By Paula Randant, LCSW 1/25/2011
Often we spend our life in reaction mode. We react to the words of others. We react to situations. We react to opportunities. When we react we put the presenter in charge of our life and our plans. The original stimulus/action/thought are not ours, we are REACTING. Taking action to plan what we want to participate in or achieve in life gives us control over our life. Being in control requires dreaming, thinking, self evaluation, planning and then goal setting. Reacting is often easier. It requires no advance work but it denies us achievement under our own terms. It also often leaves us not going after personal dreams. To ‘shoot for the moon’ you have to dream of some achievement first. Often we set aside our dreams because they seem far off, too difficult or others don’t agree with them. There are many excuses: it takes too long, it won’t pay enough, other’s are smarter, it costs too much, I don’t have the time to study, going to school is hard, I’m too old, I’m too young. I’m sure you can think of even more excuses.
Dreaming is critical. What do I want to be, to do, to experience or how do I want to live opens up our imagination and the scope of possibility. Dreams can be personal. Should I marry? Do I want to have children? Should I buy a house? Should I go to college? Where should I go to school? What type of life style do I aspire to? I want to play football. I want to play golf. I want to write a book. I want to dance or sing. I want to garden. I want to join a church. Be a politician. Be a Senator. Have a good job. Have a career. Be the best attorney. Be the best mom. Be President of the PTA. Travel the world. Make home made bread. Be an astronaut or be a professional athlete. Our dreams can change over time. As we become more mature and have more life experience we may change our dreams and expectations of life and ourselves.
Thinking is next. When we think we are in the evaluation and gathering information phase. We learn about our dream in practical terms.
Next we need to self evaluate. What are our gifts, talents and personal resources that we bring to the table? Am I intelligent, how hard am I willing to work to achieve my dream? What will hinder me? Not enough money, illness, and responsibilities that already exist in my life may play a factor in my success. Can I overcome the challenges that could get in my way? This phase is very important and needs honest methodical consideration and possibly some outside consultation.
On we go to planning and goal setting. I want to become a baker and open my own business. Goal stated now you need to plan and set interim goals. What do I need? A license, education, training, financial help to achieve my long term goal. Steps that can be short term goals come next. I need training, what is it, when would I start how much does it cost? How much do I need to know to move forward to the next step?
Does achieving the goal of owning my own business as a baker mean that I am done? Achieving my stated goal is just the beginning. Now I live my dream and set knew short and long term goals. Most of us have many goals not just one. I’m now living my dream, my goal but now I have to work to get good at my dream.
The growth and excitement of life comes from setting goals, achieving goals and becoming better and better at what we do and at who we are as individuals.