Should you reach for the stars with your goals or be more practical?

I’m a very optimistic person, so much so that realism often gets lost in the shuffle. For years, I made goals that were completely pie-in-the-sky and ungrounded from reality. My reasoning was that if I set my sights extremely high and hit 80% of that goal, I’d still be miles ahead where I would have been. Over the years, however, this strategy has taken its toll on me. The problem is that I’m a perfectionist and I tend to focus as much on the goal as the underlying accomplishment that I’m trying to achieve. So if i have a goal to buy ten properties in a year and I only buy eight, I’m depressed and I feel like I failed, even though I bought eight more properties in a year than the majority of people will buy in a lifetime.

I think the question you should ask is what kind of person are you? If you set a goal to lose 15 lbs this month and it comes down to it and you only have a week to go and you’ve only lost five pounds, are you motivated to push as hard as possible, knowing you won’t make it, or do you give up because you know you won’t make it? Are you motivated more by the success itself or the actual act of reaching your goals? Are you likely to blow past your goals and keep going or are you likely to hit your goal and then just taper off?

These questions may be difficult to answer, but they’ll be very useful as you try and determine how far to stretch yourself in your goals.

What about you? How do you set goals that are both realistic and force you to stretch to accomplish them?