Reach for the Sky: How to ALWAYS Aspire for Your Dreams and Goals!

By Lorie Rosenberg

There's an infinite amount of space between the ground where you stand and the sky above. This space offers you boundless room to spread your arms and breathe in the amazing amount of possibilities your life can bring you, yet for many of you the challenges of just making it through the day have dashed your hopes and dreams.

It's time to change all that, and develop strategies that will help you aspire for your goals and objectives. You never want to stop believing that there's a bright future awaiting you. Dreaming big, having an abundant faith in your abilities, and taking positive, decisive action are the fundamental keys to living a rich, meaningful life.

Yet many people fail to reach their full potential, they’re unhappy with their direction in life and unsure of where they want to go. They lose confidence in their ability to create a life that fulfills them both personally and professionally.

Why Does This Happen?

Most of us have the potential to be whoever we want to be. Yet our environment, our relationships, and our social interactions have had a tremendous effect on how we grow, mature, and achieve.

We may have had to deal with challenging experiences including abusive parents, a bad living environment, physical or verbal abuse, degrading boss, car accident, divorce, death of a loved one, or other traumas or challenges that have affected our ability to achieve goals and reach our full potential. These experiences may have damaged our confidence, stifled our creativity, and held us back from living a meaningful, rewarding life.

Currently, as you look at your own friends, family, or even co-workers, you’ll find some who are coasting along and not really going anywhere. They’re not using their unique gifts and talents, they’re wasting their time watching TV each night as their lives pass them by, and they’re not challenging themselves or pushing their limits. They’re complacent and okay with the way things are.

Is This You?

If you look in the mirror, is this the person you've become?

The good news is that no matter where you are, you have the potential for success, whatever that is for you. You have everything you need within you to reach your full potential…to live a life of significance and to fulfill your goals and dreams. There’s nothing that can hold you back if you know what it is you want to achieve.

Continually Strive for Your Goals

What you focus on is where you go. When you drive a car, you’re intent on the direction you’re going. You focus all of your attention on the road ahead and the obstacles before you, unless, of course, you're texting or talking on the phone. If you’re paying attention to the road, when a dog is about to dart into the street, you’re quick to maneuver out of the way. And then you continue on your way.

It’s somewhat the same in life. If you fail to move on a steady course, then your life will drift one way or another. You’ll get sidetracked by useless endeavors and you’ll find yourself in the same position year after year. It’s only when you have a definitive goal ahead and you take decisive action on that goal, that you’ll be able to get to your intended destination.

Without a strong determination and personal drive to succeed, you’ll end up living your life in the status quo…like everyone else. That may be okay for some people…but you have so much more to achieve!

Aspiring for an Olympic Medal

Take, for example, Noelle Pikus-Pace. If ever anyone embodied the character trait of “Aspiring” it’s the Olympic Silver medal winner Noelle Pikus-Pace, who competed in the Skelton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia!

The skeleton, which originated in St. Moritz, Switzerland, is similar to bobsled racing as it is run on the same track. The sled, however, is a fraction of the size of a bobsled and is more like the cafeteria trays we used in college to slide down one of the hills around campus. You ride on your belly with speeds up to 80 mph and steer using torque provided by the head and shoulders.

Noelle Pikus-Pace, the mother of two small children retired after the 2010 Vancouver Games, minus a medal, to focus on her family. She had not planned on returning to the Olympics, but after suffering a miscarriage and subsequent depression following it, her husband convinced her to once again pursue her Olympic dream.

She began the grueling training, trying to balance her commitment to her dream...with her family responsibilities. After much hard work and training, it paid off and she left the 2014 Olympics with a Silver medal and the accomplishment of representing her country and achieving her dream.

So how can you incorporate "aspiring" into your daily life?

Picture What the End Looks Like

And no I’m not talking about the end of your life! I’m talking about the who, what, where, why and how of your life. Who do you want to be when you’re there? What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Why do you want it so bad? And how will you feel when you’ve accomplished this dream in your life?

