Have you ever secretly dreamed of reaching the moon? Probably yes, as a lot of us tend to have that desire. Yet inside out, you also know that achieving that is not possible. Why think of aiming for something that we know is hardly achievable? That is where arises the importance of setting a realistic goal.
There is a vast gap between what we want and what we can actually get. Trying to grab something that is something out of reach is only going to cause a lot of distress. Having a realistic goal requires an adequate knowledge of a person’s skills, disposition, and personality. Unless you are aware of your limits, chances are you might lose momentum to reach your goal.
What is a realistic goal?
To make it simple to understand, a realistic goal is one where the chances of success are high if broken into small steps. Whether they are professional or personal, these are goals that you are likely to achieve with manageable steps. They are practical in nature, like focussing on getting a degree.
On the personal front, a realistic goal is to lose 20 pounds weight in six months to one year. However, if your goal setting is to lose weight of 20 pounds in a week, then it becomes unrealistic. This is because the chances of failure, in this case, are high.
Thus some examples of realistic goals could be:
Why is it important to set realistic goals? – Benefits of Realistic Goals
When we set a realistic goal, we stop ourselves from facing a potential heartbreak. You focus all your efforts on something that is achievable. Naturally, then when you reach the target, you get a dopamine rush and your happiness knows no bounds. Your self-confidence boosts in achieving goals. Apart from this, let us tell you why it is essential to set realistic goals:
Keep you on track
If you set a goal that is possible to achieve, your entire life remains on track. You keep moving ahead, and there is nothing to hold you back. The key is to break a large goal into smaller goals with milestones along the way. The chance of minimal failure of your micro goals keeps you charged enough to continue. For instance, if you want to lose weight, then set a realistic goal of 5 pounds lost in a month. Once you have attained that, you can move on to the next target.
Fewer chances of getting discouraged
Do you know that every failure pulls us back a few steps? It not only discourages us but makes us wary of taking up new responsibilities. However, with a realistic goal, you can quickly achieve what you aim for. Moving on, you conquer any other hurdle that is awaiting you.
Your confidence is rather fragile, especially when you are at the beginning of anything. If you face struggles, chances are your confidence is going to drop. Every goal achievement with a realistic goal becomes a celebration in itself. You get the courage and confidence to try for something higher and exclusive.
If you have an idea of what you wish to achieve, you will allocate your time and resources efficiently. You have a plan and know the steps needed to reach the destination. Obviously, you would be less likely to get distracted as your mind is just focused on the target. When you see yourself attaining success, you put in your best effort to keep going. Your life gets a sense of purpose that motivates you further.
An important aspect of setting attainable goals is to help you maintain focus.
Save your time and resources
When you set a realistic and bigger goal, you would work only on attaining that. Your full attention is only on the goal, and you would give your time to it. Instead of dabbling in many jobs that waste your time, you are focused on something that works for you.
Have a better idea of your progress
Knowing how well you are doing is essential when trying to achieve a target. A realistic goal is measurable, divided into steps, and you keep ticking the boxes as you achieve them. This keeps you aware of how far you are from achieving your dreams.
Identify where you are lacking
Realistic goals help you in all areas of your life. As you move ahead, you can recognize the mistakes you are making. Next, you will not repeat the same and thus increase the possibility of succeeding and getting small wins.
As you build momentum and stay focused, you get one step closer to the big win.
What things should you consider before setting a goal?
How to Set Realistic Goals
Moving on, we need to understand the process of setting up realistic goals also. The below-mentioned tips would help in setting up easy-to-achieve goals:
Think of your goals, then make them specific
This is probably the most basic thing we have to say. Before anything, decide what you wish to achieve and how will these goals help. Then zero in on that one specific thing that you really want to do. For instance, you want to read more books than you usually do. Now think about which genre of books you want to read as it would make it easy for you to accomplish your goal.
Set SMART goals
Apart from being realistic, your goals need to be SMART. This is an acronym for the following:
For example, instead of saying I want to become an actor, be a little clear. You can say I want to be a comedy actor in two years and would do an acting course from a specific institute. Also, where you would submit your portfolio will be a smart goal. Set a time you plan to take to achieve the goal.
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Organize the goals you have set
Now you have identified a couple of ambitious goals. The next step is to divide them into short, medium, and long-term goals. Decide which ones are easy to achieve in days, months, and years. Specify timelines for each one of them so you know where you are heading. Also, think about how the progress of your short and medium goals would impact the long-term goals.
Start your research
No end goal is attainable until you have done your share of research and information gathering. You might have to ask yourself the following questions:
Once done, you can start the research work. Make sure you have all the answers before you start work to achieve your goals.
