Dreams vs Goals

General info

What is the difference between dreams and goals? Really, what is the difference?

First, let’s figure out what the dictionary says…

Dreams – a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind

Goals – the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Dreams vs Goals

To me, dreams are the big picture, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And goals are the steps you need to take to get that dream to come into your life.  Not that dreams are a bad thing, we need dreams as they give us something to keep striving for. But are they much different than wishes? Wishes are what many people go through life thinking about. Wishing that something new and exciting will happen in their life. But the only way to change the results of your life is to change the way you have been living it.  If you’re tired of getting the same thing you need to make a change.  

Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Statue of Einstein

How do most of us go through life not really knowing what we want? Or just feeling like there is no direction. I know like me, most people dream of winning the lottery so let’s think about that one. It is a dream, there is really no goal you can set that will make that dream come true. Sure you can buy a ticket or even many tickets but that still isn’t a measurable goal to get to.  It’s not like setting a goal of buying $100 worth of tickets by December 31st of this year and I will win. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. It would be nice though, huh?

Goals are good to have and probably the most useful of the three. Simply because they are the only one of the three that you can actually set, measure the results, and get the outcome which you set out for.  What usually happens when you set a goal? You tend to achieve it before the due date. Especially if you focus on it, build toward it. Now goals and dreams can go hand in hand sometimes I believe, wishes not so much.


Kids playing soccer in a shallow pond where goals give us purpose.

For example, a lot of people have a dream of homeownership, that is a dream BUT you can set goals to make that happen. You can set a goal to save x amount of money by such and such a date, pay off certain bills to bring your credit up. These are attainable. I think the shift from being a dream to being a goal is when you start setting measurable benchmarks to get the dream to come true. Once you start planning and generating small goals that dream, no matter how big, becomes the main goal.

Let’s try a mental exercise by picturing a building with no doors or windows.  Now picture a tiki bar on the roof with free margaritas and fun music. Now you want to get to the tiki bar to get the margaritas.  The margaritas are the dream and how can you get to them. Well, you start to build a ladder one rung at a time, that ladder becomes the goals, each rung is a goal to get you to the margaritas! That’s how I see the relationship between dreams and goals.

Dream Big

Sometimes you don’t even really need to do much. For example, Tracey and I had a dream of traveling the country in an RV when we first got married, 20 years ago, read more here. It was a dream we had. This was just a dream that was for retirement. Then a little over a year ago it was brought back up in us when we just decided out of the blue to go to the Hershey RV show. We walked around the show and got excited about the idea again.

So we started to think about how we could make it happen sooner.  We came up with ideas of how and what needed to happen first. The first step was for a remote job so we could have an income (or win the lottery lol). Nothing happened for a while after we had that thought but we just kept plugging along working out the goals to make that dream happen.  Goals or steps in the plan included; get the remote-jobs, get the kids out of school, find the right rig and truck, learn how to use the RV, start planning routes and places we wanted to go see, get the rig, set a date.

Scrabble Goals

During the time we were setting these goals or benchmarks that we knew nothing could happen until after we got remote jobs. I do design and photography so I can do freelance work. But then all of a sudden WHAM! Tracey got an offer for a remote job!

on top of a mountain

We were like holy crapola, this is going to happen sooner than retirement.  Then I got a job at an RV dealer, mostly to learn about RV’s but it just fell into place. I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction, I mean everything in my life has come to me once I quit stressing about the dream coming true and sat back and relaxed. Now it is just a matter of time until our youngest is out of school and we find the perfect rig to start and then which route to take.

What I’d like for you to get out of this is to just dream! Dream big! Put it out into the universe what you want. Then take little bits out by setting goals for things you can actually do NOW to get to that dream.  Dream big, get out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry about how it will happen, put it out there and start taking small bites out of it with attainable goals.

I saw a quote that really resonated with me.

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, drive through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car, and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.”
Ellen Goodman, American journalist

I don’t want normal and I hope you don’t either… Leave a comment of what your dream is and let’s dream together.

Grab a 'nanner and get going

Check out this program from Jack Canfield – Author of the Chicken Soup for the Souls series.


See More Blog Post