In today’s hyper-connected world it is easy to get lost in the forest of overwhelming flow of emails, social networking or just trying to complete your daily ‘to do’ list of mandatory maintenance. But goals that only keep us afloat do not help us grow. So it’s time to get back to the basics of how to set ‘stretch goals.’
We are goal-seeking creatures who sometimes forget that being busy does not necessarily translate as being productive. Goals are absolutely necessary and absolutely limiting: Fears can subconsciously manipulate us to think small, put a ceiling on our possibilities or limit us by keeping us stuck in a status quo box.
Stretch goals help lead us to something bigger. So, what is your dream? Identify it now, create your stretch goal and follow these tips to help you grow, soar and achieve exceptional success:

1. Once you have set a stretch goal, stop and ask yourself – How can I now make this goal bigger, better, brighter, more fulfilling and more exciting? By asking that question, you can recognize and break through fear, guilt and old self-limiting beliefs from the past.
2. Recognize that setting a stretch goal has a built-in possibility of failure. Prepare yourself by asking – What is the worst that can happen and am I willing to have it happen? And what steps can I take now to buffer myself against failure?
3. Make sure your stretch goals are realistic. Fantasy and reality are two different animals. Your mind is designed to seek answers and solutions. If your goal is unrealistic, you set yourself up for frustration and disappointment. When your stretch goal is realistic, your subconscious comes up with workable solutions to overcome barriers and problems.
4. Make sure each stretch goal is explicit, has a deadline and a time frame. By doing so, you set your subconscious on a course to complete a doable task.
5. Write your goal down or type it into computer. Expressing your goal in words is absolutely necessary because – it crystallizes your thinking.
6. Create an action plan. A stretch goal must be broken down into small, achievable steps. This makes your ideal outcome measurable and – you can celebrate each successful step you complete.
7. Goals must remain flexible – You must remain flexible. You change. The world changes and circumstances change. You can re-mold and re-craft your stretch goal as long as you remain true to your values. Very little in this life is achieved by moving in a straight line. We often have to shift and slip around obstacles, learn and re-learn to get back on course.
8. Live in the result. Mentally rehearse your goal – as if you have already triumphed. The success of achieving a stretch goal depends on conditioning your brain and your nervous system in advance. The reality is that you notice what you have conditioned yourself to see. Visualize, visualize, visualize clear, vivid and emotionally based mental movies or visualizations of your stretch goal at least twice a day. See your goal as already complete. Live in the result!
9. Create an action plan and take action every day. As a friend of mine says, success is achieved down in the trenches. Making it happen is neither sexy nor easy. It takes consistency, tenacity, perseverance and support.
Follow these tips and you give yourself a tremendous edge to achieve exceptional success – mentally, physically, spiritually emotionally and socially.

James Mapes is the creator of Quantum Leap Thinking™ and the Transformational Coach™. He, is a international business speaker, peak performance coach and best-selling author.