Simplify and break up your goals
You have already broken down your goal once. Now is the time to simplify and break them down into smaller goals. For example, you want to be an expert in marketing. Obviously, it is hard to manage all of the areas it covers.
So pick up two or three sub-divisions like SEO, content marketing, and link building. Now focus all your attention on understanding these three. Identify the opportunities for improvement, where you can learn about them, and by when you would be able to become an expert in each.
Each day make progress towards achieving smaller goals and get a boost in confidence.
Track the progress of the goal
Lastly, it would help if you also track your progress. Step-by-step tracking would inform you of how short you are from your destination. Plus, you can check the hurdles and work on removing them.
Regularly keep an eye on the way things are moving. Make changes to the path you have taken so you stay motivated.
Key factors when setting realistic goals:
Factors to consider when setting realistic goals
It goes without saying that setting any kind of goal is not easy. You have to keep many things in mind before you finalize your realistic goal. Have a look at the essential considerations:
Importance or relevance to you
The goal you pick up must make sense to you. Just do not start something because everyone around you is doing it. You should feel a deep pull towards the activity and a passionate interest. So if you want to become a piano player, first find if you have a flair for music. Just aping others’ goals is not going to lead you anywhere. Setting goals helps you identify your target.
Personal strengths and weaknesses
You, by now, must have a fair idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Does the goal you are thinking of is nurturing your strengths completely? For instance, if you are passionate about mathematical calculations having a dream of becoming an artist is not feasible. The same logic applies to your weaknesses as well.
Availability of time and resources
An analysis of your time and resources is another factor you will have to pay attention to. Check how much time you have spare to pick the activity and see if it is sufficient to perform well. So if you are in middle age, then probably going for a fast-paced career change may not be such a great idea. Similarly, if you cannot arrange the materials, conducting art classes would be a waste of time.
Short term Vs. Long term goals
As we have already discussed, your goals can be short-term or long-term in nature. Short-term goals are those that you can achieve in a week or a maximum of three months. This includes personal goals like talking to an old friend or reducing 2 pounds of weight.
On the other hand, you can achieve a long-term milestone between three months to five years. Achieving financial freedom and completing your thesis are goals that fall under this category. Find out if your goal is short-term or long-term and then whether you need time to achieve it.
Ease of completion
The ease with which you can accomplish your goal would be critical too. You have thought of a goal of going on a world cruise within six months. However, you don’t have the finances or information to go about it. The possibility of you being unable to accomplish the task is pretty high in this case. Unrealistic goals often lead to disappointment. Even if you make an action plan, make sure you are determined to achieve it.
But what happens when you set an unrealistic goal?
Consequences of setting unrealistic goals
When we work towards an unrealistic goal, we increase the probability of facing failure. The stress we have to experience after a failure is a part of the bargain. Some other negative implications of setting unrealistic goals are:
It is tough to see your dreams and goals come crashing down. However, if you have set an unachievable target, the possibility of that happening is high. In addition, you have other responsibilities like family and work to manage. All that pressure escalates the stress level, and leads to frustration, thus impacting your mental health.
Decrease in motivation
The goals that we pick motivate us to keep working hard. However, what happens when we see the same goals falling apart? It impacts your mental levels, and the signs of failure affect your making progress. Typically any failure should force you to try harder. But if the goal is unattainable, the motivation levels dip down.
You keep trying to succeed, yet failure looms ahead. The more effort you put in, the worse it makes you feel. Unfortunately, with so much stress to achieve, your body has to bear the brunt. It causes burnout, the consequences of which can be rather hampering.
Frustration and disappointments
Every person has a different way of dealing with disappointments. However, if they continuously see their plans going awry, their frustration levels continue to rise. Taking that frustration out is also a natural progression then. It comes to the family and friends who have to suffer neglect. On the other hand, when the goal is attainable, the person is satisfied, and that reflects in his relationships.
Impacts future progress
When you set a achievable goal, you have a plan to fulfill it. However, even if one part of that goal is unrealistic, it will impact future plans as well as goals are time-bound. Overall the person tries his best to keep things together. Yet if they are failing at one point, doing that becomes a challenge.
Setting unrealistic goals are often like derailing your train even before it sets ahead. Instead of setting goals, break down and take pride in small achievements.
Starting with small goals and then moving on to bigger ones is critical for success. Realistic goal setting would increase your possibility of reaching the target you have set.
Ensure your mind is clear when you decide to plan your goals. That would make the process simpler. Plus, an idea of your limitations would mean that you do not fail to achieve at any point. Setting realistic goals help on all forefronts, and it’s time you proceed with the process with care.