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Setting Realistic (i.e. Attainable) Goals

Mom always said that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Shoot for the stars, etc. etc. But did mom follow that lovely advice with any operational guidance on just HOW to be whatever you want to be? Most likely, she did not. Thanks a lot Mom.

GoalsOne of the most important factors influencing the attainment of your goals is the type of goals you are setting. Are your goals physically or financially possible in your current status, do they reflect the true nature of your situation? If not, there is a strong likelihood that you won’t be able to attain them, not for lack of trying, but because they are not realistic. I hesitatingly use the term “realistic,” I really don’t like to think of things ever being unattainable, (but for lack of better word and to better convey the points I’m trying to make, lets stick with realistic for now…)

Setting realistic goals can be difficult when you are extremely motivated and have the ‘Me Against the World’ mentality. But save yourself some stress and heartache by following these basic guidelines for setting realistic goals. (i.e. Attainable goals)

1. Be Specific

The first characteristic of a realistic goal is that it is specific. If you wake up one morning and decide your goal this month is to change the world, you will most likely find yourself crestfallen at the end of the month, having missed the mark on your nebulous, albeit good-intentioned goal. When setting a specific goal, think about exactly how you plan to achieve it. Narrow your goal down to the most specific and clearly outlined language possible; think of it as your own mission statement. Maybe you want to feed the homeless within your county by providing backpacks with canned goods. Perhaps your goal is to change your financial situation by increasing your monthly income by $5,000. Specify exactly what you want to do in definitive language and write it down!

2. Measurable

In order for a goal to be realistic, it must be measurable. You must find some way to quantify the end result you desire and measure your progress toward that end. You may put a number on exactly how many people you want to feed per month. You may break down your goal into different activities necessary to achieve it, and track the number of activities you must complete each day or week. However you choose to do so, quantify your goal and track your progress.

3. Resource-friendly

Being cognizant of the resources available to you is the cornerstone of a realistic goal. If you have a high school diploma, setting the goal of becoming a patent lawyer in a year is simply not going to work. If you are working alone, providing canned good to your entire state may put you into a mental hospital. Take an inventory of what you have access to; this can include education, available financing, manpower, time, etc. Within this context and with these things in mind, set goals that can be attained given the resources you can utilize at the given time. If you are working alone or on a limited budget, scale your project down to a manageable size until you have the resources to expand. Assess your resources first then build your goal around what you have available.

4. Time Sensitive

Finally, make your goal time sensitive. Give yourself a deadline. If your goal is very large, break it into smaller pieces and set deadlines for each part. Having a target expiration date will motivate you to get the work done in a timely manner and ward off procrastination. Also, when you create a deadline for yourself, you are more likely to set a realistic goal because you have a limited amount of time by which to achieve it.


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