Everyone has goals they want to achieve in life. Some are modest and some are ambitious, but no matter who you are, you have to deal with a touch of low-grade anxiety about your ability to achieve them. Even people with loads of natural talent and virtually unlimited potential have doubts: that’s part of being human.
The way most people deal with this anxiety is by setting goals they know they can reach. I once listened to a podcast about how to get momentum, experience success, and practice achieving goals. This motivational speaker advised his audience to start simple.
Very simple. Like this:
Goal Number #1: Wake up tomorrow morning.
That way, he said, all you have to do is go to bed, sleep, then when the birds start chirping and you emerge from your slumber – BAM.
Goal achieved. You woke up.
It gave me a good chuckle. But I have to point something out:
That’s not how champions do it.
Reach Outside Your Comfort Zone
This common mistake keeps people from reaching maximum potential. Anxiety causes them to shrink away from ambitious goals. Instead they make goals they know are achievable. And when they do that, they’re stuck in a box. They don’t know their true functional capacity because they’ve never tested the edges of that box.
Here’s an insight I’ve gained from decades of helping true champions meet and exceed their goals:
Your true functional capacity is always greater than what you think it is.
To help my clients break this self-limiting habit, I set goals just above and beyond their self-perceived capacities. I create schedules and tasks designed to test their performance limits. This approach has three benefits:
- People gain experiential knowledge of their true capacity.
- People achieve goals beyond that they would have set for themselves.
- The low-grade anxiety around goals and achievement fades away.
Champions don’t hop out of the womb straight to the top step of a podium, the CEO’s chair, or a professional contract: they’re built, one goal at a time. They understand their limits, but only because they’ve actively sought them and attempted to surpass them.
You can do this, too: when you know your true capacity, you know what it will take to surpass that capacity. When you do that, your optimism elevates, your self-esteem expands, you achieve greater goals, and ultimately, you discover you can perform at a higher level than you imagined.