Introduction: Setting Goals in 2017
Why are goals important? Why is it important to set goals? If you ask people about the importance of setting goals, they will likely list a number of reasons off the top of their head:
- Goals provide a form of direction
- Goals help you decide what you really want out of life
- Goals give you something to work towards
- Goals help you push your limit and become more than you have ever been
But what about realistic goals? When people talk about how to set goals and achieve them, it is very easy for them to get lost in their own dreams and forget about realistic goal setting. We like to talk about all of the great things that we will achieve once we reach our goals and fantasize about what it will be like, but rarely do we think about how we can achieve them.
Why Do People Fail at Achieving Their Goals?
What are the necessary steps that have to be taken? What’s the time frame in which these steps can be completed? How can I make sure that I’m completing the steps necessary to achieve my goals in a timely fashion? What will I do if I find myself behind on my goals while struggling to make progress?
Image source: Big Stock
Answering the questions above, and many more like them, is often what repels people away from goal setting. Even though they know the importance of setting goals, they have been burned too many times and associate goal setting with negative feelings.
In turn, they will tell others not to set goals to avoid failing like they did, and the vicious cycle continues. Eventually, you have a large population of people who disbelieve in goal achievement and dismiss it as a waste of time.
As the year 2016 carries through, we will see a number of people attempt to set goals. Many will try, but very few will succeed. In spite of all of the information that is out there on how to set goals and achieve them, we continue to see people who quit trying to achieve their goals after a short period of time. It is only a handful of people at the end of each year that can look back and confidently say that they achieved the goals that they set for themselves.
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What Do Successful Goal-Achievers Have in Common?
What these seemingly high-achievers have in common is that they understand the importance of realistic goal setting; in other words, defining and accomplishing goals that are within their capabilities. At the very least, if the goals are out of reach, these people know that these goals can be achieved if they work harder to improve themselves on a daily basis.
In this article, the importance of setting realistic goals in the year 2016 will be discussed. There are good reasons why realistic goal setting is superior to the type of goal setting that others try without any success, and they will be explained in great detail. Once you are able to comprehend and apply these valuable lessons in life, you will be able to answer the head-scratching question of, why is it important to set realistic goals?
Realistic Goals Force You to Take Things One Step at a Time
When people follow goal-setting advice from a guru that they discovered, they are always told to “think big” and “never settle for less.” People will follow that instruction and come up with grandiose dreams, such as having a million dollars or buying multiple Ferraris at once. There is nothing wrong with having ambitious dreams, but this kind of thinking backfires more often than it helps people.
There is absolutely no question that each coming year seems to become more competitive. People want to do more of everything at the same time while wanting to have more free time to relax. The standards in every industry will only keep getting higher, and the pressure is on many people to perform at their absolute best. This is what fuels the extraordinary goals that people set for themselves.
However, this leads to the “crash-and-burn” dilemma, where people work frantically towards achieving their goals for the first few weeks, run out of energy to work towards their goals, and quit out of exhaustion. It seems like a trap that is easy enough to see and avoid in advance, yet even the brightest of people will find themselves caught right in the middle of it.
What Does “Think Big” Really Mean When It Comes to Realistic Goal Setting?
What many goal-achieving experts really mean to say is, “Think big yet act small, and move as fast as you can.” How does this relate back to realistic goal setting? By reframing goal setting in this manner, you get to dream big while keeping your mind grounded in reality. Let’s take a brief example to see how this mindset plays out in the achievement of realistic goals.
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Let’s say that somebody has a goal to make $10,000 per month from his/her online business. This goal is noble and worth pursuing, but when people attempt to achieve it, they don’t take a step back to assess where they are and what needs to be done. To start from the beginning, this person needs to have an online business in the first place.
If this person went through the first month without making much money, he/she might start to feel awful and beat himself/herself up about it. However, this person’s focus is in the wrong place. He/she wants to focus on making $10,000 a month, but, in order to do that, the person will need to switch his/her focus towards achieving smaller, realistic goals.
Before this individual can make $10,000 a month, he/she must make $1,000 on a monthly basis. Preceding this, he/she has to make $100 a month. If you keep breaking down milestones in this fashion, you end up at making only $1 a month. This example highlights how unproductive it is to worry about making $10,000 a month when you cannot even make a lesser amount per month.
Realistic Goals Help People Connect the Dots, One at a Time
This is the importance of setting goals that are realistic and reasonably achievable. By forcing yourself to face reality and acknowledge the smaller steps that have to be accomplished first, you end up with an action plan that has a higher chance of being achieved. Your goal may take longer than you think to achieve it, but now you have a reasonable time frame over which it can be obtained.
