Why is it so important to set realistic goals? 6 essential reasons!
Why is it important to set realistic goals? We’ve all been there. At the start of the new year, we vow to cut down three pant sizes or start getting up earlier.
Spoiler alert: those things will probably never happen! Frustration hits, and we get stuck in a snowball of demotivation — at least until we find another exciting goal.
The same happens in our work life: we often set ourselves unrealistic goals. We are doomed to failure even before we start. And this is precisely why you need to understand the importance of setting realistic goals, whatever the ole you have.
Before we dive into the importance of setting realistic goals, let’s uncover what makes a goal realistic!
What is a realistic goal?
There is no mathematical formula to define what a realistic goal is.
The concept of realistic or unrealistic varies from person to person, depending on their skills, motivation, and desire. Yet, there is a consensus that goals should be attainable — if you believe something is achievable, you’re already paving the road to success.
In sum, a realistic goal is one you can achieve, considering your skills, timeframe, and level of motivation.
Why is it so important to set realistic goals?
Having a realistic goal is important because if the achievement is too far from our reach, we’ll lose our motivation.
It’s tempting to set too ambitious goals to impress our peers or to find redemption after a less productive period.
To avoid making these mistakes, you need to understand why it’s so important to set realistic goals. So, buckle up!
1. Goals build confidence and improve self-esteem
Setting ambitious goals gives us a sense of purpose. It’s easier to work our way up when we know where we’re going and how we’re getting there.
Realistic goals go even further: as you achieve the milestones you set for yourself, you become more confident in your abilities.
Science explains that in these moments of victory, our body releases dopamine. This happy hormone improves focus and mood and helps us sleep better.
This is why you feel unproductive and so down when you fail to submit the monthly report you promised. You created an expectation and failed, generating sadness and frustration.
But, when you succeed in delivering that same in-depth report before the deadline, everything changes: you sleep better and feel happy and proud of yourself.
2. Realistic goals keep you motivated
Having specific, achievable goals helps you keep your eyes on the prize. The closer you reach your destination, you’ll have more motivation to keep going. And the harder you will work to complete it successfully.
If you’re a team leader, outline a clear action plan. Be transparent about the team’s goals and steps to take to reach the finish line. Keep track of your teammates’ progress and recognize their efforts. This way you’ll keep their motivation high.
However, you should not just set one big, generic objective. Try to break down big goals into smaller ones and make them SMART— Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented.
Why is this important to set SMART goals? First, it’ll be easier to manage the time you allocate to each task. Your main goal is divided into multiple small ones. A big, vague goal can sometimes seem too far away — hitting smaller benchmarks will help everyone know they’re making progress and keep the momentum going.
3. Decision-making gets easier
Did you know that each of us makes over 35,000 decisions daily? Working adults devote most of their day to their job, it’s safe to assume that many of those decisions are work-related.
Whether you’re the leader of a team or a budding intern, you’ll have to make tough decisions every once in a while. When you’ll have to make a decision quickly, having a clear and realistic goal makes the process much smoother.
4. Realistic goals are quicker to achieve
When you fall into the mistake of setting aim-for-the-moon goals, it takes you a long time to achieve them. Let’s get real — you’ll most likely get tired and never achieve those over-ambitious goals.
For this reason, achievable goals need a deadline. It’s not enough to want your company to grow by 40%. How soon do you expect that to happen? Five years? Ten years?
Once you’ve defined the deadline, inform all the stakeholders about the time frames and the intermediate milestones. This will facilitate collaboration.
If you struggle with managing your time and feel this may affect your ability to achieve your goals, you can always opt to use time-tracking software.
It’ll allow you to determine how much time you spend on each task and use this information to optimize your time management.
5. You become aware of new opportunities
Not having realistic and attainable goals is like being lost in the middle of the forest without a map! It’s easy to become disoriented and even frustrated if you don’t have a destination to reach.
The same happens in your professional life: goals give you the focus and strength you thought you didn’t have.
Goals also help you open to many opportunities that didn’t cross your mind before. Picture this: your team is aiming to grow and double in size by next year, and you’re in charge of onboarding new team members.
As you teach your new colleagues the methodologies and techniques inherent to their jobs, you realize you have a talent for teaching.
Suddenly, your mind opens to the possibility of going into a mentoring position or even making a career shift and becoming a teacher!
That’s the power of realistic goals; they open up new opportunities down the road.
6. Setting realistic goals will change your life
Having objectives and several milestones along the way helps us stay motivated and focused during the journey. And at the end of the day, this is what brings us life-changing benefits.
As a professional, you can set all kinds of goals. Let’s start with an obvious one: money. It’s nice to say it doesn’t bring happiness, but it makes things much easier!
Defining the progress you want to make in terms of income throughout your professional development is essential. How much do you want to earn next year? And the following year? What about five years from now?
Having an income goal will help you make career and personal life decisions that will affect every part of your life.
You might have to work a little harder in your 20s and 30s if you want to retire at 45, but at least you know what you have to do to get there, right?
Why is it important to set realistic goals in life?
Having realistic goals helps us get to our objectives faster, keeping us motivated and focused on the road to them. It builds confidence and self-esteem in our abilities. Setting realistic goals opens up a world of new opportunities that can be life-changing on so many levels!
Goals come in many shapes and forms and differ from person to person.
We can and should have goals for the various areas of our lives: professional, personal, etc. Just make sure that they’re realistic. Having realistic goals increases the chances of success and motivates us to do better and better.
In addition, it allows us to work on new skills and realize new abilities we didn’t know we had.
So it’s time to pull out a pen and write down your big ambitions. Dream high, but not so high that you can’t get there. And don’t forget: “It’s not the Destination, It’s the journey.”
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