How to set realistic goals and achieve them

by Anousheh

What’s the secret of people who seem to achieve anything they want to and are extremely successful? How can you pave the way to live the dream life you know you deserve? This blog post will give you a 13 step action plan on how to set realistic goals and achieve them with ease to get you one step closer to the vision you have for yourself.

How to set realistic goals and achieve them

Why is it important to set a realistic goal?

A lot of us aspire to move forward in our lives and push ourselves further than we have before. Goal setting is about giving your life a direction and a purpose. The point of setting goals is to live your life with intention and make sure you are proactively leading your life and it isn’t just running by. 

Setting goals for yourself is essential because it helps us direct our energy and our attention towards habits and actions that serve our vision and our purpose, and drives it away from irrelevant things that are not leading us towards the life we want to live. 

Also, setting goals gives us new motivation and energy to actually start taking action today. Why do billions of people set New Year’s Resolutions every single year? Because doing so gives us the drive to make a difference in the new year. 

Committing to goals that matter to you and are going to help you lead the life you want to live makes you accountable. Writing down your goals and revisiting them helps you stay persistent throughout the journey. And persistence is key when it comes to achieving your goals. 

Goal setting should be about creating a life of purpose that aligns with your values and the vision of who you want to be.

How do you set realistic goals?

Ok, so now we know why goal setting can help you get to where you want to be in life. But the more important question is: How can we set realistic goals and actually achieve them? How can you use goal-setting to make a positive impact on your life? Let’s take a look at the 13 steps you should take when setting goals for yourself.

1. Ask yourself questions

The first step you should take when choosing the goals you want to achieve is to have a little chat with yourself. To find out which direction you want to go and which goals will have a positive impact on your life, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. Now, these questions are very personal and will vary, but some general questions you should ask yourself are: What do I want my days to look like? What will make me feel like I had a great day? Where do I want to be in 3 months, 6 months, a year? Which goals will still matter to me in 5 years’ time?

To really figure this out, I want you to sit down with a piece of paper and draw two columns. On the one side, I want you to write down what you want more of in your life. On the other side, write down what you want less of in your life.

For example:

More ofLess of
Amazing connection and relationshipsMindless scrolling on Instagram

2. Have a clear vision

The goals you set for yourself should be based on the vision of who you want to be. One of the most important aspects when setting goals is to only choose the ones that align with your values and your view on success.

Visualize yourself once you have achieved those goals. How are you going to feel? Are you happier/more successful/more productive now? Is this the vision of how your life should look like? The vision of your future self should be very clear to you. This leads me to my next point.

3. Determine goals based on how you want to feel instead of what you want to have

This point is pretty straight forward. Let’s take a look at an example: You could set yourself the goal to earn 100k in the following year. But why do you want to achieve this? Will a simple number in your bank account make you happy? Do you want to buy more clothes and drive a fancier car? Or is it financial freedom and a clean credit score that is going to make you feel fulfilled and successful?

To set goals you are motivated to work towards and stick to, the goal should be based on a feeling you aspire and not just a number/a material thing or something along those lines. Most often, the reason you want to achieve something like earning 100k lies way deeper than just earning that money because it sounds successful. 

Notebook, laptop, cup of coffe on white background

4. Take your time

To set goals that are meaningful to you and are going to make an impact on your life, you need to take the time to dig deep and find out which goals will actually do that for you. Of course, you could sit down on January 1st and write down 10 resolutions that jump into your mind within 20 minutes. But when has that ever worked for anyone?

You need to do the inner work to find out why you want to lose 10 pounds this year. Do you want to fit into a smaller size? Or be able to wear more fashionable clothes like the fashion influencers on Instagram? Or do you actually want to work on your self-image and a more positive relationship with your body so that you are happy with yourself in the long run?

5. Set goals that matter to YOU

Along those lines, while visualizing your goals and thinking about the things you want to achieve in your life, always ask yourself one extra question. Does this really matter to me? Am I going to be happier once I reached this goal? Or do I think this goal is generally seen as desirable or I need to achieve it in order to fit in (think about our previous example on losing weight)?

Don’t set goals because they are popular or others think they are worth achieving. You need to set goals that are important to you and align with your values because this will give you the inner motivation to easily achieve them.

If you need more clarity on your values and what actually matters to you, conducting a life audit can be a great starting point. Learn more about that in my post on how to do a life audit.

6. Set goals that are 100% clear

Vague and broad goals won’t get you where you want to be. The key to setting goals and achieving them is being as specific as possible

Making your goals specific also means breaking them down into very clear and actionable steps. For example, your main goal is to pave your way to more success in your business by believing in yourself and what you have to offer. This is a great goal, but it is also very broad. Based on this feeling you want to achieve, the next step would be to find actionable ways for you to achieve this goal.

flat lay of a phone, a notebook and 3 plants

One possible way could be to get to this mindset by daily affirmations. The first step to this goal would be to find the affirmations that work for you and get you to the mindset you want to be in (confident and successful). Once you identify those affirmations, you need to set a clear goal of how to implement them, say repeating them twice a day for 5 minutes in front of the mirror.

