The Most Likely Consequences of Setting Unrealistic Goals


Goal setting is an easy process, it’s the execution that is the hardest part. I mean, hasn’t everyone written down a goal they wanted to achieve at some point and never follow through? Don’t you have a list of dreams and aspirations waiting to happen but you’ve never done anything about them or have already given up?

Did they feel harder and harder to reach at some point, or too far-fetched and unrealistic? And then you think to yourself, “Who was I kidding”. Trust me, you are not alone.

The most likely consequence of setting unrealistic goals generally will lead to disappointment, and discouragement and may demotivate someone to continue pursuing goals altogether.

Let’s get down to the root of this and discuss what unrealistic goals are and important factors for setting and achieving goals.

What are Unrealistic Goals?

Unrealistic goals are goals you set for yourself with limiting self-belief. Unrealistic goals don’t exist. What’s unrealistic to one person, may not be unrealistic to another. By definition, according to the dictionary, unrealistic means the practical idea of what can be achieved. Therefore, unrealistic is subjective and will differ from person to person, since what’s practical for me may not be what’s practical for you.

The idea of an unrealistic versus a realistic goal depends completely on the person’s mindset and self-belief. What you know you are capable of and your dreams and desires are no one else’s business. There are too many people out there that are too scared to dream, too scared to think big or they don’t even know how.

Truly think about it, why do you think your goal is unrealistic? Who told you your goal was unattainable? Are you searching for the answer based on someone else’s comment or did you start to doubt yourself?

If you’re looking for inspiration or the validation that the goal you set is not too “crazy”, it’s not. Go for it.

The only person that can determine if a goal is unrealistic is yourself. You know your talents, your skills, and what you are capable of. As long as you understand the hard work and sacrifices you need to make that goal, it’s all up to you.

Unrealistic goals don’t exist, only limiting mindsets do.

What are Examples of Unrealistic Goal Setting?

Now with all that being said, like I’ve mentioned, you know yourself better than anyone. This means at some point when setting these goals you need to be honest with yourself. What you believe about yourself is what will be true.

Setting far-fetched goals for yourself is simply wishing, and that’s unrealistic. Anyone can have the goal of becoming a billionaire, but the people with no mindset, no plan, and who don’t take action are the ones that will eventually talk themselves out of it and convince themselves that it was an unrealistic goal, to begin with. Large goals that feel unattainable need to be broken down into smaller goals. Short-term achievable goals that help you reach that final top goal are what will set you up for success, and of course, always follow through.

Determine if the goal is truly what you want. Do you want this goal only because it’s the path that you’re on and it’s the only way to show success? Remember, success is different for everyone. An unrealistic goal is also a goal you feel like you have to achieve, or a goal you’re achieving for someone else, which will all lead to giving up.

Goals are made to improve our lives and help us move forward. They give us something to work towards and something to be excited about. Once we achieve a goal, we get that amazing accomplished feeling. So if a goal doesn’t drive you, or you aren’t passionate about it, it’s unrealistic and will most likely lead to disappointment.

Your Why and your mindset are so powerful. Remove “unrealistic goals” from your vocabulary and allow yourself to work towards something greater than you can imagine!

How High Should you Aim When Setting Goals?

In my opinion, shoot for the stars. You never know what you can achieve when you try.

Make your goals measurable. Break the goals down into smaller goals, and over time with dedication, you will get there. If your goal is to own something, like a house, find out the exact money amount you need and break it down into smaller amounts. Is your goal to make a thousand dollars a month? Break down how much that is a day.

Imagine you have never run before and you decide to start running. Then after your first run, you loved it so much that you made a goal to run a marathon. Well, you can’t just sign up for one that weekend, now you have to train! Now you need a plan, the right equipment, and maybe even a coach. You have to train and build up to the 26 miles, or even add a mid-size goal to run a half marathon first, before the full one! You get the idea, the smaller, everyday goals will lead you to your big goal. A beginner will think running a marathon is unrealistic, while the person that’s been training for a few weeks know they will get there.

Setting goals give us direction. The fact that you even have goals in the first place is already saying so much about you and your ambitions. Setting goals means you’re going somewhere and that may mean you end up exactly where you wanted to be, or you end up somewhere even better.

Not reaching a goal does not mean you failed, it can mean you are heading a different direction. Failure is also a huge part of the process. Failing at something means you get to learn and improve, be proud to fail, it means you are taking action! Which means you are already so far ahead of so many people. Again, writing down the goals are easy, the challenging part is taking action. We can all have the same dreams and goals, but it’s the people that actually do something about it that will count.

Life happens and things can get in the way, what do we do about it? We learn to handle it and how to deal with things as they come. Going after your goals is the exact same thing, it’s not a straight path that everyone imagines, it will be bumpy, hard and a lot of times boring. If it were easy, everyone could do it.

What is the Most Important Factor in Setting Goals?

The single most important factor in setting goals is believing. You have to believe in yourself that you can do it, learn to block out all the noise and get to work. No self-doubting and no negative self-talk. You set that goal for a reason, and now it’s up to you. Your mindset is the most important tool you have. Be kind to it, train it, and treat it well.

Drown out all distractions and keep your head down. The goals you set are for you and you only. Don’t broadcast your goals and ideas on people. People tend to project their own insecurities on you, so no need for unnecessary negativity. Unfortunately, the people closest to us can feel like they have to “protect us” and so they tend to give unwanted and unnecessary advice to veer us in a “safer” direction. Don’t listen to people close to you, trust yourself.

The other important factor is never giving up. You don’t fully fail unless you give up, constantly work towards the goal you have. Break the goals down into smaller goals and make them timely and measurable and continue to follow up. Don’t ever give up on yourself.

Achieving goals is great and all but don’t forget to celebrate! Every goal no matter how small and every milestone no matter how big should always be celebrated. Your dedication, efforts and hard work should never go unnoticed.

Hong Singer

I'm the creator of Ambition Forward. I keep things simple by focusing on the goal and being consistent in my actions to get the results I want, and I'm here to help you do the same. I encourage you to look for the things that bring you joy and go for it!

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