AM in the PM: Stretching for Goals

Alexander Hounchell

It is relatively easy to set and accomplish small goals.

I could easily decide that I want to work for Subway and I’m willing to bet if I go out today, I’d have the job by next week. From there, I’d need a new goal. If I desire, I can continue to set ridiculously low goals that I can accomplish at a phenomenal speed. Yet, the satisfaction I get from this action is also minimal.

Consider goal setting to be similar to weight lifting or training. You have to set a high goal, so that you have something that brings you back continuously and pushes you to your limits. Then in the end, the payoff is large.

My thought is to set a goal that is 90 percent impossible. Create a goal that you probably could never obtain in a realistic world. For example, mine may be to become the next great American novelist or best selling author of a generation.

The key is to pick a goal that is just inside of the obtainable, but is something you also want to accomplish. This broad overarching goal does not have to overwrite the smaller ones. Instead it is going to act as a catalyst that drives your decisions.

If I decided that my goal was to write 100 words by the end of the day, then I may only strive to finish 100 words. My goal is minuscule and I’m working minimally to obtain a small goal. Though this has its merits, once I finish the goal, I’ve finished it. I have no reason to continue on that day.

In contrast, if I set a barely obtainable goal, then there is no reason for my motivation to run dry. After I complete the 100 words, I’m not much closer to the goal, so instinctively I’d write more just to get closer to the goal that I want.

The beautiful thing about this system is that even if I never obtain the large goal I set, I could still end up in an amazing situation caused by the large goal.

This idea can be applied to anything, even class work. To set a goal that is unobtainable is to create something that you have to work for. Even when you fail to reach it, you still went above and beyond what you may have done otherwise.

Dare to dream. Dare to want to be the greatest at something. Set a goal to be the first person on Mars, just to reach as much as you can.