out our life mission and purpose and to make a difference in the lives of others. They are riskier and scarier than goals because they aren't immediately tangible and not something we can just check off our list. Instead they are ongoing, inspiring visions that catch us off guard when they manifest, much in the same way my client and I were shocked to realize we had achieved a dream without doing the traditional action-based steps of reaching a goal.
So, I close this blog by posing the question to you both for you to answer in the comments (because I'm curious) AND for you to continue asking the Universe: "What's the best way to get what we want? By dreaming or by setting goals?"
I help people be true to their inner calling and lead the life they love.