Not too hot, not too cold, juuuust right. That was what Goldilocks was looking for with porridge. This middle-path approach applies to how we stretch and grow ourselves as well. I was working with a client on professional goal setting recently and he articulated this for himself quite nicely. If he sets goals that are too aggressive, he noted, he is likely to get frustrated, feel like a failure, or throw his hands in the air and give up (or all three). If he sets goals that are too small, though, meeting them won’t feel like he accomplished much. Thus, we worked together to create some “stretch” goals that are in his wheelhouse but will still take a fair amount of elbow grease.
We can all take a lesson from my client’s playbook here. Most of us want to grow, at least in some area of our lives. We want to find the right combination of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, but in a way that feels doable. When we approach goals from this vantage point, we can actually attain and achieve more than we originally thought we could or planned to. By stringing together accomplishments, we might just find that we can climb higher than we imagined when we first set out.
I didn’t think about it in exactly these terms, but this is the approach I took to writing my book, Radi8: Using the Practice of Yoga to Cultivate Your Inner Shine (published in 2017 and available here: https://www.amazon.com/RADI8-Using-Practice-Cultivate-Inner/dp/1947637339 ). I first sat down to write just a little bit. To dip my toe into the idea of a piece about the 8-limbed path of yoga that was so meaningful to my own personal and spiritual growth. An introduction turned into an outline. An outline into a chapter. One chapter into two, and so on and so forth. Before I knew it, I had written a book and found a publisher.
Our goals do not always have to be so linear. But to be effective and meaningful, they typically do have to live in the stretch territory.