How to set realistic goals

Get set go: 6 ways to set and achieve realistic goals

Setting ambitious but realistic goals is very important as it gives us the push we need to live a life of potential. So charge ahead and set your bar high.

Wouldn’t we all like a famous Bollywood song to be true for us? What if our wishful thinking became a reality? Indeed, the world throws a hundred possibilities our way and it feels like we can grab them all. Interestingly, a lot of this belief comes from the constant love and affection we receive at home from our parents. We grow up as the apple of our parents’ eyes, protected from the harsh realities of life. Later as an adult, we feel a surge of confidence everytime we undertake something new, often not taking into account factors that may hinder our path towards the goal. It is very easy to set our expectations sky high, but the truth is that like many others, we are just drifting in life, not sure where we’re actually headed.

Simply dreaming, setting ambitious goals and aims are like clutching at straws and the sooner we start setting realistic goals, the better chances are of us succeeding in life. Realistic goals are the real deal in which we take our skills, time and resources into account. Remember, you have to wake up and act to make your dreams come true. Simply dreaming won’t get you there. Thus, goal setting is the first step in achieving real success.

Experts believe that goal setting is an important mindfulness tool to succeed in life as it improves focus and cuts distraction from the work you set out to accomplish. It is a ritual in setting intention and then acting upon it. So make sure you set goals that are realistic and ambitious in nature, the type you will stick to and succeed.

In this feature, Soulveda lists a number of ways you can set realistic, ambitious goals and achieve them too.

Write them down

I want to be a manager in the next two years. I want to pay off my student loan within the next ten months. I will make three friends in the new city I have moved to for work. The common thing in all these goals is that they are specific. You must write down specific goals that you aim to achieve. Being vague about your ambitions are a great disservice to your dreams. Simply wanting to be rich or happier are not realistic goals. At best, they are wishes.

Write down a list of things that you wish to do in your life personally or professionally. Make these goals as specific and realistic as you can. If something doesn’t make sense when you write, it might be because you are still confused about the exact goal. Writing will help clear such doubts and will add clarity to exactly what you want from your life. As proved by Gail Matthews’ Goal Research Summary, ‘people who write down their goals are 20% more successful in achieving them than those who don’t’.

So write down a list of goals and start implementing them accordingly. Most successful people in the world vouch for setting goals and you will benefit from it surely.

Consider your previous achievements

You have come so far in life by doing many things right. There may have been some wrong decisions and mistakes, but even failures teach us life lessons. This understanding of your capabilities is very important while setting goals to achieve greater success in life for professional or personal growth.

As you write down your list of realistic goals, consider all of your past achievements. Taking stock of your resources, your availability, your previous hits and misses are crucial to setting a solid goal.

This way, not only will you know where you are headed but will be armed with the confidence of knowing you have done well many times in the past.

Give them appropriate time to materialise

Rome was not built in a day and so can’t success be achieved overnight. Success takes time. Working hard and expecting growth to happen overnight are different things. The hard work will pay off in the long run but that ‘overnight growth’ is a myth.

So give your ambitious goals a timeframe. If you want to buy a house, you have to first understand how much of a loan you have to pay back to the bank. It will be years before the loan is paid off, so the house will be yours in a given time frame, not overnight. Similarly, if you want a promotion at work, be as efficient as you can be and try to upgrade your skills with courses available in your field. In this manner, you will be noticed by your senior or boss soon.

A proper timeframe is the key to setting realistic goals.

Revisit and reassess your plan of action

Writing your goals on a page and then adding a time frame to it is just the beginning. The next step is taking action according to your decided plan. Many of us tend to start hustling so hard that we lose sight of the goal itself. This is why you have to keep revisiting the plan of action frequently.
Put aside some time every week when you sit and replay all that you have done and all that you are about to do. If at any point, you feel like something is missing or that you have gone off course, make amends and start again.

Taking stock of the situation will help you not just reach your realistic goals in good time but also prevent you from wasting time with a bad move.

Meet your goals along with daily tasks

Remember life happens to us all the time. We cannot say that we will focus on this or that and do nothing else because each day brings with it many tasks and challenges. Thus, your goals have to be realistic in every aspect. You should take into account your daily routine and tasks while factoring in your list of goals.

One of the best ways to go about it is by choosing the same time or hour every day to accomplish a little from your list. For instance, if your ambitious goal is to lose weight, then the exercise you do to achieve a specific weight can be done early in the morning every day. This way, you can act on your goal daily without hampering the rest of your basic routine.

Stay real

Aim for the stars but keep your feet on the ground. Ambitious goals are very important to having a purposeful life but also know that as humans, we are meant to enjoy the journey too.

We all have aimed really high at times and failed. If you don’t get what you pursued, it doesn’t make you a failure. While you work hard towards your goals, there are many other factors that are not under your control. These unpredictable forces may come into play and change the result at times.

If you find yourself at such a juncture, simply put your emotions aside and study the situation. Soon you will have the clarity of what worked and what didn’t. Chances are, the next time you will get it all right.

Setting ambitious but realistic goals is very important as it gives us the push we need to live a life of potential.  So charge ahead and set your bar high. Know that as long as your goal is hard to achieve, you will have learnt something in the process. Your effort won’t go in vain.

Having goals in life makes one want to wake up in the morning and go blazing ahead. As educator Lawrence J Peter once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” So grab the reins of your life and charge ahead!


How can we set and achieve realistic goals?

Write them down, consider your previous achievements, give them appropriate time to materialise, revisit and reassess your plan of action, meet your goals along with daily tasks, and stay real.

How does writing down goals contribute to achieving them?

Writing down goals provides clarity and serves as a visual reminder. This practice enhances commitment and motivation, leading to a greater likelihood of achieving your goals.

Why is it important to consider previous achievements when setting goals?

Reflecting on past successes builds confidence and a positive mindset. Recognising your capabilities and accomplishments can inspire you to set more ambitious yet realistic goals.

How does revisiting and reassessing your plan of action help in goal achievement?

Revisiting your plan allows you to track progress and make necessary adjustments.


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