I’m super nerdy about certain things. Harry Potter, for example. Personal development. Writing. Goals.
Seriously, I love goals. Dreaming them up, defining them, writing them out, the whole process. I love the adventure of making a dream reality and the personal growth that comes along with it.
On my quest for the perfect goal-setting system, I’ve come across two basic schools of thought around setting goals that are actually motivating. I’ve tried both, and I realized that different methods work for different people. Knowing what motivates you is CRUCIAL to your success. After all, setting the RIGHT goal that you’re actually excited to reach plays huge role in whether you’ll actually reach that goal.
Let’s look at these two different goal-setting methods.
Method #1: Shoot for the Moon
The method involves big, huge, amazing goals that are scary and exciting. This gets a lot of people jazzed up because they’re the “shoot for the moon and land on a star” type, who are motivated by out-of-this world goals.
One reason this can work is because when your focus is far ahead of you, it’s actually really easy to accomplish a smaller goal that might have felt daunting on its own. For example, an author and speaker I follow tells a story of a cross country coach who told her they were going to run twelve miles one day, and they only ended up running six. She was so geared up for the twelve mile run that the first six miles passed quickly and easily.
Another business coach I really admire recommends this method, setting goals that are absolutely massive and then going for it. She feels that this pushes her farther than realistic, less challenging goals would, because she’s the type of person who loves the thrill and feels amazing about her progress, even if she doesn’t quite reach her huge goal. It’s worked wonders for her and her business!
Method #2: Be realistic
The other common method I’ve seen is about setting realistic goals, even smallish ones. The idea here is that knocking out the lower hanging fruit and lots of small wins will motivate you to keep going.
By setting very achievable goals that are broken up into little milestones, you build momentum and ultimately, achieve more.
So do you prefer to take it slow or shoot for the moon? What’s your goal-setting style? Look at your history with goals. Have you had better success with big, outlandish goals, or do you accomplish more when you set smaller ones?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to what motivates you. Do you like to check off boxes, or land on a star?
I definitely fall into the second camp. I like smallish, only slightly-scary goals that still feel doable.
Massive goals just overwhelm me. I get caught up in the bigness of it and feel paralyzed instead of inspired. I might have big long-term goals, but I like to set more realistic goals and focus on the short-term. This keeps my eye on my next steps.
How to Dream Big AND Be Realistic
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates
Both methods are valid. Both can work. But how can you harness the power of each to bring your most incredible goals to life?
Given enough time, you can accomplish just about anything, so the crazy-awesome goals can be great for long term (potentially very long term) goals. Time is the only difference between a realistic goal and a totally bonkers goal.
Set those goals. What do you REALLY want. What would be absolutely amazing if it were your real life?
Use that as your long term goal and break that into more realistic short-term ones, and then break those into doable steps that don’t paralyze you. Remember, nerves are fine and great for growth. Paralysis is not!