This is going to be a long read. Arguments will not be logical and I don't recommend trying this at home.
The reason I started exploring this area is because up until now, I didn't have any goals in my life.
I had dreams. Big vague dreams about a colourful future. Without goals, I had no direction in my life. I didn't, others did. I wouldn't be the man that I am if it wasn't for the grand plans of everyone else. I mean how often do you sit down and have a serious talk with yourself about what you really want to achieve in life? If that doesn't ring any bells, do you even stop to consider this question; Are the things that I 'achieved' in my life really the things that I wanted for myself? Do these things make me happy?
If I wasn't outcome oriented, then how did I survive? What made me happy? Was my life that miserable? What made me tick?
I was a floater. I lived in the moment, for the moment. Dreaming big time about what could have been, what could be. If you ask me now, I really enjoyed that life. Not a single regret. Just mistakes. It doesn't sound too bad does it? And it wasn't. Until I realised, I wasn't getting anywhere. I just kept getting away with things as long as people had grand plans and I was even vaguely part of that plan. I played my part, their grand plan worked, they were happy, I was happy for them. At the end of the day, I was still happy. I was living a happy life. But I wasn't getting any closer to my dreams.
The problem with having dreams is that it is never enough to just have dreams.
So I thought of switching to goals. Sounds badass already right?
Switching to an outcome oriented mindset is very difficult.
I started procrastinating, in other words I started researching about people who lived the goal-oriented life. By the way, research is the biggest procrastination tool out there.
These goal oriented people seemed to be the guys that were most successful, had the best jobs, biggest houses.. you know the story. But ironically, they didn't seem any happier than they were when they set out to achieve those goals. So I said, f*** goals.
The problem with having goals is that it is never enough to just have goals.
As a dreamer, I was motivated by the feeling you get when you achieve the dream. This feeling was enough to get you started with the journey. But, it won't help you throughout the journey. Unless you tie this feeling to measurable goals, you won't be able to execute your actions in order to achieve your goals.
Just so we're clear,
Goals < Dream
Many Goals = Dream
The general sense of sadness, misery and disappointment you experience in the process of achieving your goals will drown you and prevent you from feeling that sense of achievement you get at the end. This is why you lose motivation, the dream no longer feels good. So you have to go on YouTube and watch a motivational speech / music video to get back that good feeling, feel good about your dream and continue on the journey.
If you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no reason for you to go on. So either, you find something that reminds you that there is still going to be light at the end of the tunnel, or you imagine it. Or just have faith. If there was ever any value to religion, this is it. It gives you hope, it allows you to have faith in something. Be it god, humanity, whatever it is that you believe in, if you believe in something, by extension, you believe in yourself. That is a topic for another day.
If you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, you need to find or make small holes in the tunnel that let rays of light through. This will remind you of what is at the end of the tunnel. The bright future.
I call this enjoying the little things in life. Note that this is enjoying, not obsessing and going all OCD on every single detail like a hysterical mother in law. If used wisely, these can keep you in track for your big dream. These are meant to be flickers of hope. If you start digging the tunnel here and looking for a short cut, you have by default given up on your bigger dream and settled for less.
In reality however, you can't always count on finding a small hole in the tunnel. You have to bring your own torch. This is your mind. Your imagination, your beliefs and your faith.This is how you remind yourself of that sense of achievement that you get at the end. You need to keep the fire burning inside you. Keep the good thoughts alive.
The tunnel is the path you take to get to your glory. If you don't light it up, then the darkness will consume you.
So how does dreams and goals link to this?
Dream is the light at the end of the tunnel. Goals are the little holes in the tunnel. If you stop at achieving your goals, you give up on the dreams. If you don't achieve your goals, you will lose sight of the dream and you could well remain in the tunnel forever, until the darkness eventually consumes you. Then there is always that guy who runs back the other way, back to where he started, looking for a "fresh start". I will leave the other options to your imagination.