Aim for the ‘impossible’ and achieve the unexpected

If we set a comfortable objective, one we can expect to achieve, we will more than likely complete it. But what happens when we aim for something beyond our perceived limits? Something that makes us feel a little, um, scared?

I recently attended an event “Levántate y habla” (Rise and speak) with Xesco Espar, former handball player and coach of the top team at Barcelona FC. He’s now a thought leader and expert in high performance coaching.

Xesco shared an anecdote with us, along the lines of two friends starting off in business and discussing setting their objectives. One hoped to earn €2,000 a month during the coming year, wanting to start out slowly but surely. The other ambitiously set €15,000 as his target.

Each went off, busy with their business and travels. After a year or so, they met up again. The first eagerly shared his success in having achieved his objective. He was earning €2,000 a month and was clearly feeling happy and relaxed about having accomplished his objective.

His friend congratulated him and when asked, shook his head and revealed, albeit smiling, that, no, he wasn’t earning €15,000… only €10,000! The first friend, instinctively patted him compassionately on the back, but stopped in his tracks when he realised what he had heard.

His friend hadn’t reached his objective however he was earning a lot more than if he had put the objective at €2,000!

3 secrets to setting and achieving more ambitious goals

1. Write your wish list

What would you ask for if a genie appeared out of the lamp? Let your imagination go, and write everything down. 

2. Take each “wish” and test its practicality 

Set the goal and work backwards. Break it down into long-term, mid-term and short-term objectives. Ensure these sub-objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) to guarantee a more successful route to the biggie! Remember, we eat a melon in slices! 

If you think it cannot be done, run a check on your limiting beliefs. 

If it really cannot be done, you will soon see workarounds, tweaks or, just put it on the back burner and move on to the next “wish”.

3. Do it scared

Ruth Soukup, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Living Well Spending Less, shares the following wisdom and warning in her podcast “Do it scared”.

“Setting a bunch of smaller goals that seem like they should be attainable is actually counter-productive.” 

By thinking big and setting goals which will bring us out of our comfort zone, we feel more motivated.

4. Feel the buzz!

The adrenalin which flows through us when we have a challenge which is seen to be just within our grasp if we reach out to it, pushing us to the limits, can feel daunting yet exhilarating! 

To help create our vision, feel the success and bring it to the here and now, let’s visualise!

  • Take a deep breath
  • Close your eyes 
  • Visualise that situation you want to be in
  • Immerse yourself in it, enjoying every detail with your five senses
  • What can you hear, see, touch, taste, smell? 
  • Open your eyes
  • Put pen to paper and describe how you feel in your five senses, either in words or pictures:
    • If you feel now energised and motivated, start working on your SMART objectives and next action points. 
    • Whenever you feel less motivated, re-read the description of how you felt in the visualisation exercise above, to take you there again and remind of why you are doing this. If you still need a bit more motivation, repeat the visualisation exercise from the beginning.
    • If you feel scared or unsure, review your objectives to identify where these pain points are most felt. Sometimes, by just developing and detailing our objectives further, and how we can achieve them, we become more confident and are able to enjoy the journey. Believe you can do it. If you don’t believe it, repeat it to yourself until you do!

Remember: Even if we don’t achieve our ambitious objective, we will most probably have gone further than if we’d aimed for something easy.

So go for it!

Lindsay Nixon

Emotional Intelligence coach Lindsay helps clients take their personal, sports and professional lives to the next level.

1 comment

  • Interestingly, I suspect setting big goals around money is one of the most challenging areas for many people. The Ruth Soukup quote is interesting as it is very easy to play it safe and slip into keeping things small.