Big unrealistic goals – Can I do 100 consecutive press-ups? 

I am a big fan of setting goals in my professional and personal life. There cannot be many people who have not come across the SMART acronym aimed at helping setting good goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed). While SMART goals are better than no goals, I have a slight problem with the ‘Achievable, Realistic’ element.

Many organisations use achieving goals to show their stake holders how well they are doing. Staff performance and pay rises are often judged by how many goals are achieved, it becomes in everybody’s interest to suggest and set easily achievable goals. Achieving these goals does move things forward but slowly and often reinforces well established thinking and working practices.  

The more I think about the times I have achieved significant progress personally or professionally I have set myself big unrealistic goals (BUTS). A common thread has also been that I have often failed to achieve these big unrealistic goals and trying to achieve them temporarily put me under a lot of pressure. In trying to achieve these BUTS I or the organisation I worked in made massive progress.  I know there are lots of stories about failures before successfully achieving something but the more I hear or read these I think even thinking about the attempts as failure is just negative.

My experience is that attempting something always achieves more than not trying anything. A friend reminded me recently about my attempts to run a 4 minute mile, I never achieved it but I took over 2 minutes from my starting time with my best ever was a sub 5 minute, while trying to achieve this goal I  set personal best for 5K and 10K distance. As part of company fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease Association I have set myself the goal of completing 100 consecutive press-up, many of the team at FB have also set themselves a big unrealistic press up goal. Many of the staff have already far exceeded their own expectation and we still have over 4 weeks training to go.         

I am training hard to do 100 consecutive press-up and even if I make no more progress I can already do 4 times as many as when I started. So why not set yourself some big unrealistic goals and enjoy the side effects of trying to achieve them

 P.S. You can help me raise money for this great cause by donating directly to my fundraising page –



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