What’s Your Impossible Goal?

Quick question: Which is the greatest rock band of all time?

A pencil erasing the "im" from impossible

Image credit: ekostsov

What came to mind? The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Metallica? Queen? Kajagoogoo?

These are all fantastic answers - except maybe Kajagoogoo, but then again I am unfamiliar with their catalog so I could be wrong - but they are all incorrect.

The greatest rock band of all time is unquestionably the Canadian power trio known as…


Okay, I get it; it's a subjective question. There is no absolute answer, so you are not wrong.

But Rush is my favorite band of all time. I won't go on and on here talking about how amazing they are (but I could). If you'd like to hear some of their music, I created a YouTube playlist called "Intro to Rush" (click the link to check it out).

Rush is known for writing very complicated, very difficult-to-play music (and for a lead singer whose voice some people say sounds like a chipmunk). 

I was watching a documentary about them, and they were being interviewed after writing one of their most complex albums - Hemispheres. When reflecting back on the album, the drummer said, “When we wrote those songs, we were writing music that was beyond us.”

That quote stuck in my mind. He was saying, in essence, that when they wrote those songs, they could not yet play them. They had to learn, practice, and improve until they were good enough to be able to play those songs.

What Does This Mean For You and Me?

So how do we, who likely aren’t musical virtuosos, apply this tenet to ourselves?

It’s simple, really: by setting an “impossible” goal - a goal we don't currently know how to achieve.

I know what you’re thinking: “That's ridiculous! Why would I want to do that? Is this Avish chap off his rocker?”

Perhaps - I am an improv comedian after all. But hear me out.

 You see, setting a goal like this gives us the opportunity to learn, grow, improve, and use our creativity to figure out how to achieve it.

I’d like to challenge you to say "yes, and" to yourself in 2024 by setting an “impossible” goal.

What’s Wrong with the Goals I Already Have?

Most goal-setting systems advocate setting SMART goals. That is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You've probably heard of this system. It's popular for a good reason: It works.

The problem is that the strength of this approach is also the weakness of this approach.

The point of setting a SMART goal is that you can then create a step-by-step plan for how to achieve it, and then you just go about working that plan, checking off each step until you achieve your goal. That’s the strength of this method. It’s like walking on a treadmill: logical, efficient, and…boring. No one wants to go through life feeling they are going nowhere on a treadmill, right?

Which is what simultaneously makes it the weakness of the method. When you don't have to think, you don't have to use your creativity. Using your creativity in an effort to achieve goals that matter to you is one of the best ways to stay motivated and engaged over the long haul.

When you set a goal you don't know how to achieve, you have to be creative. You have to brainstorm different ways to achieve the goal. You have to try things out and see if they work. And when they don't work, you have to learn and adapt and adjust and try again. You have to tweak and improve and grow. 

Maybe you go to sleep, and your subconscious works on it, and you wake up with an idea that you're excited to try. Perhaps a great idea comes to you while you’re in the shower. It could just be that inspiration strikes like a bolt from the blue. Now you’re excited to get to work on your goal because you have an idea you want to implement.

An Impossible Goal?? What If I Fail???

No worries, it happens. Achieving the goal is obviously what we want. But even if you don’t, three wonderful things can happen:

  1. You get engaged and feel a renewed motivation toward life and/or work.
  2. You will learn and grow and innovate as a person and/or professional.
  3. You will make progress - sometimes in the direction of a new and even better goal.

Important disclaimer: This has to be a goal you actually care about. It cannot be a goal you’re doing because you “should” or because it’s “strategically sound.” If you don't truly care about achieving the goal, if it doesn't fire you up, then setting an impossible goal will just overwhelm you and burn you out.

(So don’t be like me and set a goal of “I am going to run a 5K this year!” I hate running for exercise. But it was something I thought I should do that would help me be healthier. Naturally, I was back on my couch two weeks later, indulging in a box of Oreos and luxuriating in my decision to not run anymore…)

Get Ready to Say “Yes, And!” to Yourself in 2024

So as you prepare for 2024, go ahead; make your resolutions, set your SMART goals, lay out your yearly plan!

But also spend some time considering an impossible goal. What is the music I can write that is beyond me? What is the big "yes, and" I can say to myself that I don't know how to do right now but I'm committed to figuring out?

If you're uncertain about how to do this, I can help! I am presenting a free, live webinar on January 4th that will take a deep dive into this. I’ll cover the power and importance of these kinds of impossible goals, walk you through accessing your creativity to come up with innovative solutions, and give you lots of hands-on time to do the work of figuring out what your next “impossible” goal should be. You can learn more and sign up for it on this page.

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