5 Steps for Readjusting Goals to Fit Reality

Wall with the word "GOALS" on it

The holidays are nearly over, and we are facing the end of 2011. Are you where you want to be professionally?

That question may be a source of shame and frustration for some. You may have set goals, and subsequently, resolutions at the beginning of the year to achieve said goals. But things got in the way. Some might have been out of your control, and others could be considered your own procrastination.

If you find yourself constantly beating yourself up because you seem to be always coming up short, maybe it’s not you who should change to better fit your goals. Maybe it’s your goals that should change to better fit you and your life.

It’s a hard point to reconcile at times. After all, we create goals to challenge ourselves, to get things accomplished in our lives. Shouldn’t we push ourselves to stretch beyond the comfortable?

Definitely, yes, we should. Staying in that nice little comfort zone all the time is very limiting, and it is amazing when we achieve something important in our lives. However, consistently coming up short on goals indicates a disconnect with reality; the subsequent mental flogging that you give yourself when that happens doesn’t do you any favors.

So what do you do?

1. Stop berating yourself. As I said, it doesn’t help you, and it oftentimes can contribute to your continued lack of success.

2. Take a good look at your situation. What is it that is causing you to not reach your goals? Is it lack of knowledge about how to reach them? Is it life circumstances that are not optimal?

3. Determine which obstacles can be removed. The evaluation of barriers can feel overwhelming, particularly if it feels like everything is conspiring against you, but it’s necessary to put things in perspective. In addition, it can bring about new goals. For example, if lack of knowledge is one of your barriers, you can look at various ways to learn more — find a mentor, take classes, see what information is online.

4. Consider how your goals may need to change because of your life. Things like jobs and family can be a little more immutable, especially in the short-term. Trying to fit goals into your life with a ramming rod is simply going to stress you out on all sides. If you need to bring your goals down to be more in line with the reality of your situation, that’s fine. Doing something that is attainable will give you a feeling of success, rather than the feeling of failure that comes with each time you are unable to implement loftier goals.

5. Revisit goals regularly. Things can change in an instant, so what is relevant one day may not be the next. Check in on your goals at least on a quarterly basis to see how you are doing and put the previous four steps into action to keep you moving in a direction that is properly aligned with your circumstances.

By having goals that are a better fit with where you are in your life now, you may be able to incrementally work toward that larger goal. After all, it’s a lot easier to eat an elephant one bite at a time than to try to swallow it whole.

Image courtesy of lululemon athletica

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