Setting Realistic Goals

Practical Goals

As Og Mandino once said: “The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them.” Goal setting helps break large and tedious tasks into smaller chunks that become achievable, ultimately leading to the completion of that big task.

We all have been told to set goals in our lives but few know how to do it. Simply hailing goal setting as a solution to everything is of no use unless we also learn to it effectively. On the observation of many people, it has been found that around one-fourth of New Year’s resolutions are broken in the very first week. If we look at those who go to the gym, around 80 percent quit within 8 months of joining.

Perhaps the biggest reason for failing to accomplish goals is the inappropriate way people set them. If one sets the bar too high, the goals would become demotivating and people would end up dropping them at some point in time. For instance, if one knows that he/she only has 4 hours available at most for studying, then setting a goal for 8 hours of study per day is not wise at all. A realistic goal would be near 4 hours plus/minus any hour that can be negotiated over the time period (say a month or a year).

It is crucial that you create practical goals for yourself. Let’s go through this point by point.

1) Write them down

When we write our goals down on a piece of paper, we get committed to achieving them. It’s also much easier to spot unrealistic targets once they are written down. If you do all this in your mind only, you’re just making it easier for yourself to manipulate or just ignore your goals and become relaxed.

2) Long-term into short-term

Let’s say you want to bake loads of cookies. Setting your ambitions really high and deciding to make 600 batches of cookies every month will seem really tiring and difficult. But if you break it down into a short-term goal of making 20 batches every day on average, this monthly target will look much easier.

3) Be specific

Vague goals lead to discouragement as one doesn’t feel that he/she is getting any closer to the target. Therefore, specific goals must be set with clear wording, a way of measuring your progress (if at all possible) and a specific date/time attached to them.

4) Keep a check on your actions and progress

You might may be aiming to ‘lose 30 pounds by summer’ which is good, but you should also keep in mind the actions you take to achieve that. Measure your progress regularly and check and revise your specific actions as you go along.

5) Kick-start with one goal

Trying to change too many things in your life at a time would make it confusing and difficult to manage. It would basically like creating one gigantic goal for yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Set one goal at a time. See how you do with that one and make adjustment as necessary. Once you feel like you’re well on your way to meeting your target, start gradually adding other goals. Make sure you see at least some of your goals to completion before taking on many new ones.

6) Allocate time

Realise that anything that’s worth achieving will take time. It’s useless to create objectives for yourself if you don’t allocate any time for them. You need to be very clear with yourself (and perhaps others) as to what time you allocate and where that time will come from. Something will need sacrificing, so accept that from the get-go. The more time you invest, the faster you’ll see progress. It’s best if you set a specific part of the day to work on your goals or schedule this time after some specific activity.

7) Pick only goals you want to achieve

This is one of the most important tips for setting realistic goals. Don’t just come up with things to do because you “should” or because they “look good” or because everyone else is doing it. Set goals because you want to achieve them no matter what happens.

What is your approach to creating personal targets in life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Image credit: Hey Paul Studios

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