What constitutes a worthwhile goal? Is it determined by the outcome – i.e., a retrospective, outcome-based proposal, as opposed to the gambling one where one must enter into the dangerous waters not knowing what the future provides? Are we so safely ensconced in life’s predictability such that we will not longer accept as a goal that which cannot be ascertained unless and until there is some guarantee?
Do people immediately criticize and diminish the stated goal by categorizing it as either “realistic” or “unrealistic”? Is there a distinction with a difference between “dreams” and “goals”, where the former is unbounded and unfettered by the reality of expectations, whereas the latter must be confined to that which can be reasonably ascertained as achievable?
What of the child who “dreams” of becoming a major league baseball player – do we cite the statistical odds against it, even at the tender age of 5? What if the child works diligently and shows some promise – daily exercises, practices at every aspect of the game, and joins this league or that and shows “promise” and “potential” – at what point do we advise him (or her) to give up and “become realistic”?
Are some dreams okay to retain and have despite any semblance of “reality” intervening to make them come true – like secretly wanting to be a novelist (even though not a single page, let alone one sentence, has been put on paper) or a pro basketball player (even if you are 5’ 3”, and certainly no Muggsy Bogues), just because it makes one “feel good” or allow for self-confidence by carrying a secretive self-image that one is not what one truly appears to be?
At what point do dreams become goals, and goals merely dreams? Is it when you actually take a “concrete” step towards making a dream become a reality, that then you have a goal, because the latter is “achievable” while the former is not? Or is it like that old Chinese proverb that Kennedy liked to recite (or was becoming a writer for John F. Kennedy merely a “dream” and that is why Ted Sorensen, his ghost writer, is the one who did all the writing that the former President merely dreamed about?), that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?
Or, perhaps like the Federal or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the goal is to become healthy again – or is it merely a dream?
Dream or goal, for the Federal or Postal worker trying to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be reviewed and determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, like the potential baseball star or the best power forward in the business of pro basketball, the first step is the most important – of realizing dreams into goals, and goals into realistic dreams, whichever may be the case.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire