There Are No Unrealistic Goals, Only Unrealistic Timelines

Tall TreeSo I had this title in mind for awhile and it finally came up to write.

Then a video channel that I love on YouTube came out with something on the same topic.

It’s called New Year, New You.

The speaker, John Bergman, is someone I’ve followed for awhile. One thing he says in this video is:

There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic timelines.

I’ve heard him say it before and that’s where I got the inspiration for this post.

And when I heard him say it again it made me smile. He does a great job in the video explaining how to set goals and set timelines.

I’ll try to take a little different approach and add some new thoughts so it’s a complementary piece.

We Like The Idea Of Doing Something

Many of us like the idea of doing something.

I like this study about people that set fitness goals.

It found that 73% of people that set fitness goals for the New Year give up the goal.


Not really.

I’ve been guilty of it.

Why do so many give up on their fitness goals?

It seems that a big reason is that we like the idea of being fit and in shape. What we don’t like is the journey to get there.

I’m not a huge fan of the word journey. I think it’s overused and something that’s kind of easy to throw away when we’re talking about life. I guess I do like the word in terms of the band, but that’s another blog post.

Let me share an example. One thing I love in life is golf. And something you’ll notice with the best golfers in the world is that they’re not necessarily in love with the idea of being the best golfer in the world. They might be in love with it, but what almost all of them love more is the journey.

They love playing golf. They love practicing. They love looking for ways to improve. They love discovering things. They love the experimentation and the challenge of repeating a swing or trying something new.

The takeaway here is that it’s easy to be in love with the idea of something. But unless you’re also in love with the journey and the time it takes you’re likely not going to find success.


I believe it was Bill Gates that said something along the lines of overestimating what we can do in the short-term while underestimating what we can do in the long-term.

It’s difficult to not put pressure on yourself to achieve great things in the short-term.

There is an illusion of overnight success.

We read about fast growing companies in Inc. and we wonder why we’re not keeping the pace. Maybe it’s about an entrepreneur that has started a company and has seen extreme growth in the first 2-3 years.

But usually we don’t get the full story. We don’t hear about the companies that entrepreneur has started previously and all the time they’ve put in to learn about what they’re doing now.

But yet we see the successes and we set our goal. We get on board with the journey, but we get our timelines out of whack.

Instead of focusing on what we can do in five and ten years we focus on what we can do this quarter and this year.

That’s where John Bergman does a great job in the video above. He breaks down how to figure out yourself and then figure out your goals. Then he breaks down how to figure out if your goals fit better for the short-term or for the long-term.

When you’re looking at goals you really have to look at the whole picture. You can look at success stories, but you have to look at the whole picture.

I like the story of Southwest Airlines. They are the darling of the airline industry…today. And really they’ve always been well respected, but they actually limited their growth for a long time. They wanted to grow with their means.

They had a plan for growing steadily. They generally met their goals, both short-term and long-term, and over the long-term it’s worked very well for them.

Final Thoughts

Goals are a tricky thing. They’re important, but they can also make us frustrated. It comes back to the first idea and the title of this post…there are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic timelines.

That’s a pretty good way to look at life. You can really do anything in life if you give yourself enough time. Obviously there is more too it than that. You have to buy into the idea of the journey and not just falling in love with the idea of living your dream or your goal.

Successful people, whether it’s golf or business or whatever, love the journey. They love the struggle. They love the day-to-day grind. They often can’t really think of anything else they would rather do with the majority of their time.

Combining that love of the journey with a big goal and you’re likely to enjoy success in life.

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