Monday, August 6, 2012

Understanding Goals and Dreams

As a writer, goals and dreams are crucial for us to continue working day in and day out on projects that, on some days, seem impossible. We need these. They are the driving force for what we do. But, with that said, I think it is important that we take the time to really make sure we understand the difference between these two. Unfortunately, I hear too often writers that confuse the two. The result, in far too many of the cases, is a disappointment and a sense of failure.

I did some digging on line and came up with a couple of ideas that I think really make the point clear.

"The difference between a dream and a goal is that a dream is simply a fantasy, something you daydream about, but never actively pursue. A goal, on the other hand, is a concrete thing in which you set into motion the steps in which to obtain it." (

There were several others out there but this one really seemed to capture the essence of what we want to look at here. Essentially, when we talk about dreams, these are things that would be really cool IF we get them. These are the emotional things that we hold on to. But the key is that, with many dreams, there are just a lot of external factors that are potentially working against you. In other words, with many dreams we have, we can't necessarily control the outcome.

Goals, on the other hand, are, as this definition put it, are "concrete." In other words, these are things that we take definite steps toward achieving. These may be short-term or long-term goals, but we are in control of each of the steps.

For writers, I hear authors say that their goal is to be a New York Times Best Selling author. This is really a dream and not a goal. Why do I say this? Because, in the end, there aren't specific things you can necessarily do to achieve this goal. It is based on the readers and the sales, and the publishers and the distribution and... I think you get the idea.

We can use these "dreams" however, to push us and drive us as a motivating force to do better with our writing and careers, but we cannot control that outcome.

But, using that as a motivational tool, we can create goals. If you dream of some day potentially being that Best Seller, how do you want to get better? You create goals?

  • I will finish this book in x number of months. 
  • I will join a writing group by [insert month] and get feedback
  • I will start submitting projects by x date. 
  • You will notice that we are 100% in charge of the goals. 
Now here is the thing we have to remember about goals. Goals have to be something we CAN achieve and not simply WANT to achieve. If we set a goal for ourself that is simply too far out of reach, we will be disappointed in the outcome.

 Writers do this frequently when working with deadlines or contracts. "Sure, I can finish this book in 1 month" and so forth.

 I do not want to tell any of you to get rid of those dreams. Keep them, but remember, that you use those dreams to guide your goals.


No comments:

Post a Comment