Is there value in setting goals that are unachievable? What is the correlation between the size of the goal and the time it takes to achieve it. It all depends. Friends and family members of "dreamers" probably get tired of hearing about all the lofty things that will be achieved. Those who know and live with task oriented people eventually get tired of hearing an endless list of to-dos. What I do know is that the bigger the goal, the longer it takes to achieve. The longer it takes, the easier it is to become side-tracked by newer dreams and goals. Also, the smaller we continue to think, the more we can lose sight of our bigger dreams.
Goals can be broken down into several categories:
- God-sized life goals - These are humongous goals that are unachievable without some divine intervention. Examples: Cure cancer, travel to every country in the world, begin a movement. These types of goals are what give our life their ultimate purpose. They guide us long-term and can become very powerful and determining forces for our decision-making over our whole lifespan. These life-goals are like the top of a multi-story staircase and are often the crowing achievements of one's life.
- Intermediate goals - These goals are often difficult to achieve, and can take years to accomplish. Examples: Graduate from college, travel to Paris, purchase a house. These types of goals get us from one place in life to another. They are often not ends to themselves, but rather means to a bigger end. Intermediate goals are like individual flights of stairs that get us one floor higher to the top.
- Short-term goals - These goals can be accompished within days, weeks or a few months. They are the little accomplishments that help us get our work and life done from week to week. Examples: run 40 miles this week, balance my checkbook, finish reading a novel. Many times, we don't even think of these as goals because they are so small. They are usually made up of smaller tasks. Even though they are small, some people like myself find that these are the most difficult goals to achieve. I will take a big audacious goal any day over a small easy task. Others are pros at knocking out small, short-term goals.
Even if you're not a "goal-oriented" person, you probably have several goals in your life. The question is not whether you have goals, but rather, what size goals do you have and do you have a strategy for achieving different types of goals? Even a professional couch-potato has a goal, which is, to stay on the couch as much as possible. What makes some people strive to achieve greater things while others set their sights much lower? I am not naturally a task-oriented goal setter, but here are some of the things that cause me to set goals.
- Past experience - some goals are set or not because of a positive or a negative experience in my life. I look back and desire to experience something positive again, or to NOT experience something that was painful.
- Ambition - human ambition can be an incredibly powerful force in peoples' lives for setting and achieving goals. This can obviously be a good or a bad thing, depending on what boundaries are set to protect oneself and others. Sometimes my ambition drives me to set unrealistic goals, simply because I want to be "the best."
- Purpose - some people, like myself, don't set goal and achieve goals unless it ties to a greater purpose in their life. Many a slacker has transformed into a single-minded workaholic when there is a purpose to work for. I can spend all day doing trivial things, until I'm reminded of my God-given purpose in life.
- Pride - For me to admit that I can't do something is very difficult. Some goals that I set for myself are there simply to prove that "I can."
Life without challenge becomes boring, and a boring life is just, well, dull. When I write or voice my goals to someone else, I am challenging myself to achieve something. My sister Sarah and I both decided to sign up for an IronMan together. Why? Because we both need challenge, and by doing it together, neither one of us is likely to back out. I told my wife I was going to run at least one marathon this next year. Even though she doesn't quite understand why, she sees the excitement that it brings in my life to set a big goal and work towards it.
I have stated other bigger goals, sometimes without even believing that they are possible. Will I achieve every goal that I set? Maybe not in my lifetime, but I will die trying. 1Cor. 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
What kind of goal setter are you? Do you always think big, or do you go small? I challenge you, and myself, to look at your strenghts and weaknesses in this area. Whever you are strong, embrace it. Whever you are weak, don't let that sabatoge achieving your purpose in life. Also, collaborate with other who excel in areas of goals, tasks achievement where you don't.