1. Set Both Realistic and Unrealistic Goals
The founders of Tasty Brand want to see more organic baby food options. Scott Harrison of charity: water wants to see clean drinking water in developing nations. While both of these goals achievable, making a snazzy new product line seems pretty small compared to bringing clean water to the world.
But both types of goals – realistic, obviously achievable ones and big, seemingly insurmountable ones – are important to help you move forward in your life. Making progress in smaller goals helps propel you on to take bigger risks and reach bigger goals. And having big goals helps you to stay motivated and understand that you are doing makes a difference.
2. Work Hard
Impossible goals take time, and you won’t get there by sitting still, making plans, and dreaming about how awesome it will be once you achieve your goals. Instead, you’ve got to make it a daily, hourly habit to be doing the work it takes to move your forward, no matter how difficult that work is.
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, Shark Tank regular, and Mavericks owner, went through a long series of stupid, tough, dead-end job, working hard at each one and telling himself that he “was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value.” Then he started his own business and got to work harder: “I would get so involved with learning a new piece of software that I would forget to eat and look up at the clock thinking it was 6 or 7pm and see that it was 1am or 2am.”
3. Get Others to Work with You
You can’t do it all by yourself. When you’re pursuing big goals, you need to pull a team of supportive, smart, positive people around you. If it’s just a few select family members and friends cheering you on while you run that marathon, be sure they know how important they are to your success. And if you’re building a business, launching a product, or trying to dominate a market, get a team that is the right fit.
Sarah Shupp , CEO and Founder of UniversityParent, says that it is important to hire people “much more intentionally and carefully. Early on, I made several hiring mistakes because I felt pressure to fill a seat rather than finding the right fit. This strategy almost never worked.”
4. Don’t Make Excuses
Excuses do not help you learn. They do not help you to grow. They do not help you to make yourself better, to learn from your mistakes, or to make progress. They simply make you feel a little bit better in the moment about what you haven’t yet achieved.
If you want to achieve the unachievable, you have to start by taking full responsibility for every decision, every action, every moment of your life. Sylvester Chisom learned from his mom, a single parent, as she supported him and his sister by being a hard-working entrepreneur. Chison, now a successful entrepreneur himself, says that her inspiration helped him to bootstrap his own way to success, and now he’s paying it forward with his $50 Startup Program for Schools.
5. Don’t Underestimate Others
People are capable of much more than we imagine, and they’re willing to invest themselves in something that matters to them. Spend time cultivating relationships that help you become a better person, and you’ll reap the benefits in your whole life. And be discerning about who you work with or pursue goals with; not everyone will share the vision, but those who do can catapult you to success.
Cyrus Massoumi, CEO and founder at ZocDoc, says that the best advice he ever got was to remember that “Your first 20 hires…will make or break your company. Your company – your brand – is the sum of its parts. It’s made of people, and better people create a better company.”
6. Be Willing to Fall
When Cass Phillipps saw her start-up go down, she didn’t spend too long moaning about the loss. Instead, she learned how to celebrate failure as a way to learn a better route to success. The lesson was so important for her, in fact, that she started FailCon, a conference that brings together hundreds of people who share – and learn – about how they’ve failed and what they have learned from those failures.
“People that use failure to become more successful are people that see their failure as a learning experience,” says Phillipps. When falling face-first is something you know you can handle, you’ll be able to learn from it and use that wisdom to push yourself up and back toward success.
7. Make Sacrifices
Pursuing a big dream means that you have to put aside small dreams: sometimes forever, sometimes for a season, while you put all your heart and energy into whatever your impossible goal is.
Rachel Federmen, wife of entrepreneur Ben Federmen, says that realizing how much a start-up, like any big goal, will take from the other aspects of your life is important. “You almost have to treat it like you’re on a wave—when it hits you, you have to ride it and do your best to stay healthy through the process,” she says.
8. Use Your Strengths
Achieving big, even unrealistic goals, can be possible but not if your goals require you to work consistently in your areas of weakness. You can work hard, but if you’re not working hard in your strengths, you are limiting your ability.
Isaac Newton’s mother intended for him to take on the family farm, and sent him off to do it. He failed miserably. Farming was, for him, a monotonous physical endeavor which did nothing to stimulate his active mind. If he had made it his ambition to be the best farmer ever, would he have succeeded? Most likely not; his strengths were not in working the land but in working through figures, theories, and analysis with his mind. When he got into work that fit his strengths, he was noted as “an extraordinary genius and proficiency in these things.”
When you’re pursuing a big goal, it’s important to ratchet your ability up to the highest level, which means knowing and working primarily in your strengths.
9. Don’t Back Down
A miss here or there can be discouraging enough, but what about a big miss? What about having your motives called into question, facing bankruptcy, losing your home because you mortgaged it for a dream, or seeing one start-up after another crash and burn?
Brad Keywell, co-founder of Groupon and Lifebank, says,“I’ve been involved with companies that hit dead ends, had business ideas I couldn’t get off the ground, been in situations that I desperately wanted to succeed but were on a path to failure.” But, says Keywell, hanging on with bulldog-like tenacity to the bigger dream of succeeding pushes you through every single failure. “My ability to overcome adversity has often been tied to a refusal to accept defeat and a willingness to explore other approaches to the game.”
Featured photo credit: Izzard via flickr.com