Have You Set Yourself Up for Mediocrity?

The Equally High Price of Low Expectations

I wrote recently about the dangers of setting your goals out of reach. (Have You Set Yourself Up For Failure?) One commenter correctly noted the “delicate balance” between over-reaching and “not pushing yourself hard enough.”

The flip-side of lofty, unattainable goals that do little more than discourage is setting the bar so low you stifle growth.

I studied classical ballet throughout most of my childhood, but classes were typically contained to the school year. One year, my mother signed me up for summer classes. Due to the smaller number of students, the class to which I was assigned was more advanced than my skill level.

I grew frustrated. I cried. I couldn’t keep up with the older girls. But after several weeks, guess what? I improved. I stuck with it. I tried my best, and by golly, I became a better dancer.

Little Ballerinas

Maybe your goals shouldn’t drive you to tears of frustration. But maybe, in the short term, it’s okay if they do. Leadership guru Michael Hyatt offers some inciting tips on discerning whether your goals are challenging or just crazy.

There are lots of reasons we fail to reach goals. Here are some obvious ones:

  1. They’re set too high.
  2. We lack determination.
  3. We don’t have the tools to accomplish them.
  4. We take an all-or-nothing approach and throw in the towel.

But what if your goal is not challenging enough? These are goals, right? The point is to stretch.

Sometimes it’s the big challenges that make us pull up our knickers and step up to the plate. The kind of challenge that makes you set your jaw, steel your determination, and decide once-and-for-all, I’m going to do this.

In late 2010, I decided to give National Novel Writing Month a shot. I had toyed with the idea over several weeks but never had a burning desire to write a novel. Nor had I ever written anything longer than a twenty-five page school paper I’d penned more than twenty years earlier. In other words, I had no business attempting to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

Despite the numerous times I glanced at my pitiful word count and blundered on, creating a hot mess that had virtually no chance of being published, I did it. I wrote more than the minimum 50,000 words and went on to complete the novel. (After four years and umpteen revisions, it’s begun to look like something that could find an audience.)

You know yourself better than anyone. Are you stretching too high? Or are you walking the path of least resistance, comfortable in your complacency? Your answer might vary from goal-to-goal.

If you’re like me, maybe you just need one person to say “you can’t,” and come hell or high water, YOU WILL.

Maybe you need to sweat a little more. Endure a little more discomfort and self-doubt. Push yourself to the limits.

Sometimes you really should just do it. The results may surprise even you.

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

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2 thoughts on “Have You Set Yourself Up for Mediocrity?

  1. Bob Wiley says, “Baby Steps.” I agree with you that people set lofty goals with out the skills to get them there. Many people don’t know how to break goals down into reasonable obtainable step.

  2. Pingback: Why I’m Grateful My Mom Signed Me Up For Ballet | Carolyn Astfalk

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