Little Known Ways of Tackling Difficult Goals

By Ellesse

Imagine these scenarios. Your close friend shares with you her goal on shedding 70 pounds in 3 months. While you’re thinking of how to “knock some sense” into her, your brother tells you his plan of generating $100,000 monthly business profit in half a year’s time. To add on to this frantic chaos, your mum claims that she wants to converse in French effectively with a native speaker in 2 months. Much as you would like to applaud them for having such great aspirations, I’m sure you’ll be inclined to behave like what most people do.

That is, to give them a good talking to for being unrealistic.

It’s understandable.

After all, being realistic is one of the cornerstones of SMART goal setting isn’t it?

Well, you may be both right and wrong this time.

You’re right in the sense that being realistic is indeed one of the 5 important elements of SMART goals. One need to know how far he can stretch himself in order to determine what can be attained within a specific period of time.

But you’re also wrong on the basis that you shouldn’t judge their capabilities just because losing 70 pounds in 3 months, churning a $100,000 monthly profit in half a year or speaking French well in 2 months are difficult for you. You can say your piece but it’s up to them to determine if what you’ve just mentioned is reasonable.

In my opinion, most people tend to be overly realistic. They try to be safe and incorporate a large buffer into their goal plans. But they didn’t do this because they think they can only do so much. They did it because they think they can only do so much in that amount of time.

I’m sure losing 70 pounds in your friend’s case isn’t a problem. She can probably do it effortlessly in a year. Or maybe 6 months. But losing that same amount of weight in 3 months becomes an issue. It’s the same situation for the other 2 hypothetical cases. The concept of “difficulty” in goals is a result of people’s skewed judgment of how long they need to take to reach that target.

In true sense, there is no such thing as a real difficult goal because if there is, world records wouldn’t have been broken and some of the world’s most amazing things wouldn’t have happened.

But what if you’ve really got a goal that has a slightly challenging time line, how do you handle it? Here are 3 little known ways :

(1) Fan The Flames of Your Burning Desire

How keen you’re on achieving certain goals within a specific time frame really depends on how burning your desire is.

Suppose your friend has an obesity induced heart related problem and an operation cannot be avoided if her weight doesn’t go down in 3 months, do you think she’ll have a strong reason to persist in a well designed diet, regular exercise regime or other complementary programs to catalyze her weight loss?

Likewise, if your brother is debt ridden and has 6 months to go before he’s declared bankrupt, don’t you think he’ll try all means and ways to brainstorm ideas to turnaround his business to pay back his creditors? If your mum going to France for a volunteer community project, where she’ll be dealing with a bunch of beneficiaries who speak no languages except French, do you think she’ll work hard to polish up on her command?

Some proponents advocate using the Pavlovian conditioning of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance to increase people’s desire with their goals. This means that in the hypothetical case of your friend’s goal, she can try to attach pleasure to losing weight by linking it to the many benefits of doing so. On the other hand, she can also imagine the undesirable effects of maintaining her current weight. Both has a pull and push effect of engaging her to be proactive in the goal achievement, catalyzing it at the same time.

Personally, I wouldn’t suggesting dwelling too much on the pain avoidance part. You can use that to kickoff the goal but do focus on the pleasure seeking element as you go along to avoid mishandled repercussions such as goal stagnancy and other undesirable effects of negative thinking. Fear based driven reasons are, in my opinion feeble causes that are unlikely to sustain themselves in the long run.

(2) Tap on the Power of Leverage

As mentioned, the reason why some goals seem more “difficult” is because of the perceived amount of time necessary to accomplish it versus the time that’s given. The power of leverage removes this difficulty by allowing you to tap on resources and networks that literally give you the “shortcut” to attaining the same goal.

There are 3 forms of leverages : Technology, Coaching and Mastermind. If your friend follows a conventional weight loss program all by herself, she may lose 70 pounds in 10 months. However, if she complements it by enrolling with one of the slimming agencies that uses cutting edge fat-burning equipment (technology), she may be able to accomplish her target much faster.

To drive it to another level, she can also deploy other forms of leverage such as getting a personal trainer (coaching) to design a more efficient exercise regime and dieting program, and joining weight loss self help groups (mastermind) to share her experiences, resources and networks with a bunch of like-minded folks.

At the end of the day, each leverage act like a springboard, propelling her to a much further distance, every time it’s leaped off from.

(3) Focus Using The 80/20 Rule

The 80 / 20 rule (or the Pareto Principle) states that 80% of your success is determined by 20% of the tasks that you do.

If you can determine which are the 20% of the activities, clients or areas that you should focus on in your goal plan and keep drilling on them, you’ll be able to reap the same, if not greater rewards in the lesser amount of time. Since the difficulty lies in the “time” element of goals, by simply complying with this rule, you’re literally catalyzing the same process!

Suppose your brother knows which are the more profitable customers in his business, he can focus on up-selling other lines of products to them, thereby improving his sales with a much reduced amount of effort and time. And, if your mum knows that by speaking to a native French speaker every day improves her command of the language by leaps and bounds, she can concentrate on that instead of wasting time listening to monotonous recording on the language audio.

But how do you know which 20% to concentrate on?

Through goal tracking!

When you are tabulating your weight loss, sales charts or language proficiency levels, you’ll be able to determine what activities works well and vice versa. By trimming the excess fat away from your goal plan, you’re actually releasing its potential to achieve the most in the least amount of time. Gradually but truly.


8 Responses to “Little Known Ways of Tackling Difficult Goals”

  1. Pamela at 6:19 am

    Great post. No matter how unrealistic the goals of others are, we certainly can’t judge them right away because of the factors like their capacity and burning desire. Sometime we underestimate our own capabilities and it’s the reason why we never don’t achieve our goals.

  2. Ellesse at 6:48 am

    Hey Pamela, welcome! Judgment sometimes breeds contempt for others and that’s one of the main reasons why it’s usually not advisable to share with people whom you don’t think can appreciate the “difficulty” of your goals. Underestimation of your own capabilities may not necessary lead to goals not achieved but it definitely, has a suboptimal effect on our personal growth.

  3. Paula at 9:06 am

    So nice to see you “back”.

    Will read it thoroughly later.

  4. Ellesse at 2:56 am

    Paula, it’s readers like you and many others who make me feel Goal Setting College’s my mission, thanks for everything!

  5. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker at 4:31 am

    Ellesse, I always like the articles that you write. Your words just make sense. Your articles are always well written.

  6. Ellesse at 9:10 am

    Pat, thanks for the great compliments! It’s encouragement from readers like you that reaffirm my mission!

  7. Karen Lynch-Live the Power at 3:57 pm

    Great post! I think that really it is not our place to judge others goals or beneficial for us to listen to others who are judging our goals.
    All things are possible, Reach for the stars!

  8. Ellesse at 3:22 am

    Thank you very much, Karen!


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