"It's lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for "realistic" goals, paradoxically making them the most time-and energy-consuming."
That was an excerpt from Tim Ferriss's book "The 4-Hour Work Week. Most of the time when we set goals we tend to play it safe. But why? Ever heard of "Loss Aversion" theory?
"The central assumption of the theory is that losses and disadvantages have greater impact on preferences than gains and advantages." Tversky and Kahneman (1991)
Loss aversion holds us back in life in all sorts of ways. First, it leads to intense cases of risk aversion. Human’s consistently avoid taking any risk at all, because we are afraid that something bad might happen. Remember, without risk there is no potential reward. If you don’t leave your comfort zone, it is BY DEFINITION impossible to grow. Really internalize this concept; you cannot improve your life if you are doing the same things you have always done. Risk aversion permeates all areas of life.
So by setting unrealistic goals we break the invisible chain / grip loss aversion has on our lives. Until we take a risk and meet one of these goals that have been labeled "unrealistic" we will never know what we are truly capable of. Whether it's starting your own business, backpacking Europe for a year, or buying a house on the beach make sure you take the necessary risks to change unrealistic to your reality. I leave you with a final excerpt from "The 4-Hour Work Week."
"Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort."