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Why You Should Set Radical Goals

The next increment isn't the next big thing. Going big and thinking far into the future sets you free to excel.
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In 2000, I was hired to lead a Fishbird workshop with Monmouth University’s men’s basketball team. They were terrible. I lived within mere miles of the school and didn’t know they existed. We began our session with one of the first and most important questions that I ask all of my clients, whether they’re athletes or biotech engineers: “If anything were possible, what would you want?”   Related:  3 Ways to Set Goals You'll Actually Achieve   Almost unanimously, they declared they wanted 25 wins, which meant settling for five losses, until a freshman challenged them. Wouldn’t they want to be undefeated? They rallied around the new goal. They would go undefeated and make it to the NCAA Tournament. They figured they would be the lowest seeded team and that they would play the first seed, Duke, in the first round.   That is exactly what happened. They went undefeated into the NCAA Tournament as the sixteenth seed. While they got crushed by Duke, they never said they would beat them.    Of all of the breakthrough stories to come out of Fishbird, this is one of my favorites. It perfectly illustrates how we get stuck in our preconceived ideas of what’s possible and how we can break out of our mindset to go after something much bigger. Without radical goal setting, our futures end up looking like slightly better versions of our pasts. Instead of a future when anything is possible, we end up living into the already chartered waters of our history.  

Related: Are You Actually Setting Goals? Probably Not. Here's How in 3 Steps

Here are five ways to set radical goals:

1. Ask yourself, “If anything were possible, what would I want?” Don’t judge your ideas. Just write them down. This is essential to tapping into your passion and breaking from the gravitational pull of mediocrity.  

2. Don't go short. Think in 20-, 50-, and 100-year increments. People get into the mindset of having quarterly and yearly numbers that they have to meet. (Just take a look at Congress). It’s not a deep enough cut. To achieve greatness, you must think beyond how you’d naturally measure success. Think about where you want to be 20 years from now and the legacy you want to leave.  

3. Don’t ask for permission. Everyone is looking for someone to give them the go-ahead for their life. Stop looking. Give yourself the permission to go after what you want. If you step on people’s toes, they aren’t moving, they’re standing still.   4. Don’t worry about knowing how. If you’re really setting a radical goal, you won't know how to make it happen. That’s what makes it radical. If you have a pretty good idea how to complete a project, you are playing it safe. Safe isn’t inspiring.    5. Untether yourself from the past. The past is your greatest ball-and-chain. A clear, radical goal can move you exponentially instead of linearly. Create the future from your imagination. 

Related: How to Set the Right Goals for Your Business