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What Are Stretch Goals? (Examples, FAQs)

Stretch Goals ClickUp

We all have a goal that can seem too good to be true, like investing money in the stock market and becoming a millionaire. 💰

Such goals are usually difficult to document, making them seemingly impossible to achieve.

Fortunately, you can use stretch goals to record, track, and achieve larger-than-life goals. 

Stretch goals are intentionally made difficult to achieve but motivate companies, teams, and individuals to step out of their comfort zone and aim higher. 

Even the great Harvey Specter (from the TV show Suits) joined Pearson Hardman as an associate. But his stretch goal to make a name partner in the law firm eventually got him there! 

In this article, we’ll define stretch goals and look at three examples. We’ll also go over setting stretch goals, their four key advantages, and three major limitations. We’ll then explore the best way to track stretch goals, along with related FAQs

Let’s begin!

What Are Stretch Goals?

Stretch goals are targets that are beyond your existing work capacity. 

They have two unique features. 

First, stretch goals are usually challenging to achieve. They aren’t entirely practical or rational. Stretch goals also take into account the best possible outcome for any activity. 

Second, stretch goals rely on novelty. You have to take a brand new approach towards your existing goal. 

This way, stretch goals push you to gain bigger and better wins. 

Sounds like something right up your alley, Mr. Specter. 😏

harvey specter suits

Now that we have discussed stretch goals definition, let’s look at some examples. 

3 Stretch Goals Examples

Here’s how stretch goals can be a part of different levels of an organization:

1. Organization stretch goals

At an organizational level, stretch goals are vision statements that don’t have any particular timeline. 

For instance, if our favorite legal eagles from Suits were looking to increase their top-line revenue for 2021, the stretch goal could look like this:

“Increase top-line revenue by 120% and become the #1 law firm in the U.S.A.”

You probably think that financial targets like this sound crazy. 

But that’s the point!

2. Management stretch goals

What’s the most common thing a manager tells their team?

get it done suits gif

That’s right, Harvey.

Managers set expectations for their teams to achieve great results. In the case of a sales team that performs exceptionally well, a manager may set a stretch goal that looks like this:

“Triple the individual sales quota for team members by the end of 2021.”

3. Individual stretch goals

Setting stretch goals for individuals in a team can help them take on new responsibilities and expand their talents. ✨

For example, a team member who has never taken on a leadership role may set individual goals to manage an entire project independently. 

The next time you set a  personal goal, channel some Harvey Specter confidence and stretch your goals.

3 Essential Steps To Set Stretch Goals

Here are some of the key steps you need to take to set goals and stretch them:

1. Dedicate time to goal setting

What do setting stretch goals for your team and preparing for a battle in the courtroom have in common?

Both require time and extensive planning.   

You have to make sure that your stretch goals align with your team’s work and personal development goals.

It’s also crucial to consider your team’s current workload and available resources before setting stretch goals. 

2. Focus on key areas

If you cover too many areas in your stretch goals, you run the risk of spreading yourself and your team too thin. As a result, you may accomplish nothing in the end. 

After all, even New York City’s best closer can only take on one challenge at a time. 😁

i closed harvey specter suits gif

It’s better to chalk one or two focus areas for your team’s line of work and then use them to set stretch goals. 

3. Use SMART goals

We’ve talked about setting stretch goals to record all your impractical but extraordinary goals so far. 

But you may be wondering: how do I track these goals and see if I’m making any progress?

This is where SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals come into play. 

By definition, SMART goals are the exact opposite of stretch goals. 

They’re practical, achievable, and proximal goals. 

But this isn’t a stretch goals vs. SMART goals scenario. 

Stretch goals and SMART goals are a match made in heaven. 😍

Here’s how you can use them together:

  • Step 1: Write down your stretch goals
  • Step 2: Break down each stretch goal into smaller steps and achievable SMART goals

These steps will make your stretch-goal-setting agenda easy. 

However, it would help if you considered a few factors before using stretch goals. 

