Setting Realistic Goals For Yourself

One of the vaguest parts of personal and career development is goal setting. We’re all told that we should have clear goals that will lead us to success but, beyond that, we’re left to our own devices. It can be hard to tell the difference between a good goal and a bad one – and trying to follow the steps of others to mimic their success may lead you down the wrong path.

That’s because figuring out the right goals is all about knowing your needs, your pace, and your motivation. In this blog, I’ll be sharing with you how you can take the time to create realistic goals that will lead you toward success.

Figuring out the Best Goals for YOU

The most important part of setting the right types of goals is understanding what you need. If you’re trying to change something innate within yourself, you’ll want to practice mindfulness and take time to reflect on what you’d like to see happen. If you’re trying to change something externally, you will need to take an entirely different approach to set up that goal and what needs to happen for you to be successful.

Even if you are trying to follow in the steps of someone else who you saw become successful in the same ways you want to, you’ll need to recognize that your goals must be 100% suited to you as an individual. Everyone has different skills, different circumstances, and different experiences – which means you’ll need to take all of this into account

To figure out the right goals for you, take a step back and evaluate what you want to do and why you want to do that.

If it’s a change within yourself, ask yourself what you’d like to see change within yourself. Do you want to become more patient? Do you want to spend more time away from your phone? Do you want to run your first marathon? Once you figure out what the goal is going to be centered on, ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal.

For example, some good why’s are “I want to get in the best shape of my life,” “I want to spend more time with my family,” “I want to get out of my comfort zone and do something new,” and “I want to improve my important relationship.”

Once you know what you want to accomplish and why that’s important to you, it’s time to ask yourself whether or not that goal is a positive one. Is there anyone pushing you to make these changes? Are your goals coming from within?

Those are the type of questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you’re setting the best goals for yourself.

When you want to set professional goals, you should go through a similar process. Think about your skills and where you’re at currently; do you need to take additional courses to improve the skills that will make your goals a reality? Do you need to completely change your environment to achieve that goal? Do you have a good support system to improve yourself professionally?

Regardless, take the time to think about your profession and personal life to evaluate the quality of your goals at large.

Expectations vs Reality: Create Realistic Goals

How many times have you set an optimistic New Year’s resolution and fallen short? How many times have you set a goal only to have it come back and haunt you, causing you anxiety and depression? If you’re like the majority of people, it’s time to think about whether or not your goals were realistic in the first place.

In some cases, your goals may be realistic – but they aren’t framed within the right timeline. This happens when you expect too much too soon or want to see an instant change from a process that will actually take months.

Those are our expectations: the ideal version of a goal that misses the reality of human nature. Stuff comes up last minute. People may try to hold you back. An emergency may happen. Or you may need to divert your energy to take care of something else.

In order to move away from the idealized version of a goal, make sure you’re creating realistic goals for yourself. Give yourself a deadline with incremental steps but make it realistic; you can’t run a marathon next month if you have never run before.

Outline the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. Think of each step as a mini-goal, with each step getting you closer to your big goal. By giving this step the right amount of time, you’ll be able set realistic goals for yourself.

And yes, you can accomplish almost anything you set your mind to, but make sure you give yourself the time and the space to accomplish your goal.

Want to Be More Successful? Change Your Habits and Be More Patient

Now, this is something that even I still struggle with, but it’s something I cannot stress enough: you have to build working toward your goal into your day, even if it’s a little bit at a time.

For me, I love exercising, but during the week, the only time I can do it is early in the morning, which sucks because I’m not a morning person. So, I needed to change my habits and understand that I WILL fall off the wagon every once in a while. That’s where patience comes in.

In many cases, people will become disheartened and unmotivated based on the fact that they’ve fallen behind on their goal. The result? Nothing gets done.

If you truly want to achieve a goal and see long-lasting, real change, you’ll need to change your habits, create routines, create backup plans for what you’ll do if/when you fall behind, and you’ll need to be patient with yourself.

Check in with Your Support System

While many people reach their goals by themselves, it never hurts to have a support system.

It’s important to try and find people around you who may be able to hold you accountable, talk to you when you’re feeling conflicted, guide you, and just listen.  

However, not many people have an incredible, totally supportive support system that is honest. You don’t want to surround yourself with “yes” people. On the same note, you don’t want to surround yourself with people who don’t believe in you or think your ideas are ridiculous.

You can always turn to the internet to find your support system! The web is full of men and women who have gone through what you’ve been through, who have achieved similar goals, and who can support you and offer constructive criticism to help you along the way.

Give Yourself Practical Goals If You Want a Career Change

For those of you who are looking to succeed at a total career change, or if you want to move up in your responsibilities, you’ll want to set practical goals for yourself.  For example, if you want to be a pharmacy director, see if your next role can be in a supervisory position or if you can take on some extra responsibility or learn a part of pharmacy that isn’t your specialty.

When we talk about practical goals for career development, you may need to invest more time than you think. If you really want to be successful at that director role, for example, you’ll need to work with your team, learn everything you can about each department, and understand what leadership skills you must develop to help everyone else be successful.

If you want to totally switch gears, think about your ultimate goal, like getting your dream job, and document every small goal that you must first achieve. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people to learn about their experiences or to talk to a career coach who is there to support you through the big changes and detailed goal-setting that you’ll need to navigate.

Reevaluate Your Goals Regularly

A final key part of setting realistic goals is actually taking the time to reevaluate them.

Part of setting your major goals and all of the milestones that must be met in order to be successful is actually setting deadlines. Beyond that, you’ll want to set dates for evaluation and reflection. Now that you’re a few weeks into pursuing that goal, ask yourself if the goal is still in line with your values, if you’ve given yourself enough time, and if your milestones still make sense.

By giving yourself ample time to create your goals, evaluate them, work toward them, and then reevaluate them, you’ll be able to learn more about yourself and make greater headway toward success than ever before.

Joanna Simmon