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Why Is It Important To Set Realistic Goals?

How to Set Personal Goals  |  By: Katie Lister

January 05, 2024

Why is it important to set realistic goals? How do I set realistic goals? What exactly are realistic goals? If you are looking for answers to these questions, you’re not alone!

Setting realistic goals is a crucial skill when it comes to your success and accomplishing both your long-term and short-term goals.

Hello, my name is Katie Lister,  a practicing Registered Nurse and the founder of Growth Gals. In this article, I talk about why setting realistic goals is crucial for success in every aspect of life. I will share everything you need to know about being realistic when setting goals and why it is important.

Table of Contents

Katie Lister

Katie Lister

Written by Katie Lister, RN, BScN. An experienced Registered Nurse, Group Facilitator, Life Coach, and Community Leader. Read Katie's Full Author Bio

What are Realistic Goals?

This is one of the most asked goal setting questions. Realistic goals are well-defined personal goals that should answer questions like:

  • What you want to achieve with an ambitious goal
  • How you want to achieve the objective
  • When you want to achieve it

Merely expressing a desire to open a business is not sufficient. You must set a clear goal and determine the type of business you wish to establish, the steps you will take, and the timeframe for achieving it.

Many people fail because they set unattainable goals and take no action. They end up wasting a whole year without making any progress, simply because they did not take the time to plan and execute their goals effectively which is detrimental to mental health.

Why is it Important To Set Realistic Goals?

Long term and short term goal setting is essential to our lives and enables us to form new behaviors or habits. Setting goals also allows us to determine what matters to us and prioritize the goals according to their relevance. The process of setting goals is fluid and changes with time. Your goals today differ significantly from those you will have in twenty years. You must, therefore, keep revisiting your life goals and update them accordingly.

For better chances of success, it’s essential to set goals for yourself, and it’s equally important to set realistic ones. While it’s tempting to make grand resolutions – like losing 90% of your excess body weight in just three months – it’s essential to consider your skills, motivation level, and time frame. You can only set a realistic goal you’re more likely to achieve.

There are two types of goals- long and short-term. The bigger or long-term goals take longer and are split into smaller (short-term) and achievable goals. What is the importance of setting realistic goals?

1. They Boost Confidence and Your Self-Esteem

Goal setting gives you a solid sense of purpose. You are more likely to succeed when you know what you are working towards and how to get there. As you hit the milestones you set, your self-esteem shoots up. With every win, you become more confident and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

When we achieve something, our body releases dopamine, the happy hormone, which improves mood and focus. You feel more motivated when you set achievable goals. Unrealistic goals lead to frustration and defeat.


2. Improve Productivity

Why Is It Important To Set Realistic Goals? Setting realistic goals that can be achieved within a reasonable timeframe is essential. This helps you learn time management and how to use your energy efficiently. When you have a clear and achievable goal in your mind, you can stay focused and motivated, which in turn improves your productivity.

You also clearly understand what you need to do to achieve your objectives, making you more organized and effective.

With a clear action plan, you can prioritize your tasks and work on them accordingly, giving you more time to progress toward your goals. By setting attainable goals, you can be more efficient and effective in your work.

3. Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Setting realistic goals relieves anxiety and stress by providing a roadmap to victory. You will be confident and calm when you know the steps you need to take to get results. Since you know what lies ahead, you can plan and prepare for any eventuality.

Realistic goals can also reduce anxiety about failure. If you find it challenging to achieve all your goals within the set timeline, it’s important to remember that you can continually assess and adjust accordingly. Setting realistic goals is a great way to succeed without feeling the pressure to achieve them.

Additionally, you’ll experience better mental well-being when you have zero pressure to fulfill unrealistic and ambitious expectations.

4. Keep You Motivated

You can keep your eye on the ultimate goal when you have specific and attainable goals. The closer you get to success, the more motivated you feel and the harder you work to attain the objective. If you set goals as a team leader, ensure a clear action plan.

Explain the work goals and how you intend to achieve them. Please keep track of the team’s progress and applaud their efforts, thus keeping the morale high. Avoid setting huge and vague goals, but break the goal into smaller goals and ensure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound).

SMART goals make it easier to manage the time allocated per task. A large but non-specific goal may seem far and unattainable, but hitting smaller milestones will help the team know they are making some headway.

Consider the difference between a vague goal and a specific goal. For example, “We must improve sales” is too broad, whereas “We must ensure we hit the $100,000 mark in sales this quarter by launching our marketing campaign” is more specific and measurable.

Examples of Goals That Are Realistic

You can never exhaust the list of realistic goal examples, whether for personal growth or professional goals. A few examples include:

  • Light exercise for 10 minutes every morning
  • Volunteer at a charity two times a week for a month
  • Write a short story within three months by writing 300 words a day
  • Call your parents once a week
  • Learn a new language in 12 months
  • Make a career from your hobby
  • Increase sales by 20% via advertising on all social media platforms
  • Pay off all your credit card debts
  • Plan for retirement while still young
  • Learning new skills relevant to your career

What is the most important step in prioritizing goals? Find out here. 

How to Ensure Your Goals Are Realistic

To avoid frustration, here are some tips on how to set realistic goals:

·       Know What Motivates You

To identify your goals, you must first know what motivates you. You can do this by identifying what activities excite you. For instance, you might be a chef who loves cooking and teaching others your craft. With this in mind, consider starting cooking classes for both children and adults. If you enjoy working with young children, you may get certification and start a daycare center.

·       Discover Your Purpose

To discover your purpose, you need three things: 

  • Passion: What you love doing
  • Strengths: What you are good at
  • Values: Your principles or the things you believe in

National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner developed The Three Elements of Purpose framework. He believed that the above three things can help you find your purpose.

·       Write the Goals Down

Writing down your goals is a fundamental yet powerful step towards achieving them. It allows you to evaluate your options and make changes if necessary.

If the goals you’ve written down don’t match the ones you have in mind, feel free to start over and make the necessary changes. A vision board is a great way to visualize your goals so you can always see what you are striving toward. It also acts as a motivator when you feel discouraged.

·       Seek Mentorship

When going through difficult times, seeking mentorship from someone you trust or admire can help you in the right direction. A mentor can offer you advice, guidance, and support throughout your journey and help you understand that it’s okay to ask for help when needed.

By seeking the counsel of others, you can learn helpful tips and tricks that you may not have known before and choose what works best for you.

·       Take Action

Lastly, learn to follow up on your goals and take action. Goals are just ideas until you take action and do something tangible. If you are a writer, you have all the resources you need. Start with a blog and publish your ideas! If you are a DIY (Do It Yourself) enthusiast, set up an online store and start selling your creations. 

Growth Gals Can Help You Become Better at Realistic Goal Setting!

Are you a woman who wants to improve herself? Do you want to explore your true self, values, and aspirations? If yes, then you can join Growth Gals. It is a community of women committed to self improvement and offer the support you need to become better at setting and achieving goals.

Follow @growthgals_ on Instagram to stay updated on our goal-setting journals, coaching, and support groups. Also, check out our newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest tips and tricks for personal growth. Join us now and begin your journey towards self-improvement!

Why Is It Important To Set Realistic Goals? - Conclusion

Setting goals is easy, but fulfilling them is a problem for most people. The biggest issue lies in setting unrealistic goals, which makes it hard to become successful. For any goal to work, you must ensure it is relevant to your life. Find out what motivates you and write down your goals.

Finding your purpose is crucial when goal setting, and you can use the Three Elements of Purpose Framework that incorporates passion, strengths, and values. Get someone to mentor you, and finally, in the coming New Year, take action!

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