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How do we dream big AND set realistic goals?

Each year I create a strategic vision, including different goals such as professional, personal, financial, emotional and physical. With a goal partner, I explore and work toward setting realistic steps to reach them. I write them down, play with them and eventually see which ones work out and which ones don’t.

Most of us have had goals for our entire life such as: learning to ride a bike as a kid; wanting to learn to drive as a teenager; going to university or getting interesting work as you move toward adulthood.

But you may have had a dream when you were a kid about playing professional basketball or becoming a ballerina. For most of us, those childhood dreams are not goals, but just dreams.  How do we know when to let go of dreams and set realistic goals instead?  

Dreaming big

I dream big and often set big, audacious goals. It’s fun. Living your dreams also requires setting realistic goals with passion, dedication and commitment to follow through.

But we don’t reach all of our goals? What if they are not realistic and attainable? Becoming a professional basketball player doesn’t work out for most of us. We need to learn the limits, too, and life teaches us, sometimes in a hard way. And then we need to learn to adapt to change.

How do we set realistic goals that we can achieve and let go of the ones we can’t?

I love setting big, daring goals, and then slowly breaking them down to specific, realistic steps. And seeing if they work out. Letting go of some, adapting others and reaching some.

One client, let’s call him Bob, wanted to switch from engineering to becoming an entrepreneur in mid-life. It was an audacious goal. I loved it and really enjoyed guiding him through the process to stay focused, realistic and keep his eyes on the long vision. Together, we set realistic, achievable steps to shift from one career to the other. It took him three years to make the change, but eventually he did it.

Later, Bob told me that it was also another three years until he started to make the kind of money that he had made previously. He also said it was the best thing he could have done, professionally and personally, but also much harder than he thought.

Why is it important to dream big AND set realistic goals?

It’s important to dream big because it fuels our passion for life. And it’s important to be realistic because it keeps us grounded in the present-day reality. We can’t possibly know the future and change is relentless and rapid.

So, how do we learn to become resilient and adaptable in the face of swirling change, and sometimes failure of reaching those goals?

Transforming Failure

Learning how to fail well is hard. If you’ve read my previous blog on How to Transform Failure, you know that I admire and have studied Carol Dweck’s research into failure and her concept of growth mindset.

Growth mindset says that we stay curious, explore our limits, don’t blame ourselves but take responsibility for our part and ask for help. And maybe we need to create a new plan and try again.

As a coach, I can guide you to stay focused, organized and support you to set goals and reach for them, while staying open and adapting to change. It’s a challenge I love!!

Call me for a free discovery session today!


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