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Discussion Forum > Question for Mark (Others): Ridiculous Goals

Today's my birthday (and Rosh Hoshanah) is right around the corner. Both of which have me contemplating the upcoming year, thinking about where/how I want to focus my time. And then I stumbled upon this post:

How many of these ridiculous goals is too many?
With respect to milestones, do you set them willy nilly? Given the way-out-there nature of the goals, I find it hard to think about realistic milestones?
Do you spend time thinking about these goals, or do you just get crazy in the moment and write it down?
Do you still do this Mark? And if so, do your ridiculous goals (when broken down) become part of your whatever list making system you're currently using?

September 7, 2018 at 12:20 | Registered Commenteravrum
I’d love to hear Mark’s answers, too.

I’m reminded of a technique to teach youngsters how to hit a baseball that’s set up on a post (“T-ball”). If you put an ordinary baseball on the post, the youngster typically takes a loose grip on the bat, stands casually near the tee, and takes a wobbly swing toward the ball. The bat rarely makes contact, and even when it does, the ball dribbles slowly along the ground for a few yards. Meh.

So here’s the technique. Put a soccer ball or basketball on the tee instead. Now the youngster realizes he’s got to apply some strength if he’s going to accomplish anything. The stance changes - the youngster automatically (without being told) takes more solid footing, holds the bat further back and more level, tenses up his muscles, and makes a much stronger and straighter swing with the bat. It may only knock the large ball a yard or two - but the stance and form is greatly improved.

The trick is to put the normal baseball back on the tee, and then teach the youngster to use the same form he used for the soccer ball. He gets MUCH better results, hitting the ball much more solidly and much stronger and further.

I’ve found the same effect in my own efforts, personal and work. Sometimes the task even becomes much easier. There was one important task that seemed dull and frustrating. But then I was told we needed to triple our output. At first I was devastated - how could it even be possible? I realized it would take a whole different attitude, more planning to work it into my day, more focused effort, a real effort. My stance changed. I was surprised by what I found. Not only did we MORE than triple our output, we were quickly doing it in LESS TIME than the task had taken previously, and with much better quality and much less boredom / frustration.

It kind of reminds me of what some president is known to have said - “If you are going to bother to do any thinking at all, you might as well THINK BIG. It doesn’t take any more effort than thinking small.”
September 7, 2018 at 16:44 | Registered CommenterSeraphim

Thanks for reminding me about that article.

Yes, I still have ridiculous goals though I'd forgotten about the article.

One of my current ridiculous goals is to be able to speak the language of whatever country I am going to be visiting. I've just been to France (an easy start), and am scheduled to be visiting Spain, Armenia, Bulgaria and Georgia (the country, not the state) over the next year or so!
September 7, 2018 at 19:42 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
In answer to your specific questions:

<< How many of these ridiculous goals is too many? >>

I don't know. Getting people to have even one ridiculous goal is hard enough.

<< With respect to milestones, do you set them willy nilly? Given the way-out-there nature of the goals, I find it hard to think about realistic milestones? >>

The whole point of a ridiculous goal is that you start acting as if it were achievable. That means setting milestones which are achievable.

<< Do you spend time thinking about these goals, or do you just get crazy in the moment and write it down? >>

Usually they are to get me moving on something which really interests me anyway. The aim is to turn a pipe-dream into reality. So who cares if you actually get to the final goal? It's the journey that counts.

<< do your ridiculous goals (when broken down) become part of your whatever list making system you're currently using? >>

Yes, definitely.
September 7, 2018 at 20:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thank you for surfacing this, Avrum. A very stimulating post!

I happened across an article in the MIT Technology Review by a professor on advice he gives to his students. This particular bit struck me as relevant to the ridiculous goal idea:

3. Work backward from your goal. Or else you may never get there. If you work forward, you may invent something profound–or you might not. If you work backward, then you have at least directed your efforts at something important to you. (source: )

I guess one of the aspects of a ridiculous goal is that you have no idea how to get there or what the first step would be. So starting big and working backwards seems like an interesting place to start thinking about it.

I'd suggest another indicator of a ridiculous goal would be if it makes you giggle and wonder how you could possibly hope to get away with it.
September 7, 2018 at 21:24 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Mark - thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

I do have a ridiculous goal of sorts. When I think about it, I get excited, and then the resistance kicks-in:

* What if very few people are interested in it?
* How will you raise the money?

On and on. My hunch is that it’s good goal because it’s triggering doubt.
September 7, 2018 at 21:45 | Registered Commenteravrum
Mike - you’re welcome.

Like Dreams, I find this approach to goal setting satisfies something deep within, that other “practical” or linear approaches to goal setting does not.

Glad to hear from some of the regulars.
September 7, 2018 at 21:55 | Registered Commenteravrum

Yes! Work backwards from your goals. That works when I do it. It's not about locking yourself to the path. It is about exploring the map and taking steps of the right size in the right direction. Also, some sort of deadline I'll respect. (That's the part I usually miss.)

Often, working backwards will give us other deadlines. Decide by registration deadline to take the class. Practice every day so I'm ready for the exam.

Sometimes working backwards will teach us that we can't do it as we'd hoped. That's great news! We won't waste any more time on that approach. We might, though, find another way to reach that goal or one that's similar.

Sometimes a problem shows up after we start moving. Even so, we're still further ahead than if we hadn't moved at all. Back up, and use what we learned to try another path.


KickStarter seems to get good results. You'd still have to advertise to get funders, but at least you'd know how much demand there is before starting. Also check the cost of international shipping before setting rewards! One company uses KickStarter for regular orders. They need to order supplies in bulk, so the rewards are actually the product, and they know how much to order before starting. It's not the way KS planned to be used, but it works.

Patreon can also be used several ways. I get a magazine "$5 when an issue comes out, no more than quarterly." (Patreon did a stupid change in billing a while ago, but fixed it after the mass exodus.)

There are probably other sites, but I know you'd be in good company in those two.
September 20, 2018 at 21:19 | Registered CommenterCricket
Hi Cricket.

Yes - I agree with you regarding Kickstarter. But I have few steps to tackle before I get to that stage.
September 21, 2018 at 3:36 | Registered Commenteravrum
Avrum: And why aren't you tackling those steps?
September 21, 2018 at 18:54 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket - I am!

Thanks for the nudge.
September 21, 2018 at 19:05 | Registered Commenteravrum