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What are stretch goals and why should we have them?

Stretch goals are high-effort and high-risk goals

Stretch goals go against the grain of how we’re taught to create goals. They don’t seem realistic and can appear ever so far-fetched.

Why bother making a goal that seems impossible to achieve?

Stretch goals are intentionally made difficult to achieve, but if done in the right way, can motivate companies, teams, and individuals to step out of their comfort zone and aim higher.

In this article, we’ll define stretch goals. We’ll also go over setting stretch goals, their four key advantages, and three major limitations. We’ll then explore the best way to track stretch goals.

stretch goals

What are stretch goals?

A stretch goal is a high-effort and high-risk goal. It is intentionally set above normal standards to attract exponential rewards, opportunities, and experience. When a stretch goal is achieved, it’s recognized as high performance. When it’s missed, it should not by any means, be judged as low performance. In fact, the lessons learnt from missing the goal, will be just as valuable as setting the goal itself and will put you ahead of the game.

Secondly, stretch goals rely on novelty. You have to take a brand new approach towards your existing goal. Rather than just expanding on your existing goals, a stretch goal is a completely new goal, with a new approach. What have you, or your company always wanted to achieve, but not even bothered aiming for, because it seemed too unrealistic? It’s time to achieve THAT goal.

Stretch goals, can be used by individuals, managers or employees.

How to set stretch goals?

1. Use ranges, not singular success points

Setting a difficult, but just about achievable range for your goal, takes away the anxiety of not reaching a specific number or target for your goal. For example, if your stretch goal for your new soy candle business is to gain 10k followers by December, rather than fixating on 10, perhaps change this to a range of 8-12. It gives the option to stretch your performance, without the pressure.

2. Allow autonomy and corporation for stretch goals at work

Set your employees stretch goals at work, but allow them to be part of the planning process, and also give them the autonomy of how they’re going to achieve these goals. You may think you have a better idea of how to effectively pave your teams way to success, however fresh brains have fresh ideas, and the healthy pressure of leaving it down to them, will no doubt increase their productivity and drive.

3. Use SMART goals

Most of us have already heard of SMART goals, and understand how to use this method to make our goals more achievable. In fact, SMART goals are the opposite of stretch goals, in that, when done properly, are realistic goals that can easily be met. This is why, the combination of SMART stretch goals, is a match made in heaven.

Here’s how you can use them together:

  • Step 1: Write down your stretch goals
  • Step 2: Break down each stretch goal into smaller steps and achievable SMART goals, (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)

These steps will make your stretch-goal-setting agenda easy.

Stretch goals are a great way to increase productivity and motivation, not only in your personal life, but also at work. It allows for greater levels of creativity and keeps us on track with what we want to achieve in life. Benefits such as these are always balanced with the risk of negative connotations such as burnout, disappointment and excessive risk taking, so it’s important to moderate yourself.

With a goal setting tool such as GoalShaper, you can write down all your goals in one place, keeping personal ones private, and team ones shared with your colleagues. You can track your progress and make sure you’re continually moving forward by linking your daily actions, to your bigger goals.

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