Can we be authentically ambitious?

A reader asked: 

“How can we maintain an authentic approach, yet integrate business practices such as target goals? I have a personal challenge to top my best efforts from the previous quarter, e.g. doing twice as many videos, selling more products, etc. Is it possible to have ambition, while being authentic?”

I love this question. I feel that it aims to integrate spirituality and worldliness, right and left brain, heaven and earth.

Here is my approach to synergize these polarities:
Curiosity & Playfulness with Goals

If setting goals or targets motivates you, inspires ideas, and keeps you on track, then go for it. (But if it intimidates you, let it go.)

I do set numbers goals, yet maintain a curiosity about them, a playfulness. “I’d love to sell 75 spots in my next course. I wonder if it’ll happen? :-)”

However, my goals are set realistically, not dramatically higher than previous experience. Otherwise, I know I’d be setting myself up for high-stress high-pressure, and/or disappointment and discouragement. 

Ground Goals in Reality

Many entrepreneurs get hyped up by marketers who tell them that they can achieve huge goals in a relatively short amount of time. 

They earnestly try to go for it. 

And then reality sets in: You can’t expect miraculous results just because you want it, even if you’re working hard for it. Maybe miracles happen more easily in other areas of life, but you can’t expect that in business.

I’ve found instead that it’s more sustainable and joyful to set goals along the trajectory of previous experience.

If I sold 50 courses two months ago, and 55 courses this month (10% growth), then it’s not unrealistic to expect to sell 60 courses next month.

Therefore, I set the goal of 60-65 courses next month, knowing that it’s achievable. Having realistic goals helps me budget for my business growth.

After setting the goal, I allow myself to stay curious about it. I simply do my work, observing the results along the way, tweaking my actions as needed to stay on the path of the goal.

Here's the key -- I remain playful, and refuse to stress out if it doesn’t look like I’ll reach the goal.

There’s a difference between joyful diligence, and stubborn fixation on a goal. Yes, we need to do the work that makes the goal likely, but then hold loosely to requiring that reality must meet our expectations.

Allow yourself to remain happy no matter what.

The only time you might play with a much higher goal is if you are using a far improved strategy than before, or if you’re committed to taking much greater action. This brings us to two types of goals...

Results-Goals vs. Process-Goals

For the type of goal people usually think of, I call those results-goals -- “By taking action, I want to see XYZ happen.” 

Results-goals are only useful if it motivates you, inspires you with ideas, and helps you stay on track.

I actually prefer to focus on a different type: process-goals. “I am focused on taking XYZ action consistently.”

You can pair the two types of goals.

Occasionally revisit your results-goals; enjoy imagining the outcome, and imagine yourself working joyfully toward it. On a daily basis, however, I recommend focusing on your
process goals so that you’re ensuring that you are exercising right action.

The real world has many factors that influence your results. You cannot force an outcome. 

What you can control is what actions you take, hence the focus on the process goals, not a fixation on the results goals. Yes, imagining the results can help you map the process goals, but once you know the route, just focus on doing the process with as much grace and joy as you can.

Self-Management vs. Surrender

Process goals is about time and energy management -- how will you use your every working hour? Are you setting healthy boundaries? Is there adequate self-care? Are you working in a personally sustainable way? I prioritize joyful productivity in every working day.

Results goals, however, is more about imagination and surrender. I enjoy playing with the possibility of achieving a result, and yet I surrender to what Reality ultimately becomes. No matter what, I believe we are taken care of, guided by a higher power which speaks to us through our intuition, through other people, but also through the results, so that we can keep modifying and focusing on the process daily.

I believe I’m called to embrace whatever the results are, to give thanks, and then to move forward with imagining the results, yet bring my daily focus to joyful action.