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January is named after the Roman god Janus, the god of the doorway. Seriously! January was – and is – seen as the door to the year ahead.
When you walk through the door it often feels like a time to set new goals. Yet, statistics indicate that our success rate with New Year's resolutions is dismally low.
Here's the thing: We can do better.
Goals and resolutions help us, but on their own lack the sustained power to change your life. Dreams, on the other hand, can create extraordinary motivation and transformative change.
Dreams capture people's imaginations and help people push through challenges and achieve things that they would never have imagined possible.
A few years ago the US Library of Congress had a special presentation to commemorate the first centennial of flight. They called it: "The Dream of Flight" not "The Goal of Flight." Their reasoning was that human flight was one of humanity's oldest and most persistent aspirations.
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King delivered a speech that came to define the American Civil Rights Movement. In the speech, titled "I have a dream", he called for racial equality. That speech inspired millions and changed the world for the better. He was able to change the world because he told people about his dream. Now imagine if the speech was titled "I have a goal."
Not quite the same effect, is it?
When I attended the last two Olympics with CTV as an analyst I noticed that athletes were talking about dreams, what it meant to finally reach them and how motivating or as powerful dreams can be. Think about what athletes look like when they win. They exhilarated, thrilled, excited, and energized. That's because they've transformed themselves over years of training into the most physically and mentally strong people on the planet. And they've just reached their dream!
When Mark Tewksbury won gold for Canada at the Barcelona Olympics, Rob Faulds who was announcing the race exclaimed "The Dream Lives!!!!" Dreaming is one of the keys that helps makes athletes overcome challenges and to reach their own potential.
Dreams can be huge – like humans achieving flight – or they can be as small as you want. It can be something athletic like running a 10 km race or even a marathon. It can be eating better and changing your body. You might want to challenge yourself to learn how to play an amazing piece of music. Maybe you want to learn how to sleep more deeply so you can live with more energy. They key to dream setting is to identify something that you're passionate about. And then go for it.
Dream setting is magic. It's powerful. And we need to do more of it because going after your dreams can help you change your life for the better. If you're really inspired you might even be able to change the lives of the people you care about for the better too! So this year remember to dream and create your moments of opportunity. Good luck and have a great year!
Dr. Greg Wells is an assistant professor in kinesiology at the University of Toronto and an associate scientist in physiology and experimental medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children. He is a health and high performance expert who inspires better living through better nutrition and better fitness. You can follow him on Twitter at @drgregwells.