How to Start and Stick to Realistic Goals: 10 Steps For Success

Setting out on the path toward your goals can be an exhilarating endeavour. However, at times, the road ahead may appear daunting. Feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about where to begin is not uncommon. Fear not! Our guide is here to provide practical insights, ensuring you master ‘How to Start and Stick to Realistic Goals’ with ease.

How To Start And Stick To Realistic Goals (1)

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My Own Struggle With Self-Discipline

Once upon a time, I prided myself on being an incredibly organized individual—perhaps, some might argue, a little too organized for my own good. (Monica from the Friends TV show comes to mind)  Yet, as of late, I’ve found my self-discipline waning in more ways than one. 

It’s all too easy to become entangled in the mundane rhythm of everyday life and, even easier, to forget about the ambitious goals I diligently set at the commencement of each month. Why? Life, it seems, has a way of throwing curveballs. And then there are the ceaseless distractions—social media, the tempting allure of Netflix, the joy of devouring an entire book in a single day, and the never-ending string of WhatsApp chats.

Unrealistic Goals? Yes A Trait Hard To Shift

Guilty as charged, I’ve been known to set goals of a rather unrealistic nature. For example, my year-long endeavour to shed those stubborn pounds. A venture that, I must confess, has not been met with success. As January rolled around once more, I planned out in my planner how I would aim to lose a kilogram every month. Unrealistic? Undoubtedly. Between the lack of time for daily workouts and the hormonal rollercoaster accompanying perimenopause, the odds are stacked against me. Not to mention, when I step on the scale and see that unwanted number pop up on its screen, my resolve wavers. The next thing I know, I’m reaching for that croissant patiently waiting in the kitchen.

Time Well Spend Researching The How To Start And Stick To Realistic Goals

With the aim of creating a well-balanced schedule for my own goal-keeping, I began researching how to start and stick to realistic goals. And, whilst it’s not a walk in the park, it is achievable.

If like me you want to get started on those long-forgotten dreams, (or maybe they aren’t forgotten, but there is such a thing as blissful ignorance), the key lies in setting achievable goals whilst making discipline and consistency your driving force. 

What Are Realistic Goals?

How To Start And Stick To Realistic Goals

Simply put, realistic goals are just that—realistic! They are objectives you set for yourself that are both attainable and practical, within a given context, of course. When setting realistic goals, it is imperative to consider various factors such as time constraints, available resources, individual capabilities, and external circumstances. Unlike overly ambitious goals, realistic goals align with one’s current situation and are achievable with reasonable effort.

Realistic goals possess five key characteristics:

  1. Achievability: Realistic goals are within reach and can be accomplished with the skills, knowledge, and resources available to the individual.
  2. Time Frame: They are set within a reasonable time frame, considering the complexity of the goal and the time available for its completion.
  3. Alignment with Values and Priorities: Realistic goals are in harmony with an individual’s values, priorities, and long-term objectives.
  4. Consideration of Constraints: These goals acknowledge any limitations or constraints, such as financial restrictions, time constraints, or other practical barriers.
  5. Flexibility: While realistic, goals should also allow for some flexibility to adapt to unexpected challenges or changes in circumstances.

The Importance of Setting Realistic Goals From the Get-Go

When embarking on a journey to achieve an objective, the importance of setting realistic goals from the start cannot be overstated. We all set goals with success as an endgame; therefore, realistic goals will undoubtedly serve as the cornerstone for a successful venture. They lay down the foundation for achievable milestones and sustainable progress—a clear roadmap aligning ambition with practicality.

Attaining goals requires raw honesty with oneself. This honesty provides an acknowledgement of the constraints and challenges that may arise along the way, assisting in fostering a mindset of adaptability and resilience. This approach not only increases the chances of success but also ensures a more fulfilling journey toward personal and professional growth.

10 Steps On How To Start And Stick To Realistic Goals

How To Start And Stick To Realistic Goals

1. Define Clear Objectives:

Clearly articulate your goals, breaking them down into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives. This clarity provides a roadmap for success. 

Scroll down to download a free SMART goal planning worksheet!

2. Start Small – Tiny Steps:

Begin with manageable goals that you can realistically achieve. Small victories build confidence and momentum for more significant challenges.

One of my daily mantras is, ‘Tiny steps are better than no steps at all’. There are days when life just gets in the way, so instead of being hard on myself, I take action on a smaller scale. Showing up for yourself, despite it being in small doses, will provide you with a sense of self-love and appreciation. 

3. Prioritize Your Goals:

Focus on the most important goals first. Prioritization helps prevent overwhelm and ensures you’re directing your energy where it matters most.

4. Create an Action Plan:

Break your goals into actionable steps. Develop a detailed plan outlining what needs to be done, when, and how. This roadmap keeps you organized and accountable.

