Why Your Goals Are Causing You to Fail

When I was working at a major online real estate network, my manager asked me what my sales goal was for the month. I told him my goal was $25,000, since that was my quota that month, and he shook his head. “No,” he said, “that’s way too low- I know you can do better than that.”

I was confused. I would be thrilled if I hit quota! It was challenging enough hitting my quota of $20,000 the month before, and that was my best month to date. I thought he was just putting pressure on me so our team might lead the sales floor in volume, and maybe that was what he was trying to do- but what he actually did was teach me an invaluable lesson in goal setting.

I responded that my goal would be $30,000 rather than $25,000, and he responded by challenging me and suggesting $40,000. Being competitive, I jokingly told him I would double my quota for the month and hit $50,000. He smiled, nodded, and told me to get back to work.

Goals On Dartboard Shows AspirationsThat month I doubled my previous (best) month in sales, and hit $39,000. Although I didn’t sell my arbitrary “quota” of $50,000, I breezed through my $25,000 quota and made a heck of a commission check.

So what does all this mean?

We place goals on ourselves that we view as a bit of a challenge, but still easy to achieve. We set goals that are comfortable because we don’t like to miss our targets and “fail”. In setting “comfortable” goals, we limit ourselves and condition mediocrity and a habit of settling. If I had stuck to my original “goal” of $25,000, I probably would have hit it, I certainly would not have pushed harder to get to $39,000. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, and I would have been pleased enough to have skimmed by to quota.

However, when we push the boundaries of what we expect of ourselves, even if the goals seem out of reach, or even impossible, we can accomplish much more than we originally thought. Now, I must point out that the goals should be somewhat realistic and feasible (If I had set a goal of $200,000, I would have lost motivation and felt discouraged right from the start). But selecting a goal that seems just a bit out of reach can really create amazing results. Sometimes we don’t hit our goals right away, but with each attempt we inch closer and closer to success. More importantly, we train our minds not to sell ourselves short, and we switch our mindset from “here’s why this won’t work” to “here’s how this can work”. Now, as a small business consultant, I always tell my clients to be aggressive with their goals. It’s not failure if you are pushing hard and challenging yourself to achieve goals you think are just a bit out of reach. Perhaps they are (for now), but without trying to hit those goals, you risk the potential of never achieving them.

To quote Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.