2 Crucial Factors To Consider Before Setting Stretch Goals

You can look at two key factors to predict if using stretch goals would benefit your team: 

1. Recent performance

A team that has had recent success is more likely to accept stretch goals. 

Winning impacts your team’s attitude and makes them willing to take on challenges. 

However, if they haven’t been performing well and you decide to overload them with ambitious stretch goals, they’d probably react like this:

are you crazy harvey specter suits gif

For better performance management, it’s crucial to evaluate your team’s success regularly and adjust your goals. 

Check out the top performance goals and objectives examples you can use for your company!

2. Availability of resources

A well-resourced team can deal with a failure. They’re also better positioned to innovate and get creative.

And all these factors are crucial to achieving stretch goals. ⭐️

If your team is strapped, experimenting with a stretch goal (especially an aspirational financial goal) may not be the best idea. 

You wouldn’t want to put your team in a position where they’ve mapped out audacious goals only to realize you don’t have the resources to support them. 👀

4 Key Advantages of Setting Stretch Goals

Let’s look at how stretch goals can help boost your team’s productivity. 

1. Boosts creativity

In most cases, you can achieve common goals by simply putting in more hours at work. 

On the other hand, stretch goals can help you and your team step outside your comfort zone and get those creative juices flowing. 💡 

You suit up, use some significant brain energy, and approach the problem innovatively. This creative process can result in discoveries and problem-solving ideas. 

2. Makes your team ambitious

Stretch goals can inspire your team to envision a seemingly impossible goal and chase it. 

If you find that your team is conservative with their goals and ambitions, stretch goals may help them expand their boundaries. 

It’s one way to make your team as ambitious as Harvey, and that’s saying something! 

i like this harvey specter suits gif

3. Boosts confidence

Confidence doesn’t come from motivational talks. 

It comes from actual achievements. 

Setting and achieving stretch goals can amp up your confidence by many folds.

For example, let’s say you’re the product manager of a new dating app called Rhoo. You’ve set a stretch goal to build fully functional in app video chat in 4 weeks.

You think it’s possible with the help of a video chat API, but your team thinks this is difficult (which it is, but that’s the point of stretch goals!) and they are worried.

To address the team’s concerns, you break down this stretch goal into multiple SMART goals. You find that the team’s average confidence score is 5 out of 10. And it seems that motivational quotes and videos don’t change this sentiment much.

A few months later, your team has achieved 2 of 3 SMART goals. Now you ask your team to rate how confident they feel – and the average score is 9 out of 10!

4. Let’s you stay in control

Setting a stretch goal is a way to exert self-control even when the circumstance isn’t in your favor.

It lays down a roadmap for the entire team. 🗺

Similar to how Harvey would predict the outcome of a trial before it even begins. The power!

Stretch goals help everyone focus on specific markers and stay on track with their business goals. 

Now despite these advantages, stretch goals come with their limitations. So let’s take a look. 

3 Major Limitations of Setting Stretch Goals

Just like a courtroom drama with two opposing sides, our stretch goals case has a negative side to it. 

Here’s a look at three limitations of setting stretch goals:

1. Increased burnout within the team

Sure, a challenging goal can push our team to perform better. 

However, failure to meet their stretch target can wound their confidence in their abilities. It can also significantly reduce employee engagement. 

You don’t want your team working harder only to feel burned out and unmotivated.

Picture all the law associates from Suits slumped over their desks in the bullpen. 

Yeah, we don’t want that for our teams either! 🙅🏽‍♀️

2. Excessive risk-taking within the team

Stretch goals can make your team fixated on measuring outcomes. This practice may make them prone to taking excessive risks. 

Risk-taking can make them lose sight of the bigger picture as well as the original goal.

Your team would be focusing on “losing small” instead of “winning big.” 

No brownie points for guessing who’s fuming right now… 

leave me alone harvey specter suits gif

3. Unethical behavior

If your team is chasing impossible goals, it’s likely that they’re up against the wall and stretched out too thin. As a result, they may try to hit their targets by any means necessary… even if it means cutting corners to get it done. 

