What is a stretch goal? For our purposes, we’ll define a stretch goal as a goal for which you don’t appear to be well suited, based on past experience.
For example, if you’ve always struggled financially, the goal of becoming a millionaire would be a stretch goal. Getting in great shape would be a stretch goal if you’ve weighed over 400 lbs for many years.
We all have dreams that would be stretch goals for us. Plus, everyone is different – what might be a stretch goal for you could be more easily achievable by someone else, and vice versa.
You can easily spot when a goal is going to be a big challenge because the following symptoms are frequently present:
- The thought of achieving the goal is physically uncomfortable. We all have a spot in our bodies where we get that feeling of dread.
- You feel a strong inclination to procrastinate. If you’re having trouble getting started, that’s a warning sign.
- You indulge in distractions. The TV, Internet, food, sleeping, socializing, or drinking all become a lot more interesting than they usually are for you.
- When you do actually try, there is resistance everywhere. Now we’re talking again about that feeling of dread, as well as the appearance of numerous obstacles in the way.
Once you’ve determined that a particular dream is a stretch goal, how can you accomplish it, when it seems so challenging?
This process is particularly suited to achieving a stretch goal:
- Write down your goal. Also write down the experience of achieving it. Imagine having just lost those 50 pounds. How would you feel? What would that experience look like? Focus on your thoughts and feelings.
- Keep writing, reading, and imagining. Put down on paper the experience of having achieved your goal. Try to relax with those feelings until there’s no negative emotional charge, like fear, associated with the goal. Repeat as often as possible until the negative feelings are completely gone.
- Stick with the winners. Hang around other people who’ve done what you’ve set out to accomplish. In our weight loss example, join a gym and find the folks who have successfully lost a lot of weight. Notice that they aren’t remarkably different from you.
- Make a plan. Now you can make a plan and move forward with the more traditional approach of putting your plan into action and refining it until you reach the results you desire. As you put your plan in motion, continue to use your positive meditations for daily motivation and clarity.
Constantly monitor your feelings and your behavior throughout the achievement process.
Are your thoughts mostly positive? Do you feel good when you think about achieving what you’re aiming for? Are you taking enthusiastic action toward reaching your goal? If not, you need to eliminate negativity. Repeat steps two and three.
Stretch goals are challenging because they aren’t in alignment with our previous experiences or our opinions about ourselves. The negative feelings that arise when you attempt a stretch goal need to be dealt with effectively to help bring about your success.
Following the process above will move your stretch goals into the realm of possibility. Even your wildest dreams truly are within your reach.