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Setting Realistic Goals? Why that’s a BAD idea.

Home / Live your awesome  / Setting Realistic Goals? Why that’s a BAD idea.

Have a goal you’re working towards? Did you follow the common advice to set a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely)?

Well tell me something. How does the thought of achieving it make you feel?

Pretty good? … Great?…. or Freakin’ amazing?

Think of all the people you admire – olympic athletes, entrepreneurs, CEO’s…people at the top of their game. Do you think they got where they are due to setting goals that got them “um…pretty good” results? Goals that were mostly safe and realistic?

Definitely not.

Here’s why I believe setting a goal that’s realistic is a BAD idea.



Our view of reality is influenced by our fears, perceptions and beliefs. So setting ‘realistic’ goals really means setting goals based on what we think we can have – not what we actually really want.

Goals that are ‘realistic’ don’t make you feel freakin’ amazing when you achieve them – and that is the feeling we are going for. By setting goals that are ‘realistic’, you will invariably end up down a path that takes you straight down the middle of your safe zone instead of pushing the boundaries of growth and inspiration.

“You want what you want whether or not you think you can have it.” Robert Fritz

Here’s another reason why I don’t like realistic goals.

They set you up to play a small game.

And who wants to aspire to do that?

Sure sometimes, setting a goal that’s realistic makes it more likely you’ll achieve it. It helps you avoid the disappointment of not making it. You build in a cushion. Your conservatism makes it easy to beat your goal.

But here’s the problem with that. You can only get so far. If you made $XXX,XXX this year and you set a goal to make 10% more the next year – you’ve just limited yourself to that 10% growth. Do you think Steve jobs vision for Apple’s iPhone was realistic when it first came out?

Here’s the main point. There are several situations in our everyday life where it pays to be realistic. Your health, time scheduling etc. But for your DREAMS – for things you REALLY REALLY want – those things that make you come alive – being realistic holds you back!

Instead of setting ‘sensible’ goals – you want goals which embody a passionate exploration of wonder. Set a goal that seems impossible and then go after it with all the energy and passion you can muster. See what you create and how you feel when you make it. That’s what feeling ALIVE is all about. That’s the stuff of AWESOME.

Your Action Step

Answer the following questions and evaluate how BIG you are playing in this game of life.

  1. What’s a logical next step want in your life?
  2. What do your family and friends want for you?
  3. What do you believe you should want?
  4. Now – what do you really want?


“The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it’s too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo

1 Comment
  • Faisal Ansari

    Thank you for the insightful article. Makes sense, you don’t want to cap yourself by setting a realistic goal. Gotta go big when you’re looking at your dreams. Thanks Pooja!

    August 13, 2014 at 12:37 am Reply
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