The Danger of Setting BIG Goals The danger of big goals.001

The Danger of Setting Big Goals. 


If you’ve been into personal development for a while, I’m sure you’ve heard various coaches, mentors and gurus saying: Set big and scary goals.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not always the best idea and it’s actually a reason why many people get stuck.

Ok, let’s get one thing straight.

figuring out what you want in life and setting it as clearly defined goals, you’ll most likely be just drifting and end up working hard on someone else’s goals. That’s just how it works.

So setting goals is a fundamental skill for personal growth.

If you’re new to goal setting, it’s a great idea to seek guidance on how to do it.

And what you’ll find is that there are as many opinions as there are people, and that’s ok.

Find and follow the one that will work the best for you. It may be a combination of several tips.

However, I’ve seen one kind of advice that, while meant well, backfires more often than it helps.

And it is:

Set big and scary goals!

Big goals

The idea behind that is to be brave, bold, and to aim for something outrageous. And that makes total sense because I think most people are playing it safe in life. I totally support that. We are capable of so much more.

However, here are a few ways how big and scary goals backfire

Big goals are scary!

The main reason why people are playing it safe is because they are scared. They are scared of the unknown, the new, and pretty much any kind of change. So setting goals that freak you out probably won’t help and will hardly encourage you to start working on it.

Big goals can be demotivating.

When we set a goal that is outrageously big or high it often triggers doubt about how would you be even able to achieve that. If you’re overweight and you set an audacious goal of running a marathon in a year (which is possible), you’ll soon start thinking: this is ridiculous, I cannot even run one mile, how will I be able to run 26 miles in a year? I’m setting myself up for a disappointment.

Big goals require an enormous amount of patience and persistence.

As you can imagine, achieving something extraordinary will take a lot of time. A lot of time means a lot of patience, and that’s something most people don’t have. If you set a big scary goal that will take 5 years to accomplish, then good luck keeping yourself motivated the whole time. We love regular rewards (ask Mr Pavlov, if the name rings a bell).

What size of goals should you set?

Pay attention to how your goals make you feel.

Find the right balance between inspiration and motivation.

The goal should be big and audacious enough so you actually feel inspired by it. It should make you feel: Holy sugar, that would be amazing!

But, the goal needs to be realistic and achievable enough so that you feel motivated to work on it. The carrot should be dangling just within reach.

One of the great ways to do this is to break your big goal into regular milestones you can achieve and celebrate regularly.

Setting goals should be fun and exciting.

Pick goals that will make you proud to even just work on them.


If you need the support of a life coach to help you with making a great first impression or with any other areas of your personal development, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match.

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  1. Andy

    Hi Tomas – you make some very good points here.

    I think this illustrates the difference in thinking we experience when we are coming from the perspective of our “Current Selves” vs our “Future Selves”. That is, our Future Self values long-term rewards – “To feel happier (when I have lost weight)”, whereas the Present Self really likes instant gratification – “I don’t want to feel miserable (whilst I am dieting)”.

    In other words, as James Clear put it, “The Present Self and the Future Self are often at odds with one another. The Future Self wants to be trim and fit, but the Present Self wants a doughnut.”

    • Tomas Svitorka

      Hi Andy, thanks for the comment. You’re totally right. Of course, it’s generally better to be in the future selves mindset because it yields much better results. But as you pointed it out, the instant gratification infant has their say. I appreciate your comment.

    • Misa

      As Mihaly csikszentmihalyi puts it, flow happens when what you are working on is just a little bit above your current skill level.


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