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Why We Set Unattainable Goals

https://hbr.org/2021/01/why-we-set-unattainable-goals

hbr.org

Why We Set Unattainable Goals
The pros and cons of being an overachiever.

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Believing that long shots are feasible

Believing that long shots are feasible

When we set goals, we are not that great at assessing our own ability to achieve them.

Because whether or not a goal is truly attainable can only be known when we start working on it.

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The psychology of unattainable goals

Although setting goals is an important tool for self-motivation, but we tend to be overconfident beings, especially when a goal is linked to our self-esteem (we want to feel good about ourselves when it comes to achievements and aspirations).
So when we assess our own capabilities at taking on goals, we tend to be excessively optimistic.

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The persistent pursuit of unattainable goals

  • The persistent pursuit of unattainable goals can lead to higher achievements: focusing on smaller accomplishments can bolster positive feelings, motivating us to take on more goals in the same category. As long as we know that unattainable goals are not really about the destination, but the journey, they can be quite healthy.
  • But unattainable goals often end in failures and how people react to failure varies greatly.
  • Another potential mental trap following failure is the “false hope syndrome.” In this case, we tend to (mis)attribute the failure to reasons other than the fact that the goal was unattainable to start with.

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Stop letting failed goals pull you down

  • Don’t negate your progress as there is power in small wins.
  • Don’t dwell on the failure: Reflect on your journey to achieving your goal.
  • Think about related benefits: While you may not have achieved your goal fully, not all is lost.
  • Ask for an objective analysis: We need to understand why we really failed.
  • Take a third-person perspective, to help you reset your expectations.

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  • Objectives – This is what you hope to accomplish. Objectives usually take the form of broad goals that are not measurable (that’s what the Key Results section is for).
  • Key Results – Based on objectives, the key results are almost always defined with a specific number.

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