Idealism and Realism: Equal Weights Toward a Successful Career

Idealism and Realism are both necessary for a successful career. Image Source:

There is an ongoing debate over whether an individual should be idealistic or realistic about his or her career goals. Idealists aim for the perfect goals while realists aim for practical and obtainable results within their abilities. For successful careers, individuals need a mixture of both visions. Going all in for an ideal but impossible goal will almost always lead to failure as well as waste of commitment and resources, while being too realistic will restrain them from potential innovations and career advancement. A goal should be idealistic to help inspire and motivate individuals to work harder to obtain life-changing results, but at the same time realistic as well to keep them in check with reality and determine if it is achievable or not.

Idealism keeps individuals inspired and motivated to continue working hard. Image Source:

Realism and idealism are limited and ineffective when separated, but can become a powerful tool when combined (Conant, 2012). An idealistic vision keeps us inspired and motivated to continue our work. It is obviously more encouraging when we are working toward creating something rewarding or extraordinary than working on a small and simple project. A realistic vision comes into play to determine the possibility of achieving the goal; it helps to determine whether the goal is obtainable or worth investing time and commitment for. One of the most effective ways to incorporate the two visions is “to start with optimism and then to move quickly on to how to execute against that aspiration” (Conant, 2012). An effective goal is the one which is ambitious but obtainable with the individual’s capability. The plan for reaching the goal should be realistic and drawn out clearly. If there are difficulties planning the initial steps, then they need serious considerations on whether they should continue or move onto another goal. Having a well-planned goal will increase the success rate as well as reduce the risk of wasting time and resources.

Realism helps individuals to keep in check with reality and determine the possibility of target goals. Image Source:

Schools and parents have the most influence over young people. Through education and parenting advice, those youths learn and develop their knowledge and visions. School and parents should encourage young people to choose their career goals by incorporating both idealistic and realistic visions. A study conducted by the Social Exclusions Taskforce indicated that young people who develop ambitious and achievable visions, along with confidence and diligence, are more likely to achieve more career success (Rose & Baird, 2013). It is important that the youths are encouraged to develop both idealistic and realistic visions.

An idealistic goal can help change the world for the better, but it should be approached realistically in terms of the possibility of completion and capabilities of those working on it. It is necessary to keep a balance of the two visions, as both are equally important toward a successful career. Without one another, the two visions will either lead to failures or restrain individuals from advancing in their careers.


Conant, D. R. (2012). The Power of Idealistic-Realism: How Great Leaders Inspire and Transform. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from

Rose, J., & Baird, J. (2013). Aspirations and an austerity state: young people’s hopes and goals for the future. London Review of Education, 11(2), 157–173. doi:10.1080/14748460.2013.799811

Like what you read? Give Huy Nguyen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.