In two words: They Change
We tend to be myopic in our views of our future. We often cannot imagine the opportunities before us. Therefore we aim for our best guess at the future, and it is almost never right. Just ask a 4-year-old, or an 8-year-old, or an 18-year-old, or a 30-year-old what they want to be when they grow up. Even if we are part of the distinct minority and nail it, we can’t imagine the path we take to get there.
In my line of work — training — I have met only ONE person who said they set out with the career goal of being a “trainer”. I’ve met a TON of folks (like myself) who discovered training quite by accident and LOVE it. Many go back and get additional education, but there are precious few (none?!) undergraduate programs in adult education and training. The graduate world is full of them. This is proof positive that training is a discovered career and requires a course correction to find.
Many people and companies hold to their goals as if they are immovable objects. This is set for failure, because the situations those goals were established under change. We must change with them. Not achieving a goal is not failure. Not setting them sure and holding to them when they need to be changed sure is.
A corollary to this issue is that we aim too low. C.S. Lewis says:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
I am first in line guilty of this sort of thinking, and it’s hard to change. I recently chatted with a friend who has a great idea, great talent, and a great future. His comment was of the sort, “I don’t think I’ll make any money from this, but I want to do it.” That’s a great mindset and I applaud the freedom from the tyranny of materialism, but I personally think he has a great business opportunity and if he even half looked for it, there would be a great living to be made in it. That doesn’t mean he should set a goal to make lots of money, to be sure, but it is extremely limiting to remove that possibility from the goal at the outset.
Set lofty goals, re-evaluate them, and change them, as necessary.