Thursday, July 09, 2009

Goals vs Dreams

I've been goal setting for years. My very first taste of this tantalising exercise was way back in the days when my daughter was at primary school. Goodness knows why I went along to a parents' session that involved goal setting - all I remember was the part of the course on developing your own photos in a lab! But many years later, I found the notes I'd made at the time and was astounded to find that a few of the things I'd put down back then (such as "attend a writing conference in the US") had been achieved. If you'd asked me what I'd written down, I would have had no idea.

Later, I worked in a community arts centre and there I ventured into my second round of goal setting. The session was new to me, but familiar to nearly everyone now. 1. What would you like to achieve one day. 2. What do you want to achieve in 3 years. 3. What would you put at the top of the list if you had six months to live! I kept the handouts from that session, but not the goals I set. However, the two experiences stayed with me, and I have done a range of goal setting exercises ever since. Usually around February or March each year, after the initial New Year's resolutions have worn off and I can be practical about it.

Except, a few years down the track now, I have been finding the whole goal setting thing a total yawn. A list of jobs. An obvious list of stuff I already know I have to do (including deadlines) so why bother going through the motions? I've been giving this a bit of thought over the past few months, in the face of what looked like just another list of THINGS TO DO, and have come to some conclusions.

1. Deadlines and things contracted (with future due dates) don't belong on a Goals list.
2. Jobs such as cleaning out your office don't belong on a Goals list either - if only because this will be an ongoing job that will keep me busy until Infinity.
3. Jobs and commitments that involve other people don't belong on a Goals list.
4. What might help to re-inspire you about Goals is to change the word to Dreams, and then have a good think about the difference.
5. Dreams involve inspiration, excitement, anticipation and happy planning. They involve little steps, each one of which makes you feel good. Trips to France are included in Dreams. Completing a revision by 30 June, or fixing up your tax records, are absolutely not!
6. Dreams should include a couple of things that are wonderful to contemplate, but probably unreachable in practical terms. The exciting bit is when you start to see them become reachable.

So I've thrown away any of my Goals that sound like Jobs. I've put plenty of Dreams back on the list, things that I want to do just for me and no one else. Things that make me happy just to think about them. Things that don't rely on or respond to anyone else except me. I've been to France (and that was a dream come true!) - maybe now I'll start thinking about South America ... or Alaska ... or Canada ... or ...

1 comment:

Lorraine said...

Sherryl, I like the practicality of crossing off the must-be-dones from your goals list and looking at your dreams. The list is immediately incredibly shorter; and we all know the must-be-dones, anyway. Just thinking about what I'd like to do made me feel 'dreamy'. The name Dreams List is a sweeter, happier and much more contented way of looking at things, and, because the seed is sown, in the end, they're probably attainable - like your trip to France.