How to set stretch goals

How to Set Stretch Goals

What is a stretch goal?

Stretch goals are designed to stretch your comfort zone and to push you further to achieve more. They are very popular on crowdfunding websites as a way of creating “levels” or tiers because often the owner has no idea what they will reach in their campaigns. The key is both learning how to set stretch goals but also keeping track of the progress to help achieve them.

Google founders Larry and Sergey had a secret room in which they used to go and meet Elon Musk. They would brainstorm crazy ideas in a safe environment, without interruption or fear of failure. One of the key aspects of this process is to schedule the time to create the space both in your calendar and then in your mind.

Your challenge is to set aside 30-60 minutes in your own “secret room” for some big thinking to create a stretch goal you would like to achieve in the next three months.

While not quite blue sky thinking you can get quite creative, thinking of something that is achievable but also would create a significant enough impact on you or your business when achieved, to motivate you to try it. This is where you have the potential to level up and accomplish something that you may have been procrastinating for a while.

Just remember that there is a delicate balance when setting this type of goal. Make the task too difficult, and you’ll give up quickly because it just won’t feel achievable to you. The same if it’s too easy. We’ve covered this before, but it also helps if it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Use Psychology

Using psychology can help you achieve your goal. Here are the top 5 tips to help you:

  1. Visualize the Outcome First — The only way to know if you have achieved something is to have a clear picture of the intended outcome. Anything ever invented, made, or sold was once just a concept. Then, it was formed from an idea into something more tangible – so it’s critical that you don’t skip this step.
  2. Make the goal seem closer from the start — scientists have discovered that the closer your goal seems, the faster you move towards it. According to research, the 70% mark is a magical motivational place, and celebrating a 70% progress gives you a big boost to cross the finish line. Start with a few easy wins to get the 1st 5-10% of the goal done. That way your goal already feels closer.
  3. Make success seem more likely — We work harder when goals seem closer, but we also work harder when they seem more achievable. What support can you put in place to make your goal more likely to be achieved? What rewards or other incentives can you build it to keep you motivated and what can you do to track your progress.
  4. Make the work seem easier — We all have limited amounts of cognitive energy, and you’re probably depleting yourself in ways you don’t realize. How can you make some of the more difficult tasks seem easier? Tackle them first thing in the morning when you are at your most alert and productive.

    Your final challenge is to think about what it would mean to you when you achieve that goal. Visualize the outcome and the impact it will have – this should help keep you excited and motivated along the way.
  5. Allocate the right amount of time — Most of us are quite poor at working out how long something will take us. We massively underestimate our productivity. So it’s really important to try and accurately set the timeframe for your stretch goal. Because it’s a challenging goal, it will take a significant amount of time. If it were just a quick solution you would have done it by now and also it would not meet these criteria. So think of a reasonable amount of time to complete this (and then add 50 or even 100% to that figure).

Example of a Stretch Goal

WHAT: Start a Podcast in 3 months.
HOW: Identify the format of the Podcast by researching what is already out there in the same space. Decide on a format, name, and frequency and write out a list of 10-20 potential initial guests.

Break down the project into daily or weekly milestones that are actionable and measurable. Include all the hardware and software required, and flesh out the basic templates and action plans required to begin.

Dive deeper into possible areas to exploit (existing relationships, people already connected who may be able to refer someone else). Work out the best “leverage” to give your stretch project the opportunity to flourish, not flounder. Write down the worst case scenario as this will help you overcome any fears and doubts you may have about commencing the project.

Get a little more granular now. E.G., Write out an outreach script (Initially generic but will be tailored to each guest) 90–120 minutes.  You want to get this right as it’s potentially a cold email and lower chance of success.

Customize and send emails with tracking software to view open rates and identify the most interested prospects.

Set any follow-up (Call, email sequence, etc.) to ensure that you have made every attempt to get your ideal guests onto your show.

Review the results (Daily/Weekly). Note the time you spend on the project. Did you make it a priority to work on your stretch goal above and beyond the daily tasks you already have in your routine?

Finally, think of someone who can help you with this. Do you know anyone that is in a similar space or can just help with an intro here or there?

So now you know both the formula and some handy hints and tips on how to set stretch goals and achieve them. It’s time to allocate the time and head off to your “secret room.”

“Remember there’s not much traffic when you go the extra mile. Learn to Impose your Will”
Inky Johnson