Have you ever heard the saying, “A goal without a plan is just a dream?”
The meaning behind it is that if you don’t create a way to take meaningful action and move toward your goals, you’ll never make any progress, thus making your “goals” more like “dreams,” and not likely to come true.
It is true that in order to reach your goals you need to have a plan, but what if your goals aren’t the right ones?
MEETINGS IN MEDELLÍN
In November of 2017, I traveled to Medellín, Colombia to live for the winter. I spent 3 months experiencing the culture, strengthening my grasp of the Spanish language, and meeting some pretty amazing people.
It turns out, Medellín is a hotbed for digital nomads and foreign expats. Due to its temperate climate, low cost of living, and quality internet access, you’ll find an assortment of internationals living and working throughout the city.
About 4 weeks after arriving, I met a great individual one night while out for dinner. We hit it off and have been friends ever since, and still keep in touch.
One night, we had a pretty interesting conversation.
As I was getting ready to leave Medellin, this person was settling in for a longer stay, and was in the process of securing a high-end luxury apartment.
This place was BEAUTIFUL. It was a split-level penthouse with high-end appliances, furniture, and amazing views of the city.
He emphatically said, “This is the apartment that I’ve always wanted, and now I have it! But I’m going to need to get my butt in gear with my business so I can afford it.”
GOALS DRIVE ACTIONS
This guy is an impressive person. He has accomplished a lot in his life, and he is a big advocate of setting large goals and chasing your dreams.
I admire that type of thinking and try to live it myself. But I think there are some times when you shouldn’t allow the “tail to wag the dog.”
It’s true that if you set big goals it can help force you into taking big actions. But there is a difference between forcing yourself to take big action, and forcing yourself into a potentially desperate situation.
For my friend, what if things don’t go well with his business? What if the economy goes on the decline? Or what if he is in an accident, and for a time is off his feet and unable to focus on his business?
Along with a myriad of other possibilities, these potential pitfalls could cause a severe strain in his ability to afford his dream apartment.
EARN YOUR GOALS BEFORE OBTAINING THEM
This all boils down to patience.
There is a big difference between possessing a specific goal for a period of time, and having actually earned it.
Our society is driven too much by possessing things, whether you can actually afford them or not. We buy many of the material possessions we have on credit, racking up debt along the way.
We saw a lot of this during the lead up to the 2008 real estate crash in the U.S. People were buying their “dream homes” before they could actually afford them. They were taking out mortgages far too large for their income or credit score, and putting themselves in very dangerous positions. For many, the only way it would sustain is if everything continued to be perfect and the economy never went through a downturn. But this isn’t a reasonable expectation.
When the real estate market began to plummet, and the economy followed, many of these people lost their homes.
If they had actually earned the ability to buy their dream home, it wouldn’t have mattered that the economy went south. They just hadn’t actually earned it at that moment. All they had done was find a way to temporarily over-extend themselves into one of their goals – in this case, their “dream home.”
DON’T LET YOUR GOALS PUT YOU IN A BAD SITUATION
Your goals should be big, and they should be aggressive and inspiring. Those are the kinds of goals that are worth striving for.
They get you out of bed in the morning and keep you excited, working late into the nights.
There is nothing wrong with setting big goals. In fact, there is everything RIGHT with setting big goals.
The one thing you shouldn’t do is allow your goals to put you in a bad situation by over-extending yourself just to say you’ve “made it” when you haven’t.
SETTING THE RIGHT GOALS
You have to be asking yourself “are these the right goals?”
Are the goals your own, or are they goals that society has pushed on you?
Are these goals going to make you happy? Are they going to increase the quality of your life if you achieve them?
What is driving the desire to achieve these goals in the first place?
The worst thing you could do is set goals that drive actions that put you in a worse place, both financially and psychologically. If your goals are causing you to do things that increase your stress and anxiety, then I’d say it’s safe to say that you’ve chosen the wrong goals.
So, before you continue on your journey toward building wealth and creating a better life for yourself, stop and think about the goals you have set, and make sure you’re going to be truly happy when you reach your destination.