“A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.” ~ Joe Vitale
It has been proven that the fact of setting goals has a direct relationship with the execution of tasks. In other words, establishing goals makes us more productive.
We’ve been also taught, because it’s an standard way in the corporate world, that the best way of defining objectives is by following the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time based. This kind of criteria makes us translate vague aspirations in specific plans, distinguish the steps we need to follow in order to reach something, and find the necessary discipline to carry them out.
It’s obvious that having clear goals stimulate us to achieve things in life. But we need to be careful. Due to our need for cognitive closure and the satisfaction that comes for the simple fact of completing things, we take the risk of establishing goals that are more aimed to our complacency and keeping ourselves busy than doing what we should. Establishing SMART goals doesn’t mean we are doing the right thing.
According to Charles Duhigg in his book Smarter, faster, better, research has shown that people with SMART goals is more prone to hold on to simpler tasks, and get obsessed with finishing projects, and to freeze priorities once the goal has been established. If we just focus on feasible results, we will only think on feasible goals.
In Japan, after World War II, most people lived between Tokyo and Osaka, separated by 500 km of railway tracks, whose trains travel through really slowly due to the topography. To boost the economy of the country it was decided to come up with a faster train that could travel at 200 kilometers per hour. This wasn’t a realistic goal. No engineer thought it was possible to go over 100 or 120 km/h, due to the continuous curves.
However, the fact of having that big of a goal, stimulated engineers to produce tons of innovations, large and small, over the years: wagons with built-in motors, gears that reduced friction, reinforced tracks, etc. In 1964, the first bullet train in the world went from Tokyo to Osaka at an average speed of 200 km/h.
SMART goals can help us reach gradual improvement, but if we want to dream big and reach a transformative change, we need to turn to ambitious goals. An ambitious goal is one that, at least at the beginning, you have no idea how to achieve it, and nowadays, the most important companies always establish one of this goals, in addition to the usual.
Committing to achieving ambitious and seemingly unattainable goals makes you leave your comfort zone and encourages new ways of thinking.
Of course, an ambitious goal should be broken down into more actionable elements (also called proximal goals), probably of the SMART type, so that the vision of a seemingly unattainable goal is not so overwhelming as to discourage us and makes us leave.
My goal is to develop software that helps anyone in the world to be well organized and live with minimal stress, so they can focus on the important things and enjoy a little bit more their life. Sounds ambitious? Of course it is!
And you, do you already have an ambitious goal for next year? Why don’t you try to dream big?
Originally published at facilethings.com.