Winning the lottery is a dream. Making a living as a full-time romance novelist is a goal.
There's a huge difference.
A dream is that fuzzy, happy, pie-in-the sky place we visit to escape reality. For example, I've often imagined that a long-lost (very, very long and very very lost) relative would pass away peacefully at the age of 100+. His or her team of lawyers - all wearing suits that cost more than my families' entire wardrobe put together, would show up at my office and tell me that Great, great Uncle or Aunt Mega Money had passed, leaving me everything. It's a nice, nice thing to imagine, but I come from a very long line of poor folks, so it's a whopper of a dream.
Goals are different. Goals are dreams wearing work clothes.
A goal is a target you plan and plot to reach. And you put substance to the planning and plotting by working your little (or, in my case, not so little) tushie off. That's where the danger comes in. It's awfully easy to slow down on the work, ratchet up the fuzzy dreaming of the day when........ I might check Amazon and find my books are selling by the hundreds of thousands, or I might get that phone call from a movie producer wanting the rights to one of my books. That day is never coming unless I work twice as hard at night and over weekends pounding the keyboard, doing social marketing, and then doing more keyboard pounding.
I've still been writing at nights and over weekends - don't get me wrong. But I haven't been intense enough about it; I haven't been working hard enough. Sleep is for folks who are happy piddling, playing and dreaming.
It's far too easy to allow depression at my current circumstances to drain my will and energy so that I want nothing more than to laze around after a full day at the office, and crawl into bed and stay there and sleep all night. My day job is an intense, hard, grinding rat-race filled with nothing but pressure, deadlines and reasons that I'm not doing my job well enough. Instead of using that to feed my will - I think I've been using it to feed my won't.
Sometime, when I wasn't looking, my goals sneaked back into my closet and put on a fuzzy robe and slippers.
It's time for me to refocus; to put my nose back on the grindstone and to superglue my fingers to the keyboard.
Whatever your dreams are - do you want to keep them in fuzzy robes and slippers or do you want to suit 'em up and put 'em to work? And if you think your dreams are already goals - be sure to take frequent time to check up on yourself. Keep your goals in work clothes because no one ever crossed the finish line in fuzzy slippers.