How is your evolution going? I hope like me, you sat down and looked at your life and decided what to stop, change or evolve! As we are also a week into the new year, have you stuck to your plans or slipped a day?
Have you made good on your intentions? In this post, I want to discuss an idea that comes up a lot in Personal Development (PD) literature, namely the differences between a goal, a wish, an intention or a dream. These words are used a lot and often overlap, but is there a difference and which is the right word for you to use? Words have power and being a warrior with words in your life is a skill worth mastering.
Let's look firstly at dreams. We are told to dream big and I have often been asked, did you dream of being a singer as a child? My answer is no. I dreamt of being a plastic surgeon! I even had a week of work experience doing such which was inspiring but needless to say, it didn't work out. I never 'dreamed' of becoming a singer, but I feel now, a singer and performer is who I am.
Dreams can be wild and starry, they can be scary and difficult and in PD literature we are encouraged to dream. For many, bring asked to dream or think big, might be the first time in a long time they have done this. We have commitments and pressures and 'life', so taking time out to dream doesn't always seem like a useful idea. But why not? Take a moment for yourself and dare to dream. To create a new world for yourself. What would it look like? Who is in it?
Dreams are important but they cannot be left there. A dream is like a brainstorm. All good.
'Make a wish, before you blow out the candle!', 'You have three wishes!' and 'Your wish is my command' are three phrases we hear a lot throughout childhood from stories, birthdays and in popular media. How often do you really sit down though and wish?
For me, dreams are big picture things, like the whole scene in a movie. Wishes are the desired outcomes and so become more specific. They are beyond the current realm of possibility though. Perhaps they are things we want but we have no idea how they will come to pass.
Many PD authors talk about wishes in terms of again, larger thinking. Not being so blinkered or focused.
Oxford dictionary says a dream is 'a cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal' but also 'an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy'. The dictionary also points out many definitions for Wish but the one I will focus on is 'a desire or hope for something to happen' implying we need to know the something.
'I wish to get to a new job in 2018.' 'I wish I could lose 5kg to fit into the pants I really like.' 'I wish I could be a better spouse or parent or son/daughter to my parents.'
In these statements a wish is a more concrete thing. The amazing organisation 'The Make a Wish Foundation' in Australia make the wishes of children suffering with terrible, often life threatening conditions and diseases a realty. Meeting cherished sports stars, musicians and connecting with famous people are things some kids really wish for, while others wish for certain experiences that the foundation makes a reality. If you ask any child, what do you wish for, they will think of something. Adults were once children. When did you stop wishing?
Perhaps a little more adult sounding, intentions are those activities we make a commitment to doing. We become accountable to someone. At least to ourselves. We write down our intentions as nice statements, 'I want to make more money in 2018.' Good intention, but where does this leave us?
'He had great intentions' is a phrase often used when people don't succeed at something. He meant well, but just didn't cut it.
Intentions are for me like statements without actions. Perhaps when drilling down on dreams and getting specific about wishes, we can then come to intentions. These are the statements that we want to do something...... But what now. We haven't taken action. The behaviour is defined which is good, but in what way.
This is where goals come in. Actually writing them down, what you are going to do to inact your intentions? Specifically. E.g. Intention - I will you make more money in 2018? E.g. Goal - I will find 10 new clients by June 1 by cold calling 10 people every week. This is specific and measureable and I am sure fits more of the SMART ideals that people talk about.
I have described in my opinion, based on my reading, the differences between all four of these words, but I would encourage you to think further about incorporating ALL of these words and activities into your life. Take the time to dream up new dreams, whether we go further with them or not. Be a kid again and just imagine, brainstorm or conjure up something new. Make wishes from these dreams, things that are within some realm of possibility. Why couldn't you visit Antarctica someday? As long as the wish is not impossible and future focused, why not! Create intentions from some of your best wishes and dreams. I intend to run a marathon in the next 5 years. I feel like a could be an Ironman or deliver a TED talk. It doesn't mean you will, but you will then think about goals. Perhaps you just take one step forward and go and buy running shoes. This is a good start towards an Ironman. Join Toastmasters on your road to TED talks.
Years ago I rode my bicycle a lot. 9000kms in one year in fact and I liked to ride everywhere. Soon people came to me inspired and said, I would like to also start riding but I can't do 100kms in a day like you. I would always respond, 'Do you think I started with 100kms?' No way. I had a dream to be a cyclist and a wish to ride long distances and set about with the intention to ride 100km in a single ride. My goal though when I was riding became, I will just do the first 20km. I knew I had 20km in me, then I would go the next 20 and so on. Over time, I went from short rides of 20km in 1.5 hours, to 5 hours rides, hitting 100km. After a few of these I entered a couple of 100km ride events in Australia and had fun really surprising myself, doing a marathon of cycling. The feeling was great!
I no longer ride as much here in Vienna, perhaps because I achieved my dream without knowing it, but perhaps because dreams, wishes, intentions and goals also change.
So don't worry, if to date, you haven't achieved all your dreams or wishes. Think up new ones. The best part of life is that we are here to experience. I read an interesting book recently on the awakening to a higher consciousness and the author talks about many metaphysical and higher power related concepts. He mentions that before arriving to earth, we are energy, part of the Universe and we come to Earth as a Human Being, simply to experience. To know and experience different sensations and energies that we cannot experience in other dimensions.
Right or not, this is food for thought, so conjure up new dreams, wishes. Creates intentions, some of which you will fulfil, some of which will become, 'well he had good intentions' and set some goals.
The balance of all this work will be that you will have taken some time for yourself to go within and examine what it means to be you. To get to know yourself a bit better and to find out a bit more about what makes your heart sing!
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.