Four Steps to Achieving “Unrealistic” Career Goals

What Makes Your Dreams Impossible?


If I asked you to list your wildest, most unrealistic goals, what would you say?

Maybe the answer comes to mind immediately, or maybe it feels too painful to even imagine. Why think about the impossible, right?

Wrong. It’s time to r-r-r-r-reeemix your interpretation of impossible. (By the way, if you’re not sure what you really want, our free 8-day mini-course will help you figure that out.)

A couple years ago, I started doing research on seemingly “unrealistic” goals. The research involved talking to people just like you about what they really wanted out of life but didn’t feel they’d ever get to do. Here are some of the unrealistic goals people told me about:

  • I want to work in physical therapy.
  • I want to hike Machu Picchu!
  • I want to master web development.
  • I want to become a Pilates instructor.
  • I want to visit outer space in low orbit.
  • I want to become a world-famous paleontologist.
  • I want to zipline through a rainforest.
  • I want to own a bed and breakfast.

Notice anything weird about those statements? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist (which is attainable, by the way) to realize these desires ARE NOT UNREALISTIC.

People have already been there, done that, bought the brightly colored airbrushed T-shirt on all of the bullet points listed above, thus proving these goals are achievable. But sometimes that’s not enough to be convinced it’s possible for you, too. So, what is it that keeps these dreamers from moving forward and reaching their goals?

Glad you asked, because I recently completed a 3-part podcast series on how you can achieve wildly unrealistic career goals. Start the first episode now, or keep scrolling for an overview of the 4 steps to finding unbelievable career happiness.


Upgrading Your Mindset to Make the Impossible Possible

Part 1

Step 1: Build Your Belief


Here’s the thing: goals only become unrealistic when we decide they are.

People have a tendency to keep spinning their wheels in the same ol’ job, receiving the same undervalued salary, and operating with the same overcharged stress level because the better seems impossible. They imagine an incredible life but decide it’s located in Fantasyland rather than Tomorrowland. Naysayers be damned, YOU can live your dreams. To quote the wise and wealthy Walt Disney, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

When you decide the flexible lifestyle, six-figure salary, and work you love is in the realm of reality, you give yourself agency to achieve your goals.

We must get off the hamster wheel, people.


The first step to living the life you want is to actually believe that you can live the life you want.


Say it with me: “I am an achiever, not a rodent.” 

While this may be easier said than done, it’s essential to build your belief before you can effectively complete the rest of these steps.

Still with me? Let’s talk about Step 2.

Step 2: Define and Refine Your Desires


Once you believe in yourself, it’s time to get into the dirty details. You’ll want to define exactly what you want out of life—from the flexibility of your lifestyle, to company location, to salary, and more. If you have a hard time articulating these things, you can use the HTYC Puzzle Method.

Here’s the premise of the puzzle method:

  1. Start by finding your corner pieces: These are your signature strengths. Basically, these are the areas where your skills, passions, and the world’s needs align. (We can help you figure those out here.) Your signature strengths are the cornerstone of achieving your goals.
  2. Add on the frame: The edge pieces of a puzzle set the boundary for what is and isn’t wanted. Think of the edge pieces as your highest priorities in life. These may be related to family, work, faith, etc.
  3. Fill in the whole picture: Once you know your priorities, you can further develop details like your desired job title, sector, salary, company culture, etc. The puzzle method allows you to identify and focus on what’s most important one piece at a time.

Once you build your belief and define your desires, you have only three steps left to climb on your path to major happiness. Let’s keep going.

Step 3: Set SMART Goals


Next, you will want to set SMART goals. You’ve heard about those, right? (For an in-depth refresher, listen to our podcast episode with Dave, a VP of Dale Carnegie, here.) 

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

By this point, you’ve already decided your big goal is attainable. Now you just need to add smaller steps along the way. Defining goals that fit the SMART framework can help you name behaviors that get you moving in the right direction.

Breaking your dream into bite-sized pieces will reduce intimidation and provide needed victories on your roadmap to wild career success.

How to Do the Unrealistic when there’s Reality to contend with

Part 2

In episode 2 of the 3-part Wildly Unrealistc Goals podcast series, we share the steps Mike took to land a 6-figure, custom-fit role in a brand-new city in only four months. Click the play button to listen now.

