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May 1, 2023

Balancing Ambition and Mental Health: How to Set Realistic Career Goals

Balancing ambition while protecting your mental health is probably one of the toughest challenges one can face.


Balancing ambition while protecting your mental health is probably one of the toughest challenges one can face. On one hand you were always told to go after you dreams, go to college, participate in some type of post-secondary education or certificate program and then yep you guessed it…get a job. You may even remember your parents encouraging you to come up with a plan for your career as a teen. Now as an adult you may feel that you have not achieved some major milestone goals in your career and life and the pressure is on more now than ever before. We all experience in one way or another the stressors of balancing our career ambition while trying to protect our mind, body, and spirit. So, what’s the secret?  

Finding a Balance

Balancing ambitions in your career and mental health must be done.  As referenced in the recent SkillUp blog Let’s Talk Mental Health, your brain must have a break to perform the incredibly important tasks of finding solutions for the problems you face. Simply put, if you don’t create mental breaks to incorporate rest and rejuvenation throughout your drive for ambition, you may find success much more difficult to obtain. There is hope though.

Consider Tried and True Methods to Balance Your Mental Health

Here are some tried and true methods to help you balance career ambitions and protect your mental health while setting realistic career goals:

Have a sense of meaning outside of your career. Try to incorporate volunteer work and immerse yourself in pastimes that you enjoy whether alone or with family and friends.

Connect with others in community resource groups, networking meetups or invite a friend out for coffee to decompress and talk about well…anything.

Set small goals. If you know that you want to land a career in business analytics, or an IT support role, set some small goals such as a request to do a job shadow with someone that has the job you want. You can also enroll in a low-cost certificate program to give you the skills you need in the short term.

Set a balanced routine for exercise, get plenty of rest and get outside to enjoy nature. It is amazing how often doing nothing can help you sort through your thoughts and resolve concerns that you may have simmering in your head.

Give yourself a realistic time horizon or set SMART goals for completing major milestones. Should life throw a few curve balls, try to look at the progress that has been made and chart out a plan to overcome any challenges you may face.

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