How to Set Realistic Goals for Personal and Professional Growth

Summer is the season when most people reset their priorities. The new energy that comes with warm weather is often an inspiration that rekindles dreams and inspires bigger goals. However, many people have trouble creating the connective steps between what they want to be doing and where they are now. It's one thing to dream of the promotion, the prestigious certification, the summer beach body, or the perfect get away, but it's another to visualize the steps it will take to get there. 

If you're dreaming of summer success, the best way to achieve those dreams is to set realistic goals for personal and professional growth.

The Secret to Setting Reachable Goals 

Everyone dreams big sometimes, but the difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who don't, is the steps in between. Someone who dreams of being a racecar driver must spend time on the track. Someone who dreams of being a prestigious engineer must first spend years in training and building practical experience. The same is true for any dream. In order to achieve your goals, personal or professional, you must make sure you are creating a realistic path. 

Setting Goals
The SMART Goal-Setting System 

When trying to reach your goals, set interim goals using the SMART principle: 

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-Bound 

Determine what you can achieve right now and, from there, build steps that you can achieve within one month, six months, two years, and so on. 

Specific Goals

You can't reach a goal that you can't define. If your goal is to achieve personal fitness, a specific goal would be to do a certain number of exercises or minutes of cardio each day. If your goal is to get a promotion, identify the position or raise you're aiming for. If you want to become a better public speaker, specific goals might be to speak up during lunch or take on an upcoming presentation. 

Measurable Goals 

Make sure you can measure your progress. A nebulous goal like "be healthier" is hard to define, but you can measure your minutes of cardio before you get winded. You can measure the results of your next work performance review, or the strength of your voice when presenting a project. You can measure academic courses completed and the grades you receive. 

Achievable Goals 

Make sure your goals can actually be achieved. For example, if your company never hires internally, that promotion will probably require a job-hop. If you live 30 miles from your job, biking to work probably isn't realistic. Set goals that you can not only achieve, but that you can achieve with the resources and circumstances that exist right now. 

Relevant Goals 

Every interim goal should be directly relevant to your overall goals. For example, make sure that any professional training courses you take directly relate to the promotion you want to get. Make sure that the exercises you choose will contribute to your specific fitness goal. Tap-dancing might make you more confident, but it probably won't directly help you become a better public speaker. 

Time-Bound Goals 

Lastly, give yourself a time limit. If you set your goals indefinitely, it also means you can put them off indefinitely. A time-limit can help you stay motivated to pursue your goals a little every day and week. You'll take time to practice, to learn new things, and improve your results in order to meet your goal within the time you've allotted. 

Staying Motivated to Meet Your Summer Goals 

Summer is a time for energy and inspiration, but staying motivated to achieve your goals can always be a challenge. Setting short, achievable goals can build the momentum you need to reach for your bigger dreams. 

If you are looking for encouragement and support to seek out your personal and professional goals, Acenda Integrated Health is here to help. Be sure to visit our Mental Health Resource center for more tips on maintaining positive mental health. 

Looking for support and resources to improve your mental well-being? Visit our comprehensive Mental Health Resource Center for the guidance you need.