Should we be setting our goals bigger, or making them more achievable?

Should we be setting our goals bigger, or making them more achievable?

by Pamela Ng 13 Feb 2020

Goals give us the drive and motivation to carry on and accomplish whatever we are doing. But at the same time, setting realistic goals that are feasible allows us to keep our morale high. Does that mean that a dream can indeed be “too big”? How realistic should our goals be?


  • Baby steps

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so neither should your success. For anything you do, do it with a bigger end-goal in mind. That being said, it is more productive and beneficial to set small goals. For starters, there is a higher chance of success when it comes to achieving smaller goals within a shorter timeframe, giving us a sense of accomplishment that helps keep us motivated and optimistic. Also, they help us to realise the need to adjust and adapt our plans whenever necessary.

  • Multiple methods

Does your goal only allow for one avenue of approach? If your choice of goal automatically limits your options or if your immediate environment is what proves to be constraining, then your odds of success will see a sharp decline. Being able to approach a problem from multiple angles not only gives you higher chance of achieving your goal, but also gives you a better perspective of things. The ideas one tends to come up with when backed into a corner usually aren’t the best ones.

  • Rate of failure

If you’ve had to endure failure after despite your best efforts and exploration of every single available option, then you might want to reassess the practicality of your goal. Persistence is commendable, but bashing your head repeatedly against a concrete wall will only result in a waste of resources. Realising that something isn’t working and moving on to another approach; that takes courage too. Know that sometimes, some things are simply not meant to be.

  • Acceptance

No matter what we do, there will always be someone else better than us. As a Chinese proverb goes, “There will always be a higher mountain.” It isn’t because we are unwilling to learn or that we are lazy; it is simply because “best” will always be a subjective standard. Furthermore, there will be some who are born with an innate talent or skill that cannot be taught or trained, giving them a natural edge over the rest of the competition. The sooner we make peace with this, the sooner we can let go of a goal that is unrealistic not in expectation, but in nature.


Aiming to swim a 100m breaststroke in one minute is one thing; aspiring to breathe underwater without aid is another. Having a goal is important, but keep in mind that it’s in your own best interest that you are able to succeed in achieving said goal. Failure may be an essential part of success, but it shouldn’t come needlessly. Goals, like everything else in life, come at a cost. Make sure that it’s a cost worth paying.