A dream is just a dream.  A Goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline

Here is a short explanation of the critical importance of goal settings - by which I mean the actual WRITING DOWN of goals, complete with specific targets and checkpoints.

For example “By April 23rd 2007 I will have completed my invention of automatic parrot cleaning device and have obtained funding from a local pet store chain” You would then go on to make small sub-goals - eg: By the beginning of April I will have investigated a way to stop the machine removing feathers as well as muck. By the end of this week, I will have chosen whether I prefer the low -profile design or the high-profile design.

WAIT WAIT WAIT - before you think "boring, not for me", at LEAST read the bit in blue underneath if you doubt the importance of writing down goals - AND regularly reviewing them.

About 25 years ago Harvard Business School completed a famous experiment on goal setting.

They checked to see which students in one year group had a practice of setting goals and writing them down. They found that only about 3% of the entire student body actually wrote goals down and revisited them regularly.

Over the next 20 years they followed the ups-and-downs of the year group. At the 20-year point they assessed the results of their study.

The 3% who had written down their goals had almost completely achieved them, and their combined financial wealth was greater than the complete financial wealth of the 97% who had never bothered.

So, it is perhaps fair to say with a high degree of probability, that if you are not very happy with your lot at the moment, it is almost certain that you do NOT presently write goals down. Am I wrong?

Don't get me wrong, I am not being smug here - I have no right to be -I had typically never written goals down before - or at least only in the vaguest of detail - and hardly ever bothered to review them. As such I have “coasted along” for the most part. Around the beginning of February 2006 I started to write goals down.  Did it make a difference?

In a word, yes. From wondering if I would ever manage to invest in property and how on earth I was going to handle a fairly difficult cash-flow situation involving making a payment of £1,000 EVERY month for the next couple of years, to an altogether nicer position. Just under two months later I had bought my first investment property, greatly reduced my outgoings and am now in a position to buy at least two more in the next two months. What happened? A fair bit, but the most important thing underpinning it all was a set of WRITTEN goals which I reviewed and updated properly. The cost?  Sod all.

(Update, it is now the third week of April and I have purchased a further four properties ahead of schedule. Annoyingly, I missed out on two further ones but I shall aim to get something else to replace them within the next month.) I do not say this to brag - but to try and impress upon you the phenomenal difference goal setting has made for me.

Yet even now, with ZERO risk of ANYTHING - perhaps less than 5% of you reading this will actually have the motivation to be bothered to even try this - and will just pin all your hopes and dreams for the future on some fanciful notion of winning a lottery / competition / sweepstake. I have to say, the odds don't look great. Sure people win every week - but rather less obviously, tens of millions of people win nothing - except the right to play the “woe is me and my lot” game.

Up for a challenge? Turn the TV off for once, the fact they can run 24/7 is not a goal you need to be aiming for - and then spend perhaps the most valuable hour so far this year - in WRITING down your goals. you may need to spend a little while working out what the golas are first. These may be different if you are single, to those if you are married.

Make goals achievable with some effort - not so simple that you hardly have to try - nor so hard that it almost impossible to reach them. You can always review (change) a goal if you really need to - or extend your time, but you will gain far more satisfaction from completing a goal on time.

Goals for each of the next seven days
An overall target for each of the next six months
An overall target of where you want to be a year from now.

You are on the Internet - so make use of google and search for things like “setting goals” for tips and guidelines (all free) on how to make effective goals.

If you do this and review your goals regularly, my guess is that you will see positive changes within days - emotional attitude first, then real beneficial changes - or....do nothing - except watch the TV as much as possible, plod un uphill, carry on feeling sorry for yourself and buy that "lucky" lottery ticket. Again.

Something about “taking horses to water” comes to mind.

This is something that actually WILL help you, for ZERO cost. Why are you thinking "hmm, perhaps *later*. Actually do it NOW. Right NOW

Yes?   Wow :)
No or "yes but."?   Well, I did try. I guess it isn't for everyone. Enjoy your TV

Good luck