They are admirable because they enable us to set our sights upon something worthwhile that can bring value both to ourselves and to others.
All great accomplishments come as the result of striving toward targets that are initially beyond the reach of those who set goals for themselves and/or for their organizations.
Goals are also tricky because it is frightfully easy to set ones that are either too easy, or those that are simply impossible to pull off.
Goals that are too easy are generally already within our comfort zone. They do not require us to expand our skills or our human potential. While some of these easy goals are a necessary part of ordinary life (such as getting up at a certain time every day), they bring neither fulfillment nor excitement to our days.
Goals that are impossible carry the opposite risk. They are so far beyond our comfort zone that it is tempting to not even get started on them. They are a breeding ground for procrastination and disappointment in ourselves for our failure to get a move on.
So the trick in setting goals is to find the sweet spot between too easy on the one hand, and impossible on the other. Look for goals that fulfill the following criteria:
- They are important to you.
- You are excited about achieving them.
- They require you to expand your skills.
- You know that you will grow as a person when working on them.
- They are goals that you can take justifiable pride in achieving.
- They will make your life and your world a better place to live in.
One last thought, though, about goals that I described as impossible. People do in fact achieve seemingly impossible goals.
As the late David Ben Gurion, first prime minister of the State of Israel, famously said, If you don’t believe in miracles, you are not a realist.
Another quote of his that seems to apply to this discussion is, If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert.