Human beings are built to do hard things. 

And I want everyone to let that settle in as you think about your plans for today, this week, the rest of the month, the fourth quarter, Q1, Q2—and as far ahead as you can look 

We are built to do hard things, whether we’re talking about goal setting, determination, grit, or dealing with the noise that surrounds us. And there is a mindset to cultivate surrounding this.

People perceive higher goals as more attainable than lower ones

When it comes to goal setting, a lot of people aim for a balance between setting high targets to achieve great results and setting them low enough to feel like they’re actually progressing and moving ahead. 

There’s this assumption that people are likely to welcome lower goals, but it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, the research indicates that in some situations people perceive higher goals as easier to attain than lower ones. And even when that’s not the case, they’re much more appealing—not to mention far more rewarding. 

So when you think about this—that we’re built to do hard things—then there’s the flip side where people say, “Oh, this is so hard. I can’t believe I’ve got to do this. I can’t believe I’ve got to do that.” They’re looking for an easy way out, but this is just poor self-talk. 

When you look at the research and what actually goes on in the human mind, what you find out is you actually get more satisfaction after you do something hard. 

Think about the last time you did a really hard workout, went on a big hike or completed a difficult task at work. Think about the last time you had a challenging transaction to complete. 

In these studies, when people were asked if they wanted to pick the easier goal—i.e., the status quo goal—or modest improvement towards a harder goal, most people chose modest improvement because it gave them a sense of accomplishment. 

It gave them a sense of self-worth because they felt better about what they were doing. 

Two kinds of people

The reason I’m going over all this is that there are really two kinds of people out there. 

The first one will set big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs). And I’m not talking about year-long goals, necessarily. Here are some examples:

  • “Hey, I’m going to run five miles a day. I usually only run three and a half.” 
  • “I’m going to totally unplug this holiday weekend and make sure I’m there for my family.” 
  • “I’m going to go out and list more homes than I ever listed in the month of December.”

All of these things can be hard to do, but you won’t ever accomplish them if you don’t set out to do it in the first place.

The people who set these high goals might fail miserably and still see modest improvement. 

Then there are people who set goals they know they can hit without stretching themselves—for example, “All I need to do is talk to five people a day to hit my goals.

Number one, five people a day is a low number. I don’t know what the hell you’re doing all day if talking to five people is an actual goal you’re setting. Secondly, you’re probably already doing that, and it’s not going to move you ahead in your business. 

It’s similar to saying, “I usually run three miles, and I’m just going to stick with that. That’s my goal.” You’re not going to improve your overall health or fitness. It’s a maintenance goal. No stretching required. This means nothing new in the way of rewards, either. 

Your goals should involve stretching

Goal setting should be reflective of the progress you’re making and where you want to get to—not what you already know you can do. 

The people who pick easy goals are going to stay in their comfort zone. They’re not going to grow. They’re not going to progress. They’re not going to adjust to what’s going on. 

The people who choose to do hard things—because we’re built for that—they’re the ones who end up being the high achievers. They end up changing things dramatically in their life and in other people’s lives. And they’re getting outside their comfort zones

So as we get into this time of year where a lot of people reflect on what they want to accomplish, don’t be the one that wusses out and sets a goal you know you’re going to hit. 

We didn’t come this far to get this far. I came this far and I get up at 5:00 AM and do all the things that we do to get a little better every day and see that modest improvement. 

That’s what I’m built for—doing hard shit. And I want you to think about this: You are built for hard things. So, are you trying to achieve those hard things? 

Are you stretching yourself? Are you setting goals based on where you want to be? Do your goals require you to step outside your comfort zone? 

If not, ask yourself this:

Are you comfortable with the idea of making zero progress in your life and in your business one year from now?