Elliott Counseling Group


5 Steps to Setting Realistic Goals

By: Jolie Carsten, LCSW

As we enter a new year, we often think about what resolutions or goals we would like to achieve during that year.  It’s important to set goals because they give us direction and motivation.  However, we often jump ahead to the action and achieving part of goals without spending adequate time on thoughtfully and thoroughly planning our goals.  That mistake can result in setting goals that aren’t realistic and leave us with a sense of failure resulting in a loss of motivation.  Over 25% of resolutions are broken in the first week and over 50% of resolutions set at the beginning of the year will have failed by the end of January.  Setting goals that are realistic will help you to avoid that feeling of failure.

Here are five steps to help you set realistic goals for 2017.

1. Identify your inspiration: plant the seed.

  • Reflect on what you want to be different in your life.
  • Identify a theme for the year: choose one word.
  • Ask yourself, “Why do I care about this change?”

2. Prioritize that desired change into 1-3 goals.

  • Follow the concept of less is more. 
  • Don’t dilute your focus and efforts.
  • You can do everything you want, but not all at once.

3. Identify your motivation: water the seed.

  • Name all the benefits of achieving this goal.
  • Ask yourself, “How will I achieve this goal?”
  • Reflect on your strengths that will help you to achieve this goal.

4. Identify the potential barriers.

  • Be realistic about your personal limitations and external obstacles.
  • Reflect on needed strategies to overcome the barriers.
  • If the barriers can’t be reduced or eliminated, edit the goal.

5. Identify the action steps for the goal.

  • Break the goal down into smaller steps.
  • What do I need to do daily, weekly, monthly?
  • One goal can become multiple goals.


Taking the time to establish realistic goals will set you up for success rather than disappointment and the feeling of failure.  Each small success that you experience will increase your momentum and motivation.  Make sure you write down your goals and actions steps somewhere you can see them daily.  Make 2017 an inspired and successful year!

Link: http://www.illinoishomepage.net/the-morning-show/motivational-monday-setting-realistic-goals/641032012