We sometimes unknowingly place limits on our achievements by the precision of our goals. Setting hard targets and firm objectives can impose restrictions on what is possible. Precise goals don’t stretch the imagination. Lines in the sand make us feel great when we step over them, but they don’t challenge us to push even further. Study top performers in just about any field, and you’ll find a common expression when they set personal and professional performance goals. Here’s the expression: At least.
Having the goal of working one more hour is markedly different than setting the goal of working at least one more hour. “At least goals," ask us to think in terms of possibilities, not just finish lines. At least 10 more calls, at least 25 more sit-ups, at least two more chapters, at least four more emails, and so on pushes us to reach beyond what we think is a likely end and to see what is possible.
The next time you set a performance goal for yourself or your team, consider the power of at least. You might be surprised by how much more you achieve when you focus on possibilities instead of finish lines.