Dreaming gives us goals, but effort and organization allow us to reach them. It is sad that so many people drift through life with only the first half of the goal process completed. They have a dream!

To change a dream into a reality, we must first compare the new dream with others that we might already have. In fact, there are at least five areas of our lives we should compare our dream to, to see if it is in conflict with dreams in progress. Actually, the minute we put effort into achieving our dreams, it becomes a goal. So our first step in conversion will be to make the appropriate comparisons.

We must look at the areas of our lives where we should have goals and where they may come into conflict. These are occupation, finance, education, social, family, and religion/moral philosophy.  For instance, if my new dream—which is on its way to becoming a goal—to increase my income by 30 percent requires me to be gone three weekends out of a month, it will conflict with some previously set goals. It will conflict, in the family area, with my goal to spend weekends with my family. It might even conflict with a goal in the religious area to attend church on a regular basis, and a goal in the social area to play golf on Saturday.  To stretch a point, it might also prevent me from attending weekend classes at the university and derail my educational goal of earning a P.H.D.  That change in my finance goal could disrupt four other major areas of my life.

The best way to get started is to commit your goals to writing. Once you have written all your goals down, sort them into categories. To do this, take six sheets of paper and label them with the six areas listed above. Examine each goal and determine in which category it belongs. Now look carefully and note whether any of the goals are in conflict. Goal setting by one person is bad enough but, when additional people become involved, we increase the complexity of the process. If you are setting your goals with a spouse or business partner, compare your list with theirs. In fact, the best thing is to combine the lists to see if they are at all compatible. Remember, after marriage is not the time to find out that your family list has a goal of six children, and she has written and highlighted in red “no children” on hers—especially since she is the one who would have them.

It is not a difficult process to write down, categorize, and then compare your goal list for conflicts, but it is a very important one. Many a marriage or business partnership would have profited from this exercise before saying, “I do.” The process helps us to determine the resources required to achieve our goals and where we will get them. It is at that point that we can make the value judgments necessary to press on or change course.