‘Can I?’ versus ‘I can’ – mindset and limiting targets

A reflection about mindset and targets as limiters.

A none-business example that got me thinking last week. Over the last 9 months, I’ve been working with a personal trainer. In the last session, he had me working on pull ups and set me a target of four.

I failed on the fourth.

Psychologically, I had four as a target in my head, I was asking myself ‘Can I make it to four?’ or perhaps ‘I just need to make it to four and then I can stop’.

What would likely have been more helpful was to work with the mindset ‘I can do four’. If I had looked at it that way, I would have been horizon gazing, not hoping to make the line, but instead to exceed it.

There’s something here about limiting oneself by setting targets,

On further reflection – looking at lots of things I do in work and outside of it – I do this a lot. I sometimes unknowingly limit myself by setting targets.

It got me thinking…
– What do I do about this now?
– Who else does this?
– Where does this come from?

I’m a huge advocate for a plan, just ask the business leaders I work with. I believe there are huge benefits on creating a North Star – that long term goal towards which everything should propel you towards. I’ve seen how Internal stretch goals can be good motivators for people who want to perform, stay focused, and get engaged. But the key word here is ‘stretch’.

Bill Sanders, managing director of the operational-strategy consulting firm Roebling Strauss, Inc., said, that “Leaders focused on a specific goal tend to miss alternative ways to achieve the same or better results, ignore warning signs that the ‘engine is hot,’ and miss what they could have learned on the journey by only thinking about the destination,” he says.

It’s always worth analysing the other side of the coin, and I’ve seen that sometimes goal setting can lead to a narrow focus that may lead you to limit yourself and miss opportunities.

Take a look at your own goal or target setting? Is it limiting you or pushing you over the line and beyond?



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