Realistic Goal Setting

A goal by definition is the end result of achieving your objectives. Some people hope to achieve success by becoming the first to walk on unexplored planets, others aspire to fly aircraft that have not yet been invented and still, others hope to become billionaires overnight. Without the requisite years of training or skills, these goals may not be possible and thus lack the realism I encourage.

When we hinge our success and by extension our happiness, on achieving goals that may always be out of our reach for whatever reason, what kind of enjoyment will we find in life when we fail to achieve them? Bear in mind, however, that there is a huge difference between setting realistic goals and limiting yourself. That is why my encouragement to you is to set goals that are S.M.A.R.T and thus realistic.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T means that our goals will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. When we employ this kind of framework to analyze our goals, we are less likely to end up disappointed and it will be easier for us to stay motivated to work towards this goal. If your aim is to simply invent something great, sometime in the course of your life, that goal would neither be specific, measurable, achievable or time bound. Working towards a goal that indeterminate will lead you in circles and be very discouraging.

If your goals are to be considered realistic, they must meet up to the requirements of all the other aspects of your S.M.A.R.T analysis. So even if you hope to achieve great things by the time you are twenty-three but have not really set a specific means to achieve this goal, you will not be very motivated to get much done. S.M.A.R.T objectives ensure that you direct your efforts in the right direction and do not waste time trying to re-invent the wheel or striking the air.

Working towards something that is impossible for whatever reason will leave us too discouraged to achieve much else. But this is a very touchy topic for me because men like the great Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak, did indeed achieve what was thought impossible by their contemporaries when they invented Apple Inc. So where does one draw the line between realistic and ludicrous?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the skills need to achieve this goal?
  • If not, how long will it take me to learn this skill?
  • Do I have the requisite time and energy to achieve this goal?
  • How much of my financial resources will I need to accomplish this goal?
  • Is accomplishing this goal going to have a positive impact on those around me?
  • Do I have the discipline required to achieve this goal?
  • Am I willing to suffer the consequences of trying to achieve this goal?
  • Are my family and friends going to support my decision to pursue this goal?
  • Will I truly think of myself as successful if I achieve this goal?
  • What will I do if I do not succeed on the first try?

Answer these questions to determine whether you have the drive to accomplish the goals you have in mind. Do not let these questions discourage you, but help you prepare yourself to become successful.

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