Forget About Your Goals!! Focus on Your Dreams

I know this is not what they taught you in school. It’s certainly different than what I taught to my MBA students years ago.

But not so different than what I taught the past few years and to my consulting clients.

Forget about your goals and focus on your dreams.  It works.  More importantly, you create the kind of life you want.

Don’t believe me? Sound impractical?  Companies will never buy it?  Think there’s no relationship between dreams and performance?

Wrong, wrong, wrong you are. It works and companies are paying more attention to dreams after seeing the pitiful results they get from performance improvement programs.

Here’s a real-life example from a project I had with a cosmetics company. I’ve disguised some of the details.

Not too long ago, I worked as a consultant with a marketing executive for a cosmetics company. He was under constant stress to reach his monthly targets.  He was 42, still single, but didn’t have time to date or even meet friends for dinner, and he was consistently missing his targets.

Whenever he was away from his office, he worried that he should be working more to achieve his targets.  He stayed at the office late, brought work home with him and spent a good deal of time on the weekend developing a strategy for increasing the success of his products.

Jun Ogata

The only problem was, he was spinning his wheels, always afraid to do anything that might take him away from his goals.   I wondered, how could he possibly do effective work when he was feeling such great anxiety?  His worries about achieving his goals were getting in the way of him doing his job.

I didn’t suggest that he work harder. I didn’t suggest he revise his goals. I certainly did not create an action plan with him.  Instead this is how I worked with him

First, I asked him a question, “What is your dream for your work?” He told me it was to reach his objectives.  It’s a very typical response, but that is not a dream.

I asked him again about his dream in a different way, “what would he like to happen as a result of his work?” He told me he’d “like people to look as good as they could as a result of his products.”

That’s a dream, and I asked him to keep that in mind.

Second, I suggested that he write down his worries and hide them somewhere in his office.  They’d be there if he needed them.  If he started worrying during the day, I suggested that he gently push his worries away. He could not think of any new strategies and ideas if he were consumed by worry.

Third, I suggested that he go home every day by 6 PM and start going out and enjoying his life.  I was sure that if he were working less, he’d find some time to date, and when the man or woman he dated found out what he did, he’d learn a lot about what the consumer wanted from cosmetics.

The client was quite skeptical about my ideas, and he told me so.  But I came highly recommended and he was willing to try them because he was desperate.

Here’s what happened.

It took him a while but he  stopped worrying after he wrote his worries down.  A few months later, he took out his worries list and he laughed.  “I can’t believe I was worried about these things.”

He went home early and started dating.  He  lost a few kilos, bought some new clothes, got a fancy haircut. Without his worrying and with the changes he made in his appearance, he looked much younger.

Most importantly, he kept his dream in his mind and that motivated him to move forward.  The goals took care of themselves.  Motivated by his dreams, e exceeded his objectives with the next three months.

What’s your dream? What keeps you motivated and moving forward at work? What gives your life meaning.  If you answer money, I’ll ask you again.  That’s not a dream, it’s a goal and it’s one that might even keep you from achieving your dream.

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  1. Definitely follow your dreams, this was the advice I gave my daughter when she was deciding wether to carry on with her second year at University studying Economics, or go into work and gain valuable experience and contacts.

    She followed her dream,left University and at 22 she is now a corporate executive with her own p.a. and managing a team. She is leading the life style she wanted.

    She dreamt her success and she shows her tenacity to achieve daily.

    PS, she never went to state school, she is self educated at home from the age of 11. No school qualifications!

    Your dreams are doable.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more. And you did what a lot of parents are afraid to do: let your child make her own decisions.