Why Moving Targets Might Be Better Than Shooting for the Moon
Reaching for the stars (i.e., dreaming big) is usually good for getting started. But what about keeping things going? A moving target might be a better idea.
What happens when you don’t hit your big audacious goal in one fell swoop? You get frustrated. Impatient. Possibly because you feel like you’ve failed. But you keep going. You keep trying. And then when you still make very little progress towards your goal, you realize just how much you have left to go. The overwhelm sets in.
During those times, thoughts like, “well, at least you fell amongst the stars," do very little offer you comfort. Nor do they give you the strength to get you back on your feet.
Still, the goal matters to you. And you want to keep going. So what do you do?
Don’t push forward.
Scale back instead.
Set stupidly low goals that you know you can hit without a hitch in the time you’ve allotted yourself for the bigger goal.
For example, I used to set goals of reading 50 books a year. Something that wasn’t happening with my schedule. I worked long hours and weekends. Driving to work took reading during my commute out of the question. I also tended not to pay attention to audio books (i.e., they had this pesky habit of turning into background noise). So for the past couple of years, I consistently failed at achieving my goal of reading 50 books a year.
Instead of giving up entirely, I looked at how many books I did manage to get through. It ranged from 13–15 books a year. So for this year, I set the stupidly low goal of reading just 10 books. That’s 1 book a month with a 2 month buffer for any special circumstances.
Normally, I would be behind by now. But lo’ and behold, this year I am already at 50% of that goal. I’ve read 5 books. That’s around 2 books per month. If I reach my goal, I know I am just going to move the target a bit further along and see if I can get to another 10. Then nudge it a tinsy bit more and see if I can maybe hit another 10 after that.
Why the sudden burst of energy?