Earlier this week I visited my old Broadcast Journalism professor to mentor his class. While I was helping one of his students with recording a story, they asked me:
“So what’s your dream?”
My response? I don’t have dreams. I have goals that I spend every day working hard to achieve.
They looked at me with bright eyes and a satisfied smile, as if my words would be added to the dogma they’d live by for the rest of their college career.
I made a mistake. Delivering that line felt like I was handing them a page out of a secret guide to being the ultimate go-getter, but here’s the thing: without a dream, what exactly are our goals guiding us towards?
So let’s talk about dreams and goals.
There are various ways that dreams have been defined, and the one thing all definitions have in common is possibility. Our dreams are the summit of our passions, where potential is unbound and radiating like a dazzling beacon. We look at our dreams and see a destination.
How are goals different?
When you set your sights on a destination and decide to take steps on how to get there, those steps are your goals. Goals are the journey to our destination. They’re the bridge to our dreams by way of our actions.
Our dreams become goals when we put in the work to achieve them.
Every day I wake up and try to ensure that within the time that I have, I find some way to put in work towards goals I’ve set for myself. I’m in a constant state of working towards something, and while that makes me feel really good about myself (who doesn’t like to toot their own horn about working hard and being productive?) there are moments where what I’m working towards starts to feel like clockwork. Not the kind of clockwork where it’s a cycle of knowing what’s coming next, but it feels more like a cycle of wash, dry, fold, and repeat.
When I’m in that cycle, it takes me a while to realize that I’m there. My goals manifest themselves from the passions that I have, so when you have to face the fact that you’ve been treating your passions like a clockwork habit it’s no fun at all. It’s really easy at this point for me to succumb to frustration from the unfortunate cycle of monotony that I’ve put myself in by trying so hard to achieve my goals.
I was reading a blog post about goals vs. dreams by science fiction writer Hugh Howey, (it’s an excellent read, take a look at it here.) he made a good point about goals and dreams that really stuck out to me:
Motivation comes from inspiration. Goals are the mortals bred from the gods of dreams. Bound to this earth, mortal goals still have godlike blood flowing through their veins, and so they can do amazing, superhuman things. We shouldn’t deny them that.
This point was all the reminder I needed of why I have these goals that I work like a maniac to achieve. I dream of extraordinary things for myself, and although not all of my dreams will manifest themselves into realities, the goals they’ve inspired are what pushes me to try my hardest to live out as many of my dreams as I can.
Your goals are important, but don’t get lost in the midst of working towards them and forget what inspired them.
Remember to dream.