Goal Setting: How To Set Ambitious But Realistic Goals

goal setting realistic doable

If you’re interested in creating successful goal setting, these strategies will empower you to set ambitious but realistic career targets you can truly achieve!

When it comes to your career, it’s natural to be ambitious and want to carve out a career that is highly successful.

Of course, while it’s important to have ambition, it’s also crucial that you are realistic about your career and potential.

In fact, research shows…

When a person believes a goal is achievable, they’re twice as likely to meet that goal. 

Basically, having goals is vital. If you have no goals to aim for, you won’t feel motivated to work as hard. But If you set unachievable career goals, you will end up feeling let down and disappointed.

When I coach clients I tell them:  You want to aim high.  But you also want to think about what you can realistically achieve.

So, what do you want to achieve in your career?

  • advancing within your current role
  • starting a whole new career

Either way, you need to have goals in place to stay motivated and on track.

Goal Setting: How To Set Ambitious But Realistic Goals

As a turnaround coach, I’ve witnessed time and gain that goal setting is not as simple as writing a list of targets that you want to meet within a set time frame.

There’s a lot of elements that you need to consider.

Below is a guide I’ve used to help my clients create and set ambitious but realistic career targets to achieve.

1. A clear goal is crucial

Studies have shown that when it comes to meeting targets, there’s one factor that is absolutely crucial. You need to have a clear goal in mind.

Start the process by thinking about what you want from your future:

  • Where would you love to see your career going?
  • What do you  want your career to look like by the end of this year?
  • In five years?
  • How about ten years?

It’s vital that you’re aware of what you want from your career.


  • You want to be promoted from an administrative assistant to the head of marketing within 1 year.

2. Your goals need to challenge you, but be doable

Goals shouldn’t feel comfortable. Every goal that you set should challenge you in some way.

Of course, while your goals should challenge you, they shouldn’t be unrealistic.


  • You want to get into teaching. So you set yourself the goal of qualifying as a teacher and becoming a head teacher within the space of a year. This isn’t a realistic goal. Perhaps becoming a head teacher could be your five year goal instead? 

Basically, every target you set should come with a challenge. But don’t create goals that you have little chance of achieving. 

3. Commitment is key

Don’t be one of those people who moan about their jobs, but never bother to attempt to move their career in a different direction.

If you’re unhappy with your career, then you need to be committed to trying to change it. You need to be actively taking steps to move things forward.


  • Let’s say that you are a teaching assistant. But you want to make a career change and move into being a teacher. A proactive step would be to start an online masters degree in educational leadership. You’d then be taking control of your career.

If you are serious about improving your career prospects, you need to show commitment – and keep staying committed. Hence it’s important that you do a little something regularly to move forward. But don’t over-commit – or you’ll become discouraged and stop.

A great tool to stay committed: Journaling! You can share your progress. Get in touch with things you need to do more of – or less of. Plus you can use the journal to celebrate small steps forward along the way. I enthusiastically recommend my Listen to Your Heart journal.

4. You need to put yourself in a position to achieve success 

goal settingIf you want to give yourself every chance of moving your career forward, you need to put yourself in a position to achieve success.

What does this mean?

  • You must proactively and consistently take steps that will increase the likelihood that you will meet your targets.
  • In order to do the above, you’ve got to set interim targets that will slowly but surely lead you to achieving your goal.


  • Let’s say your goal is to train as a teacher. Then in five years you want to become a head teacher. If you want to achieve this goals, you’ll need to work out a step-by-step action plan. You must break down the plan into a number of smaller targets. You should also add time constraints to each target.

When it comes to success, it’s important to remember that often, we make our own success. If you want to move your career forward, you need to take a proactive approach. You must push yourself into a position for success, even if the road is challenging. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. You will increase your chances of ending up where you want to be. 

Summary of How To Create Realistic Goal Setting

  • If goals are unattainable, then you are going to feel like you’ve failed, and you might quit.
  • It’s far better to set goals that are slower and more possible – so you stay optimistic and keep moving forward.

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