What Would You Do if You Knew You Could Not Fail?

April 1, 2019 5 Minute Read

Recently I have been thinking a lot about goal setting and just as I say it, or write it, an uncomfortable feeling comes over me.  Does goal-setting even work?  Do I/we have such a negative perception of goals that the very act of it puts me/us behind the curve with all the failed goal attempts I/we have made? Why is it that setting and keeping goals in one area of our lives seems so difficult yet it seems relatively easy in another?  Recently I was struck by a conversation I was having with a client about goals and they asked me what my five-year goals around fitness were?  This took me aback, not because it was an unfair question.  This client and I share a commitment to fitness so the question was completely on the table.  What struck me is I don’t have a 5-year goal for fitness and well-being.  I have something vague like “be in the best shape of my life.”  Completely undefined, unmeasurable and destined to fail.  So why is that?  How can I be so focused in some areas of my life and so vague in another?  I could give you an excuse like I have been making fitness goals since high school and I am tired of fitness goals.  But that doesn’t work. 

Lots of people participated in sports when they were younger and have maintained the discipline later in life.  Maybe I just haven’t found the right outlet, sport, fitness regime, guru that inspires me…keeps me going.  The one that keeps me engaged.  Yeah, that doesn’t seem to hold much water either.  So, what is it?  What do I need to do to prioritize and keep my fitness goals or any other discipline?  It could be picking something outrageous that inspires.  Jim Collins calls this a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal or BHAG in his books on excellent companies.

Is it this simple?  Just find an outrageous goal, make sure it is measurable and get to work?  I am not sure it is that simple, but here is something I have found helpful. Ask yourself the questions “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Start writing.  Don’t judge.  Don’t edit.  Just write it down.  You should easily have a list of 5 or more outrageous things you’ve thought about but didn’t take on.  Why does taking failure off the table help? What is it about failure that stops us?  Failure is an important part of growth and development.  Every great company, every great individual failed many times.  Thomas Edison supposedly tried hundreds of times to find a filament that would work in a light bulb and not burn out too quickly (there were other factors, see the story here) Failure was part of his process.  Today we want to avoid failure at all costs.  Failure doesn’t look good, not to our bosses, our spouses or our friends and family.  Well guess what, failure is part of the process.  I am not sure yet what my fitness goals will be for the next 5 years, but it sounds like more fun to plan then losing 10 pounds or 20 or lowering my cholesterol.  Sheesh!  Boring.  If you have goals in an area that seem to be illusive, try taking a longer-term view.  Then breaking them down to manageable pieces.  Make some milestones along the way so you know you are headed in the right direction.   I’ll be working on my five-year fitness goals this month. Feel free to let us know about it and your progress or even your failures.

The information provided is for guidance and informational purposes only.  The articles are not the opinions of ProCore Advisors, LLC.