A problem like this ultimately boils down to the team member’s character, but even Harvey Specter broke the law under pressure. 👀

Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of stretch goals, let’s talk about tracking them. 

The Best Way To Track Stretch Goals for 2021

Setting the right stretch goals for your team is just the beginning. To see results, you must regularly track your progress. 

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to track these goals manually

But don’t worry. 

With the right goal management tool, you can knock your goal-tracking challenges out of the ballpark!

harvey specter baseball bat suits gif

A goal-setting tool like ClickUp lets you track your progress towards your stretch goals through various parameters like SMART goals, KPIs, and OKRs

And that’s just the tip of what ClickUp can do. 😎

Wait… what’s ClickUp?

clickup

ClickUp is one of the highest-rated productivity and project management tools used by productive teams in small and large companies.

It has ALL the features you need to create and manage your stretch goals with ease.

Here’s a brief look at some of ClickUp’s features:

  • Goals: create different types of trackable Goals, including:
    • Team Goals: track stretch Goals for the entire team
    • Sprint Goals: monitor the progress of your Agile and Scrum Sprints
    • Personal Goals: make it a daily habit to track your progress towards personal stretch Goals
    • OKRs: Use ClickUp’s Goals and Targets to set up an Objectives and Key Results framework. Use the OKRs to track your progress towards your Goals
  • Targets: objectives that help track any particular Goal. You can measure a Target in different ways, including:
    • Numbers: any value from zero to infinity
    • True/False: task condition that’s either complete or not complete
    • Currency: any amount of money
    • Tasks: a task or list of tasks that have to be completed
  • Weekly Scorecards: know which goal your team members will work on throughout the week
  • Dashboards: get an overview of all activities in your Workspace, including Goal progress, time spent on achieving them, and more
  • Custom Statuses: add different workflow stages to track your stretch goals accurately
  • Folders: group related stretch goals with folders to track sprint cycles, OKRs, etc.
  • Descriptions: categorize your stretch goals and stretch targets by adding unique descriptions
  • Permissions: give one or more team members ownership over stretch Goals and easily manage editing permissions
  • Due Dates: set accurate due dates for all tasks to achieve your stretch Goals
  • Reminders: get task reminders from five minutes to up to three days before they’re due
  • Views: view your upcoming tasks in a List, Board, Gantt Chart, and any other style of your choice 

And the best part?

You can hop into ClickUp for free and check out an even wider variety of features!

2 FAQs About Stretch Goals

Are you still confused about stretch goals?
We’ll answer two FAQs to help you out here.

1. What is the difference between SMART and stretch goals?

Stretch goals and SMART goals are different based on two key factors:

  • Difference in purpose: a stretch goal inspires us to be more ambitious and focus on the big picture. A SMART goal focuses on a concrete plan of action that can help achieve a stretch goal. 
  • Difference in time frame: a stretch goal doesn’t have a specific time frame. A SMART goal, on the other hand, is time-bound. 

Smart goals and stretch goals are both effective measures for productivity. Merging the two will create a practical goal that is result-oriented. 

2. What should you do if you fail to achieve your stretch goal?

Meeting a stretch goal is usually viewed as an example of human excellence. 

But failing to complete shouldn’t be viewed negatively. 

With stretch goals, achieving them isn’t the main priority. Instead, their main purpose is to boost your team’s motivation and help them reach a bigger goal. 

You’ll usually ask your team to achieve 60-70% of an OKR for a stretch goal instead of a 100%. 

Suit Up! It’s Time To Hit Your Stretch Goals

A good stretch goal can empower you and your team to reach a big goal and be creative. They’re a great way to ensure you stay motivated and on track to achieve your vision. 

Viewing your stretch goals through SMART goals and OKRs will break your significant and ambitious goals into measurable tasks and small wins. 

And with the help of a project creator and management tool like ClickUp, stretch goal setting and tracking is easier than ever!

ClickUp can help your business manage its goals better than Harvey Specter manages his law firm. 😉 

Get ClickUp for free today, channel your inner Harvey Specter, and start stretching your goals like a pro! 

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