A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish (How to Plan For Success!)

Take a moment to think about the goals you have for your life. How many of them have you made plans for? You may have heard the quote a goal without a plan is just a wish. Are the goals you have for your life really goals… or are they wishes?

A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish‘ Meaning

A goal without a plan is just a wish – meaning, if you don’t have a plan in place to reach your goals, they will remain as wishes.

But wait, are wishes a bad thing?

Well, not necessarily. Wishing involves using your imagination to dream up more for your life than what you have. Wishes give us hope that we can get to where we want to be.

But, without a plan in place to get you there, a wish is mostly just a passive request for something to happen. It has no action behind it to drive you forward in the same way that a goal can.

Taking ownership over our decisions and our lives is something that we are passionate about at Joyful Through It All. We believe that being intentional with our time is the key to reaching big goals and chasing bigger dreams.

People often wish for things with hopes that they can have them without taking any steps to actually get there. Manifestation has become a popular Internet trend that promises to materialize our wishes without really putting in much effort.

Sure, having a positive attitude about your goals won’t hurt, but you do need a plan in place to get the ball rolling! It is time to start getting intentional and form a plan to reach that big crazy goal on your heart!

What is the Difference Between a Goal and a Wish?

We know that a goal without a plan is just a wish. And we know that wishes are passive requests that we put out into the universe. But how is a wish different from setting a goal?

As it turns out, the answer is in the definition of the word goal:

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

To have a goal you need two things: a desired result as well as the ambition and effort to get there.

Without effort and ambition, your goal is a wish. It is something that you would like for yourself, but not something you are putting any effort into actively getting.

But before you start putting in any effort, you need a plan!

Don’t Set A Goal Without a Plan: SMART Goals

One tool that helps us understand that a goal without a plan is just a wish is the SMART acronym.

If you have done any sort of goal setting, you probably have a loose idea of what SMART goals look like. They have to be specific, measurable, attainable, reachable, and timely.

There are many variations of this acronym, but they all point toward the need for a plan.

We all have financial, career, personal, and health goals. But a goal without a plan is just a wish. The plan is what is going to drive you forward to reach these goals.

Often, it comes down to the words we use when we talk about our goals. And if you change your words, you change your mindset.

For example, you could say ‘I wish I was in better shape.” However, this statement is only a wish. This wish removes all responsibility from you. It imagines up some obstacle that is preventing you from getting into shape.

This wish can easily be turned into a SMART goal with a plan:

  • Specific: I want to be able to run around with my kids without losing my breath so easily.
  • Measurable: Can I run around for 15 minutes without being winded?
  • Attainable: It is possible to do this with hard work, exercise, and effort!
  • Relevant: Being a present parent is important to me.
  • Timely: I want to be able to do this by the end of the month.

Notice that the goal is specifically stated so that it is clear what you are trying to achieve. It is measurable with a timeframe given, so you know when you have successfully reached it.

The most important part of this goal is that it is attainable through hard work and effort. Remember that this is the key to setting a goal, and keeping it from becoming just another wish.

Attaching value to the goal makes it personally relevant. When you make plans to reach goals that are value-driven and relevant to your life, you are more likely to stick with them!

What wish or dream do you have on your heart? How can you transform it into a SMART goal and make a plan to reach it?

Goal Planner Printable

When it comes to setting and achieving goals, it is important to plan out the reason why you are working toward your goal.

Setting your intentions and attaching a value to your goal is a great way to help you reach it!

Our family worked together to create goal planner printable that we use in our home to help us map out and work toward our goals.

We love this printable because it helps us take the time to think about the reason for setting our goals in the first place.

There is also a spot to brainstorm any obstacles that might get in the way of reaching our goals. This allows us to be proactive and think of an action plan ahead of time.

goal planner printable

What Gets in the Way?

We all have dreams and wishes, but how many of them make it to the planning stage? Why is it so hard to give a wish the kick it needs to become a goal?

Well, one reason is that for every dream and wish on our hearts, it seems that we have an equal number of limiting beliefs about ourselves. These are the stories we tell ourselves about our goals that keep us from pursuing them.

“I can’t get in shape because I just don’t have the time.”

“I can’t afford that because I just don’t make enough money.”

Think of any goal you have and you won’t have to think very hard to come up with a reason that you can’t reach it.

Our brains are really good at shutting down goals before we can even get to the planning phase. So how do we break this cycle?

It all comes down to your mindset. There are many different types of mindsets, but choosing one that focuses on solutions and taking responsibility will help you shut down your limiting beliefs.

These types of mindsets make it possible to change:

“I don’t know the first thing about business! I can’t start my own!”


“I have a lot to learn about starting my own business. But I plan to carve out an hour every night to doing research so that I can learn more!”

It is always going to be easy to make excuses, but remembering that a goal without a plan is just a wish will help you make planning a priority.

When the Plan Fails…

So you’ve read the a goal without a plan is just a wish quote a million times. You’ve written up your plan for your goal, printed out your checklist to keep you accountable…and then you fall off track. What gives!?

It should be no surprise to you that having a plan isn’t all that you need to reach your goals. Sure, a goal without a plan is just a wish, but we need more than a plan to keep us on track!

Many people believe that motivation is the key to reaching goals. If you could just be inspired to reach your goal, you would be able to reach it!

Motivation is certainly very powerful. When we feel a spark of inspiration, it can be enough to make us draw up a plan to kickstart our wishes and turn them into goals.

But sticking to the plan requires more than motivation. It requires discipline. You can plan all you want, but if you can’t resist temptations that take you off track, your goals are going to start looking more and more like wishes everyday!

With the right combination of planning, motivation, and discipline, you have a better chance of reaching your goals.

For more motivation to plan, check out our list of 110 inspirational planner quotes!

Do You Have Goals or Wishes?

Wishes are powerful. They can give us hope and a vision for the future. But goals need more than just hope. They need a plan, motivation, and discipline to reach them.

Many of us spend our days dreaming and wishing for more for our lives. Next time you catch yourself daydreaming, see how it feels to turn your thoughts toward goals. How does it feel to think about planning to reach your goals?

Do your limiting beliefs step in and shut down your plans? Or do you shift your mindset to one that embraces the challenge of planning to reach a challenging goal?

And as you make a wish as you blow out your next birthday cake candle, consider using the humiliating 20 seconds of the Happy Birthday song to make a plan in your head for how you are going to actively turn that wish into a goal.

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone who struggles to turn their goals into action, this post could be just what they need to make a major change!

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