On the heels of President Barack Obama’s fourth State of the Union address, I’m pondering the power of huge, if seemingly unattainable, goals.
Before both chambers of Congress, the President renewed calls for increased gun control, immigration reforms and making a solid deal on deficit reduction. He also offered proposals for job creation, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and promoting education. And though some of these ideas have bipartisan support, many of them also sounded a bit like pie in the sky or too far-fetched to ever really win support.
But that’s OK. Just as the President wants to inspire Congress and Americans in general to tackle the tough tasks that confront us, it’s also up to young entrepreneurs and startup founders to project equally ambitious ideals. After all, who knows what we can achieve if we set our sights high enough, right?
To put this plan in motion, here are five ways to both set and achieve outsize goals:
1. Establish big and small goals. Actualizing your vision is all about setting goals. Obviously, you need a routine of daily goals that correspond to larger weekly goals that relate to your even larger monthly goals, and so on. Setting easily achievable, realistic goals is great, but they should be set in conjunction with immense aspirations -- a.k.a. goals that seem impossible but challenge and inspire you.
2. Be practical. A big goal doesn’t have to mean achieving energy independence. Obviously, as a young entrepreneur you don’t have the resources of an entire nation behind you. A big goal should be big for you. Maybe something just a little out of reach. The big goal functions as an inspirational tool. By striving to hit a target that is very far away, you’ll be forced to come up with a variety of creative ideas and inventive tactics.
3. Aim for simplicity. A big goal shouldn’t be needlessly complex. Your mission to become an industry leader, for instance, should be summed up in as few as a single sentence. Sure, the execution may be complicated, but your idea should be lucid and simple enough to continually encourage you and your team. But don’t confuse clarity with lack of risk. Being an entrepreneur is all about risk-taking. If you’re not comfortable with living on the edge, it’s not the path for you. Think big, imagine grand possibilities and take those risks with excitement and dedication.
4. Divide and conquer. Mange your huge goals by breaking them down into smaller parts. Every action you take should be contributing in some way to these larger ideas. To this end, communicate often about how to start taking these baby steps, and provide ample resources to you and your team. Though everyone may have a separate role to play, you should all be aiming for the same target.
5. Identify weaknesses and strengths. Another reason for setting huge goals is you’ll begin to locate areas in need of improvement. You’ll be forced to move fast, not look back and strive toward success. When you’re working this hard, your weaknesses will be revealed and you can jump on them immediately. You’ll also notice in which areas you’re particularly strong. By clarifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can become a more effective entrepreneur.
So what’s your outsize goal? Let us know what it is and how you hope to achieve it in the comments.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.