Setting Stretch Goals: All In, All the Time
“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation's call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed.” -- The Navy SEAL Creed
Sometimes setting goals requires putting yourself in a vulnerable position. You’re probably familiar with the term stretch goals. By definition, you’re stretching yourself beyond what your mind might think is safe.
After I graduated from SMU, I took a job as a financial analyst at one of the largest commercial real estate firms in in the world. I was bored and didn’t feel like I was challenging my mind or my body. My college buddy was determined to join the Navy, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. Up to that point, I hadn’t even thought of pursuing that path in life. As we kept talking about it, however, I got excited about the prospect of giving myself the ultimate challenge. I quit my job and joined the Navy. I put myself in a totally vulnerable position: no job, no income, no guarantee of success. But it felt right. I was going to become a SEAL.
Maybe your stretch goals don’t call for an abrupt life change like mine did, but you should push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and proceed with the mindset that you will not fail. Here are a few tips that helped me with my goals:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. When pursuing your stretch goals, eliminate as many obstacles as possible before you even start. SEAL training is the toughest mental and physical challenge the United States military offers. I knew I could control the fitness portion of training by showing up in the best physical condition possible. Before reporting to BUD/S (the initial six-month SEAL training course), I moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, for four months to train at 10,000 feet. It worked. My body never let me down during training. That freed me up to deal with the many other obstacles before me.
2. Make sure your risk has a reward. Don’t take risks for the sake of being bold. Take calculated risks that will generate a large return. I knew that becoming a SEAL would forever change the direction of my life in a positive way. SEALs are the most driven, goal-oriented people I have ever met. My training and service have made me a better leader and a more aggressive entrepreneur.
3. Don’t let other people talk you out of it. When I told people I was quitting a good job to join the Navy in pursuit of a highly unrealistic goal (90 percent of SEAL candidates fail), you can imagine the response. My plan was met with mass skepticism. Take all the advice that you want, but in the end, it’s your decision. Trust your gut.
4. Surround yourself with people who support your goal. When I set my goal of becoming a SEAL, I immediately surrounded myself with supportive people. My buddy and I moved to Colorado together to train. Align yourself with people who share a common vision. And identify trusted advisers--people who might not always agree with you, but will always support your decision.
5. Don’t have a backup plan. Prepare for success. I talk quite a bit about the importance of contingency planning, but with stretch goals, sometimes it is good to not have a backup plan. We have a saying in the SEAL teams: “All in. All the time.” Never once did I think, “Well if I don’t make it, I will just…” Set your stretch goals with an absolute refusal to believe you will fail.
Are you prepared to push yourself in 2013? Do you have an aggressive plan to get somewhere, rather than just a wish to end up there?
Let me know what your stretch goals are, and let’s discuss.