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The 5 Reasons You Should Set Big Goals

The 5 Reasons You Should Set Big Goals

It’s the end of the year, and the beginning of a new one. So it’s very common for people to turn their attention to setting new goals, and plans to improve their life this time of year. Personally, I advocate the “continual goal setting” method, so that whenever an old goal is completed, we have already started a series of new ones. However, if you are using the start of the new year as a measuring point to kickstart your life or business and make life more fulfilling, that is fantastic, and you’ve come to the right place.

In this article it’s my intention to make the case for “setting big goals”, and giving five specific reasons why setting big goals is worthwhile.

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Most of us are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym used to remind us that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. This method of goal setting is fantastic. I have used it many, many times to produce visible results in my life and business. I’m not suggesting that we should stop setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, I’m just going to make the case that life is really fun when, in addition to our S.M.A.R.T. goals we also throw in some “massive, huge, audacious, incredible” goals to go along with it.

Big goals are scary to many of us. They cut right to the “A” in the S.M.A.R.T. scheme, that is, we may think that we can’t attain them. We look at a big goal, and then we look back at ourselves, and where we are right now, and we think “what is the point of setting a goal like that, I can never attain it.”  The reality is that in many cases we don’t know what we are actually capable of achieving until we try.  We don’t know our limits until we actually test them.

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As a result, massive, crazy, wild goals can make our life more enjoyable and fulfilling. Here is why:

1. If We Allow Ourselves A Moment To Dream, We Get Really Excited

When we stop and think about what life would be like if we actually achieved the big goal, we get excited. The goal itself creates a gravitational pull that negates the need for willpower. The excitement of the possibility pushes us to take action. When we live every single day “under the influence” of a big dream, with a vision in our minds of the actuality of that dream, we are so busy moving towards the goal that we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. Regardless of whether we actually achieve the big goal, our life becomes significantly enriched by this new mode of living. Over time, we transform into a new person, one who never feels sorry for themselves, or spends time in “what could have been” because we are so busy (and fulfilled) chasing what we believe is possible.

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2. They Cause Us To Make Long Term Improvements

Big goals cause us to expand our vision (to make room for the goal).  When we expand our vision we confront the reality that there are “structural changes” that must take place in our business or our life (depending on the nature of the goal) in order for the goal to come to fruition. That is, our current infrastructure or systems (in either our business or our life) are not equipped to support the big goal. Once we realize this we start making changes that will have significant positive long term benefits. We “strengthen the foundation” of our business or our life. This creates a ripple effect that spills over into other areas of our life in a positive way.

3. They Make Us Much More Resilient In The Short Term

When we look big, we know that every second counts. We have to give the very best that we have, every single day. We know that we can’t waste a moment in self-pity or meaningless time wasting activities. As a result, we start accounting for the “present moment” much more than we would when we are setting goals that don’t cause us to stretch. In our world of technology, distraction is a great danger. In order to achieve big goals we must be absolutely resilient and relentless in the short term.

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4. They Cause Us To “Get Real” With Ourselves And Confront Our Deficiencies

Big goals cause us to confront reality. If we start with the belief (or even the hope) that a big goal is actually attainable, we must then ask the next question: How could it happen? This question brings to light our relationship with reality.  We have to be honest with ourselves, and address either our poor habits and behaviors (if it is a personal goal) or our poor systems and processes (or lack thereof) if it is a business goal. It is so easy to blame others, never take personal responsibility, and make excuses. It is a courageous (and effective) person however who is willing to accept personal responsibility and take a deep look inward to address deficiencies rather than looking outside. When we set big goals we are forced to look inward first and make changes there.

5. They Cause Us To Develop Powerful Habits

In all of this what is happening is really a change of behavior.  This ultimately is the greatest benefit of setting big goals.  If we are really going after them (with all our heart) then we are forced to change our behavior.  We become much more positive people (point 1). We set up systems and processes that are valuable for the future (point 2), but we live completely in the present and make the most of our time (point 3).  Finally we become “real” with ourselves and look to change internally before we point the blame at others (point 4).  When we maintain all of these behaviors for a sustained period of time, what we are actually doing is something incredible – we are instituting powerful life changing habits.

At this point it doesn’t even matter whether we achieve the big goal or not.  We have achieved arguably a greater victory of having significantly improved ourselves.  This is the ultimate ancillary benefit of setting big goals.  They help us to build, and improve ourselves, dramatically, and it is done through a sustainable change.  It is done through the power of habit.

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Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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