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Achieve Impossible Goals In 9 Simple Steps

Achieve Impossible Goals In 9 Simple Steps

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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