The Magic Of Thinking Big Or Even Bigger Still

Okay! So I borrowed part of the title from David Schwartz (The Magic of Thinking Big) but so what? It’s a good one and I like it. If you’ve been following my missives on goal setting, you’ll know that I have already alluded to the fact that when setting goals you ought to set them big.

So here it is for the record, think big and set big goals!

If you’ve ever read a book on goal setting or personal development you will have read that you should set big goals. If you’ve ever had a boss who told you to set goals he will have said this to you at some point. If you’ve ever listened to a motivational speaker you will have heard this woven into the fabric of their talk…

As Les Brown says, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Or David Joseph Schwartz (of The Magic of Thinking Big), “Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success.”

Or Earl Nightingale, “To achieve happiness we should make sure that we are never without an important goal.”

And Mark Victor Hansen, “Big goals get big results. No goals get no results or somebody else’s results.”

Let’s face it, everyone knows that they ought to set big goals. This is not a new concept. What’s interesting however is how few people actually do set big goals.

Think about it for a moment…

  • When was the last time you were enjoying a drink in your local pub and your mate who runs in the local running club every Thursday night came up to you and told you that he was going to run in the Olympic games?
  • Or the last time that your friend who canvasses for the local political party said to you, “I’m going to be the next prime minister or president?”
  • Or the last time one of your friends said that they were going to chuck in their job and work 4 hours a week and become a millionaire (see Tim Ferriss)?

Get my drift?

I once worked for a well know training company. They really liked the work of Anthony Robbins and several of their courses and programmes were based on Robbins-esque type material. I remember once saying, quite seriously, that I would like to be the “next Anthony Robbins” and they all looked at me like I was either a) mad, b) arrogant or c) both (aside – I have very different plans and goals now! I don’t want to be anyone else other than myself!).


So here were a group of people who teach goal setting, personal development and motivation. They’re all about the magic of thinking big and going for it but I had made them feel uncomfortable with my goal. Was this because I have had just started as an employee with them and I should have been in “humble learner” mode? Was it because it was okay for me to be good but not that good? Was it because they didn’t believe that they could be that good so therefore they could not believe that I could be that good either? Who knows? Frankly, who cares?

Small minds limit dreams.

Remember that. I said we’d be straight on and we need to be because some personal development learns require tough love. If you set big goals, many people will rain all over your parade. All over it. Not just light April showers either but full on torrential typhoon-like downpours. Big storms. People do not like big goals, they make them feel uncomfortable and that’s before we consider how they might make you feel yourself!

And these are not small-minded people either.

Often times the barriers to setting big goals are rooted in common wisdoms or perceived truths.

Stuff that is just accepted as true. Big lies if you like. They probably weren’t designed to hold you back but hold you back they will and do.

Here’s one I accepted as a truth…

“You cannot make millions out of a (non-fiction) book, you have to use it as a back end for bigger products and that’s where you make your money.”

Now in this “truth” is a wisdom. It sure makes sense to have something else to sell. If you can sell 10,000 books and make $2 per book profit that’s $20,000 but if you can upsell a product that makes profit of $100 to 10% of those people that bought a book that’s 1,000 times 100 = $100,000. So good advice for sure but that does not hide the truth that there is a “dont think big” lie in there too…

You cannot make millions out of a book… Really….? Go tell that to Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield and Stephen Covey!

For sure, they all made big money from upselling seminars, audios etc but they did make millions from their books alone.

The problem is that people aren’t happy with setting uncomfortably big goals. We weren’t taught this way. We were trained to be accepting, to make the most out of our life, to do the 9 to 5, to be a good little “soldier”. Most of us were not encouraged to think big.

We bought the mediocrity lie.

Remember when you said that you wanted to play football for a living? Or maybe you said you wanted to be a famous actor? Or a racing driver?

Few parents or teachers support these kinds of dreams. And they’re right in some ways because not everyone can be the president. Not everyone can win the golf open. Not everyone can break the world mile record.

But someone has to be president. Someone has to be an international golfer. And someone will break the world mile record (okay, maybe the 1500m!).

Most people have far more potential than they are currently using.

And that’s the rub.

When I speak at conferences, I ask people to set goals for the coming year. Few set what I would call big goals. Few have mastered the magic of thinking big. Let’s say I am working with a sales team and I ask what they would all like to sell this year. Few tell me a figure that is significantly at odds with the target given to them by their managers. So if their manager has targeted them at 250k of sales they will tell me their goal is 250k of sales or at the outside 300k.

Why not $1 million?

So I think it’s time to test your limits. I am going to suggest some goals for you to think about. I am not for a moment suggesting that you want or have to go for any of these but we need to start somewhere and I want to help you to really get this. As I list each goal I want you to honestly think about how you would feel about setting this as a real goal for you. Not whether you want it or not but how you would feel if you wrote it down, committed to it, told everyone that you were going to achieve this, took consistent action towards achieving this, made your life achieving this…

  • Become the prime minister or president of your country.
  • Become a top 5 in the world film actor or actress.
  • Live in a $10m house.
  • Have a fleet of $100k+ sports cars.
  • Own your own private jet.
  • Be the CEO of a billion dollar company.

How did you do? I’m guessing you struggled with some if not all of them. Don’t worry. That’s to be expected. It’s your anti-ambition conditioning (AAC).

This is a war you have to fight and you must win.

You need to defeat your AAC and the only way you can do this is to start to think about what you really do want in your life and then to set some really big goals.

I remember looking for my first sales job. I hadn’t intended to get into sales but several people had suggested to me that I might be good at it so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a go”. I had resigned from my last job and had looked up a couple of recruitment agencies who specialised in placing salespeople. I still remember the conversation I had with one of them. He was trying to “sell” me on a job with a basic of 15k but with an OTE of 50 to 75k. I told him that I wanted something more realistic, something that wasn’t just wishful thinking. Probably more like 15k with an OTE of 25k.

My conditioning stopped me thinking big.

At the time, I thought that 50k was a ridiculous figure. My brain could not cope with the idea of setting a goal to earn 50k or more!

Guess what I got? A job on 16k with a first year OTE of 25-30k. Touche!

A couple of years ago I set myself a goal to charge a certain amount per day and to only deliver seminars or conference talks a certain number of days per year. At the time that goal made me feel very, very uncomfortable indeed… but time has proven that not only was my BIG goal not that BIG but actually that it wasn’t BIG enough.

I have since achieved it and have had to set new goals.

I don’t want to get into a political debate but it is quite topical to “rubbish” the salaries of “fat cat” CEOs these days saying that they are not worth the money and that no-one should be paid that much. The media usually equate their salaries to how many shop floor workers the company could employ for the same figure. This seems to fire up rage in a large proportion of society, probably because they don’t have this money or do not have any belief that they will ever have this amount of money.

If you want to set big financial goals the last thing you want to do is join in with this conversation. You need to forge your own path. See, the way I see it, you can either sit around moaning about it or you can use this information to challenge yourself to set yourself a bigger goal.

Several speakers charge well in excess of 100k (GBP) for a one hour speech. Are they worth it? Who knows! But what they really demonstrate is that it is possible so use the information around you to embrace the magic of thinking big or bigger still and set yourself BIG goals.

We’ll talk more about big goals in the future but for now I challenge you to share your big goals in public and on this blog. Batter through your AAC and do it, now!

About the author: Gavin Ingham
Gavin Ingham is a speaker and author on mental toughness and will help you to Be More, Do More & Have More in your business and in your life. For all of the latest news, podcasts, videos, tips and strategies join his newsletter. Sign up to the newsletter
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