Goals and Planning

Setting Realistic VS Unrealistic Goals: What You Need to Know

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When we all talk about setting goals to achieve something that we want in life, many people will have the question of whether the goals that they set are realistic or unrealistic.

How do you know if your goals are realistic, or unrealistic? And what which option should you go for? Should you make your goals as realistic or should you do it the other way round? We will discuss this subject in detail shortly.

On one hand, you have someone tells you to set realistic goals because those are the most achievable targets. And when you see yourself producing the results, you will feel motivated and have the confidence to proceed further.

On the other hand, someone else tells you that you should set unrealistic and big goals because those are the targets that can motivate you and push you outside the box.

So what should you do?

Should You Set Realistic or Unrealistic Goals?

First, you have to understand that there is no such thing as a realistic or unrealistic goal.

We have heard stories of people go on to make an unreasonable amount of money within a short period of time and we have also heard people who started small and realistic; people who stick to their goals and eventually make it big.

In my opinion, both types of goals work. Yes, realistic goals can work, and so with the unrealistic goals.

This is because you are the one who gets to decide if your goals or realistic or unrealistic.

Take losing weight as an example. If you want to lose 5kg within a year, do you think it is possible? The answer is a big yes. Many people have done it and with the time frame of a year, it is definitely possible to lose just 5kg.

Anyone can exercise, jogging, or workout in the gym once or twice a week, and then keep an eye on what they eat, and they can definitely achieve this goal.

What about if you want to lose 5kg in just a mere 3 days? Do you think it is possible? Now, for most people, they may think that this goal is unrealistic because the time frame is too short.

However, losing 5kg of fat within 3 days is really possible. How? The answer is by going through weight loss surgery or take the weight loss pill.

It may not be the best method to lose weight, but it can make your goals achievable.

Don’t forget that setting unrealistic goals require you to think out of the box. And thus, you need to come up with a totally different strategy than the achieving the ordinary realistic weight loss goal where most people will go through exercising and diet programs.

Thus, it is not your goals. It is not whether your goals are realistic or unrealistic, it is your strategy.

Your Strategy Matters

My friend, no matter what goals you set, it is the strategy that matters.

You can set a realistic goal and still fail to achieve them because your strategy does not justify the results. At the same time, you can set unrealistic and super big goals, and if your strategy is right, you can still produce the result and hit your goal.

If you want to start a business selling fruits, what will you do? Will you set up a store and aim to earn $10,000 a month? Or are you going to set an unrealistic goal to earn a million dollar a year from your fruit-selling business?

If you want to earn $10,000 a month from your business, you can set up a store selling all types of fruits. You can be hard working and start your business early and stay up later. And make sure your fruits are fresh and you treat your customers with good service to make sure that they return and buy from you for more. You can even set up a customer loyalty program or promotions from time to time to boost your sale.

Well, do you think you are able to hit your goal of earning $10,000 a month if you do so? The answer is a yes, and it is very likely that you can achieve your goal.

Now, what if you want to earn a million dollar a year from your fruit-selling business? Do you think that lengthen your business operating hours will work? Do you think that you achieve this goal by creating more promotions and offers?

Not at all, my friend, no matter how much time you put into your store, there is no way you can make a million dollar from it. We all have only 24 hours a day, even if you put in 20 hours a day running your business and take no days off, you will still never able to hit your goal.

So what should you do?

Let me ask you, have people actually made a million dollar in the fruit industry? Yes, there are a lot of them. So model their success and learn from them.

You need a completely different strategy to hit an unrealistic goal.

For instance, you need a solid business plan. You want to raise capital through joint ventures. You need to invest in R&D and perhaps start creating your own brand of fruits. You may want to produce dried fruits to sell across all the major grocery stores in your country. You can even start a franchise system to earn royalties and leverage on other people’s time and money. Plus, you may want to consider taking your company public to raise millions of dollars too.

So do you think you can make a million dollar from your fruit business now?

As you can see, both goals require a completely different strategy to achieve.

Hence, it is not about whether your goals are realistic or unrealistic, it is your strategy. The goals you set will determine your strategy.

If you use the wrong strategy, there is no way you can hit your goal.

There is no way you can see the sunrise if you keep running west and chasing the sun in that direction.

This is why working hard alone is not going to work. Hard work is necessary, but working hard on the wrong thing is not a good strategy.

Your strategy matters, my friend.

If you fail to achieve your goals, usually, there are only two reasons for that.

First, you procrastinate and did not take enough action. And second, you take a lot of action, but fail to produce the result you desire, which is an issue with your strategy.

You need to change your strategy and start over again.

This is why people often say that you will have to fail a couple of times before you can be successful. The reason is that you will learn the right strategy through your failures.

Just like how a baby learns to walk. She will have to fall down a couple of times before she learns how to stand on both of her feet and walks steadily with the right strategy.

