When I was in my final year of secondary school, we needed to fill out an “information” section for our entry in the yearbook. One of the pieces of information we were asked was, “What is your dream accomplishment in the next ten years?” I love endurance sports, so I figured that going for one of the biggest events in all of endurance sports - the Ironman triathlon - would be incredible to finish. That’s what I wrote down.
I have not gotten close to achieving this goal. In fact, I am not even trying to accomplish it. I still love running, but doing a triathlon (let alone an Ironman) isn’t on my to-do list.
This might seem like I “failed” at my goal, but I do not think that is quite true. I never really wanted this goal for myself. I wrote it for the yearbook because it seemed like a big goal that would be cool to accomplish. In other words, I thought I would like to do it.
This is a common thing that people say. When making conversation with others, we tend to say things such as, “I’d like to do this someday.” This gives others some insight into our interests, but for the most part these dreams will never be accomplished.
Why? Because we do not actually want them.
Words are easy to say. It does not take much effort to list out a bunch of things you would like to do. I can do it right now. I would like to publish a book, run an ultra marathon, climb some mountains, go on a meditation retreat, and make a big scientific discovery. In a sentence, I just went over a list of things that take years to do. It is worth pausing for a moment to absorb this. I can state goals and dreams easily. It does not cost me anything to do so. However, the chance that these goals are all accomplished (let alone any one) is not particular large. I am sure you can come up with your own list of big dreams that will never come to fruition.
I am not trying to shoot down anyone here. Rather, I want to point out that saying you would like to do certain things means essentially nothing. You are not transmitting any valuable information, because we know that most people spout goals that will never come to pass.
This is why I try my best to avoid using phrases such as “I’d like to”. If I really wanted to do this thing, I would be doing it! I do not need to announce it to the world, I can just announce it through my actions. I think this is a much better way to go, and it will make you stop and reflect a bit more on the things you say you want to do.
Now, I am much more careful about stating dreams or goals. I want my words to reflect my actions, so I only announce goals or dreams that have a basis in my current actions. If I am not taking steps to move myself to where I want to be, what is the use in saying I want to go there?
Dreaming about a goal can be fun, but it is not action. It is worth catching yourself when you start saying you would like to do a bunch of things that have no basis in your current actions.
We have a limited time we can spend chasing our goals. We can’t do everything, but we can definitely do a few things. Being able to focus your attention on a few goals and not letting yourself be distracted by these other dreams in your mind is a great way to pushing yourself towards achieving something.
By aligning your words with your actions, it becomes a lot easier to make progress and feel like you are achieving things in life.