How to Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals (Part 5): R is for Realistic
In yesterday’s blog post, I discussed the necessity of creating a detailed Action plan when setting goals. In today’s post, I will show why it important to set Realistic goals.
For a long time, I resisted setting realistic goals. To me “realistic” somehow seemed humdrum and not very inspiring. I viewed a realistic goal as somehow a compromise of what I truly wanted. But in the last few years, I’ve learned the importance of setting realistic goals. I still plan big exciting goals, but I am realistic about how much time I can dedicate to each goal. Your goals should be a stretch, but not overwhelming.
Working on your goals on a daily basis can be challenging. You constantly have to deal with competing time demands.You want to exercise, but you also want to advance your career. You want to lose weight, but you don’t want to be hungry. You want to spend quality time with your kids, but you also want to keep your car and house clean and pay your bills on time.
The comedian Sid Caesar once made a profound observation about goals. He wrote, “In between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed.” It is important that you establish a realistic timeline for the accomplishment of your goals. You don’t want to drive yourself so hard that you burn out and quit. We typically overestimate what we can accomplish in a month and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
If weight loss is your goal, can you realistically lose one pound a day for a month? Do you really think you will be able to walk an hour every day? If you set your goal too high, you may get discouraged and give up. Setting a goal to go to the gym every day is not realistic or achievable. Are you really likely to be able to stick with a low calorie diet for an entire month? How much time can you realistically spend on accomplishing your goal?
If you set the bar too high, you will become discouraged and quit. By setting realistic goals you will be able to make sustainable progress. I’m not a big fan of exhaustion or deprivation because it makes it too easy to give up. I believe in joyful achieving over the long haul.
How will your goal fit into your current lifestyle? Is it realistic in terms of the time and energy that you will be able to devote to achieving it? What might you need to give up or stop doing in order to achieve this goal? Are you willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices?