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Issue #12 • December 2017

Why You Should Skip the Hard Goals and Go for the IMPOSSIBLE

Goal Setting Personal Development

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”
– Vince Lombardi

Want to do something with your life? Start a business, build a blog, lose weight, learn a skill, run a marathon or something else?

Does it seem impossible?

Good – that means it’s worth doing.

But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t daunting. Setting out to do the impossible is often easier than it can seem at the outset, but that’s what I’m here for.

Nine steps to accomplishing impossible goals

Whether you’re building your own impossible list or setting out to live a better story, I’ve got you covered in today’s post.

Here’s your game plan for accomplishing impossible goals.

hard-goals- get-sickGet sick of status quo

If you want to do something impossible, you’re not going to just wake up one day and do it. Change on it’s own is hard and changing your entire life to do something difficult is even harder.

“Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.”

You can’t just change the status quo “like that”– you have to get sick of it first.

Tim Ferris says comfortable mediocrity is worse than doing something you hate.

“It’s worse to tolerate your job than to hate it because, if the pain is painful enough, you’ll make a change. But if it’s tolerable mediocrity, and you’re like, ‘Well, you know it could be worse. At least I’m getting paid.’ Then you wind up in a job that is slowly killing your soul and you’re allowing that to happen.”

Impossible things are naturally really, really hard to do. They sound like great ideas, but in reality, they’re a slog. They’re tough and you’re going to want to quit 100 times before you accomplish what you want. That’s why they’re called “impossible.”

So, until you really get SICK of the status quo, SICK of things staying the same and never changing and SICK of the same, everyday joyless routine, nothing will change.

Get sick of your status quo. Once you do, it’s time to start.

hard-goals- destroy-comfort-zoneDestroy your comfort zone…literally

“Growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”

You’ve probably seen that quote on a million Instagram or Pinterest posts. Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth.

There’s a billion Instagram captions of this. There’s approximately five people actually willing to do it.

It’s easy to say to push yourself outside your comfort zone. It’s a lot harder to stand on a bridge and leap.

Want to actually get outside of your comfort zone? Then prove it.

Go bungee jump. Feel your legs quiver as you stand out on the ledge. Then do it anyway. I mean this literally. Do something physical that terrifies you and takes nothing but courage to do.

Survive, and realize the terror only exists in your head.

Then use your new-found courage and perspective to do the same with your impossible goal– whether that’s your business, fitness or personal life– it’s not scarier than plunging 200 feet to your almost certain death.

hard-goals- stepsStair step your way to your big goals

I know, I know– you want to conquer the world. Today. Yesterday, you think, would have been better, but today will do.

Calm down there, tiger. It can happen, but let’s slow down a second.

Let’s set some stair steps.

If you think you’re gonna conquer the world in the next week and you only get North America, you’re gonna be disappointed.

Be ambitious, but manage your expectations. Learn how to learn what your limits are. Stretch yourself but no so far that you break.

Set some small, achievable and measurable goals. Go make them happen. Then immediately set some bigger ones. Stair-step your way to your eventual goal and keep going.

hard-goals- dipAnticipate and welcome “The Dip”

Feel like hell? Welcome to “the dip.”

This is the point in the story where you’re on the floor. You’re sick, you’re out of tears, your voice is gone, your bank balance is getting awfully close to zero and you just want to punch the floor over and over until it feels your pain.

Most people don’t make it this far.

But you have and you’re going to keep going.

Get up. Take a cold shower. Look yourself in the mirror and figure out how you’re gonna drill your way out of this situation.

Because no one is coming to save you.

hard-goals- harden-upHarden the hell up

By the way, when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, don’t glance away– have a good long look in the mirror.

Ask yourself some questions:

Answer those questions honestly.

Then, harden the hell up. This is hard. If it was easy, it wouldn’t have been an Impossible goal, now would it?

If you’re not up for it– that’s fine. Be honest with yourself and set an easier goal next time.

But, if you’re going after something impossible– no matter what– then harden up and state out loud what you’re willing to give up to get it.

Remember, you are not yet who you could be.

hard-goals- failFail

Didn’t think you could get to a lower point than you were, huh?

Well welcome to the best part of this whole process– failing miserably.

Looking like an idiot. Having things fall apart in your lap and having to own it.

No getting around it.


But, you’re only really done if you quit– which you’re not going to do because you’re not done yet.

hard-goals- recalculatedRecalculate

Pour the alcohol on the wound and clear the dirt. Find the truth about what happened and get really honest with yourself.

  • What went wrong?
  • What could you have done instead?
  • What stuff was outside of your control? (Don’t hold on to this too long)
  • What stuff could you change next time?
  • How can you pick yourself up?

You need to recalculate and get back to the task at hand.

Note: This is actually the hardest part of the process (not failing like you might have thought). Most people cannot accurately look in the mirror and pick out their faults. It’s too painful, too difficult, and not a lot of fun at all to try. BUT, if you can do this, then you’ve got a shot at the next step.

Failure doesn’t mean you’re done. You’re only done when you stop trying. Failing often is just another step on the path. If you keep doing the same thing as you did that made you fail – then, well, you probably deserve it. But, if you learn from it, then you have a chance to…

hard-goals- succeedSucceed

Hashtag boom!

Congrats you did it. Take a second to breathe, look around, and realize how far you’ve come.
It’s incredible. In the past you would have never dreamt you could do what you just did.

Seriously– look back through your old journals and notebooks and realize how different that old you is compared to who you are now.

Revel in the difference and realize that the challenge isn’t always “the impossible challenge”, but who you have to become to achieve that impossible goal.

But don’t revel too long– you’re not done yet.


“It is either easy or impossible.” – Salvador Dali

When you hit your goal, a funny thing will happen. It won’t seem that impossible after all. In fact, It might be hard to realize that it was you that did those things.

But, you did. It’s historical fact. Take a photo. Write it down. Make it a reference point. Write it in stone.

Remind yourself that you’ve expanded your limits. That you did something you didn’t think you could do. That in fact, it might be hard to realize, but when it’s on your impossible list– it’s a difficult thing to deny.

Congrats! You now have a good idea of what you’re capable of. It’s still not complete– there’s a long way to go, but you have a better idea of what your pain tolerance is, what your skills are and how far you can stretch yourself.

Now there’s only one thing left to do.

Do it all over again.

Keep pushing your limits and go do something IMPOSSIBLE.

What are your impossible goals?

What is the one goal that you’ve always thought was unattainable? Take a few minutes right now, pick up your journal, and write down that goal. Then write the reasons why you’ve always thought it was impossible.

Take that fuel and put these nine steps to work in your own life today.



Joel Runyon

Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE where he helps people push their limits and do impossible things. He recently finished running 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents and raising $193,00 to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise. He is also the creator of Ultimate Paleo Guide - a paleo nutrition company.

Experience this issue your way

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

  • I am in an awe of Joel’s perspective. This article came in at the right time!! I was at that Dip phase where I just wanted to punch the floor over and over until it felt my pain. But now I know I’m on the right track, regardless of hardship. The steps after the ‘Dip’ are bit scary, but I have already made up my mind to taste the success and make it my lifestyle. Thank you Joel, for your encouragement, honesty and authenticity.

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