What follows is a part of a simple formula that came to me for achieving dreams. It’s called, “Dreams, Goals, Commitments and Consequences.”
Dreams are a big picture of what we wish to accomplish in our lives. They are large and almost out of reach. Dreams keep us moving forward and give us a reason to get up and out of bed each morning. They are what motivates action forward and provides growth. Without dreams, life may become mundane. A couple of good exercises to help build awareness of dreams: first ask the question, “What would I do if I absolutely knew that I could not fail?” Next, practice dieing. That’s right. Lie down in bed and pretend that you are about to take your last breath and pass away. Look back on your life and ask yourself, “What do I wish that I had accomplished?”
An important note: dreams are not set in stone. They may change as life progresses. Remember the purpose of dreams is to move us forward. Attaining your dreams is secondary to being propelled forward and learning by them.
I have a few dreams: to be healthy, to teach, learn to play the piano, and to realize a few projects (Internet related) that will allow me to use my skills for the upliftment of humanity.
Once dreams are active, goals can be set as milestones to the attainment of dreams. Goals are more readily attainable than dreams and can give a sense of accomplishment. Once a goal is reached, the next one can be set. My suggestion is that goals be set anywhere from two months to five years. Like dreams, goals may change as we move towards them. Remember, they are just milestones on the way to dreams. They are means to an end and not an end in themselves. The movement towards a goal may reveal a different path towards the dream. Changing the path is OK, just as long as there is still movement towards the dream, and it is not just running around is circles. Knowing the difference is the real trick. A men’s team can help with that.
My goals, to accomplish the above dreams: run Olympic distance triathlons, look into tutoring (me the tutor), and get my home ready for my piano (which is currently at my father’s). Note, I have not set any goals towards the realization of my projects and interestingly enough, I have not been moving forward with that very important dream.
Commitments are sizable, measurable action items that can be completed towards achievement your goals. Unlike dreams and goals, commitments are solid. If you make a commitment, keep it. For this reason, the time-line for accomplishing commitments should be short, perhaps a week to a year. It really depends on the individual and their life’s stability. I have a simple statement, “I do not have a right to make a commitment for the person that I will be in the future.” For this reason I keep my commitments short so they will not interfere with the person that I will become. Anything longer than what that may be I call a goal.
Goals are not commitments. We are committed to the progress towards the goals and not the goals themselves. We need a little flexibility or we run the risk of living a false, unhealthy life or living from our heads as we grow and change. An example of this is my triathlon goal; it turns out my leg is injured and I can not run on it now. I do not know the extent of this injury or if it will be overcome, but if it cannot I will need to set another goal towards the accomplishment of my dream of being healthy. If I treated this goal like a commitment or like the end rather than a means to an end, I could get myself in trouble.
I do have a few commitments towards my goals. I’ve committed to exercising (bike riding or running) every day of the week. I had a commitment to have my bathroom complete by a certain date as a part of getting my home ready for my piano. Interesting, I did not make any commitments towards my goal of looking into tutoring and that is the one that I have not been moving forward with.
Consequences are a part of our culture in EBNoM that I have resisted for a long time. They felt to me like something being imposed upon me. The result was that I did not take my commitments very seriously. Consequences are a tool for keeping us accountable for our commitments. A consequence is some action that will have a sting to it that we do as a result of not keeping our word and fulfilling our commitment. They provide the extra motivation towards the fulfillment of the commitment. There can also be positive consequences, a reward for fulfilling your commitment. It really depends on the commitment and the individual but I’ve found that positive consequences are not as affective with me as the ones that give a sting.
Consequences need to come from within and they should only be applied when really dedicated to commitments. If not dedicated to the commitments, best not to make them at all. Call them a goal, but without solid commitments and solid consequences, goals and dreams may not have any fuel. If that’s the case, all they will accomplish in life is feelings of guilt and low self esteem as they sit off in the distance, unattainable. When dedicated to commitments using consequences as additional motivation becomes easy. Chances are there will not be any suffering with the consequence if the dedication is there.
Regarding my consequences above, if I do not exercise every day, I buy my team dinner. I did not set a consequence for finishing my bathroom project by a certain date. Is it odd that I did not meet that commitment?
In conclusion, I’ll add one more piece to the formula. I’ll call it the glue … the glue that holds it all together. This glue is love. Dreams, goals consequences and commitments that stem out of our love seem to me to be the most worthy. In contrast to this would be dreams, goals commitments and consequences that come from ego (trying to prove oneself worthy), or an outside source (trying to live up to other’s expectations). When coming from our ego or an outside source, dreams, goals, commitments and consequences, will still provide movement forward and growth, but towards what? That really is the question.
By the time this article is published I will have revised some of my goals and commitments mentions above. I will have set goals with my team towards the fulfillment of my Internet project dreams. I will have set commitments with consequences for those goals. My bathroom project has been completed. So has the closet project. Now the last project I have to complete before my home is ready for my piano is to redo the wooden floors. I will have set goals towards that. The teaching? I may put that on hold for a while.