Step 4: Start Moving…And Don’t Stop


If you’re ever to become the president of your division, purchase a condo in Hawaii, or mend a difficult relationship with your kids, one thing is for sure: you gotta get moving. The next step to achieving career goals is to start moving and maintain momentum.

It’s all about inertia, baby.


Here’s what Kristy—a Career Change Bootcamp grad working in her ideal, custom-made role—has to say about inertia in spite of fear:

“No matter how small the step, I had to keep doing things every day, whether it was just updating my LinkedIn or contacting somebody that I worked with a long time ago that I could reach out to and connect with again. All those little steps—even if it was just one thing a day—were necessary. I had to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.”

(By the way, Kristy managed to get a job created for her where she travels and drinks wine for a living. You can read more of her story below.)

Kristy’s right. Small changes make a huge difference.


How Do I Maintain Momentum?


So, you believe in yourself and you’ve started making small steps toward your big goal. How can you make sure progress keeps coming?

The best plan of defense is to anticipate the speed bumps you’ll hit and set up support for when you reach these places.

Ask yourself:

  • What support do I need from family and friends?
  • What steps require expert help?
  • What parts can I conquer on my own?
  • Where am I likely to get in my own way?

Jackie, another grad from Career Change Bootcamp, built herself a when-the-going-gets-tough plan. Basically, she talked to key people in her life and formally asked for their emotional and tangible support. She asked for weekly check-ins and ongoing encouragement, which kept her moving toward her career happiness. Jackie claims without this support, she probably would have given up.

What if Big Dreams Didn't Take Time?

Part 3


Undoubtedly, there will be moments on your path that make you feel fearful. You may feel fearful of failure, fearful of admitting what you want, or fearful of others’ perceptions. This fear can push you to flight or freeze, restricting forward progress. The greatest achievers feel these exact same fears and decide to act anyway.

As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

To move to this new level of thinking, you’ll likely need some help from your friends. On the track to career happiness, the single rider line is closed. Who will you bring along for the ride?

How Do I Find Time to Complete Each Step?


After breaking down each step and securing support for your unrealistic goals, you’ll need to make time to do the work. Maximizing your time may require some creative thinking. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider creating a master schedule.

A master schedule is like a budget for your time. You’ll need to think about everything you do in a week, and chart it. As you look at the open minutes, you can begin blocking time for career progress. With your master schedule, you can not only identify free hours, but also determine how you can multitask on commutes, workouts, and downtime.

Linnea is a perfect example of what can happen when you maximize your time. In a span of six months, she leapt four titles in her company—from Marketing Manager to Senior Vice President. (Sounds unbelievable, right? That’s the point. Listen to her story here.)

The Story I Promised You


Now that we’ve worked through the steps to achieve your unrealistic goals, I want to tell you Kristy’s story.

After decades in marketing and PR in an uninteresting industry, Kristy felt bored. She wanted to believe something better existed, so she started listening to the HTYC podcast. For a while, she listened, passively dreamed of a career she could love, and even went on a sabbatical for self-discovery—hoping to return with a new zest for her career. Upon her return, instead of feeling zesty, Kristy felt depressed. As a last attempt at career happiness, Kristy decided to invest in Career Change Bootcamp.

At the beginning of CCB, Kristy experienced a mindset shift. She realized the program would only work if she believed it could. By utilizing the puzzle method, Kristy was able to define four things she wanted out of her next role: travel, wine, history, and culture. Once she knew what she wanted, Kristy began connecting with customers and completing test drives. When she found a young company doing work that incorporated all of her defined desires, she convinced them to create a role specifically for her. Today, she’s living her dream as Chief Communications Office for a wine tourism company.

This is her reeeaaal life—not just a fantasy. And it could be yours, too, when you follow the 4 steps to achieving unrealistic goals:


Step 1: Build Your Belief

Step 2: Define and Refine Your Desires

Step 3: Set SMART Goals

Step 4: Start Moving…And Don’t Stop


For more on this topic, listen to our 3-part series on How to Achieve Wildly Unrealistic Career Goals:

Upgrading Your Mindset to Make the Impossible Possible

Part 1

How to Do the Unrealistic when there’s Reality to contend with

Part 2

What if Big Dreams Didn't Take Time?

Part 3