These days, you can’t just set a goal and work toward it.
Because you say, “I want to be successful” and they say, “Well, that’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.”
So, you say, “OK, I want to be the CEO of Google in 5 years’ time and get paid a six-figure salary.”
They say, “Well, that’s specific, measurable, relevant, and timely, but it’s not achievable. Try setting a more realistic goal.”
So, you water down your goals a little, then some more, and maybe just a tad bit more than that until it’s deemed realistic.
Your realistic goal is being promoted to project manager in your current job within the next year.
The people who told you your goals need to be realistic, have a point. You need to be able to achieve your goal or what’s the point of striving for it?
But at the same time, how dare they tell you what is counted as realistic?
Do you think that Steve Jobs’ dream of creating and selling personal computers was realistic?
Today, computers and laptops are everywhere, but back when computers were the size of a room, the idea of a computer in every home was implausible.
Steve Jobs is a legend, and you?
Well, you’re just you. It’s ‘unrealistic’ to compare him to you.
Here’s the thing:
Ordinary people have incredible success stories, too.
How realistic do you think it is to make millions selling snacks online?
Monique Bernstein and her partner Eli Zauner worked for Proctor & Gamble. They were ordinary people before they started a snack subscription box, Universal Yums, containing snacks from different parts of the world. In only five years, their company was making millions in revenue.
Their idea wasn’t what most consider ‘realistic’, but they set their minds to it and did it anyway.
They aren’t the only ones who set their goals high.
The co-founder of Atoms, a shoe company, was a young girl from Pakistan. She had no prior experience in business. She wasn’t from a rich family. In fact, her family was unsupportive of her dream to do something with her life.
All her family wanted her to do was get married. Is the idea of being the CEO of a successful company realistic for a person coming from her background?
No, it’s not.
But who cares about realistic because she did it anyway.
Who’s to say that things will be in the future like they are now?
You are the only one who can determine that.
Forget realistic goals. What you need is realizable goals.
Break The Rules
Have you ever heard the story of the 4-minute mile?
Everyone thought it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Runners had been trying to beat the clock since 1886. For decades, many runners tried, but none succeeded.
Experts came up with theories about the ideal weather and track to break the notorious four-minute barrier. Time and time again, athletes failed to run one mile in less than four minutes.
Until one did.
Roger Bannister wasn’t an ordinary athlete. He didn’t have a coach and didn’t train like everyone else. On May 6, 1954, he ran the mile in 3 minutes, 59 seconds.
No one thought he could do it. The British press criticized his approach. They said he needed coaches and more conventional training. (1)
He could have easily deemed his goal unrealistic. Who was he to break a barrier that no one before him could beat? He was just a full-time student with no coach.
Only 46 days later, another runner beat Bannister’s newly set record. This runner ran the mile in 3 minutes, 58 seconds. Many more runners followed suite. Today, the world record for running a mile is 3:43.
The four-minute barrier that runners spend decades trying to overcome was beaten many times after one man showed that it was possible.
The goal was realizable, but it didn’t seem realistic. The first step to doing anything is believing that you can.
Is Your Goal Realizable?
Chasing your goal is a long journey.
Some goals take a year, some take 3, others take 5 or 10 years.
For you to attain anything worth having, you’ve got to put in time and effort. A long timeline doesn’t mean you’ll never get there.
The only one who can judge whether you’ll make it or not is you.
Are you willing to make sacrifices for your goal?
Are you willing to put in an enormous amount of time?
Can you be resilient and go from letdown to letdown without losing hope?
You shouldn’t set a goal you can’t reach. You’ll reach the end with nothing but frustration, disappointment, and a voice in the back of your head that relentlessly reminds you of your failure.
(Failure isn’t always bad. Learn how to make the most of your failures.)
Yet, if your dream is realizable, why let somebody else’s idea of realistic stop you?
Do you believe that if you put in the effort and gave this goal your all that you’ll be able to achieve it?
Are you willing to put in that kind of effort?
If so, then by all means do and redefine realistic.