How to avoid setting over-ambitious goals


How to avoid setting over-ambitious goals. PHOTO | POOL

It's the New Year, that time when we typically set goals and resolutions to serve as a road map for the many months ahead.

While some prefer setting quarterly goals, others pen down all their to-dos for the year and then divide them into the timelines they wish.

However, amid all the planning, it is easy to get into the trap of setting overly ambitious goals that only serve to be a source of frustration.

An over-ambitious goal is characteristically expected to be achieved in an unrealistic time. Such a goal is set with the mentality of microwaving success.

So, what are the signs that your goals are microwaved?

Jasper Ouma, a career coach with Lifeline Coaching and Training Services says if you are struggling to not only set the goal but also to define it, then that is a clear sign that it is overly ambitious.

A microwaved goal, he says, will make you so uncomfortable that it does not give you peace.

Before setting goals, it is advisable to do a thorough introspection to establish if you have the resources needed to achieve your goals.

Such self-examination also helps determine whether your goals are compatible.

“Ask yourself whose goal it is and whether it is achievable,” advises Jasper. The push factor behind a goal, he points out, should not be a desire to please third parties but rather a will to achieve at an individual level.

Jasper Ouma, a career coach with Lifeline Coaching and Training Services. PHOTO | NMG

How do overly-ambitious goals affect your productivity?

Superior Oronje, a Human Resource manager shares that being over-ambitious can make you fixated on one end goal making it difficult to adapt to new circumstances which may be more impactful.

“The uncontrolled steep growth which comes with the exaggerated goals can make you less appreciative of the smaller steps/learnings, making it difficult to recover once a setback happens as you view failure as a permanent place instead of a learning point,” she emphasises.

Additionally, these goals can make you selfish and selective in your interactions with persons whom you view as key to your progress.

“The overdrive to achieve is in itself an addiction, getting the mind to either overwork or overthink leads to anxieties, especially in times when the future is unpredictable,” she cautions.

How do you avoid setting overly ambitious goals?

Jasper shares that before taking a pen and paper to put down your 2023 career goals, you need to appraise your present circumstances, the motivation behind setting the goals, and your readiness and preparation to achieve them.

“The type of goal you set should be something that will stretch your skills to the maximum but not destroy you. Realistically analyse some of the prerequisites necessary for the actualisation of the goals you are thinking about,” he says.

For instance, if your goal is to be a chief accountant of an organisation by November, ensure that you have the right skills and certification needed.

Superior advises that being true to yourself is at the heart of avoiding setting overly ambitious goals and adds that introspection of where you are (careerwise) and where you envision yourself by end of the year will be the light that will shine on the goal-setting path.

Superior Oronje, a Human Resource manager. PHOTO | NMG

“Appreciate how far you have come as you take steps to become a better version of yourself this year. Additionally, remember the Higher being in which you believe as that will make you more humble and set you towards a path of gratitude,” she observes.

So, which tips can one incorporate?

Jasper notes that writing down the goals and keeping them somewhere personally visible where you will have regular encounters with the list keeps you in check.

Furthermore, sharing the goals with someone, in essence, an accountability partner, makes you more committed plus they can advise when the going gets tough.

“Be ready to reward yourself when the goals are achieved,” he adds, saying this will serve as a positive reinforcement.

On the other hand, Superior urges that having a daily target not only brings you closer to meeting your bigger achievements but also helps you document the small steps needed.

“Having a Personal Brag Book in which you compile all your accomplishments; awards, wins, and even affirmations or quotes from your colleagues helps you celebrate not only your milestones but also fight impostor syndrome,” she shares.

Additionally, taking every experience as a learning point makes one a better person while not comparing yourself with others personalises the experience enabling one to cruise on aspiring to be better than they were yesterday.

Goals should be a competition with oneself and though ambition is good for motivation, achieving the goal should not be the end by itself but being cognizant of the small steps made towards meeting them, accepting and working on the inevitable aspects of life.

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