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From Fit to Stretch: Creating Success On Your Terms

Updated on January 3, 2014

Focus On Results That Matter, Not Problems!

Abraham Maslow said we long to be “that which we glimpse in our most perfect moments.” But, we are often afraid to act on the potential we see in such moments.

Instead of filling us with hope, such glimpses often trigger doubts and fear. In others success, we recognize our failed potential. We wonder, why can't I succeed?

You can, if you will try something new.

To succeed on your terms, create what matters most to you.

As Kate Wolf suggests, "find something you really care about, and live a life that shows it.

But most of us don't know what we really care about. So, we react and respond to circumstances. We struggle with pressing problems. But, because we don’t know how to create results, we rarely succeed at what matters.

True, there are coaching, career planning, and goal-setting approaches. Can't they help us achieve the results we want? Sometimes, but not as much we'd like.

At best, career planning is personal strategic planning. You assess your resources, note problems and weaknesses, set “realistic” goals, and take action. You fit your goals to what you know you can do.

But, experts tell us such planning doesn’t work–in life or work. Harvard's Gary Hamel says fitting goals to resources is a recipe for mediocrity. So what to do?

“Set no small goals," an old saw suggests, "for they lack power to stir our souls.”

Successful goal-setters set goals that matter, then stretch to create them. Creating stretch between where you are and where you want to be is the most important step to take. Realistic goals then become strategic steps to success.

Successful creators are more inventional than conventional. They build bridges between where they are and where they want to be. How? They make it up!

They use an approach that is driven by vision, rooted in reality, and uses creative tension to energize and guide action toward results.

VISION: Vision is a clear, compelling picture of a result you want. Vision just has to be clear enough that you'd recognize your result if you created it.

You don’t have to believe your result is possible, or have all the skills or resources to start. Creators learn and invent what they need to create results. So, stretch for what matters, regardless of what you have.

CURRENT REALITY: Vision must be grounded in reality. Be honest about where you are and what you have. Making things better than they are, or worse, distorts reality, and weakens your foundation for action. Describe reality, don’t judge it!

CREATIVE TENSION: Holding vision and reality in mind together sets up creative tension, and excitement and desire to act. This tension forms in the gap between vision and reality. It sets up a magnetic pull—an attraction—between here and there. Use this tension to energize and guide actions in the direction of desired results.

ACTION LEARNING: When vision is clear, and grounded in reality, take action. If the conventional works, good. If not, invent what you need to create your result.

CREATE AND ADJUST: Learn from experience. Start small and create small successes. Build momentum. Momentum is as important, because it keeps you going when motivation wanes.

FOLLOW THROUGH TO COMPLETION: Use momentum to finish results. Celebrate success, and use the energy of completion to start your next creation.

Do not fear those glimpses of success. They can become the seeds of great results.

The key to succeeding on your terms is honor those glimpses, then create your own bridge from here to there. If you don’t have what you need, make it up!

Once you grasp creating's power to produce results with whatever you have, you'll say, "Maybe this can help me create the results I long for."

And you'd be right.


Bruce Elkin is a 20-year life coach. He works with high potential people who are stuck, stalled, or drifting. He helps you create what matters—in spite of problems or obstacles.

• Get his ebook Emotional Mastery: Manage Your Moods & Create What Matters —With Whatever Life Gives You! - Google Bruce Elkin.

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Stretch Goals Create Success On Your Terms


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    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 3 years ago

      To become a successful person, you should have to set your goal for particular job or task.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 5 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Hi, Jackie. Thanks for your comment. Deadlines are important because they increase creative tension and give you more energy for action. Some are set externally, and some you set yourself. I guess I just didn't have the space to discuss them in this article. But I stress with my clients that all of their actions and results should have some kind of deadline attached to them. Thanks for point it out for others!

    • profile image

      jackie 5 years ago

      hello bruce

      i notice you don't mention much about using deadlines.

      to me when working with robert fritz, the deadlines were

      the one part that made the technique so powerful becasue we

      created things in time limits that we thought were


    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Good stuff, Tom. You're in a great position to experiment with new things, while you maintain your base. I hope my approach will help you create the future you most want.

      If you ever need any help along the way, check out my coaching info at You can subscribe to a newsletter there, get some free articles automatically, and find out how to get my "coaching info package".

      All the best!

    • profile image

      Tom 9 years ago

      Great advice, Bruce! I'm in the process of preparing my stretch goals for my next fiscal year at work, and you've given me some great ideas and justifications for the goals I generate for my team and myself. Since I'm also in a unique position in which I can retire or keep working, I also plan on using your techniques to develop my goals for the next stage in my life. After reading you're vision driven approach, I can see why I've been firmly rooted in the corporate world for the past 35 years and successful entrepreneurs whom I admire are light years ahead of me. I can't do anything about the past 35 years, but I can start using an approach that will create a much better future.