By Dario Boriani, Guest Writer and Process Wizard

What if you want to get healthier, lose weight, or perhaps take that trip to Europe?  Maybe you really want a new truck or to remodel the kitchen at home. But, you feel trapped. It’s all so out of reach. Why bother?

And yet, other people can accomplish such things. Why not you?

The truth is you can successfully manage most of these common situations. You can take control and turn your dreams into reality.

In this first of a two-part post, you will learn what you need to do to get started.

From a Dream to Goalwhat are your goals square.jpg

There is one simple difference between a dream and a goal. A goal is a dream to which you have put a date – such as losing 15 pounds in 3 months, or sipping an espresso in Rome by September of this year. Goals require definite What and When. Unlike dreams, there is nothing “fuzzy” about a goal.

The date becomes the day when a slimmer you looks in the mirror with a good reason to smile, or you head to the airport, boarding pass in hand, while repeating how to say thank you in French. This is the day you have achieved your desired goal. It does not involve magic or fairy dust – but it does need one thing more to make it a reality.

Processing the How

A process is a series of steps taken to reach a goal by a certain date. In other words, the goal is the what, the date is the when, and the process is the how.

If you want to turn a dream into a check mark on your bucket list, you need three things: a specific goal, a date to accomplish it by, and a gradual series of clear steps – or a process — to get you there.

OK – sure. I’ve tried this, you say. It just does not work for me! Stay tuned. Help is here.

Sub-goals to the Rescue

Long-term change can be difficult to maintain. Therefore, it is helpful to focus on multiple short-term activities. These smaller sub-goals are the secret to allow you to stay the course when your goal date is several months away. Therefore, breaking up the overall process into several smaller sets of steps with sub-goals makes the bigger goal less overwhelming and more attainable.

When to Go to Plan B

goals - success450At times, however, life just does not cooperate! For example, the flu may sideline your perfect exercise routine. What to do?  Be flexible. Sometimes a little detour is all you need to get back on track and more determined than ever. Just like at a roadwork site – ‘go around’. You may lose a little time, but soon you are back on the way to your destination.

It is important to acknowledge these possible setbacks. Life excels at throwing in the unexpected! So, accept things may not go exactly as foreseen and “adjust” along the way. This helps to prevent over-reaction to sideline the urge to give up on a great goal.

Celebrating Each Success

Positive reinforcement is a very powerful driver that should be freely given whenever a sub-goal is reached when achieving each sub-goal along the way. Losing a few pounds, walking a couple of extra blocks, or hitting a monthly saving goal are milestones proving you can put that dream within reach. They are reasons to celebrate and get excited about being closer to your goal. Share your success with a friend, allow yourself a well-earned reason to smile, and feel good! Recognizing progress is almost as important as actually reaching your final goal.

Let’s Review

Turning a change into a reality requires three things: a date, a specific goal, and a process. Sub-goals along the way help to keep us focused and provide more tangible short-term incentives. Celebrating should not be saved for the final destination alone. Enjoy all the mini-victories toward your goal also!

It is important to know various professionals follow the above approach as well. This “goal achievement” methodology is common practice when making challenging changes within large corporations, be it in healthcare, engineering, or other fields. There, successful leaders and teams never fail to set dates, specify clear goals, follow well-defined processes, and celebrate partial successes along the way. They also allow for contingencies and learn to adjust when things don’t go according to plan. So – you are in good company!

This is a good point to stop and reflect. In Part Two, we will discuss more tricks and insights in turning personal goals into real life!goals - mountain cropped

Dario is a process engineer, consultant, and world traveler.  His specialty is performance improvement and analytics within healthcare and business.  He  is also a keen observer who mentors others to benefit lives and commerce. He enjoys long swims and is an accomplished photographer.

Find his photography here Dario’s photography

He blogs on technical stuff at NoHarmNoWaste

See him on LinkedIn here provides inspiration and insight for those over 50 who continue to change the world – and for those who love them.