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Are Your Goals Small & Boring or Do They Scare You into Achieving?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

During our October Coffee and Conversation, Dr. Sharon introduced the BIG, HAIRY GOAL concept. We loved it. We asked whether our goals scared us or if they were small and boring. We've been told all our lives by teachers, parents, and pessimistic family members to set realistic goals. We were told that aiming too high can lead to spending years on a nearly impossible goal and feeling crushed when you fail. Which one of us hasn't thought about being an:

  • NFL, NBA, and MLB players

  • Astronaut

  • Movie star

  • Bestselling author

  • Billionaire

  • or President of the United States

None of these careers are impossible, but they are nearly impossible. For example, you're more likely to get struck by lightning than accumulate $1 billion. Fortunately, realistic goals do exist—and many of them are quite challenging.

Ted Fells thinks to GO CRAZY with your goals!

Our VP of Strategy, Ted Fells, knows all about making business goals. His approach, however, is not traditional and goes against the advice given by teachers and parents. He says goals should be ‘crazy,’ and focus less on realism and more on pushing yourself. To understand what he means, we need to define what a realistic goal is.

A realistic goal would be growing your business's revenue by 15% each quarter. It's not crazy high like, say, 1,000%—and it's not 1%, which would be too low. A realistic professional goal might be increasing productivity by 5% every month.

So, what's the problem with realistic goals?

The Difference Between An Easy Goal and a Hard Goal

The simple answer is: they might be too easy. Let's say you're a business person trying to grow your quarterly revenue by 15%. If you're already increasing revenue by 10%, hitting 15 will be relatively easy.

Easy goals sound nice on paper. After all, an easy goal is a realistic one. Right?

The problem with easy goals is that they can become too easy. Think about a tedious task or job you've worked. Was it boring because the task itself was challenging? Or because the task was so easy, you barely put in any effort?

Probably the latter. While complex hard-to-do tasks are inherently difficult for most people, they're not boring. They force your brain to work hard to solve the problem. This hard work stimulates the mind and, in turn, keeps you from getting bored. Ted calls this phenomenon ‘figuring it out.’ He says crazy goals force us to work hard and figure things out—that pressure helps us get things done.

While hard work is nearly always difficult, it's better than easy work. Easy work offers a lesser reward and doesn't stimulate the mind. Instead, our brains go into spaced-out mode. This kind of work is usually repetitive, simple, and tedious. Think of data entry or working on an assembly line. Once you've learned the job, there are only so many improvements you can make. Over time, the job will stop throwing you challenges, and you'll eventually succumb to boredom.

The same principle applies to setting realistic goals. Setting goals is both an art and a science, especially when deciding if a goal is realistic or not. Unfortunately, most of us only ask if our goal is unattainable and neglect to ask if it is too hard--until it's too late.

The Fear Factor when it Comes to Goals

Our CEO, Eric Twigg, has the answer on the What Now Movement podcast. He says many of his clients set realistic goals because they’re afraid of failing. Failure is indeed scary. Most people never even pursue their dreams because they fear the consequences of coming up short.

Fear is a healthy emotion, of course. It keeps us sharp, focused, and aware of potential dangers. But fear is also an entrepreneur killer. Starting a business or growing a career is all about challenging yourself and your business. You can’t be afraid of taking risks.

If risks scare you, eventually, you'll hit a wall. The wall is progress, and you can't make progress if you do not challenge yourself. In other words, our goals should constantly challenge us. Sometimes we make our goals too easy in the name of playing it safe. But playing it safe with goals is like settling for the assembly line.

Our goals need to be a catalyst for change—pushing us past our current state and into a better version of ourselves. They aren't just boxes to check off; they're the fuel that keeps us engaged in our business and career when things stagnate. And for those starting a new business/career, tough but realistic goals help break down seemingly impossible tasks.

Bottom line: don't set easy goals just to be 'realistic.' Because being too realistic is boring, and boredom is never a good strategy.

Click here for the full broadcast,


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