Dreams & Goals: A Positive Effect on Maintaining Positive Mental Health

I hope you enjoyed some rest and relaxation over a very welcomed three day weekend – at least for many. Hopefully, the extra day helped settle minds some, considering all the negative news seemingly in our faces non-stop on TV, across social media, posted on billboards, etc.

It’s essential to our mental health to take a break here and there, and especially in light of economic uncertainty and challenges being caused by the same in our work lives. We must be able to work at our most effective level possible in order to navigate our businesses through these challenging times. Yesterday was a good reminder as it was World Mental Health Day.

As I was writing yesterday’s article, Dreams Are Always Worth Pursuing, and knowing it was World Mental Health Day, I started thinking about the effect dreams and goals may have on our mental health. Interestingly, I found quite a few articles about the topic.

One article addresses it as, Setting goals is an effective way to increase motivation and to help you to create the changes you want. It can be used to improve health and relationships, or improve productivity at work. Setting goals can also be an important step in the recovery from mental illness.

Dreams, which are often longer-term goals, would apply, as well. Of course, I’m not referring to dreams that occur during sleep. Instead, I’m referring to dreams of achievement, accomplishment, a positive outcome.

Another article I had found in my research confirms the role of dreams in mental health. Here is an excerpt from the article, Pursuing your dreams and staying positive can improve mental health:

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, surveyed more than 3,000 people in the United States over a period of 18 years, looking at their tendency of persisting for their goals, having a positive attitude when facing challenges, and self-mastery, that is, believing in one’s ability to fulfill their goals.

The study found that those individuals who indicated greater goal persistence and optimism at the beginning of the study had lower incidences of anxiety, depressive, and panic disorders throughout the study.

Working on persevering for their life-long goals and keeping a positive outlook can be two important tools in helping individuals build resiliency, gain success in their personal and professional lives, and ultimately improve their sense of well-being and fulfillment.

Reading through a number of articles with similar information stimulated some thoughts of my own on how dreams and goals could help entrepreneurs and business owners deal with mental health issues – of which we know both groups are highly susceptible.

It brought to mind an article I had written some time ago about dreams and goals. It was originally published in January 2010 but the similarities between the economic challenges faced in 2010 and today make the article, albeit with minor edits, very relevant today!

What Happened to Our Dreams and Goals?

I recently came across an interesting discussion in one of the LinkedIn groups that I found quite intriguing, and downright enjoyable to read. It wasn’t about franchising. Nothing about social media. There was no mention of business or entrepreneurship. Money or finances weren’t a major part of the equation. And, surprisingly, just a few mentions about current economic challenges. The discussion was actually about the concept of dreams and goals.

It was enlightening that there were well over one hundred responses in a relatively short period of time. Definitely a considerable amount when compared to other discussions within the same group. Often, the responses were being posted one right after the other. It seemed like people wanted to talk about their dreams and goals, almost as if they had been prohibited from doing so of late.

In light of the economic uncertainty surrounding us today, it seems the subject of dreams and goals has hibernated like a bear for winter. During good times, dreams and goals are out in the open, shared by many. Actually, bragged about by some, and the end results, often materialistic, flaunted by others.

It’s ironic that we’re taught that in order to achieve a goal, a key element in doing so is to enlist the assistance of people that can help us achieve the goal. Yet, in the current economic climate, discussions about dreams and goals have subsided, and have almost disappeared. It’s almost like we feel guilty to have such discussions at this time. Or, that we should just be thankful for what we have and dismiss our dreams and goals as frivolous.

What about the dreams and goals that are not financially driven or rewarding? Why have they been put on the back burner? Well, to all of this, I say “enough is enough.” Yes, enough of the poor me attitudes. Enough of the pity parties. And, enough of the social “rubbernecking.” (Social rubbernecking is when people excitedly talk about other people’s miseries – i.e., neighbor lost his job, their house was foreclosed on, he was having an affair – it’s just like slowing down to look at the horrific car wreck!)

NOW is definitely the time to put all the negatives aside and re-ignite the passion behind our dreams. It’s the perfect time to pull out those lists of goals and remember why we wrote them down in the first place. Why they’re important. How they’re important to people close to us. And how our lives would be positively affected upon achieving our goals and making our dreams come true.

Certainly, it’s time to face the realization that it’s up to us to make our dreams and goals a reality. They’re ours. We own them. No one can take them from us. To paraphrase a quote that I’ve seen many times (in many different forms) in discussions about success, “There are people that make things happen, some that watch things happen, and others that wonder what the hell happened?” Could you tell which group of people are most successful at achieving their goals and making their dreams come true?

And I’ll leave you with my favorite quote to ponder:

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!