A goal is a very specific result that we want to achieve in a precise, future time. It’s an experience not yet lived, although firmly wished. Let’s recall from our first post about goals, that an objective or goal is a personal or perhaps organizational desired end point in development. It is usually endeavored to be reached in finite time by setting deadlines. Albeit goals, dreams and expectations are related concepts, there are important differences that will be discussed further on. As it often occurs with dreams, there are virtually no limits on the number of goals we may set, since goals represent, in essence, states or things that we wish to achieve in the future. Unlike dreams, though, goals require that we define them precisely, and we have to work for them in the present time, right now. Thereby, goals are nearer, within reach.

visualizing goals

Goals and Expectations

We should not confuse goals and expectations. Goals are the concrete and positive result of a fulfilled wish, and they provide satisfaction and success. On its side, expectations are focused on the behavior that we expect from other people. Setting a goal also means directing all our efforts towards achieving the goal, combining several tasks in order to attain it. However, to have an expectation reduces to delegating our wishes to the lucky concurrence of external factors.

Therefore, setting goals helps us to empower strategies, to create effectivity and to dominate the process of achieving whatever thing we wish. Besides, our goals create new opportunities, and improve our capacity for overcoming obstacles and conquering unexpected hurdles. As we move forward and reach the little goals that we had set, we also have the feeling of walking our paths faster, with a boosted self-confidence and a diminishing desire to return to the past. By the way, when we feel little or no desire to return to the past, we can be sure that we have improved as human beings.

Goals and Dreams

As aforesaid, a difference between goals and dreams lies in the time required for reaching them. Goals are closer. Besides, motivation also establishes a notorious difference between goals and dreams. We have more immediate and realistic motivations for reaching goals. On the contrary, dreams’ motivation is typically diffuse, sometimes very unclear.

However, dreams are the ultimate fuel of life, no matter how fuzzy they may be. As life moves on, we will feel the dream, approach the dream, dream the dream… we will be continuously reshaping the dream. Dreams are, after all, made of a very malleable matter. In life, we walk towards the sun, and our sun is composed of just dreams. Every step toward such sun kills a doubt. And each of such steps is a goal.

Organizing our Goals

We have to prepare a few lists for visualizing our goals and, in general, our action and thinking paths. When we write down our goals in a list, we are defining and outlining a plan to reach the goals. We are committing ourselves to fulfilling them based on practical aspects. On the contrary, the list of dreams contains relatively remote possibilities, excepting perhaps the first or second dream. In order to reach the first dream of the list, we have to conquer a chain of goals. In short, goals are the intermediate steps required for achieving the ultimate objective of your life.

Indeed, dreams and goals are different things. Nevertheless, both are descriptions of things that we want to get. Thereby, the lists of dreams and goals are complementary, and they are intertwined for the same objectives. Remember that in order to satisfy a dream, we first have to satisfy the goals linked to such dream. These are the documents we should elaborate for visualization:

  1. List of Dreams: It’s obvious. Here we include all our dreams… It doesn’t matter how absurdly improbable they seem. Include everything you want: from being immortal to buying a skyscraper.
  2. List of Goals: In this list we will include, in order of preference, the different intermediate goals required to reach our desired dreams. Once we have written down our goals, we have to imagine ourselves fulfilling such goals. Use your imagination.
  3. Plan of Actions: It’s the ordered and detailed description of the steps we have to follow in order to achieve the goals. We will write down the best ways for achieving them and all the guidelines that we have to follow in a progressive and adequate approach. You should think of alternative paths for the same goal… look for options… we should always have something up our sleeve.
  4. Success: Do yourself a favor and define here, with simple and clear words, what success means for you. It is the ultimate achievement of desire. What do you want? Money? Family? Health? Education? Fame? Just a nice job? Tell me.

In my seminars, I often know people who think that elaborating all these documents is very easy. Indeed, they look deceptively simple. But this is the truth: they are complicated documents. Further, it’s very improbable that you can say at some point: “this document is finally done and no more modifications will be needed”. Wrong. These are very mutable documents (you may easily require years to arriving to a completely satisfactory definition of success… you will be reshaping your dreams…) Other people think that they don’t have to write anything… that all the required data is in their head. I already wrote in Choosing a Topic for your Thesis:

Don’t be like those students of Algebra who think that only reading proofs, without writing proofs, suffices to approve the final exam.

So, don’t be like the bad students. But, why these documents are not easy? It’s just because creating such documents requires a lot of introspection. They require that we know ourselves very well. If we do not know ourselves very well, the documents are a good tool for learning… but such learning is not straightforward. For the List of Dreams, you first have to sincerely recognize what your true dreams are. For the List of Goals you have to analyze your dreams, and identify the activities required for achieving them. You have to think about actors, resources and deadlines. The Plan of Actions is really hard. You have to think like a fine strategist, considering probable and improbable possibilities. You have to anticipate defeats. You have to harness victories. Regarding Success… well, you have to discover the kind of human being you are right now. However, we have to create the documents, and simply recognize that they may be imperfect… don’t worry about that. Just write.

Visualizing Goals

Here is the key: visualizing is linking ideas and facts. Once the documents are completed, we can proceed to visualization. We can also think of visualization as the process of creating a mental image of what we want to happen, as if it had already happened. How good we are on this activity depends on the level of training of our minds. Other little secret for you: as every expert in motivation knows, the previous presented documents are really so imperfect that they cannot be used as guidelines for visualization… their true purpose is untangling the mind… the questions raised by such documents are what really matter.

During visualization, we use resources stored in the brain. Our unconscious mind accumulates the experiences. Thereafter, all our systems use the unconscious data as a reference basis for conscious and unconscious behavior. There is no doubt that the speed in achieving the goals is related to the clarity and frequency of our visualizations. A clear mental image allows for our minds to detect the new opportunities and avoid dangers. This way, the unconscious’ data provide more resources and reflexes for acting.

Viewing a goal is like sending an order to the unconscious. We demmand it to release its full capacity to achieve our objectives. Unfortunately, it is not the only thing that our mind will receive. When we knock on  unconscious mind’s door, we stir it up, and it’s very probable that latent fears suddenly awake. Such negative information can seriously block the action. Although there are no scientific instruments for measuring the power of visualization, I have no doubt about the importance of mental images of success for a happy life. If our goal, for instance, is getting a promotion, and we continually think about this goal, our mind and body will act toward such wish, and we will be promoted!

We must not forget that the practice of visualization is of great help to achieve our objectives. Once you grasp the habit of constantly visualizing the goals you want to fulfill, you’ll notice that your enthusiasm and self-confidence improve. Thus, the mind remains alert and awake, to detect all possible options, and fully complete the goal. The practice of visualization is recommended for those who intend to achieve success and personal satisfaction.

Goals, as Life, are a Cycle

Finally, please notice a simple yet vital fact: a goal implies a change of state. A goal never dies, it just transforms into another goal. As life itself, a goal is not an end point… it’s a cycle, in which we are continually revisiting the extreme points and the intermediate steps.

Thanks for reading. Please, let me know your thoughts on this. Take care!