The Importance of Setting "Unachievable" Goals

The Importance of Setting “Unachievable” Goals


It’s so easy to get wrapped up in talking about how people can attack their student loan debt or move up in their careers (or even start their own business). I love trying to help people with those goals, and it gets more exciting the larger M$M’s reach becomes.

But the unfortunate reality is that the vast majority of people never really get to where they want to be. So many people keep making the minimum payments or stay firmly buckled into the rat race.

Honestly – it’s heart breaking because I want people to have an awesome life. Too many times people are held back by either fear or limited thinking, which can both be completely avoided by practicing organization.

Success isn’t an accident. It’s a product of meeting your goals.

I think one of the biggest challenges facing millennials is the “instant” life that we’ve grown so accustomed to. The internet has made such drastic influences on our thoughts and behaviors that it’s mind-boggling.

Related: The Best Advice I Have to Give for Millennials

When we were young, it was a freaking revelation when phones had the snake game or a colored background (you all remember the snake game on the Nokia phones, right?).

Now we are constantly and instantly connected to essentially whatever we want whenever we want it…except for success. Its frustrating for a lot of young people and a very tough concept to grapple with in our 20’s.

Here’s the actual way you become successful:

Short term goals

In my opinion, anything that you want to happen one day up to one year from now is a short term goal. Life is long, but at the same time a year can go by so quickly. Your short term goals need to be the foundation that you use to build everything else on.

They need to be things that are truly actionable and you have a shot at accomplishing.

They could be things like:

  • Researching and fully understanding every aspect of your student loans
  • Sitting down and creating a budget or downloading a free budgeting tool
  • Deciding what type of side hustle you’d like to start

Mid term goals

These are the things that are going to take up to five years to accomplish. For me, one of my mid term goals was turning M$M into a viable business that I could actually live on. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to that point a little earlier than expected but I never thought this would happen quickly.

Here are some possible mid term goals:

  • 50-100% reduction in student loan debt or other debt
  • Increasing year over year profit with your business
  • Creating a strong retirement strategy

Long term goals

All of your short and mid term goals should build to what you eventually want to accomplish in life. For me, paying off my loans and starting this site were just stepping stones to becoming a very wealthy person later on. I have all the confidence in the world that I will have a yacht, house on the lake, and plenty of money when I’m old. 🙂

Long term goals could be:

  • Retiring comfortably
  • Building a sizable estate to pass to your children
  • Achieving happiness over the course of your life (probably the most important one)

How do you stick to your goals?

If you were thinking I’d say “be realistic”, you’d be surprised. While I think that you should always have goals that you know you can achieve, I also think you should have some that you’re not too sure about.

I had no idea I would pay off $40,000 of student loans in a year and a half. I had no idea I could turn a little blog into a $12,000/month business that has been on Forbes, Reuters, CNBC, etc. Those were both pipe dreams that many people told me weren’t possible. In fact – the reason that they are so unbelievable is probably what landed me the previously mentioned news features.

Related: December 2016 Online Income Report: $12,581.87

If I had listened to the critics that told me not to have “unachievable” goals, I’d still be unhappy in my former career. I think every successful person has to have the ability to tune people out when needed.


With that said, you also need to understand what you’re actually capable of. I’ve seen people out there that want to be full-time writers who don’t write very well. That’s….an issue. But it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be an awesome YouTuber or an incredible salesperson.

Try everything, but understand that when it doesn’t actually align with your strengths you may need to change course.

Question for you:

What’s your biggest goal right now?


Live differently. Your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M

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32 comments… add one
  • Kyle Jan 23, 2017, 7:46 am

    Great points. I talk with my student’s about this all the time. We live in a “microwave society,” where instant gratification comes from a ping on their phone, etc. I like how you broke the goals down into categories. It’s hard for young people to develop patience today, and understandably so. Good thoughts.