You can go even further and make this goal extremely actionable by setting the goal to repeat 15 affirmations every morning at 8 am and every evening at 9 pm in front of the bedroom mirror when you’re alone and so on… You get the gist. 

By setting clear and actionable goals, you make it easy for yourself to take the first step and it mentally seems less challenging because you have the roadmap ahead of you and know exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal. 

7. Pick your top 3 (max!)

While thinking about your vision and the life you want to create, and really digging deep, I’m sure there are going to be hundreds of ideas or things you would like to achieve and implement. You are full of motivation and absolutely ready to jump right in and start building your dream.

However, to fully make use of this motivation and momentum, you need to concentrate on the goals that matter to you the most and are the most realistic. Because in order to achieve those goals and not get demotivated, you need to dedicate your full energy to them. 

By concentrating on your top 3 goals (or less), you will also see results a lot faster, which will give you that feeling of success to keep you motivated to achieve your goals. However, don’t simply toss those other goals and dreams you thought of during the process. You can always revisit them at a later time and see if your priorities have changed.

checklist with hand writing down points

8. Fully dedicate and identify yourself with the goals you set

Let’s talk about dedication and identification. You have visualized where you want to be, how you want to feel, and have clear goals in front of you. Now you need to make your goals a part of who you are. One of the key factors to achieving your goals is to live your goal and 100% identify yourself with them. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like, so this vision will now become part of your identity.

Let’s get a little psychological here: Studies have shown that most of our actions come from our identification with a group, values, individuals, and so on. We act based on who we think we are and what we identify with.

You can make use of this! If your goal is to become a successful business owner, you will identify yourself as a successful business owner from now on. You are a successful business owner. You are dedicated to being a successful business owner. This mindset makes all the difference in achieving your goals.

9. Check up on your goal

Establish check-ins with yourself. At the beginning of your journey towards achieving your goal, it is very easy to take action. We have talked about momentum before: When you start, you are full of aspiration and motivation.

But motivation comes and goes. Relying purely on being motivated is not the way to achieve your goals. What is more important is dedication and discipline. Successful people aren’t motivated all of the time, they are disciplined

Make yourself accountable. Check-in with your goals every month, every 2 weeks, whatever works for you. Take a look back and ask yourself: Are you actually taking steps towards achieving your goal? If not, why is that? If you are taking action, but you are not getting anywhere, why so? Do you need to change your action plan? Do you still feel this goal aligns with your values or vision?

You have to be brutally honest with yourself in order to really achieve the goals you set.

10. Make your goals your priority 

Once you have your vision set out and know the goals you want to achieve for a more fulfilled, happy, and successful life, you need to commit to them fully. They are the first things on your to-do list and the last thing to get pushed back when other things come in the way. This is also why we picked our top 3 earlier: So we can completely focus on those goals and prioritize them throughout our daily actions. 

11. Dream big… but be patient and take it one step at a time 

When you are setting your goals and dreaming about all the amazing things you want to achieve in life, I definitely encourage you to not limit yourself in your imagination. However, to stay motivated and don’t get overwhelmed when goal setting, and thus not achieving anything, you also need to take your time and be realistic.

Create your bigger picture of where you want to be, eventually. Then break your vision down and create sub-goals for you to achieve your main goal. If you approach your big goal by setting smaller and actionable goals to get there, it will prevent you from being overwhelmed and will also give you a clear journey of achievable steps for you to get to your dream life.

12. Get yourself an accountability partner

According to Positive Psychology, telling a supportive friend about your goals gives you a significantly higher chance to achieve them.

And I think we have all experienced this happening. Once we tell someone about the goals we set for ourselves, we make ourselves accountable. Now, someone else is involved. This is why, for example, getting yourself a gym buddy works so well. You don’t want to disappoint. And you also don’t want to admit you didn’t make it.

So tell a supportive friend, partner, etc. all about your plans and goals. Tell them exactly how you want to achieve them. You will find that already saying it out loud will create a huge amount of commitment. And now that you said it out loud, you kinda have to do it, right?

13. Take action NOW. 

Trust me, I love planning, goal setting, lists, action plans… And I also understand the appeal of starting with your goals on a Monday, on the first of a month, at the beginning of a year. We all love a fresh start. But all of your goal setting techniques, your vision, your action plan won’t get you anywhere if you don’t take action.

So start now. Right now.

Even if it’s the middle of December. Or a Thursday. Taking action and making that first step is what will get you one step closer to where you want to be

Liked this post? Pin it to your goal setting board for later!

How to set realistic and achievable goals

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