6 Blocks to Achieving Goals- Unrealistic Goals

By now, you have read Teri’s notes about gaining all the knowledge you need to have to achieve your goals and you have planned to manage your time well as Tamara has suggested in order to meet those goals. You now know 2 big road blocks to avoid so you can reach your goals!   Now I want you to do a reality check.  Are your setting realistic goals? We do a lot of work with perfectionism and unrealistic expectations.  Unrealistic goal setting is problematic in many ways, especially to one’s self esteem.  People with low self esteem often set unreachable goals as a form of self sabotage or proving to themselves over and over again that they are “less than”.  Often we get caught up in all or nothing (black and white) thinking where if we are not perfect, then why try?  So instead of aiming for perfection, lets aim for excellence.

Many people choose weight loss/ fitness  for a goal this time of year.  I hear it all the time, “ I am going to get back into my pre- baby bikini by Spring Break!” or “ I am going to run the mini marathon this year!”  For some people who have done the research on how to lose weight in a lasting safe way, or planned a running training schedule to build up endurance to run 13.1 miles, it can be done!  But you better make sure it can be done by you!

Roadblock #3 Setting Unrealistic Goals:

To know if your goals are realistic, , McKay and Fanning ask 3 questions to guide you:

1.. What are the odds?  Given what you know about yourself, humanity, and probability, what are the odds against you achieving your goal?

1000 to 1?

100 to 1?

10 to 1?

Better than even?

You need a better than even chance of reaching your goals, or they are not realistic goals.  If your chances of success are less than 50%, you are setting yourself up for failure.  If your goal is too high, don’t give up on it, just make some slight alterations.  Maybe you will commit to lose 10 lbs instead of 50.  Maybe you can run a 5k instead of an Iron Man!

2.  Do I have (or can I get ) the prerequisites?

Many goals have prerequisites you may lack.  For instance, you may not be tall enough to play professional basketball,  have the experience or education for a particular job or have the genetic predisposition to ever wear winter white pants and not look like a snow man.  (Some of us are simply blessed with pear shaped figures, but that is another blog)  Here is where you look at your goals and realize you might not have all the prerequisites to reach your goals.  But again, you do not give up!  You can make some alterations to your goals.  You can play recreational sports if you are too short for professional ball, you can go back to school to get the education you need for that job you want, or you can accept that winter white top with darker trousers will be just as cute, and much more flattering!

3. Is it my goal or somebody else’s

The first part of this question asks is this a goal that you want for yourself or is a goal that someone else has for you?  For instance, if your mother wants you to marry a doctor or your father wants you to go to law school, those are their goals, not necessarily your own.

The second part of the question asks if your goal is for you to accomplish or someone else?   Is your goal for your wife to stop gambling or your son to get into college?  Those are their goals, not yours.  You can formulate goals in terms of what you can control or what you can do.  You can attend gam anon meetings, you can close join bank accounts, or separate if your wife continues to gamble and lie about money.  You can help your son with studying, college fairs, and applications, but you cannot get him into college.


I hope your goals are developing well into reasonable goals.  You now have avoided 3 roadblocks in reaching your goals.  You have done the research, planned the time, and set realistic goals.  Continue to check back as Natalie and Joleen finish the week with helpful tips to avoid roadblocks to reaching goals.  Good luck!!

Adapted from "Self Esteem" by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield