Go for the goal! No, it’s too big!

Open air paintingGoals are often so lofty that they overwhelm us. The choices seem to be all-out pursuit or nothing. Often we take the “nothing” option rather than face the enormity of the task. Here are some ideas for a broader list of alternatives.  As I’ve said before, you always have more than two options. Try these.

Go for it completely
Go for a more accessible version of it
Go for an intermediate goal
Go for a different goal with similar satisfaction
Do a trial run without committing
Do nothing

Let’s look at these more closely. As an example, imagine you have a good job, but you always wanted to be an artist. What can you do about that goal?

—Go for it completely

One obvious choice is to pursue the goal fully, setting aside everything else. 

  • —  Quit your job, rent a studio and devote your life to your art

—Go for a more accessible version of it

Is there a scaled-down version of your goal that gives almost the same amount of satisfaction without the sacrifice? Yes, I know this goes against all the motivational speakers and writers who tell you to shoot for the moon. But do you really want to give up many of the other important aspects of your life to work toward something you may never reach? In our example, rather than working toward becoming an internationally acclaimed artist for the ages, it might be almost as good to get a local following.

  • —  Keep your job and devote your weekends to your art
  • —  Get to know the local galleries

—Go for an intermediate goal

Your first action in achieving the goal may be to reach a key step along the way. Think about what you will need to do to reach your goal. Any of these may be satisfying goals in their own right. In our example, to become a great artist you will need to hone your technique, produce art and get it seen.

  • —  Take art classes in the evenings or on weekends
  • —  Seek out places to get your work seen by the public
  • —  Devote your weekends to producing art

—Go for a different goal with similar satisfaction

Think about what it is that you find attractive about your goal. Can you get that same satisfaction some other way without disrupting your life? In our example, you may be able to steer your current job in a direction that better uses your artistic capabilities.

  • —  Seek a transfer into the graphics department of your current company

Do a trial run without committing

Rather than jumping into the goal with both feet, you may want to put your toe in the water first. Go after the goal, but make sure you can get back to where you were, if it does not turn out as you would like.

  • —  Take a six-month leave of absence from work to pursue your art

—Do nothing

No matter what all those motivational speakers will tell you, this should always be on your list of alternatives. You have a choice. You may have moved on since you set that goal. In our example, perhaps you now have a family and find spending time with them more enjoyable and rewarding than creating art. It’s OK to choose a new goal over an old goal. People will accuse you of letting your dreams pass you by. Let them. You know you’ve made a deliberate choice by comparing the costs and rewards of going for the goal. Free yourself from old or unreasonable goals.

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