Abandoning a goal. Ouch! For achievement-oriented folks, that’s a tough idea to swallow. But are there times when it might be the right thing to do? I’d say yes, actually. Here’s why.
I love audacious goals. And aiming high can often take you much farther than you might otherwise have reached. So it’s hard to reconcile a basic philosophy that “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” with giving up on a goal. And yet…sometimes that’s the right decision.
Circumstances may have changed since you initially set your goal. Life events, market conditions, new laws, environmental changes all could impact your ability to achieve a goal. Or perhaps the goal was not as well thought out as it might have been. right from the start.
When you find yourself faced with the difficult decision about whether to continue pursuing a goal or not, here are some things to consider:
- Is it realistic? I might set a goal to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics, but if I’ve done nothing up to this point to prepare, it’s not remotely realistic that I’d achieve that goal.
- What will it cost to achieve? Not only financially, but physically and emotionally as well. History is filled with examples from the military, where one side or the other “wins the battle, but loses the war,” because too much was sacrificed in order to win the battle. And how many businesses can you think of that expanded too quickly or too broadly, only to have to pull back and then struggle to regain their pre-expansion levels?
- Can the goal be modified? Are there changes that would make the goal more realistic, and still worthy of achieving? For example, while my goal of competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics is completely unreasonable, the goal of running a marathon might be more realistic.
Make it a habit to think through these questions when first setting a goal and you’ll be far less likely to face a decision to abandon that goal later on.