So are you going to set realistic goals or unrealistic goals?

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Setting Realistic Goals

Realistic goals are usually in an incremental manner and something that you think is achievable. For example, if you are earning $5,000 a month from your online business, a realistic goal could be earning an additional of $500 or $1,000.

If you are able to do 50 pushups, a realistic goal can be something like aiming to hit 60 for the next round.

The good thing about this is that when something is a little easy to do, there is a high chance that you will be able to accomplish it without really thinking out of the box. Just put in more effort and you will hit the target.

This will boost your confidence level because you are seeing results. And when you hit you realistic goal, you can then go on to set another realistic goal with at a higher bar.

What about the disadvantages? Well, there are two. The first is that a realistic goal limits your creativity. You don’t have to think out of the box or do something totally different in order to achieve it.

And second is that you will eventually hit a plateau. This is because you are using the same strategy, the only difference is your effort and time spent.

For instance, if you want to earn an additional $500 a month, all you need to do is to just work harder and put in more time. The problem is that there is only so much you can do and we all have the same 24 hours a day.

So eventually you will hit the limit and unable to grow higher.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Setting Unrealistic Goals

Unrealistic goals are completely different from the realistic ones. And usually, unrealistic goals are big and bold, and they require you to think out of the box and to do something totally different.

For example, if you want to make $100 million in ten years, how are you going to do that? The most common case is where people start a business and then grow it to a very successful point, and then sells it away for hundreds of millions.

We have seen this many times. Elon Musk started a company called Zip2 and then grew it and sold it to Compaq for $307 million in cash. Elon Musk received $22 million for his 7% share from the sale.

After that, Musk started another company called X.com where it eventually merged with PayPal. And then PayPal was acquired by eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion, where Musk received $165 million from the sale.

In 1996, Tony Hsieh started an advertising network called LinkExchange. The website grew to over 400,000 members and rotating 5 million ads daily. In 1998, he sold the business to Microsoft for $265 million.

And in 1999, Tony invested in Zappos, which 2 months later, he joined Zappos as the CEO, starting with just $1.6 million in 2000. And in 2009, Zappos’ revenues reached $1 billion and the business was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion. And Tony is said to have profited at least $214 million from the deal.

Therefore, the advantages of an unrealistic goal are obvious, it gives you big rewards.

However, it comes with a price. You must be willing to do things out of the norm. You need to take the leap of faith and be willing to work on something big and bold that will give you enormous return.

And this means that you need to be creative and think outside the box.

If you are doing what everyone is doing, there is no way you can achieve an unrealistic goal. As the name suggests, “unrealistic”, thus, you must use unrealistic method and strategy to reach the goal.

Unrealistic Goals Are Only Unrealistic When You’re Being Realistic

I believe that for people like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, and many other successful entrepreneurs, their goals are absolutely realistic. It is only unrealistic for most ordinary people who do not believe that it is possible.

Hence, it all depends on your “level”. For example, solving a problem that costs $1 million may be huge for most people, but it can be a small issue for people like Branson or Musk. They’re billionaires.

What you need to do then is to raise your bar of acceptance. Increase your level like when you’re playing games. The higher your level, the better your skills and the more you can achieve.

Finding Your “Sweet Spot”

The key to setting goal is to find your “sweet spot”. It all depends on what you want out of your life, really.

For some people, they don’t want to build a business with 200 employees and earn hundreds of millions, they just want to make enough money to be financially free and travel the world.

Some people are alright if they can just earn $20,000 a month and live comfortably.

On the other hand, some people want to make hundreds of millions and join the billionaire league. They want to start a super successful business like what Elon Musk did.

So what do you want out of your life? What kind of life do you want to live?

This answer to the question above is extremely important because it will determine your goals, and your goals will determine your strategy.

Therefore, you must find out your sweet spot and understand what you want from your life.

If your goals are unrealistic but you are not willing to do something extraordinary, there is no way you can reach your goals.

If your goals are realistic and you can achieve them easily, you are limiting your potential. Not only that, if your dream is big but your goals are too realistic, you will never materialize your dreams.

This is why you need to understand yourself. Understand what you truly want out of life in order to find the sweet spot to set the right goals that will satisfy you and get you the result you want.


I hope you enjoy reading this article. And I also hope that by now, you understand what it means by setting realistic VS unrealistic goals.

Remember my friend, there is no goal that is realistic or too small, and there is no goal that is too big or too unrealistic. It is a matter of your strategy and your approach.

It really boils down to what you truly want to achieve in your life.

This article may contain affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, I only recommend products and services I trust.

Hi there, this is Shawn. I inspire people to achieve their goals and dreams and to reach for higher success in life. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of The 90-90-1 Rule? Don't forget to do so. Cheers. :)

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