The Counterintuitive Way to Set Goals

goals Sep 01, 2021

This month’s theme is goals.

And to be honest, I’m tired of talking about goals, at least in the traditional sense.

When I even say the word goals, visions of Instagram memes and caffeinated motivational speakers cloud my brain. This topic is so played out, and it’s hard to write about in a way that actually adds to the conversation.

But even through all the buzzword clutter, I think there’s a part of goal setting that doesn’t get talked about enough and that is the mindset of setting goals. Because as much as social media would like you to believe it, manifestation and astrological planet placements won’t do the inner work for you.

In this blog, we’ll look at some common goal-setting mistakes, talk about the role of your subconscious, and leave you with 4 counterintuitive tips to help you set effective and meaningful goals.


4 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes

Working with entrepreneurs, coaches, and athletes, I have seen it all. From big thinkers, to detailed planners, to hard workers, many people make a lot of the same mistakes when setting goals. 


Mistake #1. Not Aligning Goals With Beliefs

Do your goals align with who you want to be in the world? If your internal beliefs are in conflict with your goal, you’ll make everything harder than it needs to be and you’ll find a million ways to subconsciously self-sabotage. 

If your beliefs and goals aren’t aligned, one of them will need to change. 

I’ll give you an example. Many of my MCA students set financial goals for their businesses. Then, and as we do mindset work throughout my course, they uncover limiting beliefs that keep them from hitting their goals. One belief that comes up a lot is that you can either make money OR help people (and you can’t do both). This belief ultimately keeps them from making money until they do the work to reframe their money mindset. 

This might sound INSANE. I mean who doesn't want to make more money right? But our internal beliefs aren't always logical or true. AND, if we aren't aware of them we subconsciously hold ourselves back. 

So what to do? 

When you set any goal, write down how that goal makes you feel and try your best to identify any limiting beliefs you have that may be in conflict. If you think of any, you need to decide if your belief or your goal needs to change.


Mistake #2. Things Will Get Easier When....

I hate to tell you, your life won’t become easier when you buy a house, start a family, get that job, score a spot on the team. It may get easier, OR it may get harder. But if you expect your life to get easier once you’ve reached your goal, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The value of going for the goal is not because things will get easier, or because you'll be happier, or because life will magically line up. The value of going for it is in the going for it itself. It's who YOU have to become to achieve that goal. 

With any goal, you have to be willing to go for it because of who you will become by going for it (not because of what you'll get.)


Mistake #3. Trying To Do It All Alone

Athletes are notoriously independent, some might even say stubborn. We believe that if we just work hard enough we can do anything, so we often resist asking for help. That mindset often gets in the way of us making the type of progress we want.

I wanted to start a podcast, so I hired an audio engineer. I wanted time in my week to work out and grow my business, so I hired a nanny. I wanted to write a book so I bought a program to help me do it, from start to finish. I’m not afraid to call a housekeeper or a handyman to keep my house from imploding.

I don't ask for help because I’m lazy, I ask for help because I’m committed to my goals.

So, where can you make it easy?

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, there are people, programs, and resources out there to help you. All you have to do is ask for help, be open to another way, and take the damn shortcuts. Trust me on this one. 


Mistake #4. Working Hard AND Hardly Working

Gut check: Are you really spending your time working on what matters most? OR are you editing your business cards when you should be calling clients? Are you watching tape when you should be running stairs?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re working hard; the universe doesn’t reward hard work in and of itself. What matters is that you are working hard on the thing that’s going to help you make the biggest progress toward your goal.

Don’t fall into the trap of working on things that don’t matter as an avoidance tactic.


4 Tips To Set Goals You Can (And Will) Crush

There are thousands of blogs on the internet that can teach you how to use things like time blocking, progress charts, and accountability partners to reach your goals; and that’s all important stuff. But achieving your goals doesn’t begin with task management and strategy.

Achieving your goals begins with making sure the goal you are setting is the right one.

These four tips will help you avoid common goal-setting mistakes so you can start setting goals you really believe in and are willing to fight for.


