Make Goals to Achieve Dreams

Do you know the difference between a goal and a wish? Let’s see!

Alex is a single parent with three children. It’s been ages since Alex stepped foot on the scale in the bathroom. Mostly, Alex doesn’t want to see the results–who has time to diet and exercise with three children running around? But Alex knows it’s time to make a change. Alex decides to write a goal to lose weight. On a sticky note, Alex scribbles this goal and posts it to the bathroom mirror:

I’m going to lose weight.

Several weeks go by, and Alex hasn’t noticed a difference on the scale. Discouragement sets in. Alex grabs the sticky note from the mirror, crumples it up, and tosses it in the rubbish bin.

Now why do you suppose Alex didn’t meet the goal of losing weight? Was this really a goal? Or was this really more of a “wish?”

Let’s try this one again:

Alex realizes it is time to make a change. Putting every ounce of energy into losing weight, Alex sits down and really thinks about the goal. What is the goal? How will it be obvious that the goal has been met? Is it a realistic goal? That is, can Alex actually achieve this goal, or is Alex planning to lose 230 pounds in half an hour? This time Alex writes out this goal on a sticky note and posts it to the bathroom mirror:

I will lose 15 pounds eight months from today’s date by eating 500 fewer calories daily
and exercising at least 30 minutes four days per week.

Several weeks go by, and Alex has noticed that the numbers on the scale keep going down and down. Encouraged, Alex works even harder than the original plan, and ramps up the exercise pattern to 45 minutes for five days a week. In eight months, Alex has lost 23 pounds and is ready to set a new goal to lose another twenty.

Now, why do you suppose Alex was able to meet the second goal? How was this goal less like the first one Alex wrote out? What was different? Was this goal a wish, or was it really a goal after all?

Making SMART Goals:

One of the ways Alex was better able to achieve the weight loss plan the second time might be attributed to the way the goal was written. The first one “I’m going to lose weight,” was vague and lacked definition. As a result, it sounded a bit more like a wish, like “I wish I was an astronaut,” or “I want to go to Disneyland.” There is no clear direction in the statement, so there is nothing for Alex to focus on. For example, how can Alex achieve a goal if there is no end in sight? Alex could lose weight for a decade and never stop “losing” because Alex never specified the finish line. And if you don’t have a finish line, are you as motivated to try as you would be if you could tell when all your hard work would finally pay off?

The difference between a wish and a goal is in the details. The second goal was SMART!


Writing SMART goals can be the difference between succeeding in your classes and your degree program and finding success a bit more difficult. Good goals are the first step to success. Try your hand at crafting your own SMART goals with this nifty SMART-Goal setting interactive web tool.

Are Your Goals SMART? Click Here to Find Out.

Goal Setting
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