If your goal is to achieve more and raise the bar for yourself, then I have a powerful and counterintuitive tip for you:
Sometimes the way to master a challenge is actually by lowering the bar.
There are two critical factors that go into where you set the bar:
1. The level of achievement. For example, “write a book” or “give a compelling speech.”
2. Your expectation about the result. For example, “I’ll write a bestseller,” or “I’ll move people to tears with my speech.”
Here is the key to where to set the bar:
NEVER lower #2, but #1 is flexible.
Lowering your expectations for yourself is not useful. There is a large body of research which shows that our expectations are largely responsible for our results. I like to say:
“What we believe is what we become.”
Optimism is closely linked with the most positive outcomes. And optimism entails a positive expectation for results. So, keep optimistic and expect the best of yourself.
BUT you can move the bar for #1 based on:
1. The situation
2. Your experience
3. Your feelings
I think that #s 1 and 2 are self-explanatory, and that #3 is most important, so let’s discuss how your feelings can help you decide where to set the bar. It’s a little tricky, so hang in there with me for a minute.
If you are ANXIOUS about a situation, then it can be a good idea to lower the bar to get yourself to do it.
For example, the clients I describe in The Confident Speaker are afraid of public speaking. Many of them avoided speaking in public at all costs. My recommendation was to lower the bar.
“Your only goal is to do it.” I said. “Don’t judge yourself for not being the best speaker in the world- you’re afraid of it and once you get more comfortable and confident, you’ll be great. You won’t get that experience if you can’t get yourself to do it. And if you set the bar is set too high for yourself, you’ll be freaked out and won’t even go.”
Couple this with a positive expectation that you can and will achieve your goals. You will, for instance, get yourself to give a speech. And you can and will eventually (not yet) give an amazing speech.
Once you get comfortable with the bar at a lower level, you slowly start to raise it. Once you get comfortable at that level you will raise it again.
Now, the tricky part is knowing how low to go. You don’t want to start off too low because it will take forever to raise the bar to an optimal level and you’ll lose momentum.
My rule of thumb for how low to begin is:
You should be a bit uncomfortable, such as a rating of 4 out of 10 if 10 is the most uncomfortable.
If you start at 0.5, you won’t push yourself enough to be excited about the outcome. If you set the bar just above the level that you know you can handle, when you do handle it, you’ll feel amazing.
And that amazing feeling is what will get you push yourself and raise the bar higher the next time.

Author's Bio: 

Larina Kase, PsyD, MBA is a New York Times bestselling author, business psychologist, and the author of The Confident Leader: How the Most Successful People Go from Effective to Exceptinal (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Get more tips including Raise the Bar-The New Science of Personal Development when you visit www.pascoaching.com/ConfidentLeader