Setting realistic goals

Many unnecessary demands can result from setting unrealistic goals which are difficult to attain. This is particularly true for Type As. Being realistic about what you can achieve will reduce demands. This will mean being honest about your abilities. Winning promotion to a job you have always wanted but find you cannot handle is one of the major sources of distress.

To set your priorities and realistic goals, take a piece of paper and write your objectives and goals in life. Use the following headings:


Write down everything, even those things you feel are impossible to achieve. Here are a few suggestions to help you.

Now, for each item identify the importance you attach to it. Grade the importance by using five stars for top priority and one star for the least. Now go through the list again and mark those items that you feel you can realistically achieve with an ‹“R’ or highlighter pen. Delete those items which you feel are too difficult to attain or are unattainable. Now sit back and review your list. You may need to decide on a timescale for some items; what your goals are for the next month, year and so on. Construct a short-term and long-term plan. You will probably realize that many of your goals are achievable simply through minor changes in your lifestyle, perhaps devoting a little more time to one area rather than another.

By undertaking this exercise you are planning your life, prioritizing your activities and being realistic about what you might achieve. In this way you will have more chance of fulfilling your expectations. When expectations are achieved self-esteem is high and this will enable you to deal more effectively with stress. Frequent failure to achieve unrealistic goals severely damages self-esteem and opens the door to aggression or depression.

Clearly circumstances change, so you will need to update your lifeplan regularly, maybe weekly or monthly. You may find it an interesting exercise to construct your lifeplan at this stage of the blog and again when you have finished reading it.

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