Social media and its larger-than-life representations of what everyone is up to have significantly influenced the way we want to set goals. For instance, when we consume so many intimate, personal stories of unexpected success such as owning a house by the age of 25, having a 6 figure starting salary, or when we watch multitasking pubic figures document the numerous aspects of their super-productive lives, we start to believe that such extraordinary goals are indeed immediately achievable!
While these goals may be achievable in the long run, perhaps in terms of goal setting at the individual level, we should focus on how attainable they are in our specific context. All our lives are unique, extraordinary, and diverse in their own ways. They are not meant to follow the same paths and chase the same goals. Studies have shown that the attainability of goals (i.e. how achievable they are) positively influences well-being later in life.
This is crucial information. Our goals have to be realistic in order to be achievable. Instead of comparing our lives to everything that seems very within the realm of possibility on social media and elsewhere, we must prioritize our own unique circumstances and account for them when we set goals. Thus, for a billionaire buying a house straight out of college may be a highly attainable goal but for a middle-class high school graduate, it may require a bit more planning.
It is important to ensure our goals are realistic and that they sequentially build up to larger aspirations. For example, it may not be possible to set up a functional work-from-home space in one go, but if we start small such as by purchasing a monitor first, putting together a table, etc. then we may finally be able to set up the desired space in steps. This allows us to divide work into steps, manage expectations, and our small successes in achieving each step motivate us to keep going. Realistic goals can motivate you to aspire for things you previously thought were unattainable because each goal that you complete is an indicator of what you are capable of!