Most people’s approach to goal setting is very wrong, according to an Olympic athlete, despite business leaders often being told that goal setting is an important means of driving success.
Ed Fernon was Australia’s sole male competitor in the modern pentathlon at the London 2012 Games, and got there without any funding or support from Australia’s professional sporting bodies.
He retired as an athlete in 2015 to focus on his property development business Freedom Development Group, which he established two years earlier.
According to Ed, most people set goals completely the wrong way, meaning they frequently underachieve on their level of performance.
“I think people completely overestimate what they can achieve in the short term, but underestimate what they can achieve in the long term,” Ed tells My Business.
In his own business, he uses the same approach to goal setting that he used as an athlete – and swears by its success in delivering results.
“I really like the idea of a four-year cycle, like the Olympics, and to go into something with four years – so set yourself that goal of four years and be able to say ‘For four years of my life, I’m committing myself wholeheartedly to this pursuit’, and then saying ‘No matter happens, I’m going to follow my goals’,” explains Ed.
“In a lifetime, four years isn’t that much, but I think at the time you can make huge inroads in four years’ time, and I think setting big goals and keeping yourself excited and self-motivated by big goals is incredibly important.”
And when it comes to the type of goals you set, Ed is also not a fan of conventional wisdom.
“I don’t like realistic or achievable goals!” he declares.
“I think if people aren’t laughing at your goals, they’re not big enough, and I believe that wholeheartedly.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.