Stretch goals – goals that seem impossible given current reality – have advantages. They encourage creative thinking and exploratory learning, according to  And, they can have a downside, too.

If the goal is truly impossible, it can demotivate and overwhelm team members. Increase stress levels and absenteeism. Result excessive risk-taking, causing mistakes that take a toll on the organization or the well-being of it’s people. Overly ambitious stretch goals can also lead to unethical behavior as people feel pressured to do whatever it takes to achieve success, even if it goes against the organization’s values, or basic morality.

When used properly, stretch goals build confidence and increase engagement by forcing re-evaluation of what’s possible. But, taking them too far or using them too often can deplete your team, doing more harm than good.