Are you the kind of person who believes you should set really big goals for yourself? You know, the kind of person with the philosophy
Shoot for the moon and you may only hit an eagle. Shoot for an eagle and you might only hit the ground.
Or are you the kind of person who believes
Big dreams never come true – they only lead to heartache.
It is hard to argue totally against the “big goals” theory; after all, we have examples in our midst of people like Sam Walton, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, none of whom came from patrician backgrounds making it into the rarified air of among the richest people in the world. You might believe such comes about by luck. After all, how many of you had the dream, even for a little while, of being President of the United States? Yet, only one person can hold that job at a time. And if the president were to change every 4 years, only five can hold the office over 20 years. Out of 300 million in America, the probability of making that is small, indeed.
Many people don’t want to set goals they cannot achieve, and that is probably good advice. The question then is, of course, what can you achieve?
Setting goals and not achieving them leads to frustration and eventually to giving up. What can you do about this?
Napoleon Hill said “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Conceiving ideas is called dreaming. We all do it. We imagine, wouldn’t it be fun if only… but do we really believe we can do it? (Do you believe you could become President?) It is very hard to act on something we don’t believe is possible.
So, does that mean that you shouldn’t set big goals? By no means. But you should set goals that you believe in, enough that you will take action on them!
If you dream about climbing Mount Everest one day, why not? Do you believe you could?
Some people confuse “believing” with “knowing how.” And it is on this fulcrum that many dreams are dashed. If, in your heart, you believed “If I knew how to climb Mount Everest, I would climb and conquer it!” Then I say set the goal!
You don’t have to know how to do something in order to do it. We learn by doing. We do not learn and then do.
Don’t get confused here. I did not say you cannot learn about things before doing them. Learning, study, education creates awareness of things. But, you don’t really own that learning — that awareness — until you put it into use. Thomas Edison did not know how to make a light bulb before he made his first working incandescent light bulb. He studied principles and became aware of techniques that could help him solve the problem. But until he found a way that worked, he didn’t really know how to make a working light bulb.
So what does this have to do with “realistic” goals?
If you believe you could do something if you knew how, then you can find a way. If you are unsure about how to go about it, then figure out what you think are the big steps (or phases, if you prefer) to achieve your goal and focus on the first one that you think you can work. If you have no idea how to climb Mount Everest, then perhaps your first goal would be to learn to rock-climb–a skill you will certainly need to scale the Top of the World.
Believe is the first key to setting and achieving goals. The second key is breaking the goal down into digestible chunks that are even easier to believe. The final and essential key to achieving your goals is taking action on those goals/chunks. Action demonstrates belief and motivates you to continue to move forward. It is what prevents the heartache that comes from never having tried, and provides solace when you are discouraged.
So shoot for the moon. You don’t know how realistic is your goal if you don’t try for it. As the proverb suggests, you might be pleasantly surprised and even satisfied with the result, even if you don’t get 100% of the way there.