Realistic Goal Setting Helps People Drop Unreasonably High Expectations
One of the most common reasons why people fail to achieve their goals is due to the way they treat themselves when things don’t go the way that they expected. Whenever something takes longer than it should or does not work out, the gut reaction is to feel guilt and shame. This leads to negativity and self-hatred that eventually puts the goal-setter in a bad state of mind. In turn, this leads to them associating goal-setting with negative feelings and high levels of stress.
The important question here is to figure out what is causing these negative emotions to arise in the first place. The answer to this question is rooted in the high expectations that we set for ourselves. When we sit down and examine the standards that we set for ourselves in this day and age, we are surprised to find that they are not feasible. Most of the misery that arises with goal setting comes from reaching standards that were not realistic to begin with.
It is odd that whenever you read any guide on how to set goals and achieve them, you are never told to lower your expectations. The reason for this is that within the competitive environment observed in modern society, nobody wants to be told that their expectations should be lowered. By keeping their expectations low, people have the impression that they are supposed to work less without aspiring to high standards.
The Paradox of Lowered Expectations in Realistic Goal Setting
This is a false assumption, and there is a better perspective that can be taken on lowered expectations. The problem with expectations is that people put all of their self-esteem and worth into them. When the expectations don’t meet the image that they conjured in their heads, they immediately feel negative about their self-worth and perceive themselves as failures.
Realistic goal setting fixes all of this by encouraging people to perform at their current best without attaching themselves to any expectations. Instead of focusing on what may or may not happen, people are encouraged to focus on their performance and what they can control. You may not be able to control what happens outside of you, but you can always control your effort.
This ties in with the previous point made in this article about tackling smaller steps at a time. Thanks to the knowledge that achieving an intermediate milestone is within your capability, your expectations of the event automatically fall. With your expectations no longer interfering with your thought process, you are liberated to put in all the effort that you can towards accomplishing that milestone. The paradox behind this phenomenon is that you actually perform better with this mindset over a destructive “all-or-nothing” attitude.
Realistic Goals Help Establish a Habit of Continuous, Small Wins
Let’s go back to the example of making $10,000 a month with your online business. Suppose that you took the advice presented so far and agreed to set a smaller milestone of making $100 per month. You lower your expectations, you focus your efforts on your performance, and you eventually achieve the goal.
While this is great, it doesn’t really answer the question of how this provides momentum to turn a massive goal into something that is realistically achievable. The purpose of realistic goal setting is to set up the initial momentum that is needed to pursue the goal until the very end.
Realistic Goal Setting Takes You to Your Goal, One Milestone at a Time
When you achieve that first milestone of making $100 a month, you have automatically achieved a small win. You haven’t achieved the grand goal of $10,000 a month yet, but you have made meaningful progress in the right direction. In addition, what you have done is provided yourself with a small boost of confidence that lets you tackle the next milestone.
If the next milestone was $250 a month, you would have no problem attempting to achieve it. Why is this the case? Thanks to the small win that you achieved earlier, you can now conquer bigger goals with fortitude.
In your head, you are thinking, “Okay, I’ve achieved goals before, and I can do it again. I just have to do what I’ve done before and keep working until I achieve another small win. Once I achieve the next small win, I can set another small target to achieve and keep on winning!”
How Small Wins Transfer to Achieving Other Goals in Your Life
In other words, small wins through realistic goal setting gives you the freedom to realize that your goal is possible and that it is well within your abilities to obtain. Now that you are convinced of the feasibility of your goal, you will press forward through any obstacles that come your way with the confidence that you will eventually achieve it.
What makes this strategy of small wins so dangerously effective is that it will eventually transfer to every other goal that you set in your life. You will eventually be able to take on bigger and more challenging goals because now you know that it all comes down to achieving one small milestone at a time. With several small achievements behind you, who’s to say that it can’t be done again?
The Importance of Setting Goals That Are Realistic in 2017
At the end of the day, it is important to set realistic goals so that we can actually achieve them. As each year passes by, we want the next year to be even better than the last one. We want to set bigger goals, achieve more, and stand out from the rest of our competition. The last thing that anybody wants to do is look back at the year and regret not achieving his/her goals.
With the first quarter of 2016 nearing its end, you do not want to add this calendar year to the many others where you did not achieve your goals. You might be hesitant to try realistic goal setting in the year 2016 but ask yourself how far unrealistic goal setting has gotten you. The odds are that it hasn’t taken you very far yet, and you don’t want to keep repeating the same ineffective strategy year after year.
The worst thing that will happen is that you actually end up achieving some of your goals. This will come with the bonus of improved self-awareness that will have you thinking twice before you set an overly ambitious goal without a realistic game plan. Set realistic goals in 2016 so that you don’t have to look back and regret not achieving your goals this year!
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