Goals and Dreams Are Two Very Different Things


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There’s a misconception about goals that you’ve no doubt accepted as true. This misconception is that goals represent some future outcome.

Future outcomes are affected by time, changing facts, changing circumstances and unexpected variables that pop up. Future outcomes are actually dreams in disguise, not goals. And this is precisely why so many fail to achieve their goals. They have been defining their goals all wrong.

In my research (Rich Habits Study) I learned that a goal is only a goal if it has two things:

  1. 100% Certainty and
  2. Physical Activity

This is the formula I discovered in five-year study of self-made millionaires. In fact, 99% of these millionaires stated that dreams and goals were not the same thing.

Future outcomes do not meet the definition because future outcomes are not 100% certain. You can’t control a future outcome. Too many things could go wrong. Only actions, or behaviors, that you can control are goals.

When you define your goals properly, they act like an elevator, pulling you closer towards the realization of each individual dream.

As an example, let’s say that want to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). That’s a dream, not a goal, because it represents some future outcome.

To determine the actual goal, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do I have the abilities needed to study for the CPA exam? There are certain skills and knowledge that you must obtain in order to even sit for the CPA exam, such as 150 hours of specific college credits and a degree in accounting. Do you meet those requirements? If the answer is yes, then you can move on to question #2.
  2. Can I perform the action required? Do I have the time to study for the exam? You learn from others who have taken the CPA exam that there is a huge time commitment. It requires, on average, two hours of study every day for six months and a very long exam – 14 hours of exams, broken down into four parts that you must complete over an 18 month period. Do you have 2 hours to study every day for the next six months and can you get it done in 18 months? If the answer is yes, then you have your goal:

Study 2 hours every day for the next six months and take the exam

The key to achieving goals, and thus realizing each one of your dreams, is to get clear on exactly what your goals are. Goals are not some future outcome. Goals are actions that require specific skills and knowledge. You must first determine if you have the prerequisite specific skills and knowledge before you define your goal. If you don’t, then you must redefine your CPA goal:

Obtain the skills and knowledge that I need in order to sit for the CPA exam

Once you understand the true definition of a goal, all goals then become 100% achievable. Each dream, such as becoming a CPA, requires that you achieve specific goals. Some dreams require that you achieve multiple goals. Once you achieve those goals, your dream is realized. Then you define your next dream and create goals around that dream.

You dream life is the realization of multiple dreams. It’s like a ladder. Each time you realize a dream, you climb another rung on the ladder. When you realize all of your dreams, you reach the top of that ladder. Your dream life awaits you at the top of that ladder. Achieving goals allows you to climb that ladder. Goals are your transportation system to your dream life.





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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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