It is tempting to extend this thinking to conclude that setting nearly impossible goals would encourage even stronger effort and performance than does setting aggressive goals.

It is tempting to extend this thinking to conclude that setting nearly impossible goals would encourage even stronger effort and performance than does setting aggressive goals. People tend to get discouraged and give up, however, when faced with goals that have little chance of being reached. If, for example, President Kennedy had set a time frame of one year to reach the moon, his goal would have attracted scorn. The country simply did not have the technology in place to reach such a goal. Indeed, Americans did not even orbit the moon until seven years after Kennedy’s 1961 speech. Similarly, if Coca-Cola’s water efficiency goal was 95 percent improvement, Coca-Cola’s employees would probably not embrace it. Thus goals must also be realistic, meaning that their achievement is feasible.

You have probably found that deadlines are motivating and that they help you structure your work time. The same is true for organizations, leading to the conclusion that goals should be time-bound through the creation of deadlines. Coca-Cola has set a deadline of 2012 for its water efficiency goal, for example. The deadline for President Kennedy’s goal was the end of 1969. The goal was actually reached a few months early. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon. Incredibly, the pursuit of a well- constructed goal had helped people reach the moon in just eight years.

 

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