5 Tips on Setting Realistic Expectations While Still Thinking Big

We are often told that we need to think in a realistic way about our personal and professional goals. We are told to tone down whatever it is that we want to do because our goals seem too big. However, there is still a way to reach your “unreachable” goals without having to sacrifice your dreams for the sake of being realistic. 

5 Ways to Stay Realistic

  1. Set both short term and long term goals 

Being able to get started right away on achieving your goals can be really encouraging. Looking at your long-term goals can be crippling. Breaking them into shorter-term, “realistic” goals will give you the momentum you need to get moving. These short-term wins will add up to attaining your long-term goals.

  1. Break large tasks into smaller ones 

Putting one foot in front of the other is essential on the way to your big goals. As such, it is important to break your shorter-term goals into multiple tasks. What are some specific, measurable action steps that you can realistically take right now? Setting SMART goals will help you achieve your big long-term goals.

  1. Letting go that something has to be done a certain way 

There is never only one way to do anything. We end up getting stuck or even giving up when we believe that we are straying too far from the path we think we should be on. It’s ok and even realistic to adjust your plan based on new information. As you accomplish your short-term goals, you may start to see other opportunities open up. You can absolutely take them, you aren’t nearly as off-track as you may originally think you are. Also, stubbornly sticking to one way to do things may be what’s actually holding you back from accomplishing your goals.

  1. Understand what is in your control and what is out of your control 

Sometimes accomplishing goals depends on the decisions of others. The power is in understanding what is in your control and letting go of what is not. Sometimes, if you don’t end up with the outcome you were looking for, maybe this wasn’t the best decision for you anyways. Take a deep breath, and remember that you are not a failure. When one door closes, another door has already opened, you just need to look for it.

  1. Dreams never come true overnight 

Hard work will always pay off, but hard work also takes time. One of the biggest ways to discourage yourself from achieving your goals is to give yourself way too short of a timeline. Realistic doesn’t always mean tone it down, a lot of the time it means that whatever you’re hoping to achieve will take a little bit longer than you were originally thinking it would. 

What is the big goal that you want to achieve? 

What are three short-term goals that support it? 

What realistic action steps can you take this week to help you get there?

Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.

Marilu Henner

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