The adjective "achievable" places an upper-bound on difficulty, whereas "challenging" is a lower-bound. I would love a word or phrase that binds difficulty in the sweet spot between these two.

In other words, I am looking for a word or phrase that means "challenging, but achievable."

Thank you!


The context of this question is that I am looking to come up for a replacement mnemonic for SMART criteria, in which the 'A' typically stands for 'achievable.'

I don't like that particular criterion because it doesn't capture the whole story of difficulty-appropriateness. Both bounds are important to me.

Example sentence

None of Frankenstein's goals were [?]; he aspired only to drink his coffee without spilling, and to engender world peace."

  • 1
    You should have the privilege to vote up now. – Scott May 13 '16 at 0:08
  • I wouldn't call challenging a lower bound. "Easy" would be a lower bound. "challenging" and "hard" mean about the same thing. Achievable presumably means "not impossible". So do you want something between "hard" and "not impossible"? – ab2 May 13 '16 at 21:41
  • Consider the domain of all aspirations, great and small. The subset of those aspirations that is "challenging" or "hard" for an individual consist of those aspirations that meet some minimum difficulty level. Aspirations with difficulty lower than that threshold are excluded. Therefore, the requirement for aspirations to be "challenging" places a lower-bound on the difficulty of those aspirations. – Dan May 16 '16 at 18:48
  • "So do you want something between "hard" and "not impossible"?" -- Yes, exactly! – Dan May 16 '16 at 18:50

You might be looking for the words like practicable, feasible, reasonable, attainable, and practical.

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    Thank you for the response! "Reasonable," I think, is an especially good choice. But they all, even "reasonable," sound like upper-bounds to me. By this I mean that I might call the goal of drinking your coffee without spilling "practicable, feasible, reasonable, attainable, and practical." Hrm. +1 if I had the reps for it. – Dan May 12 '16 at 22:50

I’m having trouble nailing the “sweet spot” with a single word, but here are some suggestions for the lower bound:

  • meritorious:

    deserving of honor or esteem

  • worthwhile:

    worth doing or getting : good enough, important enough, etc., to be worth spending time, effort, or money on

  • substantial:

    of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc.
    of real worth, value, or effect

  • non-trivial (or nontrivial):

    Not trivial; of some importance.

It seems to be that the first three, at least, carry a connotation of attainability.


It seems to me you are looking for the optimal level of difficulty.

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