I often hear people talking about the importance of setting goals for their personal life. While I am all for dreaming and setting goals, I think it is important that we distinguish the difference between a goal and a desire. If we understand the distinction between the two different concepts, I believe it will help us better achieve our goals.
A goal is something that you are willing to work for to achieve. A goal is something over which you have complete control. A desire is something you may really want to do or accomplish, but you might NOT have complete control over the situation. Let me give you a few examples to clarify what I mean.
Let us say that I have decided not to eat sweets for a month. Since no one can force me to eat something I do not want to eat, that is a situation that I can completely control, therefore, it is a goal.
If, however, I were to say that I have a goal for it not to rain for the next week while I am on vacation, that would be laughable because the weather is not something I can control. It would be more accurate to call that a desire rather than a goal. While I may wish for beautiful weather during my vacation, there are outside factors that enter into that situation that may keep me from seeing that happen. If I make it a goal, I am likely to fail in seeing it accomplished.
If you were in school and wanted to make an A in your class, would you say that is a goal or a desire? Actually, I believe that is a desire, and here is why. In my fifty years of working with the educational system, I have seen some students not get the grade they deserved because there was some type of personality conflict or issue between themselves and the teacher. Since the teacher is the one who gives the grade, they have the final authority and control over what grade you receive. I believe you should do everything to reach that desire, but in the end, that is what it is – a desire, not a goal.
What if you determined you were going to walk one mile, three days per week? Is that a goal or a desire? You guessed it…that is a goal. You are the one in control over that situation. And deciding to lose ten pounds would also be a goal because you have complete control over what you eat and how you exercise. Wanting to win the lottery, however, would be a desire. You do not have any control over that in the least. As a matter of fact, I once heard that you have a higher chance of getting struck by lightening than you do of winning the lottery!
Let’s try a couple more. What about deciding to save $10,000? Yes, that is a goal. That is something you can do. Getting a date with the person of your dreams…a goal or a desire? Unfortunately, that is a desire because that other person has the ability to say yes or no to your request.
I hope these simple examples will help you to further understand the distinction between a goal and a desire. I think it is important because if you understand that what you are working toward is actually a goal and something over which you have complete control, it makes that goal much more achievable. However, if what you are calling a goal is really only a desire and circumstances come about that prevent you from reaching your “goal,” you will be disappointed. Just keep your thinking straight!
I don’t know about you but understanding concepts like this helps my life to go better, reduces stress, and increases productivity. I hope this simple concept will do that for you this week, too. That is my goal…I mean, my desire for you!
Tip: Understand the difference between a goal and a desire.
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm