What’s the difference between a goal and a dream?


Everybody has a dream, whether it’s to own a fast car, a big house, a yacht or to travel the world. Few people, however, convert those dreams into goals and then go the step further of putting a plan into place to achieve them.

For example, how many people do you know who play the lottery? Maybe you play it yourself? Those who do will have a plan of what they’d do with the money if they were to win. I have friends who play the lottery religiously, and they often tell me about what they’d do if they ever won, but plans of what they’d do with their winnings are not to be confused with goals. Winning the lottery isn’t a goal, it’s a dream. It’s a dream with the odds of success being roughly 45 million to one every week.

If you were going to start a business or a new entrepreneurial venture and the odds of success were 45,000,000/1, you’d probably think it’s a bit of a long shot and not worth even trying. The odds of succeeding in business are a little better than that however, it’s just that most people won’t even try, and certainly not the numbers of people who play the lottery.

I had a dream

I had a few dreams when I was much younger. My dreams included being a successful film director in Hollywood, owning a replica A-Team van and being built like Dolph Lundgren. These weren’t the best thought-out dreams, but I did make a few steps towards achieving them. I went to university to study film, I joined a gym and took it very seriously, and I added a saved search on eBay for A-Team vans.

Sadly though, these were dreams and not goals. The chances of success with the film director dream were extremely slim and, in hindsight, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. The Dolph Lundgren thing was a phase I happily grew out of and the A-Team van… well, that’s still on the back burner. No, I needed genuine goals. Goals that were achievable and that were something I really wanted.

To that end I started to make some new dreams that would form the basis of real goals. After seeing a 2004 episode of Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson drove a DB9 to Monte Carlo, I knew what I wanted in life. I wanted that car. It was, however, just a dream.

I’d been a huge Liverpool fan since I was a child. Probably the first season I remembered was the 85-86 season where Liverpool won the double under the management of Kenny Dalglish. To visit Anfield, being from Newport, would be a dream.

Finally, I used to have a coin-operated pool table in my student house. I bought it through the Free-Ads paper (before eBay existed) for £150 and it was the best thing I ever bought. It was a sad day when I had to leave it behind. If only I had my own space to do that again, perhaps a full bar area? A pub, if you will?

These were dreams, nothing more.

So, how do you turn your dreams into goals?

The first one, the car, how do you turn that into a goal? I’m sure a lot of people dream of owning a particular car. It’s a common dream, but do you know how much it costs? Do you know from where you can buy one? Have you been to the dealership to see one?  Have you driven one?

These all sound very simple questions, but you’d be surprised the number of people who dream of owning a certain car and they’ve never driven one. How can something ever become real if you don’t make it tangible? If your dream is to own a particular car, look for the nearest dealer, right now. Go on, I’ll wait.

Have you found one? Good. Now arrange a day and time to go in and test drive one. They won’t bite. Only once you’ve done that can you know how much it’ll mean to you. Only once you’ve done that can you know how much it’ll cost. Only once you’ve done that can you turn your dream into a goal.


You might find it’s not as much of a distant dream as you thought it was. I certainly did. Within three months of test-driving a DB9, I had bought one.

My second goal, Liverpool FC, was a much more attainable goal yet, for some reason, always seemed out of reach. After all, attendances at Premier League games are always at capacity, aren’t they?


The same principle applied. I booked a stadium tour, as they’re easy to get on. I actually did this as someone who was interested in using the stadium for business meetings, which meant the stadium tour was free. You should try this yourself. Football clubs sell hospitality tickets and they’re always happy to show businesses around the ground.

Once I had done this, I enquired about the hospitality lounges. I received the full breakdown of tickets, packages and prices. This allowed me to know exactly what it was going to cost, and what I could get for that money. As a business owner, it was also important I spoke with our accountant, who advised of what was and what was not allowable for business, as you can save on personal tax by doing it through a company as long as it’s used for entertaining clients.

None of this would I have known had I not visited the ground, enquired about the tickets and spoke with the accountant. Before doing this, it was just a dream; a dream of which I had no idea of the cost nor the plausibility. That dream became a goal; a goal that has now been achieved.

The final dream was to own a pub, or at least a personal area I could use as a pub for my own consumption. I don’t actually want to own a real pub, at least not after speaking with many people who have owned pubs in the past. They’ve all put me off. No, a pub in the garden would suit me down to the ground. But, as with the others, unless it has been planned and costed, it would just be a dream.

I have planned it out. I have researched from where to buy the materials. I have spoken with an architect and with someone else who had one built. I know the cost, the work involved and what can and cannot be done. I have even spoken with brewers about the feasibility of using actual beer taps. It is now a goal, and a goal with a plan. This goal has yet to be achieved, but it will be accomplished next summer.

Without the plan, it would remain just a dream.

For the record, I played the lottery once. I bought a ticket for the very first draw, in November 1994. I didn’t win. I have never bought one since. Instead I chose to turn my dreams into goals, with a plan to achieve them. That way, they would become attainable.

Categories: Motivation

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