Why is it important to set achievable goals? When you set ambitious goals, it’s exciting, exhilarating, and if you hit your targets, you’ll receive well-deserved positive recognition. On top of that, thinking big and reaching for the stars is a no-lose proposition. If you achieve your goal you’re a hero and if you fail to cross the finish line successfully, oh well…you weren’t expected to pull off the impossible anyway.
The problem with that approach is that people who set an incredibly ambitious goal use it as an excuse for not making the effort. They think, “I’ll give it a shot, even though I’ll probably fail” or “I’ll never achieve it, so I won’t bother trying.”
But that doesn’t deter folks from following that path anyway.
“I want to lose 50 pounds, make it to the top, or run a marathon,” folks say. (Why don’t you throw in winning the lottery while you’re at it?)
In contrast, if you set small, achievable goals, it may not be as glamorous, but it’s a clearer path to success. It’s easy to set impossible goals, yet quite another to accomplish them.
The more doable you make something, the more likely you’ll do it.
How to Make the Toughest Goals Achievable
It’s easy to say that you’ll run a marathon. But if you’re not in incredible shape, even the thought of it can be daunting. On the other hand, if you add a little distance, each day, to the range that you’re currently running, you’ll ultimately achieve your goal. By the same token, setting a goal of losing 50 pounds is overwhelming, while trying to lose a few pounds each month is achievable. Every week you’ll be able to look back on your progress with pride, rather than feeling discouraged that the goal is way beyond your grasp.
This philosophy can be applied to all walks of life. The key is to set ambitious, yet realistic, short-term goals as you pursue your long-term interests. That said, measuring progress is often like watching grass grow. While it’s difficult to detect movement daily, it’s simple to see growth over time. Here are a few examples of how to make tough goals achievable:
- Save a little money each week, rather than being forced to cough up a large sum at once.
- Reduce the amount of caffeinated coffee that you consume daily, rather than going cold turkey.
- Invest in your personal development each day, rather than cramming to keep up.
- Cut your expenses by small increments, rather than taking an axe to your budget.
- Focus on one piece of a problem, rather than getting overwhelmed by a larger-than-life challenge.
Big problems are best solved in small pieces.
It’s a lot easier to make small, gradual modifications than to make sweeping changes in your life. When you do small, positive things day in and day out, the cumulative sum of those actions will deliver dramatic results. The moral of Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare is that slow and steady wins the race. When you adopt that approach to life’s situations, you’re setting yourself up for success. As the Tanzanian proverb says, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” Success is a game of inches. Do you set achievable goals?
Check out Frank’s latest book, The Path to a Meaningful Life.
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