Lofty vs Realistic Goals

I have been accused of having a Pollyanna mindset.

“Pollyanna” was a 1913 novel and 1960 movie. The main character is defined as an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.

I also have been accused of encouraging lofty goals — goals that are big and possibly out of reach. Sometimes this encouragement creates unrealistic goals that lead to disappointment.

Yes, I agree. This is who I am. Humans are resilient. By staying positive, we have the power to figure out any challenge in life. I believe in dreaming big. Does this attitude leave me disappointed, frustrated or embarrassed? Yes. So what?

To me, it’s not about not getting the goal. It’s about not trying for the goal or quitting on the dream.

Thomas Edison reflected on his process of creating the light bulb and said, “I have not failed 10,000 times — I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” And with this mindset, he found a way that did work.

Edison had the habit of being a problem solver. This thought process causes us to ask, “How can I get to my goal?”

It is rare to reach a goal the first time you try. Athletes and musicians share stories of the years of practice they have invested in. During these years, they had many falls and fails.

Have you ever put yourself out there and created a big, hairy, audacious goal? Maybe you applied to a school or for a job that you knew might be above your abilities. If you don’t go after lofty goals, you will settle for what is given to you. Often, what is given to us, is not motivating or empowering.

Simon Sinek, an author and inspirational speaker, posted a video titled “Life-Changing Advice Will Leave You Speechless,” where I learned of a “failed parenting strategy” that I practiced while my kids were growing up.

I told them things like:

“You’re special.”

“You can be anything you want to be.”

I believe this. However, I failed because I did not teach my kids how to get what they want. It’s not by only creating a lofty goal. It’s about adopting skills to learn success.

These skills help you cope with stress and enjoy the journey of life. Your voyage will include falls and fails. And it will encourage you to think differently to press forward toward your goal. This mindset is an empowering process!

When you’re stuck in your journey, the best tool to use is to ask yourself questions. John G. Miller teaches in his book “QBQ The Question Behind the Question” to ask yourself accountable questions. Your question needs to start with “what” or “how.” It also needs to include the word “I” plus an action word.

• “What can I do?”

• “How can I get into this school?”

• “What do I need to do to work for this organization?”

These questions are not looking to others to solve your challenges. They are not blaming others for any mishaps. No one cares more for you than you do. These questions will equip you to own your success. These questions will put you in the same mindset as Thomas Edison. What is your light bulb?

Yes, I am like Pollyanna, and I encourage creating lofty goals because I know that we all can figure out how to get what we want. Go figure out your “how!” Enjoy your journey to success.