The best way to get what you want is to follow a plan.
Creating a plan means learning how to set realistic goals and managing your expectations. The latter is essential for your continued success, and the former is your plan. They go hand in hand.
Let’s take a look at an example we can all relate to.
You have a remote job interview at 10:00 a.m. You’ve worked hard to get this interview. You’ve done the training you need, and you’ve planned accordingly.
You glance nervously at your computer screen. You clicked the link to the interview 10 minutes early.
You’re full of nervous energy. Not only are you bouncing your legs, but you’re fidgeting, talking to yourself, and your stomach floats with panicked butterflies. You’ve made sure to dress your best. You’ve memorized all your questions.
Your interviewer appears on the screen before you. You swallow hard and plaster a smile on your face. Your heart beats like a drum in your chest, and you’re fidgeting under your desk.
You talk for a while and begin to relax just a little. Your heart pounds violently in your chest, but you have planned out your responses and questions. You’ve got this. The interview continues, and eventually, your interviewer smiles at you, thanks you for your time, and promises to get back to you in a few days. The interview ends.
The torture is over. You breathe a sigh of relief. The butterflies flutter nervously in your stomach, and a smile comes to your face. Now you wait to hear back from them.
A few days later, you do hear back. You didn’t get the job.
You feel a deep weight settle into your stomach. What did you do wrong? What’s wrong with you? Your brain starts rotating thoughts about all the things you might’ve done wrong. You become hypercritical of yourself. You start relating your perceived failure here to other parts of your life. You even begin to shut those close to you out.
In this situation, everything panned out, and the interview went through. This example was a poor way to manage expectations. Coping poorly with unmet expectations can have disastrous effects on your mental health. It can affect your ability to continue and keep applying for work.
In this post, we will touch on the importance of setting realistic goals and how to properly manage your expectations.
A downward spiral, like in the above example, can happen to anyone. You deserve better than that. Let’s dive in.
There are four common mistakes people tend to make learning how to set realistic goals. These mistakes are easy to make and easy to avoid.
These four things are as follows:
1. Your goals aren’t written down. Writing your goals down helps to visualize the process.
2. Your goals are too big. You can have a big goal. But you’ll need to break it down into smaller ones to achieve it. Everything takes time.
3. Your goals aren’t specific enough. If they’re too vague, you know what direction to take to accomplish them. If you don’t have a direction, you’re more likely not to complete the goal.
4. You have too many goals. Having too many goals are overwhelming. Stick to one or two at a time. If you have too many goals to focus on at once, the likelihood of you completing any of them decreases.
Don’t make these mistakes. It does take a little extra work to really narrow down what you want. In the end, it’s worth it. Follow those for steps on how to set realistic goals and you’re on your way to success!
Before you even start thinking about your goals, you’ll need to figure out what it is you want. In a big-picture way, that might seem like an impossible task. But choosing one large goal and breaking it down will get you there.
Think of something you want to bring into your life. To start, list out some possibilities of things you may want. These could be about your career, education, personal life, or anything.
If it helps, think of it like writing your own story. When setting yourself goals and accomplishing them, that’s what you’re doing.
Here are a few general prompts to get you started thinking about some possibilities:
1. What are my priorities in my life right now?
2. Why is it worth it to me to pursue goals?
3. What gives me confidence?
4. What holds me back from living the life I imagine for myself?
Try looking up some other prompts online. Give them some thought, then write down some goal possibilities. When you’re asking yourself, “how to set realistic goals”, you need to first know the answer to the above four questions.
If you’ve got an idea now of which possibility you’d like to make into a goal, it’s time to think about what you’ll need to accomplish it. You’ll need to find out if the resources are accessible to you and how you will access them.
We’re going to look at the three biggest options to consider.
One of the first and biggest resources we need is time. How much time are you willing to put in to accomplish your goal? Do you need to learn a new skill or get some new experience? If that’s the case, you’ll have to factor in time for training and practice.
