B055: How to set healthy stretch goals

By March 29, 2019The Simplifiers Podcast

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On one side, you could play it safe and set goals that are too easy to meet. And on the opposite side, you can set lofty goals that you never seem to hit. Where’s the happy medium, and how do you set goals that will help you thrive instead? The answer is in setting healthy stretch goals, and here’s how.

This topic was requested by listener Safiya Robinson. Safiya is tuning in from Barbados and it’s an excellent topic to simplify!

What is a ‘stretch’ goal?

First off, let’s get clear on what a stretch goal actually is. In an article named The Stretch Goal Paradox, Harvard Business Review suggests:

“true stretch goals differ from ordinary challenging goals in two important respects. [They involve] extreme difficulty and extreme novelty.”

So, by these standards, a stretch goal stretches you and your team to go beyond your current capabilities and performance. It also stretches you to overhaul things, and try working differently, not just harder.

They cited the example of Southwest Airlines:

“To get gate turnarounds down to 10 minutes, Southwest had to completely overhaul its staff’s work practices and reimagine the behavior of customers. The airline did, however, famously figure out how to reach this goal.”

And as we all know, Southwest knows how to create a fun, customer driven experience every time. And how do they do it? The company invests in and values continual team training, and their staff embody the ethos. By using stretch goals, they accomplished the task at hand.

How do I set a stretch goal?

Our rule of thumb (at The Simplifiers) is to set one primary business goal per quarter, to keep things simple. Everyone knows what we are working towards this quarter and is on the same page. This goal should:

  • Be clear and concise
  • Have a financial goal attached to it (how much revenue it will make this quarter)
  • Have 100% buy-in from your entire team

Remember, set yourself up for success by ensuring your one big quarterly goal is a S.M.A.R.T. one:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable – quantify, or at least suggest an indicator of progress
  • Assignable – specify who will do it
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given the available resources
  • Time-related – specify when the goal will be achieved by

Besides setting your one primary business goal per quarter, I encourage you to set one stretch goal for your business, as well.

Now, a stretch goal is one that’ll stretch you out of your comfort zone and push you to achieve more. It will make a positive impact on your bottom line, or propel your business closer to where you want to be in the long run. It will prompt you to level up, scale, and/or refine.


  • Pull out your journal
  • Set a 7- minute timer
  • Think about what you’d love to achieve in this quarter for your business
  • Jot down your ideas

Think bigger than your pre-set quarterly goal; the cherry on top of your ice cream sundae.

Examples of potential stretch goals:

  • Get mentioned in 3 magazines or newspapers that your target audience love to read
  • Surpass your quarterly revenue goal by 10%
  • Be ready to launch that new product or service, 30 days before the target date

Brainstorm ideas, talk it over with your team, and then choose one stretch goal per quarter to aim for.

How do I get my team onboard with our stretch goals?

Depending on your current company culture, the stretch goal may or may not be well received by your team. If that’s the case, book in time to speak with them 1-1 so you can better understand their feelings and concerns.

The goal is… they feel heard, you’re clear on what motivates them, and then you can decide what to do next. Resistance is natural, especially if the stretch goal involves change initiatives. As the leader, make sure to give them a peek inside your ‘why’ and the vision you’ve got ahead for them, and the company. By doing this, you are articulating why this stretch goal helps you both get there. Then they can decide if they’re on-board… or not.

Remind the team (and yourself), that it’s more important to focus on progress, rather than success or failure of the stretch goal. Everything you do is propelling you forward.

Every lesson learned means you are gaining knowledge for the next launch, the next campaign, the next big hurdle your business is facing. So, if you don’t hit the stretch goal, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a pin on the map, and the journey is way more important than the destination.

How do I make the stretch goal a healthy one?

Bottom line, here are the very best ways to ensure you’re setting healthy stretch goals:

Don’t set too many stretch goals, all at once

No one thrives in a pressure cooker situation for too long. Watch this movie for proof: The Wolf of Wall Street. Set one stretch goal per quarter and track your results.

Prepare yourself mentally and physically

Try to eliminate as many obstacles as possible before you start.

What resources or tools do you or your team need in place before you tackle this goal? It could be training, software or even a massive mindset shift!

Set a super-desirable reward

What will motivate you and your team to achieve this stretch goal?

Think about what would excite you (and them) to take calculated, ethical risks, to hit this goal. Could it be a cash bonus, or a team trip somewhere nice?

Don’t forget the power of small wins

Now is not the time to go after stretch goals if:

  • You’re feeling worn out
  • You’re beat down by too many big, lofty goals where you missed the mark
  • You’ve taken a big hit in your business

It would be smarter to focus on a series of small wins that you could achieve in the next 90 days instead. This will help to rebuild confidence, momentum and get back on top of your game.


And just one final whisper, just from me to you, dear friend… come in closer.

You’re on the right path. You’re doing the thing. You’re really making strides in your work right now, so keep going.

Sometimes as business owners, we want huge wins, big windfalls and immediate results, like yesterday!

Speaking from experience here, we want it all, and we want it now, now, now!

Remember, striking out on your own and growing a business from nothing into something takes time. It takes daily focus and discipline to put one foot in front of the other and take action.

Like a horse on a windy, rocky path, traversing across mountains, you’ve got to keep your blinders on. Stay laser-focused. Resist the temptation to chase after that new, bright shiny object. Keep focused on the next step and the next step… and then the step after that, until you get there.


Set one quarterly goal and one stretch goal and give everything you’ve got to meet both. Nourish yourself all along the way. Listen to your body and what she’s telling you she needs in this moment.

Then give it to her.

Remember, your worth is not linked to your bank account balance. Your worth is not attached to hitting your goals. You’re doing a great job and through your work, you’re helping so many people in the world.

So keep going.

Keep trying.

Keep listening and the Universe will unfold exactly as it should for you, and your business.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

Snap a photo of you doing the thing and send it to me via Instagram, privately or publicly… Just tag @thesimplifiers –  I’ll be your virtual accountability buddy in your quest to simplify your life.

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Big thanks to our undercover superheroes at The Simplifiers Podcast that help us create these episodes for you – Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Janine Yardley, our Show Notes Editor. Lyden Yardley, our Director of Brilliance. Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Our advisory board includes: Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for listening and telling your peeps about us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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