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 23, 2017, 7:48 am

      Thanks! Yes definitely tough – especially for students. Patience is such a freaking hard concept haha

  • Stacy Jan 23, 2017, 8:52 am

    My husband and I made the goal about 5 years ago to pay off our house by the time we were 40 (we were 30 at the time). The friends we did tell of this thought we were crazy so we just stopped telling people. We have just kept chugging along and my husband got a side hustle job of buying Prius cars and fixing them up and reselling them at a profit. This year we are both 35 and will be paying our house off in 1 months time! It’s is so gratifying to know that we have tackled a huge goal and succeeded! Now, like you said, we can dream bigger!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Jan 23, 2017, 9:27 am

    There’s a quote that says, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I think that applies here. It’s okay to stretch your limits and set big goals. An easy goal isn’t a goal–it’s just a tickmark on a to-do list. But a big goal gives you something to really work for, and that’s more fun. 🙂

  • Ms. Montana Jan 23, 2017, 10:09 am

    I’m working on a video series for this spring because I think this is a hard process for people to implement. Finding that vision for the life they want to live, then creating benchmarks along the way, and daily actions and habits that will pull them to those benchmarks. Once people get into the daily habit, it’s incredible the progress that can happen year over year!

  • Christa Szabo Jan 23, 2017, 10:46 am

    Great article!!! That’s the same goal setting system that Angela Duckworth uses in her book Grit. I highly recommend it. It’s been a great motivator. And you’re right, the instant gratification we get so easily makes the concept of self discipline really difficult. I was going to finally get my own apartment, but then decided to stay living at my mom’s longer because it’ll get me to my end goals much sooner and instead of putting $600 a month for an apartment, I can use that money to pay off my debt faster

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 23, 2017, 12:45 pm

      Long time no see Christa! Yeah living at home can definitely be uncomfortable, but it’s definitely helpful in the long run.

    • Kimball Grant Hansen Jan 23, 2017, 5:39 pm

      I loved that book! So very helpful in achieving goals. My wife and I made our yearly goals based on those principles.

  • Mrs. COD Jan 23, 2017, 3:28 pm

    Lots of truth in here. I’m reading Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter, Faster, Better, and in it he illustrates why we need not only SMART goals (the achievable ones with a timetable), but also stretch goals. The SMART ones can be too limiting, and the stretch goals are what really excited us. It’s good to have balance and set goals with various timeframes as you suggested!

  • Melissa Jan 23, 2017, 4:58 pm

    My husband and I need to sit down and set some goals. We are business owners and it’s a different kind of animal than being employed by someone else. We’ve been doing this full time since last March and we are still figuring it out! For me personally, I think my short term goal is going to be to establish a budget for the business and to learn how to use QuickBooks so I can keep track of all the money. QuickBooks terrifies me. But I know someone who will teach me. Now to just make the call!

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 23, 2017, 5:31 pm

      Oh goodness yes Quickbooks is a little tough sometimes. I know a lot of people use Freshbooks, but my accountant uses QB so I stayed that route. Definitely some learning curves involved. Don’t worry about figuring out business – it takes time! I still learn something new or run into something different daily.

  • Ty Jan 23, 2017, 6:55 pm

    Good stuff here, Bobby. I’m getting ready to set my own “unachievable” goal within the next week or so.

    This quote is the best thing I’ve read today – so true! “Now we are constantly and instantly connected to essentially whatever we want whenever we want it…except for success.” Don’t get frustrated. Keep grinding!

  • Go Finance Yourself! Jan 23, 2017, 7:07 pm

    Ha! I haven’t thought of the snake game in a long time! Oh, how far we’ve come.

    I love the theme of this post. I am not a fan of setting easy goals just so you can achieve them and feel good about yourself. How will you know if you could have achieved more? Right now, my biggest goal is achieving financial independence. I’ve set very aggressive savings goals where I will need to increase my income substantially each year to meet them. I’d much rather do this than set small goals that I know I can easily achieve.

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 23, 2017, 8:37 pm

      Haha it was so awesome when it first came out (just a few years after the pager started to die away).

      Yeah I think everyone should challenge themselves even if it’s not “realistic”. Leaves more room for growth.

  • HopeToRetire Jan 23, 2017, 8:35 pm

    Maybe I should stretch my goals. I feel good about being able to achieve in the long term, but finding the side hustle income in the short term can be discouraging. I break goals down yearly (income) and monthly (# contacts.) Hopefully the dominoes will fall as I meet the short term goals.

  • Mrs. Mad Money Monster Jan 24, 2017, 7:04 am

    First of all, congrats on the debt elimination and the success of this site. It truly is amazing and you’re a inspiration for the rest of us. I’m sure you’ll be sipping “insert your favorite drink here” on the deck of your lake house long before you’re old 😉

    As far as my biggest goal… it’s to achieve debt-free living within 3 years. That includes our primary mortgage and the mortgage on our rental property – which is pretty much all we have left. After that, I want to amass a real estate portfolio to produce passive income for us for the rest of our lives. Having started life with less than nothing, the idea of creating legacy wealth for my child(ren) is my number one priority – along with having a ton of fun doing it.

    One of the biggest pushes for me to obtain my higher ed degrees was when a relative told me (after having struggled to save $600 for 2 courses at the local community college), “why start? you’re not going to finish”. That’s a whole story in itself. True, it took me a very long time to finish because I had to work my way through community college and then transfer to a 4-year school, while working at a factory soldering electrical components – but I’m sitting here today with a master’s degree in my scientific field. Doing it the way I did it, meant I didn’t graduate with much debt at all. Score. Listening to the naysayers is sometimes motivational. Whenever I thought of giving up or dropping out, I remembered what was said to me when I was holding $600 cash for my first two classes. Ha!

    It’s interesting how many people out there are against the idea of building wealth and early retirement. I guess any idea or path that goes against the traditional trajectory threatens people who are still on it.

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 24, 2017, 7:09 am

      Thank you for the kind words! If it’s after 5:00 pm, I’ll take an old fashioned haha. Probably coffee or water before that. 🙂

      Congrats on your success – graduating without a lot of debt is a really big accomplishment (especially when you worked your way through college). Generally, people don’t want other people to succeed at a higher level than them. I’m not sure if they are anti-success or not, but that fear of being passed up in life definitely comes across that way.

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar Jan 24, 2017, 7:24 am

    Great points! I try to remind people that it’s important to live in the moment but keep an eye on their dreams.

    My homemade budget spreadsheet (yes, I’m a nerd) has built in savings and requirement calculators that project my net worth up to 30 years out. I love running best-case scenarios and seeing $10mil+ by age 50, and even in the most ‘average’ scenarios is $4-$5mil. Makes it easier to go to work and grind then come home and hustle.

  • Yaz - The Wallet Moth Jan 24, 2017, 8:30 am

    I totally agree with you on setting short, mid and long term goals in order to achieve the more ‘impossible’ seeming ones.

    My biggest, over-arching goal right now is to become location-independent for my income, but that seems like an overwhelming task without breaking it down into easier, more achievable goals for the more immediate future. I guess a bit of recklessness and a bit of sensibility is the real way forward!

    • Millennial Money Man Jan 24, 2017, 1:09 pm

      Haha right now my wife and I are 50% location independent, but she has a good job so I doubt she’ll leave in the near future! Who knows though, life is weird.

  • Kraken Jan 24, 2017, 12:36 pm

    This is a great system to build out goals! Something is exhilarating about setting seemingly impossible goals. However, I usually fret about achieving them, and that takes the fun out of them. But if/when you get there it’s so much more rewarding.
    I’ve set goals for myself this year that I was pretty sure were impossible at the time of writing them. Two of them are: build a blog that can support me & allow me to save a majority of my income and write two novels. Now that I’ve spent some time working towards both they seem more achievable than I initially suspected.
    Thanks for another quality post M$M!

  • moneycorgi Jan 24, 2017, 5:17 pm

    Great article.

    My biggest goal at the moment is an ambitious posting schedule for my blog. I know that blogs can take years to get traction so staying motivated to keep posting during this time is going to take a lot of will power.
    Luckily I have blogs like yours to inspire and motivate.

  • FIREin' London Jan 25, 2017, 1:52 am

    Spot on M$M!! As mentioned in the comments, if you set something that is easy to achieve its a “To do” list not a goal – such as saying I want to contribute 12,000 to my savings and already have a direct debit of 1,000 a month. That’s not a goal, thats just standard daily stuff – stretch it to 15,000 or even 20,000 – that’s a goal!

    I think the other element here is also don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t get disheartened. Say you try and set a savings rate of 40% but only hit a savings rate of 20% and you previously only saved 10% – thats still doubled your savings rate.
    Challenge yourself, then look back and see where you got, and if you didn’t make them why not. Not just “oh it wasn’t possible”, but more a “I didnt do a side hustle” or “I didnt work hard enough to get a bonus as I missed a sales target” – you have to drive for it!


  • Primal Prosperity Jan 30, 2017, 10:30 pm

    I’m the kind of person that needs big inspiration for the long term. So while, a 43 year old, 5’2″ woman won’t ever be a professional NFL player, I can still dream big.

    I call it making DUMB goals. Those are the goals that people naysay and suggest you stay SMART and play it safe. I disagree and I suggest SMART goals for the near term, but then have a great, big DUMB goal for your future. What does dumb mean for me?


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