How To Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

how to set realistic goals for yourself low pressure

In todays society it feels like more than ever that goals have to be set. This culture has the tendency to go into overdrive and can make people feel inadequate if they haven’t achieved something big in a while, and that if they’re not overachieving – they’re not doing enough. However, not all goals we set for ourselves have to be life changing.

I read a great post on The Simple Dollar – 101 goals in 1001 days – and it inspired Ollie and I to create a similar list of our own, but no pressure to reach 101 (I think our joint list has just 28!). I like that it’s over 1001 days as a longer time frame takes the pressure off, unlike a New Years Resolution. Setting smaller goals alongside the usual big goals over a period of time helped us slow down and live in the moment instead of pressuring ourselves to be constantly working towards something big. It also reminds us to celebrate the small achievements, too. Here are a few of ours:

  • Move out of our parents houses
  • Exercise together once a week for one month (surprisingly harder than it sounds – we’re terribly lazy!)
  • Make a photo album/scrapbook of our time together
  • Volunteer for our community or for charity
  • Write a book (Zoe)
  • Learn a new skill (Ollie)
  • Travel to a new place outside of Europe

We started our list in July 2017, with a deadline of February 29th 2020 (See? Plenty of time!). We’ve already made good progress with our list and ticked off a few:

  • Finish counselling (Zoe)
  • Get Angus in shape (Pugs never stop eating!)
  • Play guitar in front of other people (Ollie)
  • Travel to a new place in Europe


There are already so many posts out there about this where people share their lists, so you can find tons of inspiration. If you gave yourself 1001 days, what goals would you set for yourself?




15 thoughts on “How To Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

  1. What a great post- it has made me want to write a list of my own beginning with “write a beautifully succinct and personally engaging post” like this one. Thank you!

    Ps If I may ask: How did Ollie achieve his playing guitar in front of others? Definitely a long overdue goal of my own.


    1. Thank you so much! You should definitely write a goals list for yourself, I’ve found mine so helpful.

      Ollie was always so nervous about playing guitar, we’ve been together for 3 years now and I supported and encouraged him from the very beginning, telling him how great he is (he really is – just got quite bad stage fright!). I don’t ever force him to play guitar especially when we’re in social situations, because that’s not fair to put pressure on him like that. Eventually with all my praise and gentle encouragement he had a couple of drinks at a family gathering and just started playing. He told me afterwards it was mostly down to the fact that I’d told him for so long he could do it.

      I’ve no doubt that you can too!


  2. I’m so happy you wrote this post! We’re so quick to encourage others to set big goals that they have to achieve in a short time frame and while having big goals itself is great and all, we need to set it realistically!
    Anyway, if I had 1001 days to set a goal, I would want to finish a book, learn a new language and go visit a few cities in Japan 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I agree, there’s pressure on people to achieve huge milestones in such a short time frame – it’s so stressful!

      Those are really awesome goals – I’d write a book too! Best of luck to you! 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve started setting goals for myself recently as I felt like it was a good way to keep me motivated and challenge myself especially on the days when I felt like I had no energy or didn’t want to do anything. Setting realistic goals can be hard at times for me because I feel like I don’t always make them achieveable for myself but I am working on that and this post has given me some tips and advice on how to do that. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really glad this post could help you! Setting achievable goals can be hard sometimes, so while it’s good to want to better ourselves, we have to keep in mind that we’re not failures if we haven’t achieved huge milestones yet – it all takes time!


  4. I knew someone that had a ‘by age 30, I want to have achieved….’ list. Her father achieved his by his 50’s – life plans on the clock, for her 25 and 30 sounded ideal but discounted susceptibility to mental illness some people pre-disposed to – for her “crippling whole-body anxiety” could have become insurmountable (never stayed in touch after doing M.Sc. same year).

    Some goal lists (if any!) have to be unique to person. For a while I envied 18 year old University students, for early academic prowess v.s. “mature students” age 21-25+ that earn high grades later. In reality, their goals and achievements meant less to them as early-achievers.

    When Mental illness permits I may try 3-5 year plan goals; for now it’s too easy to “set myself up to fail” by virtue of health instability or low resources.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear a lot about how people must achieve as much as possible in as little time as possible, and it’s just not realistic especially for someone who is chronically ill. Giving yourself a longer timeline makes it more manageable, and even if you don’t get there in the end or take longer than expected; failure isn’t the end of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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