The Case for Setting Stretch Goals


At work and in life, it is important to have goals. Goals help to focus us, keep us moving forward. They let us know if we’re doing the right things, and doing them well.

But setting the right goals is a skill that many of us have yet to learn. When leading a team, how do you know if the goals you’re setting are the right ones? Are they too easy? Too hard? Does it matter?

While there is much debate about whether it is better to set goals that are more attainable or to use stretch goals that are often beyond the realm of possibility, no one debates the value in setting goals.

So if it is your job to set the goals for your team at work, you will need to decide how to set them.

The argument for setting stretch goals is a simple one.

First, people who set stretch goals define goals differently than those that set more achievable goals. If you are constantly exceeding your goals, they say, then you are not setting them high enough. Instead, goals should be used as motivation to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Stretch goals motivate a team to outperform expectations, rather than just live up to them. When you set goals that seem almost unattainable, you force your team to explore new opportunities and test new ways of doing things that they might have otherwise ignored. You bring out creative thinking and problem solving skills that might have been lying dormant.

Yesterday’s post presented the case for achievable goals.