How to Set Realistic Goals

Set realistic goals to achieve future success.
Set realistic goals to achieve future success. (Image: Images)

"A goal properly set is halfway reached," according to the famous words of Abraham Lincoln. Well thought-out, realistic goals allow you to move forward along a set plan and feel the thrill of accomplishment when you achieve success. Goals can also help you by providing focus and direction. Whether your goal is financial, career-oriented or lifestyle-focused, take the time to really pinpoint what it is you want to achieve and set a realistic plan to make it happen.

Look at the big picture and assess your current situation. Compare where you are now to where you ultimately want to be, and then break that down into smaller, more realistic goals that you can achieve now.

Consider the resources you will need to achieve your goal. If you have bad credit or very little money saved, buying a house is not the most attainable goal to set as you cannot achieve it in a timely way given your current situation. Instead, set up a goal to save enough money to put down on a home and another to repair your credit.

Make your goals specific. Instead of setting a goal to earn more money, focus on the amount you want to increase your revenues or salary by and in what time frame.

Research external factors out of your control that can get in the way of achieving your goal. If you want to set up your own real estate brokerage, for example, and the current housing market is unstable, you may want to set your sights somewhere else until those barriers resolve themselves.

Consult a professional to find out what is really involved in achieving your goal. If your plan is to have a fully funded retirement plan at age 40, talk to a financial manager who specializes in retirement. He is in the position to tell you what you will need to plan for to achieve your goal.

Review your goals to ensure they meet the SMART test. Ray Silverstein, author of “Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” calls the SMART system of goal setting simple and one that gets the job done. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

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