You won't achieve ambitious goals by thinking small, but small steps are necessary to reach your dreams.
That's what I learned from Steven Kotler, one of the leading experts on workplace performance and author of the new book, The Art of Impossible. Kotler says his three-part strategy to achieving goals that seem impossible today is based on neuroscience and behavioral psychology.
Success has a formula and this is his.
Step 1: Identify your life's mission statement.
In an earlier book, Bold, Kotler and co-author Peter Diamandis introduced the concept of a massively transformative purpose (MTP). An MTP is the mission statement for your life. It fuels internal motivation and builds persistence in the face of adversity.
By definition, an MTP must be:
- Massive (it's large and audacious).
- Transformative (brings significant change to an industry, community, or planet).
- Purpose-driven (sets a vision that gives your life meaning).
Next, break up the mission statement into smaller chunks.
Step 2: Set high, hard goals.
According to Kotler, big goals significantly outperform small goals, medium-size goals, and vague goals. Kotler defines big goals as "high, hard goals." These are sub-steps that will help you accomplish your ultimate purpose or MTP.
For example, let's say your MTP is to discover sustainable ways to end world hunger. Your high, hard goals might be to get a degree in nutrition, to work for an organization in the field, and to start your own business.
High, hard goals should be challenging, but attainable. Otherwise, you'll always be stressed out and lose motivation.
Step 3: Write down clear daily goals.
High, hard goals might take years to achieve. They are the steps toward your life's mission. Clear goals are simply the tiny, daily steps that will help you accomplish the high, hard goals. While your life's mission statement and high, hard goals are on the horizon, clear goals are your daily to-do lists that will get you there.
Using the same example as before, a daily goal toward getting a degree in nutrition may be researching admission requirements or sending an application to a local university.
Kotler's definition of "impossible goals" are those dreams that do seem impossible in the moment: starting a business, changing an industry, or becoming a world-class CEO or successful entrepreneur.
But by following Kotler's three-part goal setting strategy, you may just achieve things others say are impossible.