“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success.” – James Cameron
Sometimes, you have to shoot for the moon to get something done that's actually worthwhile. Sometimes, small, periodic goals aren't enough to get us where we want to go.
Many self-help “experts” tell us to divide up our goals into small ones or to lower the bar, so that we can feel better about ourselves. It makes some sense, but it's not for everyone.
In fact, there are a few problems with this method:
  1. Small goals don't keep a lot of us motivated enough to keep working.
  2. Aiming low means that you constantly have to keep making new goals as well as adjustments to try and live up to.
  3. Small goals also keep progress slow and in many cases will lead to plateaus where there is no growth. If you don't reach that small goal, very little if any progress will be made, leading to frustration and other problems.
  4. You may never reach your full potential because you're not challenging yourself enough.



1. The effects on motivation

So, another thing many successful people will tell you is that you need to visualize your goals.

If you have a big, life-altering goal to visualize, you will be a lot more motivated to work towards it because you know how amazing it will be to accomplish it.

If you have a small goal, you may have a hard time consistently putting in the work because of the small difference it will make. Why work hard if not much will change?


2. How your decision-making will be effected

It's hard enough to make one firm decision to do something. It's even hard to make a lot of them throughout the year. Constantly changing goals and making new decisions makes it harder to stick to the long-term, ultimate goal.

It makes it too easy to get sidetracked. Plus, it requires a lot of discipline to have the big and small goals in mind all the time when you're taking actions in business, fitness, etc.

In other words, small goals can require more brain power for smaller rewards while also making your margin for error much smaller.



3. Slow progress, if any, might be the new norm

It's very difficult to reach any goal because a goal is, in many cases, something we have never done before.

If you come up just short on a big goal, you still probably made huge strides and achieved quite a bit.

But, if you come up just short when trying to reach a small goal, you might actually take a step backwards in your income, fitness, or whatever you're trying to work on.

Here's a perfect example from a famous movie

This lesson reminds me of a line in the movie, “American Sniper,”¬†where the main character played by Bradley Cooper is training as a sniper for the military.

Obviously, to be a sniper, you have to be a marksman with your rifle because lives are always on the line. So, when he is about to shoot a target in training, his superior tells him, “aim small, miss small.”

In other words, don't just aim for the target, aim for the smallest dot you can find within the bull's eye. This goal is so difficult, that you will use all your focus to try and hit that dot because anything less won't work.

And of course, when Bradley Cooper's character was told that, he hit a perfect shot right in the middle of the bull's eye.

His superior was trying to teach him that even if he slightly missed that nearly impossible goal, he would still make a very accurate shot. And, obviously it worked.



4. Reaching your potential requires difficult challenges

Have you ever played a video game, tried to learn a new sport, or do something else where you skipped right to one of the most challenging levels or opponents?

If you have, you probably noticed that you learned a lot from that valuable experience in a pretty short time.

Sure, you probably got your butt kicked, but you had learned a lot because you were forced to get to your highest level of performance quickly to even give yourself a chance for success.

You'd be surprised what the human body and mind are capable of. But, you'll never find out unless you give yourself challenges that really force you to sink or swim.




Try setting one big goal for the year in whatever area you most want to improve. It could be to lose 100 lbs, make $100k per year in your new business, become a black belt in a martial art, etc.

James Cameron took his own advice, and now he's an incredibly successful filmmaker. Just look at how well movies like the “Terminator” series and “Avatar” have done.

So, just aim high and do everything in your power to get to your goal. And if you don't quite reach that goal, at least you can say you did your best and lots of progress was made. And, that is worth celebrating.



Books by and about James Cameron:



Who is James Cameron?

James Cameron is a famous filmmaker known for movies like “Titanic,” “Avatar,” and “Terminator”. He's also a philanthropist and deep-sea explorer.



if you set your goals ridiculously high and its a failure...


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Justin Bryant
Justin Bryant

I'm an entrepreneur, fitness freak, artist, car enthusiast, sports fan and self improvement addict. My goal is to help people be their best and create incredible businesses that change the world.

    1 Response to "“If You Set Your Goals Ridiculously High and It’s a Failure…”"

    • Josh

      Hey Justin,
      I like the idea James Cameron presents in this article. If you shoot high, you are bound to get great things done along the way.
      I enjoy your blog and look forward to reading your content in the future.

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