Will Elon Musk Ever Go to Mars

Well, not with that attitude. This would probably be a good post in January around New Year’s Resolution time, but nothing is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it; and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. There seems to be several trains of thought on the subject. One is to set realistic goals so you get a feeling of accomplishment. Another would suggest setting the biggest goals you can imagine. And the final idea would be to never set goals in the first place.

In my mind, setting realistic goals to instill a sense of accomplishment meshes well with what I’ve leaned from Caspar Craven and Jesse Itzler; celebrating small victories. An Instagram follower recently asked Jesse how he overcame setbacks while building a business. His response was celebrating the small victories where found gave him the determination to keep going. But, Michael Hyatt warns small goals are like sailing too close to the shore though and sap motivation. He says we all have a strong, built-in bias against loss. Not achieving a goal can feel like a loss. We’re then tempted to set small goals we can easily reach. Once reached, we’re likely to slack off; and in an effort to avoid loss, we end up accomplishing much less than we’re capable of.

Dan Peña recommends setting up bodacious goals and dreaming big. Think of Dan as having Winston Churchill as your Drill Sergeant. Years of wisdom and experience delivered like a punch to the gut. Dan’s advice is to set goals you think you will never achieve in your life. Dreaming big will drive you to push yourself further.

And finally there’s the idea of not setting goals at all. Build a ‘talent stack’ instead. Scott Adams explains goal setting with a good story about an archer on horseback, in a rainstorm, trying to hit a moving target. You might actually hit it, but if you don’t, you’ll feel like a failure. His solution is to build a talent stack. Become really good at two or three complimentary things and you’ll often find success at their intersection. Scott says he’s never the funniest guy in the room, he’s not the best artist in the world, nor is he the best writer. But the intersection of his particular talent stack gave us Dilbert. This is compelling stuff. And those archers who do manage to hit the target? Scott says they write books about it to sell you on how to reach your goals!

Which course of action will work best for you? I’m not sure, though I don’t think these strategies are mutually exclusive. Set some huge goals. Dream big. People probably laughed at Elon Musk 25 years ago when he said he wanted to go to Mars. Yet of all the people you’ve heard say they want to go to Mars, I’d bet Elon is on the top of your list as having the best chance of actually doing it. So, dream big. Write down those bodacious goals, celebrate those small victories where you find them, and work on building your talent stack. You really have nothing to lose.