18 Oct

How ambitious should your goals be?


“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

– Zig Ziglar

“I am not a big fan of SMART goals,” John said.

I was talking to my good friend John the other day about the power of goal-setting. He didn’t agree with the concept of SMART goals (an acronym) that I outline in my book, Possess Your Success: Mastering The Limitless Success Method.

In case you’re unaware, SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic/Relevant
  • Time-Limited

Now I’m sure that you’re probably wondering how or why anyone would think that setting SMART goals was anything less than amazing BUT he went on to share with me that he thought setting SMART goals could be limiting. I get it…having and setting big goals can be scary but they also force you to think outside of the box.

“Instead,” he asked, “Why not 10x your goals and 10x your actions? Break out of the comfort zone?”

John made a great point. Why not always set achievable goals for yourself?

“Well,” I answered back, “constantly setting goals that are too ambitious can be discouraging if you never achieve them.”

I was speaking from experience. Nothing is more demotivating than when your best just isn’t good enough.

So if only setting SMART goals can be limiting, and only setting unattainable goals can be demotivating, what is a person to do?

The conversation really struck a chord with me and I came to the realization that while I still very much believe in SMART goals they can be limiting to some people when used incorrectly. In order to avoid that, use Stretch goals combined with SMART goal.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of SMART and Stretch goals:

 SMART Goals:

  • SMART goals allow you to organize your thoughts into results-driven goals. However; if you don’t set achievable goal then you may become discouraged or give up easily.
  • Setting goals that are too attainable can in turn cause you to get bored and become tired of the work you’re doing to achieve those goals.
  • On the other hand, if you set goals that are too ambitious you can easily become discouraged if you aren’t reaching goals in a timely manner.

 Stretch Goals:

The concept of “Stretch” goal is to go above and beyond the SMART goals (something I got out of Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. CEO Jack Welch came up with the concept in the 90’s and as a result his company went crazy with SMART goals (emphasis on Attainable) and it ultimately led to inefficiency. As a result, he and his team established Stretch goals to go beyond SMART goals and productivity went through the roof.

As you can see, there is not just one perfect or ideal map you can follow in order to reach your ideal goals. SMART goals combined with stretch goals can really be the game changer that you are looking for.

I talk about this more in-depth in my Foolproof Guide to Achieving Your Goals, which you can download for free here.