“A dream written down with a date becomes a GOAL. Breaking down your goal into small steps makes it a PLAN. A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.” ~Greg Reid
All of us have big dreams. The next step if you are serious about realizing your dreams is setting a goal and creating a plan. Once that’s done, start to take steps.
However, we have missed an important step in our journey to dream-creating.
For me personally, this is a step that took two decades. And my first clue came from my kids’ bedtime story book, of all places!
A lonely, sad whale lived in the deep ocean. He spent his time searching for new shiny objects and never felt fulfilled. One day, when he stumbles upon beautiful coral reefs, a smart little crab asks him:
“You are the whale that always wants more. But what are you really wanting it for?”
Although we seem to be able to live our lives setting and pursuing our goals, it is not uncommon to stop and ask ourselves why we are doing this. How do we envision the house, new job, promotion, or car?
If we stopped to reflect and were honest with our selves, all of us would find a common answer. Our goals and dreams are often based on the same human need to be meaningful: To feel valued, validated. Accepted. Loved.
Our need to be accepted by others is the main reason for most of our goals.
A missing step in achieving an unattached goal
The missing ingredient in dream-living is having a goal that’s unattached. For two simple reasons, it is so important. We can only have one finish line photo if we have both goals and the desire to be great enough.
- Standing on the podium, the winner medal wrapped around your neck. But, you’re not satisfied with your achievements.
- It’s not the end, but you can still get there. “I’m a failure”Sign around your neck and you will feel a greater sense of self-worth and validation.
Stop the endless quest for more
Just like in the children’s book The Whale Who Wanted More, a typical pattern is to chase goal after goal, finding that we are never satisfied for long and continually hatching plans for the next shiny object to chase.
This makes perfect sense when you consider that the goals were created together with the desire for validation, significance and acceptance. Because if we don’t fill those needs first and instead use our goals to meet them, there is no car, house, promotion, or partner that will. We will continue to look for the next item that meets those needs.
Stop the self-sabotage
My MO was self-sabotage for many years. As an ironsmith bending his red-hot metal, I beat my purpose to fulfill what was lacking in self-worth. I also craved validation and acceptance. Only when I reached my purpose-related goal would I be satisfied.
And here’s the kicker—I not only needed to live my purpose in order to fulfill my need for significance, I also had to swim against the undercurrent of feeling like I wasn’t capable of actually doing it.
The fear of failure was so real, because if I failed at this I wouldn’t get the validation and worth that I needed. So whenever I felt that failure was imminent, I would quit and create a plan for reaching my goal. In doing so I would sabotage myself. I had a new way of looking at the world. It was better to dream about a possible future than it is.
What I Learned from the Question that Opened my Eyes About My Attached Goals
For twenty-years, I lived with the idea of serving a noble purpose. And though that was very much part of my drive and work over the years, it was subtly intertwined with the need for recognition and “becoming someone.” And it had slowly and silently transformed into a shackle for self-worth and significance.
One month after having read the bedtime story to my children, I received a call with a question. This question split my tug-of war rope in half. A question that put my goal on one hand and left my self-worth safe on the opposite. It allowed me to separate, move, and be myself. I was able to pursue my passions and goals, without emotional agendas.
It was the magical question:
If you don’t get what you want, what would that mean about you?
I was shocked when that question came up for me.
I’d be a failure.
It seemed like a simple mathematical truth to me: don’t achieve my life-long goal equals failure. Is there any other possible answer?
There is one right way to answer this question, and it’s not the one I gave. And it wasn’t the one I gave. It sounded easy. There was nothing complicated about it, but it just didn’t sit, settle, or disperse in any way. I could see it waiting patiently for some action.
It was a mere week later that something actually happened.
My typical routine was what I used to do. I knew how I should approach my goals. Then I realized that I had failed.
Then, one day I remembered. if you don’t get what you want, what would that mean about you?
And, most importantly, the correct answer was what I remembered:
You did read it correctly. It is the right answer. There is nothing. It doesn’t change who you really are if you can’t achieve what you desire. You’re still who you are.
It doesn’t matter if you achieve your goal, you are still worthy. You’re still worthy of your goals, regardless of whether you reach them. A huge obstacle is when we attach too much value to the goal we have set. And we end up chasing that goal or that dream for all the wrong reasons: so that we don’t feel like a failure; so that we feel loved, accepted, and recognized.
Your goals do not complete you. No matter how you accomplish them, your goals are not complete.
You know you have an unattached end goal when you realize that what you don’t get is not important to you. Unattached goals are more liberating than those that you might have thought. You’re free to chase your goal without any preconceived notions and can even enjoy the process of achieving it.
A dream combined with a date is a GOAL. Breaking down your goal into small steps makes it a PLAN. Your dreams will come true when you have a plan that is supported by ACTION.
A dream that isn’t attached to self-worth and ambitions are the true dream.
About Angharad Davis
Angharad Davies, a social entrepreneur and psychologist with an MA in Psychology is her name. After her twenty-year quest to live her purpose, she has come to realize that the biggest mistake most people make when searching for their purpose is that they’re asking the wrong question! And you can find out what question you should be asking in Angharad’s free workshop. For more information on living and finding your purpose, follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
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Tiny Buddha published The Missing Step to Making Your Dream Come True.