Unrealistic Goals. Is That Even a Thing?

I talk a lot about the importance of planning your business. Most of us didn’t really start with a plan, we just got carried along by the tide when someone else told us the, “You should so sell those!” line. One day we had a fun hobby the next day we were feeling burned out and thinking that we NEVER want to open another bag of flour again. Fair to say that for most of us, business planning never really came into it. The good news is, it’s never too late to plan or to put structures in place. The better news is, it’s the power behind having a plan which frees you up to get shit done and then make BIGGER plans.

When you sit down to decide the kind of business you’re building, or the way it might look or the space it might occupy, usually FEAR keeps you from trying to meet super scary goals. You write down that it would be nice to get $100 per order when secretly, you want your average order to be closer to $300. You write down that you just want a little coffee shop, when in your head it’s a coffee shop slash bookstore slash place which employs and teaches the underprivileged. You write down that you’d like to appear in a cake magazine, when really…you want the cover.

The brave among us might mention these big fat hairy scary goals to someone whose opinion matters. That someone might say, “Go for it!” but that someone might also say, “Are you kidding me? That’s a totally unrealistic goal.” Before you know it, they’ve popped your bubble of joy and the image in your head of you holding that magazine cover disappears in a poof of confectioner’s sugar. Poof. GONE.

I mean how DARE YOU to dream big?

Truth is, when people do that to you – burst your joy bubble – they’re not trying to be mean or horrible (okay that biatch Cousin Shelley, she might be. Most people aren’t though. She’s still kinda bitter that you’re a natural blond and hers comes from a bottle but whatever.) Most people are expressing their OWN fears – about money, about security, about leap taking…about a zillion and one things which have nothing to do with you.

So – ignore that shit and focus back on your own awesome. Now that we know others don’t matter when it comes to dream making, how do you know if you’ve set unrealistic goals? How do you know if what you want to have happen is even possible or if you’re just kidding yourself?

BIG GIANT THING I BELIEVE: ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, AND THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS UNREALISTIC GOALS. Anybody who tells you otherwise is simply expressing their own scaredy-cat selves and their own therapy-worthy issues…which is cool. Just don’t get sucked into that crap.

You might think, but Michelle, surely there are some goals which are unrealistic simply because there are factors outside of my control. I’d like to marry both George Clooney and Nigella Lawson but sadly George is taken and I think Nigella is too and I’m not sure how well either of them feel about threesomes. So yeah, I’d probably think that’s unrealistic…but is that really a goal? I think that’s more of a fantasy (with apologies to my husband.)  I’d also like to wake up tomorrow morning 50 pounds lighter without having to do anything but sleep…but again, that one probably falls under the “fantasy” category.  That being said, I truly do live my life as though ALL THINGS are possible, and I’ve endeavoured to engineer and do things in my life in such a way as to get what I wanted. Difference is, I engineer and create the dreams into GOALS, PLANS, AND ACTION.  I don’t do that for the fantasies. (Although George or Nigella, if you’re reading this, email me! Let’s talk. Or kiss. Or whatever really.)

Oftentimes the pathway to getting what we want is messy, uncomfortable, costs more than we think, takes longer than we think and is harder to do than we hope.  Progress is progress though, so as long as you are moving forward, that’s making the unrealistic suddenly realistic and attainable.

Right now, your situation might seem dire. There might be MANY circumstances beyond your control – but there are surely SOME things which ARE in your control and those are the ones you work with to help you get to where you want to go. So no, I can’t wake up thinner but I CAN wake up and go for a walk, pre-pack a healthy lunch, and choose to say NO when someone offers me “just a small slice” of cake. And no, now, maybe I can’t afford the pink-and-doilies storefront, but I CAN start saving up, I can buy a few doilies as I can afford them, and I can start to learn what commercial rents cost in my area. The ACTION – however small – is what transforms unrealistic goals into reality.


The best example of living this kind of life can be found in the truly incredible speech by Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture. Watch it in its entirety and then ask yourself if there really is such thing as an unrealistic goal.

Hint: There isn’t.

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