Picture this: you gather with your executive team and have a great energetic conversation about what needs to happen in your organization. Seemingly everyone contributes innovative ideas and leaves the meeting all jazzed up. And yet, in the end, nothing happens. That ever happen in your organization?

Even though everyone left the room pumped up and excited, there still wasn't enough of a plan to make something happen. Part of the issue relates to the lack of accountability that might exist in your organization--you can read my other post about that here--but there is usually another missing fundamental element as well: you never put any dates down with all those great ideas you came up with. 

Without dates (and a name assigned to the task), nothing got done because there was never any concrete goal to take action. That's why when it comes planning, anything without a date on it is just a dream. 

When you write down a goal, and assign a date by which you want to complete the tasks you need to accomplish to meet your goal, it gives you clarity about what you need to do to get there--which can have a profound impact. 

When you do assign dates to your goals, it's amazing what can happen. It is truly how you can make dreams come true.

I have used this approach when it comes to writing my own life plan, where I scope out what I want to happen in the next three to five years of my life professionally, financially, and with my health and relationships.  The clarity generated by writing the goal down and adding a date - is amazing  

A great way to think about this comes from Mike Vance, a motivational speaker who was friends with Walk Disney and Steve Jobs. Vance, who popularized the term "think outside the box" used the analogy of making movies when he talked about how you can use progress reports to track how you are doing in terms of reaching your big life goals. 

If your goal is to make a movie by a certain time, for example, you need to review the dailies--which are the daily scenes filmed --as a way to review how you are progressing toward reaching your goal. Every day is a link in the ultimate goal of a movie.  If you don't have a date set, it can be nearly impossible to know how you are doing because you can always find a reason to keep doing more.

You can be doing the same thing when it comes to reaching your own life goals--whether that's making a movie or not--by reviewing your "dailies" to see how you are progressing toward the dates you assigned to your goals. 

And the more progress you make every day, the better chances you have of reaching your ultimate goals. 

So think about this the next time you sit down with your executive team--or when you make time to consider your own personal goals: make sure you're asking the question of "When?" you want to get something done by as well as who is going to do it. 

That's how you can make your best shot at turning mere dreams into your reality.