If you want a life that stinks, keep your goals ridiculously big
We’ve all got goals. You’ve got goals. I’ve got goals. That rabid, evil-eyed squirrel you saw on your lunchbreak has a goal. Watch out. His goal may be to make lunch out of your kneecaps.
If you want a life that stinks, you should make goals that have no basis in reality. Go big or go home. When you get home, make a goal so big, so outlandish that no one, not even you, will hold you accountable for achieving it.
You should also set a ridiculously short deadline. For example, it’s May. You’re an engineer for a major tech company. Make it your business to become Chief Technology Officer by June. This June.
You plan to lose 30 pounds in the next two months? Cool. Except for that you just had back surgery. You haven’t exercised since high school. No matter. You should set that goal anyway, anyhow.
It’s not about ambition
At this point, you may be shouting, “there is nothing wrong with having big dreams!”
To that I would ask, why are you yelling at me? I thought we were friends.
Big beautiful dreams are a good thing. Without some level of ambition you would never move from where you are to where you want to be. However, overly ambitious goals do not motivate us. They give us a way to hide.
The Big Goal Trap
Either we set unreasonable goals out of ignorance of the time, work and energy that it will take to achieve them. Or we do it so that we don’t actually have to do the work and risk failure.
When you set a small, achievable goal, it effectively removes the ability to make excuses. You can’t rationalize your lack of progress. You have to make moves or just shut up about it. Herein lies the attraction of the Big Goal Trap.
If you make a huge goal, you can’t possibly be expected to achieve it, therefore you don’t have to try. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to suffer that period of feeling inadequate that often comes with trying something new.
Another appeal of the Big Goal Trap is that you get to keep the dream alive. As long as the “goal” lies in the far off future, you can daydream about future success.
To use our earlier example of the engineer turned CTO, you can continue to dream about a meteoric ascent to the high ranks of the company. Rather than do the nitty gritty work it would take to improve your job situation.
You rob yourself of the real power of goal setting
Let’s pause for a minute and remember why we set goals. Of all the fun things we could be doing — binge watching NailedIt, bouncing at the trampoline park, sharing red velvet cupcakes with friends, riding a camel at the circus — why spend our precious time on goal setting?
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
We set goals:
- To get clear on what we want our lives to look like
- To offer a focus point in a world of distraction
- To know when we are on the right track
- To appease the success experts that tell us to
That last reason is admittedly lame, but it is a reason. Goals wrap the desires of our heart in crushed velvet so that we can see them clearly. You can’t achieve what you can’t perceive.
An Alternative to Lame Goal Setting
Look, I’m not here to make you a more fulfilled human. If you want to continue to make goals that don’t serve you, carry on.
If there is a small part of you that senses that your goal setting is lame, try this:
Before you set a goal, take a sober look at your motivation. Figure out what you are actually trying to accomplish.
Do you really want to be CTO? Or do you want to have more of a say in what is happening in your life? Is it actually that you are burned out by your current position? Or that you have an ongoing issue with your supervisor? Find out what is actually eating you about your current situation. Then set a goal that will actually help you.
To learn more about motivation, read Discover Your ‘Ugly’ Why.
Break your goal into bite-sized chunks.
Ambitious goals can be glorious. But we are building our muscles. We are learning and growing and stretching our capacity. There is no need to swing for the fences our first time at bat.
Not only do you want to set a reasonable goal, you want to break it down into chunks. A 30-pound weight loss journey, especially after back surgery, starts with the right mindset. Followed by physical rehabilitation. Followed by a walk around the living room. Followed by a walk around the neighborhood.
Baby steps, friend.
Find people a few miles (not light years) ahead of you.
Success really does leave clues. Anything that you are trying to achieve has been done before. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a world where people can’t stop gabbing about their accomplishments.
Figure out what you want to do. What you really want to do. Then find a real life person who has done it. It’s best if you look for people similarly situated to you.
For example, if you are a stay-at-home mother who longs to sell her inventions, seek out a stay-at-home mother who has successfully sold her inventions. You want someone who is not so far down the road that they have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner.
It’s awesome if you can connect with these people in the real world. But when that is not possible, YouTube content, online forums and e-mail works wonders.
Your dreams matter. They didn’t come from nowhere. The fact that they reside inside of you is nothing short of the divine. Give them a chance to come true by setting real goals for your real life.
You may be interested in 99 Ways to Build a Life That Stinks: An Anti-Self-Help Journal, available on Amazon (***contains an affiliate link***).