You have to fully commit to this new “you.” You can’t be wishy washy about what it is you want. You can’t “think” you want to achieve this goal. You MUST have an intense passion, a burning desire, and a total commitment to the goal to ensure it happens. Otherwise, when the going gets tough, you’ll decide it’s not worth the effort or it just wasn’t meant to be…and you’ll give up.

This pattern of failure has resulted from your experiences over the years. You probably haven’t been really sure what you want to be “when you grow up.” It’s been sufficient to let life dictate your path. But if you truly want to move in the direction of your goals, then you need to break this pattern of complacency.

Clear Vision of Your Goals

Part of goal setting is creating a vision. It’s knowing that it’s not always about the level of success you’d like to achieve, it’s about the significance of what you accomplish that can make all the difference and make it worth the sacrifice.

There are many people who have been extremely successful in their lives...climbing the corporate ladder, building a large, profitable business, or leading an organization to new levels of prominence and profitability. They have gotten where they are through the goals they have set…and achieved.

Yet many of those people, who seem to truly “have it all” with fame, noto­riety, and money, are not necessarily happy. The dreams and visions they created didn’t give them the fulfillment they had expected. They got where they wanted to be, yet it wasn’t enough, and the view from the top wasn’t as gratifying as they had thought it would be.

That’s because suc­cess is fleeting; significance is long-term. When you achieve significance, it brings rewards beyond the initial success you experience. When you accomplish a “significant” goal, you make a difference, and that brings an incredible sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Seeing Your Goal in Your Mind

Everything you create is first visualized in your mind’s eye. The idea comes into your mind: either through your own inspiration or by being open to an opportunity that presented itself during the course of your day. You may have had a thought in the middle of the night when you couldn’t fall asleep. You saw something on the Internet and that sparked an idea. You spoke with someone in an elevator and something he said got you thinking about a new concept or strategy to consider for your business.

You take your initial idea, and start to think it through. You think about what it would look like. You consider what you would need in terms of time and resources to make it happen. You reflect over the obstacles and challenges you’ll have to overcome in pursuing it. You visualize the outcome and rewards you will get if you are successful. All this occurs in your mind…sometimes when you’re not even aware of it happening.

That’s why a good exercise to do sometime is to create a “Vision Board.” Cut out images or words that express what you want to achieve. It may be pictures of a new home, boat, or a dream vacation. It may be words like: success, significance, fame, peace, love. The board helps you visualize the rewards you’ll achieve when you put your goals into action.

Clearly Define Your Goals

What type of goal do you want to achieve? Do you want to make a shift in your career? Do you want to get into a more meaningful relationship? Do you want to follow your passion? Do you want to lose weight or focus on a more healthy lifestyle?

Once you’ve determined the area you want to work on, brainstorm what it is you want to achieve in that area. Be specific. It may be that you want to lose 15 pounds. You may want to finish your Master’s degree. You may want break into a new field.

Once you’ve determined that specific goal you want to accomplish. Then it's important to break down your goal into manageable steps so that the goal is not so daunting.

You’ll also want to delve more deeply into the following criteria to make sure that your goal is right for you. Here is a great way to assure that you can actually achieve your goal.

Specific

A specific goal has a greater likelihood of being accomplished than a general one. So make sure you have a specific outcome in mind for the goal you’re trying to achieve.

It’s important that your goal be specific with measurable objectives. The more specific you make your goal, the more tangible it is. When you know exactly what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to get there, and what you’ll get in the end, the more successful you’ll be. Let me give you a couple of examples of broad and more specific goals.

Broad: Get a college education.

Specific: Get a 4-year degree in Graphic Arts from an accredited university.

Even more specific: Attend Rochester Institute of Technology in the graphic arts program. Take 16 credits each quarter with courses based on the graphic arts curriculum. At the end of the 4 years, walk down the aisle in a cap and gown and receive a Bachelor of Science Degree with a GPA of 3.5 or greater!

You need to break down your goals into manageable pieces with periodic deliverables and measurable objectives. That way you can see that progress you’re making to complete your goals.

Measurable

When determining your goal, make sure you write down the specific steps you need to take towards achieving it and concrete criteria for measuring your progress along the way.

Measurement is so important to ensuring you make progress on your goals. That’s why with any goal – no matter how lengthy or how complex – it should be broken down into manageable, measurable steps.

