Have you ever put all of your time, effort, and money into pursuing a goal that you later found out was completely unrealistic for where you were starting from? My friend, you are not alone! Over the years I’ve had to learn the hard way that a goal is meant to be challenging but not impractical. It’s meant to push you to step out on faith, take risks, and build your character, while at the same time remain within your reach as something you can actually attain.
By definition (according to dictionary.com) a goal is a result or achievement which effort is directed. All that means is, a goal is something that you work towards. It shouldn’t be so easy that you can accomplish it overnight. It is not a to-do list item. Having goals takes you on a journey of self-mastery, personal fulfillment, and growth. You can not hit your target without first going through a process.
Just last year while working full time I had a goal to increase my income by only doing things I enjoy while spending more time with my girls (at the time they were both under 2). Shortly after returning to work from parental leave (which was one year) I was fired. That’s right, I was no longer receiving my cozy salary or benefits. I had to figure out how to generate enough income to survive using the skills I already had because I did not want to waste time and money going to school to learn something I didn’t enjoy.
To my surprise opportunities to work from home started coming in almost immediately without me having to distribute my resume or even mention that I was looking for a job. I had friends calling me to ask if I wanted to join their team as well as friends of friends (because my friends would refer me) asking if I could work with them on my schedule starting at the pay rate of my choice! This was absolutely incredible! Prior to losing my job, I had zero offers on the table and no idea how I was actually going to make money doing things I enjoy and now all of a sudden work opportunities were literally pouring in from everywhere.
Can you guess what my response was to all of the lucrative offers I received? “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to focus on my business” What!? I know, I’m crazy, right? There I was jobless and I turned down multiple work from home offers doing things that come naturally to me. What was I thinking? I was thinking about my long term goals.
Having a vision means that you are clear on what your long term goals are. It doesn’t mean that you know how you’re going to get there, it just means that you know what you want. You have a clear picture of what you’re capable of creating with your life.
Now, this is where I went wrong. Instead of seeing these work opportunities for exactly what they were, opportunities to have a steady source of income until I got back on my feet I saw them as distractions stealing time away from my vision (long-term goals). Now, why do I say I went wrong? Because had I done things differently I would have had more money to scale and potentially triple my income! However, what happened instead was due to having completely unrealistic goals! Are you ready?
Instead of working smart I chose to work hard. I spent tons of money to generate leads (for those of you who are not familiar with business lingo leads are people that would benefit from my business service, blog and so on) and in the end, the pay off was very small. I now understand why this failed, but when I was walking through this I couldn’t see past my frustration and disappointment.
The truth is my goal at the time was very unrealistic. Although I was working with a high ticket business coach, mentors, and smart advisers it wasn’t practical for me to think that my business would instantly yield the results that I wanted simply because I was putting more time and money into it. It was during this time that I learned the principle of working smarter, not harder and I learned how to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals.
A realistic goal is a goal that takes you one step closer to your final outcome. It is one of the major milestones along your journey. It marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. It takes you from point A to point B and helps you to stay on track with your life vision (goals).
An unrealistic goal does the opposite. With this type of goal, you are subconsciously trying to skip steps, maybe even avoid the time investment that is required to crush your goal. You are thinking in terms of quick results and although you might not admit it, with this mindset you’re probably looking for a short cut.
Trust me, I get it! This is something I experienced just last year. Some goals take longer than others. Instead of enjoying the process of becoming who you’re meant to be by learning what it takes to crush your goal, you’d rather get the results immediately even if this means skipping a few steps in the process, right? But we know this never works and will always end in disappointment so why do we still look for short cuts?
I don’t know, but here’s what I learned. While working toward your goals you must continue to be responsible, sober in your decision making, and diligent about following through on your written plans. Is it hard? Yes. Will it take some time to see results? Of course. But can you do it? Absolutely!
I’m so blessed to have learned this lesson early in my business. Understanding the difference between realistic and unrealistic goals will help you to have the right expectations, make knowledgeable informed decisions, and work a plan that will take you closer to your goals. Until next time! Xo.