Everyone wants to be able to have a plan for their life. Having a checklist and expecting to hit certain milestones can give you hope and meaning in life. Goals are crucial for boosting your motivation. But with all good things, you’ll find a catch – unrealistic goals.
There’s a lot of pressure on people in today’s society. If you aspire to be an artist, most people will tell you that it’s a waste of time. That you won’t be able to make any money. Or even that being an artist is not a meaningful career path. And that happens with a lot of choices. If you want to take a break, people might say you are weak. If you don’t aspire to make millions, people might think you are lazy.
There’s so much stigma and pressure in this world that people start molding their lives in a way that matches what others expect of them. Instead of doing what they want, they set unrealistic goals in life. Or maybe it’s not even about the pressure. Perhaps it’s about them not realizing the extent of their abilities. Setting goals can be a challenging task, but that’ll only hurt you if your goals are unrealistic. So, here are seven dangers of setting unrealistic goals and how to avoid them.
Healthy Goals And How To Set Them
When people set goals for their lives, the main mistake is trying to set those goals believing it would fix whatever is wrong in their lives. Unrealistic goals are often set with certain flaws in mind. Some people might think they are ugly, and that’s why their goal is to work out and lose a lot of weight. And while working out is a good goal, you should never set a goal because you are trying to “fix” yourself. You should fix goals because they will bring you happiness in life, not just mask your insecurities.
You must set a healthy goal because you are trying to better your life. But you shouldn’t set it because you don’t like who you are, and you believe that goal will change you. That goal is set because you have a desire, and you are trying to fulfill it. When trying to set a goal, you need to understand why you want to be healthier why you want to do more. If it’s because you genuinely want to be happier, that’s great. But, if you do it because you don’t like yourself, maybe don’t set a goal. Maybe start by making peace with yourself before starting to set goals.
Healthy goals need to be attainable and measurable. For example, having “fly in outer space” as a goal might not be very realistic. Or “be more intelligent” is not that easily measurable. But a plan that’s about nutrition, physical health, or career will do you a lot of good. For example, one of the most straightforward goals you can set is to drink more water. Or go on 15-minute walks every day. Or trying to get a promotion in the next couple of years. And, what you need to remember about goals, is that you should never beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them.
Seven Dangers of Setting Unrealistic Goals in Life
Simply working towards them will do much good, certainly better than doing nothing. But this is the best-case scenario when it comes to setting goals. Most of the time, people set goals in a very unrealistic way. They force themselves to aim higher than realistically achievable. They beat themselves up if they don’t achieve everything they want. Unrealistic goals can destroy your life if you are not careful, and here are seven ways in which that could happen.
1. Unrealistic Goals Don’t Allow You To Experience Things
When you have unrealistic goals, chances are you become obsessed with them. They can take over your whole life. All you can think about is reaching that goal, and nothing else matters. You don’t allow yourself to have fun. You don’t allow yourself to enjoy life. All you do is work endlessly until that goal is met. Being this obsessed with a plan will take all your free time. You won’t have time to experience things anymore. You won’t stop taking in the feelings that life offers you.
If you don’t meet your goal, you will beat yourself down. This kind of living will only make you feel bad about yourself. You won’t be in the moment anymore. Your mind will always be focused on the future instead of experiencing the present. And, if your expectations aren’t met, that will only cause you that much more harm.
2. They Lead To Disappointment
Disappointment is a normal part of human life. But most people get disappointed every once in a while. People with really unrealistic expectations are the ones who not only get disappointment often, but they set themselves up for it.
When your expectations are too high or unattainable for some reason, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. All that pressure builds up, and when you eventually fail, everything will shatter around you. All that pressure will crash on you like a wave, and the disappointment will be too much to handle. And, continuous disappointment can lead to feeling guilty and ashamed.
3. Unrealistic Goals Shatter Your Confidence
When you set unrealistic goals, chances are you won’t meet most of them. That’s precisely why they are unrealistic. Because, for your context, those goals are just not suitable. That doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of doing great things. You don’t know how to set the right goals for yourself. And, all that failure can make you feel like you aren’t good enough.
When you see that, no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work, that can take a toll on your confidence. You will probably think you are not enough, like you can’t get anything right. When you lose your faith, it will be harder for you to take on new goals.
4. They Don’t Let You Be Flexible
Sometimes, unrealistic goals can be so strict that you end up mapping your whole life based on them. If your goal is to work in finance, but along the way, you find you are passionate about art, chances are you’ll stick to finance. Even though art would make you happier, your goal is finance, so you’ll stick to it no matter what.
Unrealistic goals make you lose all flexibility. You will find yourself striving towards the same goals for ages, even though your desires might have changed. You won’t be as spontaneous anymore. You’ll lose out on opportunities. If you keep this up, you might find yourself stuck in an unfulfilling life, with many regrets haunting you.
5. Unrealistic Goals Cause You Stress
The more unrealistic your expectations are, the more pressure you will feel every day. You will feel like you have to reach those goals no matter what. In addition, you’ll have to juggle other responsibilities, like work, family, and friends. All these tasks combined can lead to a spike in stress levels.
When you are stressed, that affects your mental health and your physical health. When your body secrets stress hormones, like cortisol, your body is affected. The heart rate goes up, your breath quickens, and your head starts hurting. All these short-term effects can cause heart conditions and other issues in the future. And, if you are stressed, you are bound to feel less happy and sometimes even perform worse.
6. They Affect Your Relationships
Sometimes, you become so obsessed with your goals that you start neglecting the people in your life. As long as they don’t play a specific role that helps you achieve your goal, you might be inclined to push them away.
When your expectations are too high or unrealistic, you tend to spend all your time working to achieve them. And that doesn’t leave you enough time for quality relationships with friends and family. If you are a workaholic, chances are you will put your family in a secondary place. Even if you think that it’s only temporary, in reality, you might never be able to mend those relationships again. So, it’s best to make sure you don’t ruin those relationships in the first place.
7. Unrealistic Goals Make You Vulnerable
Most people tend to use unrealistic expectations as a defense mechanism. If you have high expectations, you have the strength and confidence to stand your ground. Or at least that’s what you think. You feel like if you loosen your expectations, you will get hurt. But that’s not the case.
Unrealistic expectations can make you more vulnerable. Those high expectations can make you desperate. This makes it harder to see signs of exploitation and manipulation. If someone promises to help you with your goal, you might be inclined to do just about anything for them. With more manageable expectations, you can get out of your head. This will allow you to read people better, which will make you less vulnerable.
Final Thoughts On Dangers of Setting Unrealistic Goals in Life
Having goals is all fun and games until they become so unrealistic that they are simply unattainable. In a desperate attempt to be perfect, many people set goals that are impossible to reach. And these goals can negatively impact your whole life.
Having unrealistic goals forces you to become obsessed with planning your future, so much so that you forget about the present. They set you up for disappointment, which in turn shatter your confidence. It can make you feel like a failure like you are not enough no matter how hard you try. These expectations don’t let you go with the flow and remove all your flexibility. You won’t do things on a whim. Instead, you will pass on all opportunities that don’t match your goals.