Why difficult goals are worth it

By Nicole Webb 07 April 2020 3 min read

Clarifying and setting goals could be considered the bedrock to navigating your financial security.

Childhood dreams and goals

When you're younger it's common to have overly ambitious, if not completely unrealistic goals.

And over time, you're pushed through life's conveyor belt of reality where your hopes and dreams are usually reined in to fit what's acceptable, realistic and probably expected.

If you plotted your adult goals onto a spectrum from practical/conservative on one end to the ludicrously ambitious on the other, it's likely your goals are scattered towards the practical end.

It's more likely your aim is to pay off your mortgage rather than create your own car company.

Regardless of where your goals sit, it’s informed by your values, what drives you and what's important to you.

Adulthood and our goals

Some of the most inspiring life mantras relate to the idea of mercilessly chasing your dreams.  That is, at the ludicrously ambitious end of our goals.

A sample of the best goal inspo for the overly ambitious includes:

  • What would you do, if you knew you couldn't fail?
  • Growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone
  • One life. Just one. Why aren't we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?

And these all sound great in theory. But in practice, how do you reconcile this thinking with the practicalities of everyday life?

Importantly, why in the heck would you throw caution to the wind if you are already on the path to financial security?

Well again, it all depends on what you want and how this aligns with your values.

It's well known a formulaic plan can get you on the path to financial security.

But the most successful people are sometimes the ones who stray from tradition and aim higher, with very ambitious goals.

If you float at this end of the spectrum, here's what you can learn from setting the bar (obnoxiously) high for yourself:

1.  Change what you believe is possible

The expected path tends to be:

  • Go to school
  • Score solid grades
  • Complete a university degree
  • Land a reasonable job
  • Score financial security

In fact, this doesn't sound like a bad idea to us.  Most of us follow this sensible plan and that's totally okay.

But some of the most successful people have deviated from this formulaic plan, and forged their own path.

When you think big; you force your mind to challenge itself and can begin to conceptualise new ways of doing things.

Take for instance the university drop-out who became one of the world's best technology developers and the world's third richest person.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard drop-out who started his empire with the HarvardConnection (a purpose-built social networking site for Harvard-only students to connect).

But Zuckerberg thought bigger, he envisioned and implemented the roll out of the social networking site to the rest of the world.

2.  Force yourself to learn quickly and adapt

Setting big goals forces you to try a bunch of different methods of doing things and to make mistakes — all of which exist because you're pushing yourself to meet an ambitious goal.

So, you take on more learning opportunities and are more adaptable.

3.  You learn to perform in difficult circumstances

American historian and philosopher Will Durant said "we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

When you continuously stretch yourself, encountering adversity and difficult times becomes less uncomfortable because you establish a tolerance and in-built perseverance.

4.  Failure offers key learning opportunities

Speaking purely from a statistical perspective, when you set yourself impossible goals, the odds aren’t in your favour.

But if you take calculated risks and fail, at the very least you have gained a valuable learning experience.

What do you want out of life?

It comes down to your personal values, and how they inform your decisions.

You choose your own destiny and the goals that support it.

You may be comfortable with following a formulaic plan to reach financial security.

But if you want financial independence or financial freedom, then pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is where you'll need to get comfortable.

Why difficult goals are worth it