Dreams and Goals: What’s the difference?

What is the difference between our dreams and our goals? The answer to that question is simple…it’s “Why” and “How.”

Our Dreams are the reasons we want to do something in life or simply the “Why.”
Our Goals are the paths we choose to bring our dreams to reality or “How.”

You see, I’ve come to think about that a lot lately.  I used to be hooked on this idea that my “dream” was dead because I couldn’t finish school. I thought that my “dream” was to be a teacher and when that didn’t work out, I thought it was to be a counselor. What I failed to realize is that those weren’t my “dreams” but my goals.

Our dreams aren’t to be: firefighters, police men, teachers, scientists, moms, dads, business men or anything like that. Those things are just our goals or the “how.” They are the goals that we choose as a path to help us obtain our dreams.

Now I know what you are all thinking, “Wait a minute!! I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a firefighter! So how is that NOT my dream?” Because it’s not the why, its the how. You see your dream will always answer the question “Why“, your goal will answer the question “How” or simply it will be the path you choose to make your dreams come true.

Ask yourself this…what about being a firefighter was so appealing to you that you wanted to become one? Have you thought about it? Do you know the answer to those questions? (By the way, you can change “firefighter” to fit your needs)

You see, our Dreams are the reasons for WHY we choose those paths for our lives.  My goal was to be a teacher, then a counselor, but my reason for wanting to be a teacher or a counselor was because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids and others. So when I couldn’t complete school to be a teacher and when I couldn’t complete school to be a counselor, my dream wasn’t dead, but my goal was. I just couldn’t see that. All I could see is that I couldn’t finish school, I had come so far and for so long that at this point in my life, it was never going to happen. I forgot why I really wanted to be a teacher or a counselor in the first place…it was to help people, to make a difference.

Our dreams won’t change, they will always be the same, they will always be constant. However out goals can and will change, those are the things that will fall through the most. Chances are if your “goal” has changed, it wasn’t really your dream, so look at the reason for “why” you chose that goal instead.

Ask yourself this…why do you want to be a teacher/mom/business person/photographer/etc? Why did you choose those things for your profession? For your calling? We all have our reasons for doing so, but we sometimes forget to ask ourselves that question and we sometimes forget those reasons.
This is especially important for those who had dreams and have thought that their dreams are dead, because they weren’t able to fulfill them. But I encourage you to rethink that and to try a small exercise. Take out a piece of paper and a pen and follow my directions below…


Dreams vs. Goals Exercise:
First thing is first…draw a line about half way down the center of the paper, at the bottom, draw a line straight across.
On the right side, write “Goal” and on the left side write “Dream“, then at the bottom write the following:
How can I still accomplish my dreams?

Got that? Good. Now let’s move on, on the left side of the paper, under “Goal,” write down what it was you wanted to do with your life, what you wanted to be.

On the right side under “Dream,” write down why. Why did you want that path for yourself? What was the reason for it?

Now at the bottom, answer the question of “How can I still accomplish my dreams?” Now you may need to think outside the box here, but that’s ok, go for it!! There is no right or wrong way to bring your dreams to reality! I’ve included an example of what I mean…




Do you see how I did that? I hope it’s big enough for you to read, if not here is what I put…

Goal – to be a teacher/counselor

Dream – “to help make a difference in the lives of children and adults.”

How can I still accomplish my dreams? –

“I can still accomplish my dreams by showing others how to take back their lives, by finding more fun and freedom in their lives. I can accomplish my dreams by helping to instill more positivity in the world. I can help make a difference in the lives of children everywhere by showing them that they do matter. I can do this by going and helping to build schools, provide clean water, helping to build programs to get them off the streets, provide opportunities within their own communities for everyone to grow and learn.”

I want to encourage you to try this exercise, give it a shot, really look at what your dreams are. If you are where you want to be and you are happy! That’s amazing!! Keep it up!! But if you are like so many others out there who think their time has come and gone, that they can’t make their dreams come true and that they have to settle for second best. Then you need to try this exercise and really look at why it is you wanted to do what you wanted with your life. Just because you can’t be a teacher/photographer/dancer/etc, doesn’t mean that your dream is dead. It just means that you have to find another way to make it come true. It may mean opening your mind and your heart, so when an opportunity comes along, you can accept it, even if its not something that you pictured yourself doing or the way that you thought you would bring your dreams to reality.

So many times we get hung up on the how, that we forget about the why and when we have the chance to make our dreams finally come true, in a different way, we miss it because we don’t always see how that opportunity will help us get there. So remembering why we chose the path we did, the reason for it, remembering our dream and what it was, will help us to see how the many different opportunities that come to us can help us make that dream possible.

Our dreams don’t die. There is a great line from a song that goes:
Grace knew when she looked up, there wouldn’t be a sky. If the dreams we’ve been given, weren’t supposed to fly.” – State of Grace by Reba

Guys, our dreams were meant to fly, it’s time to give them the wings that they deserve to have and to honor the gift of those dreams that we have been given. Our dreams will never die, they will never leave us, we just have to remember WHY we had them in the first place. HOW we get there doesn’t matter, all that matters is that we get there, that we give flight to our dreams. That’s all that truly matters, because we only get one chance at this life and that’s it. So we need to live it, make our dreams into realities and remember how worthy we are and how worthy our dreams are!!

So again…

The difference between our Dreams and our Goals is:

Our Dreams are the WHY or the reason we want to do something in our lives and that will never change.
Our Goals is the HOW we make our dreams come true and that will change.

The HOW isn’t as important as the WHY. So don’t give up your WHY, its apart of you and it deserves to fly!!


Brightest Blessings!


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