Graduating is an exciting time in a person’s life. It’s the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. There are many things you might want to do after college, but it’s important to have realistic goals.

Having a plan after college can help you figure out what your next move is. It can feel daunting and overwhelming to not have any idea what you want. But through setting realistic long-term goals you can begin to shape your ambitions and come up with a realistic plan.

What are Realistic Goals?

People frequently mistake unrealistic goals with ambition. It’s completely fine to be ambitious, but you need to be able to follow up on that ambition with actionable steps.

When setting goals, determine how realistic they actually are. Some dreams may seem far-fetched, but don’t let that stop you from reaching for them. If there is something you really want, think about the best steps to get there. You don’t need to make radical or rash decisions in order to achieve ambitious goals.

Having ambitious dreams is one thing, having unrealistic dreams is another. Make sure that you start to identify realistic goals for yourself. It is helpful to have a wide range of goals that you can make progress on.

Making a Plan

You don’t want to just focus on your long-term or short-term goals alone. You should have a well-rounded view of what you want for your life. If you aren’t sure what you want out of life, then start with your interests. Consider what you got your degree in. Does it help you get closer to accomplishing your goals?

It is also ok to have more than one goal. While it may not totally be realistic to say that you want to be a doctor or an astronaut, when you’ve got your degree in English. Having a goal like being your own boss and having financially stability are both achievable and realistic.

What are Some Financial Considerations?

With any decision you make, you will want to consider your financial situation. The decisions you make after college will have a significant impact on you later in life. Learning how to be smart with your money is one of the most important things you can do after college.

If you dream of being an artist but have a degree in Psychology think about taking art classes in your free time and get a job where you can work and save. As your skills start to develop and your savings increase you can branch out and start selling your work.

Having ambitious goals is a good thing, but the most important part is making sure they’re realistic and that you can create steps to work towards accomplishing them. You don’t need to dive headfirst into a goal and go broke. Always be smart and plan ahead.

Be Flexible

No matter how carefully you plan they may not work out the way you initially wanted them to. That is ok. Part of life is learning to be adaptable and go with the flow. You cannot possibly plan for every unknown and gripping so tightly to your plan prevents you from enjoying the ride.

You should have a general strategy and set goals that are realistic but allow you to dream. Don’t be so tied to a plan that you miss other opportunities. You will end up losing sleep when things don’t go as you’ve planned.

Over time, you will start to gain a better idea of what you really want out of your life. What type of workplace you want to be in, how much money you want to make and save for your retirement, etc. As you gain more insight and grow up you can alter and change your goals to fit your changing lifestyle.


  • Alexis Schaffer

    Expert Author

    Alexis Schaffer received her undergraduate degree in psychology and is a registered nurse. In her free time she teaches yoga and writes for various online publications. She's also the proud dog mom of a beagle named Dobby.