1. Audit Your Goals

Sometimes setting goals you can (and will) crush means letting go of others.

Read that sentence again.

I know, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but I come back to this concept a lot. Many of us have more than one goal in our life, and that’s totally fine. But it’s important to regularly audit, prioritize, and be willing to let go of goals that are no longer serving you.

Because as great as a goal can be, we sometimes set goals that contradict or sabotage others.

For example, let’s say you have a goal this year to get out of debt and another goal to travel to Europe. Face it, you may not be able to do them both this year. So which one is more important to you?

If you fail to prioritize your goals you will either:

  • Get stuck in a state of indecision and not make any progress toward either goal
  • Succeed at both goals and fail in other important areas of your life because you’re stretched too thin and totally burnt out.
  • Make progress toward one goal and feel unfulfilled because you ‘failed’ at the others.
  • Get in the habit of setting goals and not achieving them which underscores your confidence of doing what you say you will do. 

A little real talk: If there’s a goal you’ve had for a long while that you haven’t made any progress toward, maybe you don’t really want it all that badly. And maybe it’s time to let go of it and put that energy toward a goal you do want. Psssttttt.... it's okay. 


2. Commit To The Sacrifice

Before you set a goal, ask yourself, “What will it take?” Be realistic. Write down what you know you’ll need to sacrifice in order to reach that goal. Is the reward worth the sacrifice?

For example, one of my big goals growing up was to play basketball overseas. And I did! But before I went for it, I thought deeply about the sacrifice it would require.

I knew it would mean spending lots of time away from my family, long hours in the gym, living somewhere where I didn’t know the language. It meant that while I was playing it would be hard to have a serious relationship. I knew that achieving my goal essentially meant putting the rest of my life on hold. And I decided that my goal - the experience of playing overseas - was worth it.

Are you willing to sacrifice what you need to in order to reach the goal you say you want?

The second part of this is that there are no guarantees. So the sacrifice has to be worth it EVEN IF YOU DON'T REACH THE GOAL. This is tough one to accept but it's absolutely necessary. Can you GO FOR IT, totally, fully, even though it might not work out? That's a lot of sacrifice with no guarantees. 


3. Suspend Your Disbelief

In other words, you have to believe in your goal. You have to believe in it even before you get any evidence that it’s worth believing in and you have to believe in it even when you get evidence that it’s not going to happen.

You have to believe in your goal so much that when you fail (notice I said when), you will get back up and try it again.

It takes courage to believe in your goals; it’s a lot easier to pretend like you don’t care. But when you set a goal, you have to believe in it. If you don’t, you’ll fail before you try.


4. Align Your Subconscious

There’s so much we don’t know about the subconscious brain, but what we do know is that it is deeply intertwined with your inner beliefs. It filters information, works hard to keep you safe, and steers your actions. In the simplest terms, your beliefs work with your subconscious brain to either move you toward or away from your goals.

The good news is that you don’t have to leave your subconscious brain up to chance; you can train it. And training your subconscious has exponential benefits; it will set you apart and lead to long-term, life-changing shifts.

Visualization is the single best tool for getting your subconscious brain aligned with what you really want. It’s a mental rehearsal that allows you to practice a sport, activity, performance, or situation without physically being there. When this tool is applied to goal setting, visualization allows you to experience your success before it happens.

Visualization builds your belief that what you want is attainable, rewarding, and not all that scary.

To get the most out of visualization, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are 2 simple ways to get started:

  • The BRAVR Method - Great for athletes + coaches. This interactive daily visualization exercise incorporates breathing, positive self-talk and goal setting to help you see and achieve what’s possible.
  • Tap Into Your True Power Guided Visualization - Great for entrepreneurs, high performers, and anyone with a goal - A 10-minute (audio) guided visualization that will remind you of your power to help you make massive shifts in your life.


There’s no glory in setting a goal just to set one. So I hope you’ll use these tips to set goals that you can get behind; mind, body, and soul.

If you want to dive deeper into this topic, I'll leave you with a few episode recommendations from The Inner Game Podcast:


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