Have you ever heard someone, after falling short of a goal or becoming discouraged while pursuing one, say, “Oh well, it probably wasn’t a realistic goal anyway…”? That’s what is called “rationalizing away a goal.” Chances are that person didn’t have a real strategy in place for achieving the goal, or the discipline to follow a strategy. But, if the goal wasn’t realistic to begin with or, if it there was no emotional attachment to it, why bother with a strategy?
A big part of the problem is that people often set goals without having or strictly following a strategy for achieving them. But, the larger problem may be that people don’t know how to set achievable goals - goals that are realistic, clearly defined, and even inspiring. Considering the stakes, whether it’s to buy a house, fund a college education, or to become financially independent, goals that are not perceived as achievable are nothing more than hopeful aspirations; and, for most people, that doesn’t motivate them to action. Who really wants to make a sacrifice for a hopeful aspiration?
Is it a Goal or just a Pipedream?
Yes, you need a plan or a strategy to be able to achieve a goal; but, the goal has to inspire you to take action and exercise the discipline necessary to relentlessly pursue it. For that to happen, the goal needs to be clearly defined in terms of cost and timeframe; but, more importantly, if there is no emotional attachment to the goal, you are less likely to muster the motivation to stick to a strategy. You need to visualize the outcome; feel the satisfaction of having achieved the goal; and, feel the pain of not achieving it. That is what inspires people to make the necessary sacrifices.
Setting achievable goals is not rocket science; however, it does require a proper mindset to ensure the process is taken seriously. To prevent a goal from becoming a mere pipedream, young families must run it through a process that will determine how achievable it really is and then create the action plan to achieve it.
Steps to Setting Achievable Goals
Finally, find ways to internalize your goals to make them a part of yourselves. Talk about them frequently, and how it will make you feel when you achieve them. If the goal is to buy a bigger house, clip pictures from magazines of the type of house you envision. Make the goal a family rallying cry so they know why they might have to make certain sacrifices now to enjoy a better life later.