Should You Supersize Your Goals?

9 12 2006

by Susan K. Minarik

It’s a motivational cliché: The secret to success in any field is to dare to dream big dreams. Big dreams can set your soul on fire and propel you to the stars. And even if you don’t reach the stars, aiming for them is likely to get you to the mountaintop. But when it comes to setting your goals, is bigger really better?

Although we often use the words interchangeably, dreams and goals are two different things. And sometimes that leads to a misunderstanding about the best targets to set when we tackle the goal-setting process.

Dreams are meant to be your polestar, to provide you with an overarching vision and to tell you what direction to go. Goals are meant to get you to the next marker on the way to your dream.

And while big dreams are inspiring, big goals can be so daunting that they actually keep you from moving forward at all. If a goal lies so far beyond the line you believe you can reach in the timeframe you have set for reaching it, how motivated will you feel even to begin?

Does that mean you should only set small goals? Maybe. If you’re just learning to use goal-setting as a framework for designing your life, small goals will teach you that the process of goal-setting works. They can be useful, too, when you’re under unusual stress from outside factors, when you’re tired or recuperating from an illness. They’ll keep you going and focused until you’re ready to tackle a larger challenge. Achieving small goals feeds your confidence and builds your strength for reaching higher, more challenging ones.

My favorite definition of “success” comes from Paul J. Meyers, a founder of the self-improvement industry, who describes it as “the progressive realization of worthwhile personal goals.” The key word, in my view, is “progressive.” Not only does it signify continuous motion from one goal to another, but it hints that quality of the goals themselves increases as you go. And that’s exactly the case. Each goal attained provides scaffolding for those that follow.

The scaffolding consists of increasing belief in your own abilities, of increasing trust in the process, and of increasingly discovering that the universe mysteriously supports you when you are clearly focused on a goal. You build it by reaching for ever more daring goals-one step at a time. So yes, start small. Get a feel for what’s possible and build from there.

And one day, after the goal-setting process has become second nature to you, you will discover that while big dreams may not always lead to success, the progressive realization of your goals unfailingly opens you to big dreams.

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    One response to “Should You Supersize Your Goals?”

    11 12 2006
    SCapitalist (12:50:52) :

    I believe everyone should have clearly defined dreams and goals. Your goals should include short-term, intermediate, and long-term objectives. Ultimately, your goals should be working towards the achievement of your dreams. You goals should be attainable objectives. Your dreams should not have limits.

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