The 2 deadly goal-setting mistakes are actually based on goal-setting strategies that work.

There are many schools of thought around goal setting. The most common one is the SMART Goals model (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).

SMART focuses on attainable goals that don’t set the bar too high. The goals you set using this model are practical and challenging. But they don’t have an additional sense of struggle and stress attached to them.

Another model is to set Stretch Goals. The idea behind this model is for you to set goals that are difficult (and maybe impossible) to achieve. You shoot for the moon and see just how high you can go as you aim to get there.

The reasoning is that when you set realistic SMART goals, you’re limiting yourself unnecessarily. You might not know your true potential because you set goals that are modest when compared to aiming for the moon.

Which Approach is Better?

Both approaches work. They become deadly goal-setting mistakes when used blindly without being sure which one works best for you!

So the answer largely depends on the type of person you are.

  • Are you motivated by success or fear of failure?
  • Does the fear of failure make you want to try harder?
  • Are you stubborn and resilient?
  • Do setbacks and missed milestones leave you anxious, deflated, and ready to give up?
  • Do you like to have realistic expectations and a clear understanding of where you want to go?

When you set SMART goals, you deliberately set targets you can achieve within the time limit you’ve selected.

On the other hand, stretch goals are designed to stretch your ability and fortitude. You create them based on the assumption you are going to fail by normal standards. However, if you can hit 65% – 75% of your audacious goal, that is a success.

Which of these two approaches increases your chances of success?

This is a conundrum because:

  1. Having the constant feeling that your goals are unreachable can undermine your performance and leave you frustrated. This also shakes your confidence and impacts your overall performance.
  2. On the other hand, if you play too safe with your goals, chances are high that you will not experience exponential success that is way beyond your expectations.

Research has revealed that setting moderately difficult goals gives you the best chance of achieving them. This is more in line with the SMART goal-setting model.

So if you’re more inclined to the SMART process, try adding one or two moderate stretch goals to your SMART goal list.

Personally, I prefer using a combination of SMART and Stretch goals. So I set SMART goals that also stretch me out of my comfort zone. I don’t aim for the moon, but I do aim higher than I would if I just set simple SMART goals.

How to Avoid Making These 2 Goal-Setting Mistakes

Now that you know the 2 deadly goal-setting mistakes, here are some tips on how to avoid them.

Take your current situation into consideration

Stretch goals are not a good idea if you’re under a lot of stress. For example, if you have:

  • Lost a major client.
  • Changed careers.
  • Started a new job or business.
  • Lost a loved one.
  • Lost a lot of money or had your savings/investments wiped out.
  • A new product launch or rebranding exercise coming up.
  • A new baby or a minor who has recently joined your family and needs time and attention as they adjust.
  • Elderly parents or other relatives you’re taking care of.

So while you’d want to grow through your goals, already being in a stressful personal, work, career, or business situation will only make the stretch goals stress you more.

On the other hand, adding stretch goals works very well when you:

  • Have relative stability in your life, at work, or in your business.
  • Have signed up new clients and feel great about it.
  • Enjoy your work and career and need a new challenge.
  • Have been operating your small business for a number of years and you’re ready to grow or scale.

If you’re in this positive space and are ready to grow, add one or two stretch goals and see what happens.

Take baby steps

What if you’re not ready to set stretch goals for your business?

This doesn’t mean that you cannot set stretch goals in other areas of your life or even in some sections of your business. Here are some examples:

  • Set a fitness goal that’s beyond your normal.
  • Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book…set a goal to do it this year.
  • Is there a product or service you’ve wanted to create? Start working on it this year.
  • Have you desired to work remotely from a different country or to try out an alternative workstyle such as being a digital nomad? Nothing is stopping you now.
  • Do you dream of becoming a voice-over artist?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve wanted to monetize? Why not start working on that in your free time?

Give yourself permission to aim for the moon while also being OK if you only hit 60-70% of your goal because hitting such percentages of a stretch goal is a success.

Try out a stretch goal in one area of your life. Make this goal one where it’s OK to fail and not hit it. Then go for it, give it your all, and reward yourself accordingly even if you don’t hit 100% of the goal.

Are You Making These Goal-Setting Mistakes?

Having read this far, which of these two mistakes is undermining your success? Do you aim too high or too low when you set your goals?

As I said earlier, most people prefer the SMART approach because it provides you with a clear roadmap and a sense of purpose, stability, and structure. You know where you’ve been and where you’re going.

You can also use SMART to get ready for setting stretch goals. Set your goals. Take incremental, productive steps toward them in the time you’ve allotted. You can always raise the bar once you’ve achieved your initial goal, pushing yourself to greater heights on your own terms.


Ready to learn a step-by-step process to set SMART goals that also stretch you a little bit?

I have 2 programs that will help you set goals that challenge you, narrow your goals down to actions steps that keep you focused, and turn your action steps into manageable tasks that will get the job done – day by day.

1. Goal Setting Masterclass

Setting goals is the first step in making your business dreams a reality. Harness the power of goal-setting in your daily life in this 8-week e-course.

  1. Prioritize goals that challenge and excite you.
  2. Take actions that keep you focused.
  3. Develop manageable tasks that will eventually get the job done.

When you know where you’re going and you have an effective action plan that you follow consistently, every step you take brings you closer to the achievement of your goals.

Find out more in the Goal Setting Masterclass.

2. Finish Strong Challenge

Do you find yourself losing momentum on your set goals as the year moves along? Would you like to have different results this year?

Join the Finish Strong Challenge and make breakthroughs in your business goals this year without losing out on time for what you love (family, friends, hobbies, etc).


(Image credit: Pexels)

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