Why You Need to Aim High and Set Big Goals in Everything You Do

Magic Happens Push Yourself Set High Goals

How often do you push yourself? Do you aim high in everything you do?

You’ve heard of S.M.A.R.T goals, correct?

In order not to set yourself for failure, experts tell us, you need to pick goals that are smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented.

This makes sense, of course. But here is the wrinkle— S.M.A.R.T goals were created as a managerial tool in organizations. On a personal level, easily achievable aspirations are demotivating. “Easy” doesn’t equal “fulfilling.” Often, it doesn’t even give you a temporary burst of happiness.

There is just something about working hard to achieve what you aim for and getting it. Oh, the high you feel!

One of the most important (but perhaps somewhat neglected) ingredients for the successful completion of anything we set our minds on is what is known as the Pygmalion effect, or the power of positive expectations.

Related: Why Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day

As the story from Greek mythology goes, a legendary sculptor from Cyprus—Pygmalion— carved a statue of the ideal woman. He stared at her day and night, worshiping his creation. And he ended up falling in love with her. Then, at a festival for Aphrodite—the Greek Goddess of Love, he prayed that she sends his way a wife exactly like the statue. The Goddess heard his prayers and instead—she brought the sculpture to life. And they lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story is that positive reinforcement can lead to favorable outcomes.

Fast forward a few hundred centuries—to 1963. Social psychologist Robert Rosenthal created a test where he told a group of student lab workers that certain rats in the lab were “maze bright” while others were “maze dull,” when in fact the rats were separated between the groups randomly.

The results confirmed the hypothesis of the test—the students subconsciously treated the smart rats differently. That is, they expected them to behave more intelligently, and guess what –they did! They learned the mazes much faster than the “dull” rats.

Similar results were later done with school children. Rather amazingly, teachers’ higher expectations of some students (after being told they had the exceptional potential for growth) made the students perform better on tests when in fact, the test groups were formed at random.

The take-home idea here is this: expectations can alter reality.

Let’s take this a bit further and on a personal level.

Setting big goals and expecting of yourself to achieve them, can give you a much better chance of actually getting there. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy—by anticipating a certain positive or negative outcome, we may engage in behaviors to either improve or sabotage our chances to get there. [1]

This idea runs contrary to what we’ve been often advised by gurus and such—to not set big goals as we increase our odds of failing. Hairy goals are scary when we think about them in the absolute, yes. Even a bit stressful.

Related: Buddhism Reveals The Ultimate Mindset That Will Help You Achieve Your Goals

But at the same time, in order to do better, we need the scary and we need the discomfort. If all is great and rosy, then why change, right?

Therefore, you must aim high and set big Empire-state goals.

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Evelyn Marinof

Evelyn Marinoff is a writer. She researches and writes about the psychology behind confidence, happiness and well-being. You can find her pieces in Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TinyBuddha; Addicted2Success; Pick The Brain; The Quiet Revolution. Having struggled herself for years, Evelyn likes helping others to enhance their self-esteem and to learn self-acceptance. Evelyn is a Canadian, currently living in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband and son. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook.View Author posts