5. Build Consistent Habits:

Cultivate habits aligned with your goals. Consistency is key to creating lasting change. Small, regular actions compound over time to yield significant results.

If you are interested in finding a way to introduce habits that will lead to a healthier life, then check out our blog post – 10 Healthy Habits For A Better Life

6. Track Your Progress:

Regularly assess your progress. Tracking your achievements provides motivation and helps identify areas that may need adjustment.

Our habit tracker will undoubtedly become a helpful tool in keeping track of your progress. Do not underestimate how good it feels to see multiple boxes ticked at the end of your day. 

How to Start and Stick to Realistic Goals

7. Stay Flexible:

Life is unpredictable, and obstacles may arise. Be adaptable and willing to adjust your goals or methods when necessary. Flexibility is crucial for long-term success.

I struggle with this aspect. In the past, I have adapted to a very rigid mindset, driven by an intense need to stick to routines. A way to feel in control. However, as mentioned earlier, my self-discipline has recently waned, leading me to become excessively comfortable with flexibility. Currently, I’m actively working towards striking a healthy balance—aiming for flexibility while simultaneously cultivating consistency.

8. Celebrate Milestones:

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. Recognizing your progress reinforces positive behaviours and keeps you motivated.

Personally, I celebrate milestones by taking a moment to recognize the pride I feel for persevering, even on the days when I didn’t want to. Although, as a little reward, I might treat myself to a new book. But, let’s be honest, I’d probably do that anyway, so who am I kidding?

9. Seek Accountability:

Share your goals with someone you trust or join a supportive community. Having accountability partners helps you stay committed, as you’re not navigating the journey alone.

My way of staying accountable is by giving you an idea of the ‘realistic’ goals I have set for myself this year. 

  • Incorporate healthy habits into my daily routine
  • Workout three times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day
  • Walk 10,000 steps a day
  • Stay off social during the day, allow one hour during the afternoon
  • Read 52 books this year
  • Finish the first draft of my first novel by the end of the year

10. Learn from Setbacks:

Setbacks are inevitable. Instead of viewing them as failures, see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Analyze what went wrong, adjust your approach, and keep moving forward.

Since the year started, I’ve had the flu twice, disrupting my routine of three workouts a week. Rather than being hard on myself and diving into relentless workouts post-recovery, I’ve chosen to practice patience and self-compassion. During the periods when working out was not feasible, I focused on maintaining a healthy diet.

What Is SMART And How It Can Help You Attain Your Goals

SMART is an acronym that represents a framework for setting effective goals. Let’s break down each component in more detail:

  1. Specific:
    • Goals should be clear, specific, and well-defined. Clearly articulate what you want to achieve. Instead of a vague goal like “lose weight,” a specific goal would be “lose 10 pounds in the next two months.”
  2. Measurable:
    • Establish criteria to track your progress and determine when you’ve successfully met your goal. Measurable goals answer questions like “How much?” or “How many?” For example, if your goal is to exercise more, a measurable component would be “exercise for 30 minutes five days a week.”
  3. Achievable:
    • Ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable. While it’s good to aim high, setting impossible goals can lead to frustration. Consider your current resources, skills, and time constraints. Adjust your goals so that they challenge you, but are still reachable.
  4. Relevant:
    • Goals should be aligned with your values and overall objectives. Ensure that the goal matters to you and is consistent with other goals you have set. A relevant goal is one that contributes to your broader aspirations and mission.
  5. Time-bound:
    • Set a specific timeframe for achieving your goal. This adds a sense of urgency and helps prevent procrastination. Instead of saying “I’ll start a business someday,” make it time-bound with “I’ll launch my online store within the next six months.”

When you use the SMART criteria in your goal-setting, it’s like creating a roadmap that makes everything clearer, helps you stay focused, and boosts your chances of hitting those goals. It’s like having a guide that leads your efforts in a smart and effective way.

And just to show you how passionate I am about this topic,  I’ve crafted FREE printable worksheets to support you on your journey to successful goal setting. No need to subscribe (although that would be an awesome way to support us) just click on the image and download.

Final Thoughts

As I wrap up this blog post, I truly find solace in the simplicity of it all. Life, with its unpredictable twists and turns, nudges us to set goals that resonate with our deepest aspirations. As I navigate this path, trying to find a healthy balance between what I want and what I need,  I’ve come to embrace the beauty of clarity in defining objectives. There is comfort in starting small. Perseverance is an art, one I strive to achieve above all.

Through the setbacks and victories, I’ve learned that flexibility is not a compromise but a companion on this quest. Celebrating milestones, no matter how modest, serves as a reminder of the resilience within us.

So, let’s raise a metaphorical toast to realistic goals – not just as destinations but as companions in our journey toward a better, more fulfilled version of ourselves. 

I finish off this blog with the hope that it has provided you with the tools to define, refine, and achieve, one realistic goal at a time.

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