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3 Things Smart People Know About Stretch Goals
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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So you have some goals to set for your company, a campaign for which you're raising money or a personal project or undertaking. Setting goals can be exciting, but how do you know where to set the bar?

Perhaps what you need is a target goal (what you genuinely need to achieve success) and a stretch goal (what you hope to achieve to surpass your own version of success).

Let's dive into what is a stretch goal, when you should use stretch goals, as well as the pros and cons of stretch goals.

What is a stretch goal?

Wondering, what is a stretch target or a stretch goal? A stretch goal is, simply put, a goal that exceeds your actual target. Stretch goals are the objectives that you set that aim to push you, your company or your campaign, further than you actually anticipate. The stretch goal you set is often assumed to be an impossible feat because it's so ambitious — or it'd at least set a new record for you if you can, indeed, achieve it, since you have never done it before.

Stretch goals push you or your team out of your comfort zone and are helpful because they can help you or your team to realize bigger and better wins.

When should you use stretch goals?

There are tons of times to set stretch goals. You can set stretch goals in any of the following circumstances (as well as other situations in your work and life). So, what are the types of goals?

  • Set a stretch goal when you want to create a tighter budget for your spending habits. If you think you can get away with only spending $1,500 a month on your apartment, utilities and living expenses, that would be your target. Your stretch goal, however, might be to only spend $1,000 a month — of course, your rent and some utilities bills will always be the same, but you can push yourself to cut back on unnecessary living expenses (like Netflix and heat, for examples).
  • Set a stretch goal to make a bigger profit from your business. Say, for example, you're selling T-shirts for $10 a shirt. It costs you $2 to make each shirt. You want to sell at least 50 shirts this month, which will cost you $100 to make and earn you $500 — so you'll profit $400 this month. That's your goal. But your stretch goal might be to double that — to sell 100 shirts, which would cost you $200 and earn you $1,000 — so you'd profit $800 for the month.
  • Set a stretch goal to lose more weight. If you're looking to shed some pounds, and you set a personal goal of losing one pound per week, it'd feel fantastic if you pull it off. Your stretch goal, however, might be to drop two pounds per week — of course, this isn't always doable (nor is it necessarily always healthy, depending on your unique situation), so meeting your stretch goal is exactly what it sounds like, a stretch that'll require more effort.
  • Set a stretch goal for your funding campaign. What are stretch goals on Kickstarter and other campaign funding websites? They're the goal that you personally set for yourself, but not the goal that you put on the actual campaign. For example, perhaps you ask people to help you raise $100,000 to launch your new product. Once you've raised that $100,000, your funders and followers alike will be notified that your campaign has reached its goal. But you may have a stretch goal of $500,000, and you may still be hopeful that you can raise even more for your product launch.

What are the pros and cons of stretch goals?

There are pros and cons of setting stretch goals in any area of your life.

The pros of setting stretch goals include the following:

  • Setting stretch goals can help you and your team to push yourselves outside of your comfort zones by stretching yourself a little further.
  • Setting stretch goals can help you and your team to envision the seemingly impossible, which can help you to manifest it, too.
  • Setting stretch goals gets you and your team thinking about down the line and the bigger picture.
  • Setting stretch goals motivates you and your team to think big.
  • Setting stretch goals can motivate and inspire you and your team to do more and work harder to exceed your own expectations.
  • Setting stretch goals can keep you and your team on pace and moving forward even after you've met your target goal.
  • Setting stretch goals encourages you or your team to shoot for the moon so, even if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars.

The cons of setting stretch goals include the following:

  • Setting a stretch goal may make you or your team feel like whatever that stretch goal is is actually impossible.
  • Your stretch goal should perhaps actually be your target goal. After all, if there's an inkling of a thought that you and your team can indeed achieve that goal, then why should it be your stretch goal instead of your actual goal?
  • Having a stretch goal could make hitting your actual goal feel less exciting and, therefore, less motivational for you and your team. Much of our motivation comes from appreciating wins, but, if we can't recognize those wins or they don't seem "good enough," we can easily burn ourselves out.

Whether you and your team are setting a stretch goal for a project at work, a campaign for which you're raising money or you'e doing it for a personal project or undertaking, just make sure to be realistic. After all, your stretch goal should still always be a "SMART" goal. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound in order to help you and your team create a concrete plan of action to achieve success.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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