Dreams keep you up all night. Goals keep you busy all day. There’s a difference.
You’re likely thinking about things you’d like to change in the new year. We call them “resolutions.” But for most of us, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs when it comes to hopes and dreams for the New Year. In fact, that’s kind of the problem. We are rarely resolute…we just sort of wish things work out to our liking. We hope we get in shape, we hope we read through the Bible in a year, we hope our organization or small business grows by ten or twelve percent.
Big dreams. Not much realization of those dreams.
I can be quite the dreamer. Like a lot of little boys, I dreamed about being a professional baseball player. What I didn’t do was work hard at the skill of, you know, playing baseball. I dreamed about being a star in the NBA. But when my alarm went off and I had the choice between shooting 500 shots before school or sleeping another half hour, I normally pressed snooze.
I would lay in bed all night, dreaming about the winning shot or the home run in the bottom of the 9th, but I didn’t put the work in. Unsurprisingly, I’m neither a professional baseball player nor a basketball star.
That’s the difference between dreams and goals. Dreams keep you up all night, starry eyed and hopeful. But goals keep you busy all day, and reaching them usually requires a lot of sweat and effort and sacrifice.
Sleepless nights are great for ideas. But the daytime (and sometimes the nighttime, too) is for work. That’s how dreams become goals and goals get accomplished.
Quickly, here are three ways your dreams can become goals this year.
You know this. Saying you want to get in shape is a far different priority than joining a gym. Joining a gym and making time in your schedule to go to the gym are vastly different things. Saying you want to get in shape is ambiguous. Deciding you want to be able to do ten chin-ups without dying is a goal you can measure. Telling yourself you want to get in shape probably will end with you not getting in shape. Telling three friends and a fitness coach that you want to get in shape usually ends with you getting in shape. The main way dreams become goals is with advanced, specific planning.
Dreams are super fun because they aren’t hard to have. Goals are hard to have. I’ve already said quite a bit about this, and you’re not an idiot, so let’s leave it at this: If you want your dream to become a goal, stop thinking about it and do something.
They say if you’re 100% sure, you’re too late. Maybe you’ve been losing sleep over starting a new business or an invention has been nagging you for months. Maybe you’ve been thinking about a change in your career. You are losing sleep over it. But you’re at a crossroads. You can either file it away with other things you always thought were cool but never tried, or you can go for it.
You could leap before you look for once in your life.
A couple years back my wife and I had an idea of starting a new nonprofit. I’d never started an organization, but I couldn’t shake the idea. I thought about mission statements and logos and fundraising strategy and people we could help and ways we could make it all work. But I had a full-time ministry, two kids, and plenty of other stuff to do. I had no clue what we were getting into.
We did it anyway. Two years later, and because of the generosity of people who caught the vision, we have built a church/school building in India, funded a nutrition center in the Dominican Republic, drilled a clean water well, bought over 300,000 vitamins for malnourished kids, paid the rent for 2016 for a safe house where girls who have been trafficked are healing, and much more. We’ve raised and given away about $120,000 in two years. So believe me when I say this: Don’t wait until you’re ready to reach your goal before you make it a goal. You’ll never be ready.
Listen to me, and let this sink in.
Do not file your dream in the dream drawer! Make it a goal. Make the goal happen.
You can do that by planning, working, and risking. You’re not ready. But if you plan well and work hard, you’ll figure stuff out as you go. Your dream is worth risking for. And you’ll sleep better because you’ll be busting it all day. Until your next dream comes along, anyway…
What dream of yours needs to stay out of the dream drawer in 2016?
Titus Benton is a student pastor all the time, an Executive Director in his spare time, and a kinda-sorta author in his spare-spare time. Hit him up on Twitter or Facebook, and subscribe to the blog for more on Jesus, ministry, culture, and other important stuff.