Knowing when to let go of unrealistic goals

Knowing when to let go of unrealistic goals

As humans, we all have goals that we want to achieve in life. These goals could be personal, professional, or even spiritual in nature. However, as we strive to attain our goals, we sometimes find ourselves holding on to unrealistic expectations that hinder our progress and, at times, lead to frustration and disappointment. This article will explore how to know when it is time to let go of unrealistic goals and how to set realistic ones that are achievable.

Identifying Unrealistic Goals

The first step in letting go of unrealistic goals is identifying them. But how do you know if a goal is unrealistic? There are some telltale signs that a goal may be unrealistic. These signs include:

1. Lack of progress even after putting in considerable effort

If you have been working towards a particular goal for a long time but have not seen any significant progress despite your best efforts, it may be time to revisit the goal and evaluate whether it is realistic.

2. Overwhelming obstacles

Obstacles are a normal part of goal setting. However, if the obstacles you are facing are significantly outweighing your progress or seem insurmountable, it may be unrealistic to expect yourself to overcome them.

3. Goals set by others

Sometimes, we may set goals based on other people's expectations and not our own. Such goals may be unrealistic, as they may not align with our interests, passions, and abilities.

4. Time constraints

Goals that require too much time, especially when we have limited time, may be unrealistic. For instance, if you have only one hour a day to work on a particular goal that requires three hours of work daily, it may not be attainable.

5. Focusing on the end result and not the process

While it is essential to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, focusing only on the end result and not the process of achieving it may be a recipe for disappointment. Goals that require an immediate outcome or quick success without much effort may be unrealistic.

Setting Realistic Goals

After identifying unrealistic goals, the next step is to set realistic ones. Realistic goals are those that are achievable and align with your interests, passions, and abilities. Below are some tips on setting realistic goals:

1. Define your vision and mission

Having a clear vision and mission for your life is essential in setting realistic goals. Your vision should describe what you want to achieve, and your mission should explain why it is vital.

2. Break down larger goals into smaller ones

Breaking down larger goals into smaller ones makes them more achievable and less overwhelming. This approach also allows you to track progress towards the larger goal and celebrate small wins.

3. Set SMART goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals helps you to be clear about what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

4. Focus on the process, not just the outcome

The process of achieving a goal is as important as the outcome. Focusing on the process allows you to enjoy the journey and learn from the experience, even if the outcome is not what you expected.

5. Be flexible

Flexibility is necessary when working towards achieving goals. Life is unpredictable, and there may be unforeseen circumstances that require you to adjust your goals. Being flexible allows you to adapt to change and still make progress towards achieving your goals.

Knowing When to Let Go

Letting go of unrealistic goals can be challenging, especially if you have invested a lot of time, effort, and resources towards achieving them. However, it is important to acknowledge when it is time to let go. Below are some signs that may indicate it is time to let go of a goal:

1. Stagnation

If you have been working towards a particular goal for a long time, but there has been no progress, it may be time to let go and redirect your efforts towards a more achievable goal.

2. Overwhelming stress

If the pursuit of a particular goal is causing you overwhelming stress and negative emotions that are affecting your mental and physical health, it may be time to reevaluate the goal and let it go.

3. Limited resources

If you lack the resources necessary to achieve a particular goal, it may be unrealistic to continue pursuing it. Limited resources could be financial, time, or support from others.

4. Life changes

Life is unpredictable, and changes such as job loss, illness, or loss of a loved one may require you to adjust your goals or let go of some goals altogether.


In conclusion, setting realistic goals and letting go of unrealistic ones is vital in achieving personal, professional, and spiritual growth. Identifying unrealistic goals, setting SMART goals, focusing on the process, and being flexible are some of the strategies that can help you set realistic goals. Knowing when to let go of unrealistic goals is equally important and requires acknowledging when a goal is no longer achievable, causing overwhelming stress, or lacking the necessary support or resources. Letting go of unrealistic goals is not a failure but an opportunity to redirect your efforts towards more achievable goals.