The individual steps are easier to accomplish and you can see progress towards your overall goals. For instance, each quarter or semester, college students take courses: some general education and some core courses to meet the requirements of their degree. They can use their syllabus and start checking off their requirements. They can see visually how many they’ve accomplished; feel good about their progress, and the rest of the goal doesn’t seem as daunting.

It’s the same with your business goals. If you want to grow your business, you may want to make a goal of adding a specific number of new customers or members every month. How would you need to do that? You would make specific steps to meet that goal. During the month you could measure your progress and possibly revise your plan based on the progress you’re making. You may need to reevaluate your goal or you may need to add additional tasks to your goal.

Attainable

Be sure that your goal isn’t overly lofty so that you’re able to achieve it within the specific time frame. (You can attain most any goal with proper planning, motivation, and execution.)

It's a good idea to look at your goals and determine what a reasonable time frame will be based on the complexity of the goal, who is involved in making it happen, and what problems may arise during the process. You would want to break down the objective into the specific steps with practical, doable deadlines and then determine how long that goal will take you. You’d probably want to add in extra time because everything takes longer than you think it will and this will give you an added cushion.

Also it’s a good idea, when considering if your goal is reasonable and not too lofty, to look at the outcome you’re expecting. Do you really feel you can accomplish it? For example, it isn't reasonable for me to become fluent in French for a trip there in 6 months? The goal is way beyond my capability. Now maybe it wouldn’t be for someone who is also fluent in other languages and this is a strength of theirs. For me, I would need a lot more time and a lot more help to achieve the same outcome. Plus I would need to find ways to keep myself motivated as this is very challenging for me.

Realistic

Your goal must represent a realistic objective that you are willing and able to work towards. High motivation and focused effort are the keys to achieving your goals.

How many times have you heard someone say they’re going to do this or that…and you already know that the goal is dead on arrival? That’s because they never complete anything they say they’re going to do. Most of the time it’s because the goal they’re making is beyond their skills or capabilities. The goal is simply too lofty and not realistic for them.

In the past, if you’ve made goals you haven’t completed, was the reason because they weren’t realistic for you, they were too difficult, or they were beyond your capability? If you’re not sure of the reason, you need to take a long hard look at whether the goals you’ve been setting were “SMART” ones. If they weren’t, then you need to evaluate any goal based on these criteria before you proceed.

Timely

Your goal should have a specific time frame for completing it. Without a deadline, there is no sense of urgency in accomplishing it. When you have a specific end date it mind, it gives you the necessary motivation to keep on track.

Putting a time frame on your goals is so important to their success. With the example I mentioned above, getting a Bachelor’s degree is a 4- or 5-year commitment.

I told my children that college was a 4-year experience, not a 5- or 6-year experience. After the four years, they were on their own. That’s the type of motivation that kept them on track and working towards completion because they knew they would have to pay for their college after four years.

When you put specific deadlines on your goals it supplies the incentive – and pressure – that’s needed to keep you moving forward to complete them.

Schedule Your Goal on Your Calendar

You work on what you schedule. Make sure that you spend time each day on achieving your goal. You create habits in 20 to 30 days. If you create a habit to work on your goal, then you’re more likely to make it happen. You need to keep your goal in the forefront of your thoughts and actions. When you do, it will be a priority in your life.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments and Keep Going….

If you want to get anywhere, you have to keep your eye on the road. Know where you’re going, use your GPS or internal guidance to put you on the best path to get there, and then keep going until you’ve reached your final destination.

You’ve made it. You can celebrate the victory of accomplishment. You deserve it. You put in the effort, the sacrifice and the commitment to reach your goals.

But that’s only the beginning. When you reach for the sky, there’s plenty of room to grow in experience and knowledge to move you in directions you hadn’t even imagined possible. What’s amazing about achieving your goals is that it brings about a greater belief in your capabilities. It shows you that you are fully capable of achieving whatever you want to do!

So never stop aspiring. Identify your mission, goal, or quest in life. Determine the steps you need to take to get there. Focus your efforts in that direction. And then just do it!