For the first time in months, my house is quiet and peaceful. The summer guests have left; there are no parties to host or attend; and I don’t have any house or car maintenance planned. It’s times like these when I reflect on my goals and plan for the future. During these quiet times I rise above the daily activity to get some of my big-picture ideas. This is a time when it is practical to look ahead and safe to dream.
Why Dreams are Critical
The first step in any endeavor is a dream. The dream is the seed of everything great ever accomplished by mankind. Man dreamed of flight, great cities, space travel, electric light, radio, television, telephones and medical miracles. It was only because of these dreams and the courageous few who pursued them that modern life became possible. For those who have no dreams, life is limited to the mundane survival and existence.
I have a dream to one day escape the rat race and chart my own financial future. I love my job and enjoy my profession. But, I would like to have more control over my life, my time and my income. I know this is a common dream and many have made it a reality. Through hard work, vision and persistence, they have shaped their daily reality to match the essence of their dreams.
When we look off into the future, what we see is our dreams.
Why Reflection is Critical
Change happens quickly. What used to take days, months and years now takes hours, minutes or seconds. What worked for our parents and grandparents won’t always work for us. That is why it’s so important to reflect on our actions to make sure they are still relevant. What was once a sound plan may become impractical. What was once the cutting edge may become obsolete. If we don’t evaluate our direction constantly, we may end up on a path that leads nowhere.
Five years ago, I was evaluating my retirement plan and I realized it was vulnerable to low interest rates and stock market fluctuations. The massive government debt is sure to keep interest rates low at the same time millions of baby boomers are starting to withdraw their savings from the stock market. Speculation and derivatives are only going to make the stock market more volatile. Since I was almost 20 years into my plan, it was a painful realization. But, I still have 20 years until I retire and I have developed a new plan that is more secure. Had I failed to visualize the flaws in my plan, I could have wound up with a pretty frugal retirement.
Reflection allows us to identify problems or mistakes and change course.
Why Goals are Critical
Without goals, dreams become idle musings and empty promises. Life unfolds without a plan and people drift along, hoping for the best. They are buffeted by the whims of fate, allowing others to determine their future. Circumstances are blamed and excuses are made to compensate for the lack of resolve and direction. Instead they should be charting their own course and realizing dreams on their own terms.
I have had a written set of goals since 1992. This is when I first committed myself to starting a business, writing a book, buying a house, graduating college and becoming a millionaire. Some of these goals were accomplished long ago. Some goals are ongoing, with the milestones passing by. Other goals were discarded, as priorities changed and they were replaced by new goals. Throughout the process, these written goals held me accountable and forced me to evaluate my progress.
Goals set dreams in concrete and provide a road map for the future.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is the power of visualization is vastly underrated. Dreams can power the future, as reflection keeps people on course. Goals provide the direction and confidence to succeed.
“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”
Henry David Thoreau – American Philosopher
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