The Difference Between Setting Goals and Striving for the Ideal

When you first set a goal, it is very easy to get demotivated when you look at the ideal image you have in your mind of what the this will look like once it’s achieved. Imagine if your goal is to climb Mount Everest and you are always focused on the end goal and never take time to look back on what you have already accomplished. When you measure the distance between where you are and that ideal vision to determine how far you have left to go things can seem insurmountable.

This is a great way to get demotivated, discouraged, and down on yourself.

Instead, consider a different approach that will have you staying positive on a consistent basis.

Setting achievable goals and measuring backward.

There is a right way and a wrong way to set goals and to measure your progress. Simply put, your ideals should be used only as a way of illuminating your specific, measurable, tangible goals. If you use your ideal as your goal, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. Use your ideal vision and then break that down to set goals you can actually achieve.

Then, when you measure your progress, the key to staying positive, inspired, and motivated is to look backward to your starting point and measure from there to where you are now to see all the growth and improvements you’ve made. If you measure forward, toward your ideal, you’ll be disheartened by how far you have left to go, because, ultimately, the ideal is a constantly moving target and not achievable anyway.

Here are four benefits of measuring backward instead of forward:

  1. A sense of accomplishment. You gain a real sense of accomplishment that keeps you in the positive zone and appreciating your actual achievements and improvements rather than perpetually striving for unachievable perfection.
  2. A new way of viewing your past.You acquire the ability to look at your past achievements through a new lens and appreciate the real progress you made and goals you achieved. Past progress that may have seemed disappointing to you when you were measuring forward instead of backward is now transformed in your mind so you can see your achievements more clearly, giving you renewed confidence now.
  3. Increased confidence. This renewed confidence from knowing that you made progress in the past has you staying positive and optimistic that you can do it again in the future and achieve even bigger goals, especially now that you know how to measure properly going forward.
  4. Strategy for setting goals. You have a new understanding of the purpose of your ideals and how to use them to illuminate your path and set achievable goals. Your ideals can keep growing and getting even more exciting and motivating, allowing you to set even bigger goals in the future.

By making these simple switches in your mind to set achievable goals and measure backward instead of forward, you’ll see that staying positive and motivated is easy. And if you find yourself striving after ideals or getting in a negative zone by looking at how far you have left to go to achieve your vision, just remind yourself to flip the switch. It’s a mindset shift that takes practice but in time will become a habit. Share this strategy with others, and you’ll be surrounded by positive, energized people as you work toward your bigger future goals.


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