During the summer of 1998, my girlfriend and I attended a summer business academy at USC. Aside from studying diagrams, plotting charts, and creating a fictitious stock portfolios, we were asked to set goals. At the time, it was a very simple question – where do you imagine yourself to be in four years?

It was a tough question. Sometimes we have trouble planning for the same day’s lunch. At the time, I was naive. I had BIG goals. Actually, I still sort of do and for very good reasons.

  • Set impossible goals for the future
  • Execute with strategic planning
  • Reflect on your every action

Two Impossible Goals

Why set impossible goals and run the chance of never achieving them? To let yourself down? No. It lends a different mindset.

I love this quote by Dan Dodge for Google Corporate –

“Achieving 65% of the impossible is better than 100% of the ordinary – Setting impossible goals and achieving part of them sets you on a completely different path than the safe route.”

Warning: don’t confuse business goals with personal goals. Mixing them will cause confusion. It’s especially hard to do when it’s our own businesses at hand.

A Mission Goal tells you the fundamental purpose of the organization. It defines the customer and the critical processes. It informs you of the desired level of performance.

Mission goals (internal) usually include SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) terms.

Example: Photograph 25 weddings at $5,000 each by 2011 and have at least 5 of them featured / published.

A Vision Goal outlines what the organization wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be. It concentrates on the future. It is a source of inspiration. It provides clear decision-making criteria.

Vision goals (external) usually refer to your unique position and how you want to be perceived by the public – what words define you?

Example 1: I am a lifestyle photographer for fabulous people. – Jasmine Star

Example 2: I am an inspirational, master photographer looking to connect with those who love to better themselves. – Scott Robert Lim

scott robert lim facebook


Once you have your end goals, your strategies and tactics help you get there.

Features of an effective vision statement:

  • Clarity and lack of ambiguity
  • Vivid and clear picture
  • Description of a bright future
  • Memorable and engaging wording (post coming soon)
  • Realistic aspirations
  • Alignment with organizational values and culture (brand association)


I also was compelled to write this article after playing with “The Wilderness Downtown.” It’s a dynamic website that tells a visual story of you. (If at work, view at home because there is sound)

the wilderness downtown

In a nutshell, it asks you to “[w]rite a postcard of advice to the younger you that lived there then.”

Whether you succeed, fail or stay stagnant, reflect. It will help you better sculpt your future goals.


Goals (Mission and Vision) should be written down and posted somewhere visibly so that you could see it everyday.

If you write your goals down, they will help commit you psychologically. It will become a social responsibility to achieve them.

What I want you to do now…

  • If you think this will help a friend, please share it with the Retweet or Facebook buttons below.
  • Comment what you would tell your younger self.

Your tater tot loving friend,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. All of this reflecting and goal setting dawned on me extra when I watched “Back to the Future” yesterday.

P.P.S. Today is Google’s 12th birthday. They grew exponentially with impossible goals. What are yours?

P.P.P.S. Last day to take advantage of the coupons for my one-column blog theme!