Money is the next resource. Are there expenses required to reach this goal? Equipment, tools, material, or do you need to hire someone for a service you can’t do yourself? Estimate your costs and make sure you have the funds to cover them.
Your third resource to consider is people. Do you know someone who can help you reach your goal? Do you need someone to keep you accountable? See who you can reach out to help you with your goal.
These three things are not the only things you need to consider, but they are some of the biggest. By thinking through these three ideas, you’ll have a better hold of what you need to accomplish your goal. Next, you’ll want to think about creating milestones for your goals.
Milestones are important when learning how to set realistic goals, and are in your journey to meet these goals. They help you track your progress and can help you stay motivated.
First, you’ll need to break down your goal into smaller tasks. If you wanted to run a marathon, your milestones could be running a certain distance each week.
This next step is important. You’ll want to set deadlines for your milestones. Be realistic. You’ll also want to be sure you’re pushing yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by dragging out your goals out. It’s a delicate balance.
Do you like to write things down? You might want to start in order to keep track of your milestones.
The next most important thing you can do is to celebrate your milestones. Treat yourself to something small, like ice cream, or binge some videos. Whatever small way you can celebrate your achievement.
Milestones are a helpful way to stay on track with your goals. Rewarding yourself along the way will incentivize the completion of your goals.
If you have a creative side, this one is for you.
Try creating a vision board for yourself. This can be a powerful tool to help clarify your goals and bring them to life.
A vision board is a visual representation of your goals and dreams. It can include messages, words, and pictures to represent your goals. With a vision board you can visualize your goals and milestones along the way and stay motivated to complete them.
If you’re a visual learner or a creative, a vision board might be a helpful supplement to your journey.
Even if you don’t have a creative side, if you’re a visual learner, this might also be a very productive tool for you. Knowing the type of learner you are can help you succeed in your goals faster.
Sharing your goals with someone you trust can have a huge impact on how you approach and succeed in your goals. When you’re learning how to set realistic goals, your family and friends may have great insight. Sharing with someone your trust can provide motivation, support, and a buddy to keep you accountable.
Sharing your goals and thoughts also has the benefit of valuable insights and ideas. It’s easy to get so focused on your goals, you might miss opportunities or a fresh way to look at overcoming a problem. A partner might be able to shine a new light on the situation. Sharing your goals can also strengthen your relationship.
Feelings of isolation or self-doubt may also creep up. Having a partner to share the experience with can help lighten the load. Your partner can be a sounding board and help when you encounter setbacks.
The benefits of sharing with your partner or friends can boost your success. If you’re working on a larger goal, consider enlisting the help of your friends or partner.
Learning how to set realistic goals is just the first step. Next, we’re going to cover managing your expectations. This all comes down to clear communication with yourself and being clear on what you want.
If you don’t have a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to achieve it, you may find yourself becoming overly critical of your success or failures. Failure is a part of growth and should be accepted as part of the growing process.
To avoid unnecessary frustration and disappointment, you must be realistic about what you can manage in a time frame. You will need to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Take in any external factors that may hinder the realization of your goals.
Learning how to set realistic goals is a process. These goals are not something that can be completed instantly in one go. You grow as your goals grow, so shouldn’t your expectations of yourself also adapt?
Practice being patient with yourself, set realistic goals, and be sure to celebrate your milestones. Let’s look at some other ways to manage your personal expectations and some strategies to practice becoming less critical of yourself.
When you manage your expectations, you are able to approach situations with a clear and level head. If you can approach your goals like this, you are less likely to be let down, disappointed, or even angry. You’ll be able to handle setbacks and challenges more easily.
Defining what managing your expectations looks like will vary from person to person. Assess how you normally react to things that don’t initially go your way. With this perspective in mind, you’ll be able to tailor your strategy a little more. Focusing on just how to set realistic goals is just the first step.
