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Handbook for Mortals : Enduring and Changing

Setting Realistic Goals

It's important to be clear about what you will be able to achieve. Many a noble venture was sabotaged by overly ambitious goals. Sometimes you try far too much, but more often you just don't consider all that is necessary to achieve your goal. You may find it most helpful to set daily goals.

Aim for something each day, something modest that has a good chance for success. Do a little exercise. Complete a specific task. Make a phone call. Accomplishing goals will do wonders for your self-esteem and can serve as a way to find meaning for yourself. You may wish to set a much more complex goal, but you will need to be realistic about how you are going to accomplish your objective.

Janie decided that she wanted to have a surprise 60th birthday party for her mother. Once she realized that the planning would be an enormous task, well beyond her capability, she engaged others (at the suggestion of members of her support group), and the party was a success.

One man decided that he wanted to complete his woodworking projects. He no longer had the energy to do everything alone, so his wife was able to follow his directions and help complete the projects. Whether you are setting long- or short-term goals, flexibility is a valuable ally. It helps if you expect the unexpected. Plans will have to be altered when your energy level is not up to the task or your illness causes an unexpected problem. You may need to shift gears. The disappointment of letting go of your original plan will be somewhat easier to deal with if you can appreciate the pleasure you had in planning something and imagining it done. Realize that it was good to have made the plans, then make adjustments or new plans within the new possibilities.

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