Dreams, goals and deadlines: What would you do today?

Published 10:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2022


By Bonnie Brown

As I stood in line to check out recently, there was a small sign in what I call the “impulse buy” section that read “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”  It seemed to resonate with me.  So much so that I looked it up when I got home to see where it originated.  It was written by  Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), an American self-help author who is best known for his book Think and Grow Rich.  It is among the ten best-selling self-help books of all time and known as the “granddaddy of all motivational literature.”  Pretty lofty praise for a self-help book and author.  

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How many of us have had lots of dreams that took shape, only to be lost in the mist of life because we did not assign a deadline for their realization?  As a young woman, I thought I had my life pretty well laid out.  I could tell you what my future looked like right down to the mental picture of my home, my children (5 of them), and how I’d be the perfect wife and mother.  Well, as we all know, life doesn’t necessarily follow the plan we make.  My home looked nothing like I envisioned.  I have 2 children, not 5, and I was and am far from the perfect wife and mother that I planned to be.  And I’m very happy and feel extraordinarily lucky with my life.  

I don’t feel that I’ve ever stopped dreaming and planning.  In fact, I feel that I’ve reinvented myself in some ways.  And I’ve accomplished this redesign without setting a deadline.  Now I wonder how much more I might have done if I had actually set a deadline for my dreams/goals.  I seem to have gone about life in a willy-nilly way in many respects.  Oh, don’t doubt that I’m a planner and I’m a decent manager of circumstances.  I am.  It’s just that in retrospect I left a lot to chance.  Was that wise?  I’d have to answer yes because I feel so fortunate.  I’m married to a wonderful man who is kind, honorable, and loving.  Our adult children are likewise extraordinary human beings and are fortunate enough to have chosen perfectly lovely, amazing wives who are the perfect parts to our family dynamic.  And need I say anything about the five grandchildren who are the jewels in the crown.  I am so proud of my family!  

So, should we expect a perfect outcome if we perfectly set a goal for our dreams?  Probably not.  As I said, life happens and there are many things that cannot be controlled.  Just look at the state of affairs of the world—war, pandemic, drought, storms, melting glaciers, brutal heat.  Too many unpredictable things.  In fact, it seems there are many things outside our control.  Think about the job/career that you expected to take you to retirement, your health, or the death of a parent, spouse, or child.  Or divorce.  In the grand scheme of things, how much control do we have over our lives?    

Well, possibly more than we think.  We all want to lead a productive and meaningful life, but we often allow outside influences to cloud our judgment.  We often make bad choices.  This is part of life.  I would hate to think that I’d arrive at a point in my life and look back with regret.  But we all have some aspects of our life that we regret.  There will be failures, missed opportunities, disappointment, and a recognition of failure to live up to expectations and potential.  That is life.  If we were to dwell on our shortcomings, we will miss the best parts—the reasons to celebrate.  And we all have reasons to celebrate.  Many reasons.  Just take a moment.  And perhaps set a goal and realize your dream.  

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for the Oxford Eagle. Contact her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.