The main thing you’ll want to achieve will be to assess your goals and find out what you want. You’ll need to be frank with yourself on what you can realistically achieve. This can depend on a number of factors like time, money, resources, or living situation. Be sure to communicate clearly to any other people involved in attaining your goal. The next key step is to be flexible and adaptable.
Remember that while things may not go as planned, if you’re open to adjusting your expectations and approach, you’ll set yourself up for greater chances for success.
You’ll want to make sure the goals you’re setting are ones that are important to you. Meaning they inspire you, hold some meaning to you, and should be something you’re passionate about. Goals should provide a sense of pride once you meet them.
With that in mind, consider some of these strategies to manage your expectations with goal setting.
By following a few of these strategies, you can stay on top of your expectations. Keep in mind that as your life changes, so should your expectations. Don’t run yourself emotionally into the ground for getting off track or not meeting your goal. Practice patience with yourself.
Of course, there will be times when things spiral out of our control and prevent us from meeting goals. Learning how to set realistic goals comes with disappointment, at first. When this happens, it’s important to learn to cope with disappointment and move on.
No matter how you may feel about not meeting your goal, those feelings are only temporary. It’s normal to feel upset or frustrated, but it is also important to move on from them.
Something to try is to gain a perspective on the situation. Go back to your goal and make sure everything could have been realistically completed. Was there anything that was a little too far out of reach? This will help you to understand the situation better and how to avoid disappointment in the future.
If you can, try to find the positive in the situation. Maybe the unmet expectation led to a new goal or revealed something that could make persevering toward your goal easier the second time around. Find something good out of the situation and let it motivate you to continue moving forwards.
Take these tips and try to adjust your expectations accordingly. Use this as an opportunity to reassess your goals and make sure they are aligned with what you can realistically accomplish.
Learning to see the positive in the situation and shifting your perspective to keep moving forward may take some practice. The things that benefit us most in life are worth the extra time and investment.
Building realistic goals for yourself can help you build a lot of confidence. Completing your goals can give you a tremendous sense of achievement. This positivity loop can help you gain momentum and make progress toward even bigger goals.
If you can focus on setting realistic expectations, prioritize your efforts, and gain a clear understanding of what you can and cannot achieve, you can be laser-focused on completing those goals.
With all that said and done, let’s talk about setting goals in online learning.
If one of your goals is to complete an online program, a great place to start is with a SMART goal. Using a SMART goal is a good way to create a hyper-realistic and achievable goal. Using a template for building your own SMART goal can really help you start on the right foot by teaching you how to set realistic goals.
It’s important to understand that online learning requires a lot of discipline and dedication. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once. Instead of setting a goal to complete an entire section in one week, try completing a few lessons in one day.
Managing your expectations is also crucial as an online student. While online studies are typically completed at home, it’s easy to feel isolated and become more frustrated with no one to talk to. Contact people who can help you if you’re feeling stuck or lost.
An important aspect of managing your expectations is understanding that everyone learns at different paces and in different ways. Don’t compare yourself to others, or especially to a version of your younger self, who might have been able to understand or do something quicker. Have some patience and respect for who you are now. Learning how to set realistic goals is about knowing yourself.
Setting realistic goals and managing your expectations, as we’ve discussed in this article, are crucial for success in life and in online learning. Be kind to yourself and stay committed to your goals!
Learning how to set realistic goals and managing your expectations are crucial steps to achieving success in any area of life. By setting achievable goals using the techniques we discussed and being patient with yourself, you’ll be able to maintain the motivation needed to reach your goals.
Remember to break your goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks and make milestones to make them less overwhelming. Be sure to celebrate your achievements along the way. This will help you stay positive and motivated.
Be prepared for setbacks and recognize that progress may not always be easy to see. With a positive mindset and a willingness to adapt, you can overcome any obstacles that may come your way.
The most important thing is to enjoy the journey. Pursuing your goals can be challenging, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Stay focused, stay positive, and keep pushing towards your goals!