How ambitious should your goals be?

For the past two days we’ve talked about goals. I suggested that while you can measure your productivity in many ways, the best way is to judge it by whether you’re achieving your goals.

Yesterday, someone asked: How do I know whether I’m setting goals that are “too easy”? What if I am capable of much more and I am holding myself back (by setting goals that are too easy)?

Good question.

Here’s the best way that I know of to determine whether your goals are too easy, too challenging, or just right:

First ask yourself how you want to feel after you reach your goal.

Let’s say you’re starting a side hustle and your goal is for it to generate $500 in passive income per month, six months from now. Ask yourself: why do you want your side hustle to generate $500 per month?

When you want something, you want it because it will make you feel a certain way. How do you think earning $500 per month in passive income will make you feel?

Do you expect it to make you feel proud? Accomplished? Do you have something to prove to someone, so are you expecting to feel vindicated if you reach your goal? Investigate your motivation.

Once you pinpoint how you want to feel, compare that with how you actually feel after achieving the goal. Do you feel the way you want to? If so, congratulations! You set a great goal and you met it.

But if you met your goal and you felt bored or disappointed, then set a more ambitious goal next time.

By contrast, if you met your goal but you felt incredibly stressed and were terribly cranky leading up the the goal’s deadline, then take your foot off the gas. Set an easier goal next time to avoid that stress, because excessive stress is super unhealthy.

(If you didn’t meet your goal at all—well, set an easier goal next time!)

There are other ways you could end up feeling too. When you figure out how achieving the goal made you feel, it will be obvious to you how to adjust your goal-setting for the future.


— Peter

P.S. Today I’m hosting my free webinar called Get Organized with OmniFocus. I hope to see you there!

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