Don’t Set Your Goals Too High

What Do You Mean Don’t Set Goals Too High?

I am all for setting big goals, but goals should not be impossible. Furthermore, you can be a big success with small goals. Let me give you some examples…

You don’t have to have the success of Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) to be considered a success in investing. 

You don’t have to have the success of Bill Gates (Microsoft) to be considered a successful software entrepreneur.

You don’t have the success of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) to be considered successful as an app maker.

You don’t have to own as much land as Ted Turner (he also created CNN/TNT/TBS) to be considered a success in real estate.

You don’t have to sell as many books or have as many podcast downloads as Tim Ferris to be considered successful in media.

Do I Need To Go On?

If you only acquired $1,000,000, or $2,000,000 or $5,000,000 saving and investing over your life time, are you a failure because it’s not billions?

If you only created a software company or app maker that earned you $200,000/year for  25 years, are you a failure?

If you only bought and paid for 3 rental houses in your lifetime, and used the rental income for your early retirement, are you a failure?

It doesn’t take selling millions of books or having millions of podcast downloads to have some success with writing, blogging, and podcasting. If you only make $50,000 a year writing, blogging, and podcasting, are you a failure?

No. Of course not. But many people set goals that are way too big and end up quitting from disappointment when things aren’t moving quickly. Some set so high a goal they don’t even get started. They quit. They don’t even try. If I can’t be [insert name of famous person], I don’t want to even try.

Many Extremely Successful People Were Lucky

I’m not taking anything away from Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates, Mr. Zuckerberg, or Mr. Ferris. They are all individuals who have worked very hard. Very hard. And you know I admire hard work. If they had 1/100th of their success, they would still be crazy successful. But the fact most are billionaires (except Ferris), there’s a lot of luck involved in their stories.

The world talks and prints so much about billionaires these days, though, it starts to feel normal. There’s nothing normal about a billion dollars.

And because it gets talked about so much, it may make you feel like you need to create a “billion dollar idea” or you’re not successful. You do not need billion dollar idea. And please understand I’m not knocking those billionaires. I promise. I’m a fan of entrepreneurship, free markets, and capitalism. I’m simply trying to stress to you not to compare your goals and aspirations to what they have accomplished — it’s not normal accomplishments, and some, if not a lot, of luck was involved.

Have You Heard About The Concept Of “1000 True Fans”?

Kevin Kelley created and documented this concept of 1000 true fans. He could have rephrased it as “Don’t Set Your Fan Goals Too High”. You could earn an income of $100,000/year if you could find 1000 people willing to spend just $100/year with you (or $8.33/month). Not too bad is it? Kevin’s “1000 true fans” concept is much more than that, and I encourage you to read the link to his original post (he’s also written a book about it).

Some of you are familiar with my own personal story. I created a successful, niche software company. Not a company you’ve ever heard of though. And I only had about 1000 companies or so as customers that did, on average, about $1000/year with me. Saving and investing that money allowed it to grow into millions. Am I a failure because I’m an unknown, small time, multi-millionaire? Of course not. And neither are you if you only create a $50,000/year income doing work you enjoy.

Set Realistic Goals

One of the most important factors of success is getting started. No one has ever been successful who hasn’t started. Don’t set unrealistic goals and then get overwhelmed with getting started and getting nothing done. Figure out your “minimum viable audience”.  The minimum number of people you need to engage/sell to that, if they supported you financially, you could be happy with earning that kind of living. Seth Godin had an interesting blog post about this topic. I also highly recommend his book “This Is Marketing“.

The topics “1000 true fans” and “minimum viable audience” weren’t being talked about when I started my journey in the software business in 2000. Actually, I re-started my software journey in 2000. My initial foray into software was 1993-1995, but that’s a failure story for another time. Study up on these topics, make a realistic goal, and get started!

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.

Mark Twain

Don’t set your goals too high.

Mr. Hobo Millionaire


Written by Mr. Hobo Millionaire
I blog about money, financial independence (FIRE), life, and entrepreneurship. I got rich slowly (over 20+ years) with a niche software business. I also failed at a number of other things (and mild success with a few others). I share what I did right along the way, and a lot of what I did wrong, with a goal to encourage you think differently about life and money.