Oh….just wait until I hit that big goal! Ah…a new year, new chances to hit my goals! I’m in need of a change in my life, let me do THIS and THAT and WAM! Big change! I can hardly wait!

If you are anything like me, just thinking about making some big exciting change in my life gives me a rush. A life high. Excites me.

I can (and have) spent hours fantasizing about how things will be on the ‘other side’. I get on my computer and research the heck outta my new idea. I get all revved up about my new goal and can hardly wait to start!

But starting on my journey to that big scary goal? Well that’s really hard!!!

Thinking about, fantasizing about, getting excited about, envisioning our lives on the other side of reaching our big scary goals is SO. MUCH. FUN. But getting real by defining and committing to our big scary goals is HARD!

So let’s spend a little time together and move through a process that will help you take your fantasy into reality.

You need to clearly DEFINE what your big scary goal is.

Sure, you have a fantasized idea of what you want sitting up there in your head. Your vision is amazing! When you go up there in your head to your end game, you smile.

But what is this big scary goal? And why do you want this fantasy to come true? And where does this goal fit into your values system?

Being able to define exactly what AND why you are setting this big scary goal for yourself is the first step to making something happen.

For example: I had a big scary goal of running a marathon before I was 40 years old. Sounds good, right? If you and I were talking at a cocktail party and I told you that goal, I’d feel pretty good about myself and I’d hope you were really impressed!

But when I turned 40 I was faced with the fact that I had set out this big scary goal a few years earlier and had yet to run that marathon. Why? Well because that goal sounded really good, made me feel good, got me a lot of admiration, but frankly, I had never really dug deep and defined what ‘running a marathon’ meant to me, and WHY THE HECK I wanted to run a marathon!

Start your path to success at the beginning – define your goal in YOUR terms.

I’ve talked before about your Who Am I List . This list is YOU. This is who you are at your core. This list is your anchor to your best life. This list is the source of all goals that you will actually achieve.

Because when you are anchored to who you truly are, your heart’s desires, your loves, what makes you happy, how you want to show up every day then your goals become so clear! And your desire to actually achieve these goals moves from fantasy world to reality.

If you have already created this list, awesome! Pull it out and put it in front of you. If you haven’t yet created this list, go back and review the process and create one before you go any further.

Using my Who Am I list, I sat down with my big scary goal, and wrote the following: Run a marathon? Yes – because I anchor my life in physical and mental well-being and I am a personal development freak! A marathon, while a very scary thing, will move me forward on two very important life dimensions: physical/mental health and growth/challenge/development.

Next, align your goal with your values.

Your Who Am I list acts as a starting point for your life values. Meaning, what are your priorities in life? Who are you here to be?

Partner. Parent. Professional. Family. Nature. Community. Spirituality. Health.

What are the primary buckets in your life? How do you show up to each of these buckets every day/week/year/lifetime? How do you want to show up to each of these buckets every day/week/year/lifetime?

Write down four ‘life buckets’ right now. Underneath your Who Am I list. With a writing utensil and paper (you can transfer to a computer later, but for now, we go old school pen/paper because the process of writing makes a big difference in your ability to achieve!).

Good. Now, pull out that big scary fantasy goal that’s been swimming around your head and write that down.

Go big here! BIG! This is the year you will do something BIG.

Quit my job. Get certified as an instructor. Adopt a dog. Get that big promotion. Take a month vacation on Bali living in a hut over the water (OK, that was mine. Sorry…)

Look at your goal. Look at your life buckets. Look at your Who Am I list. Do they all jive?

Jive = your goal is something that fits into at least one of your quadrants and beautifully covers off on a few of your Who Am I statements.

If you are in jive mode, you are very much on your way to making some big scary awesome change in your life.

Lastly make sure that your goal is for YOU and makes YOU feel good.

This seems so obvious. But goal hitting is a real life thing. There will be nay-sayers. There will be non-supporters. There will be days when you don’t feel like doing anything toward your goal.

That sh*t is real. And hard. And sometimes derailing.

So back to my marathon goal. In my head I could see me crossing the finish line. I could see that tin foil blanket wrapped around me as I walked off the course with a medal around my neck and crowds of people cheering. I could see my smile – because I had done it!!

And then I pictured having to get up on a Sunday morning to do a long run.

If you don’t know this about me already, I LOVE to sleep. I LOVE to sleep in on Sundays. I LOVE rolling over and snuggling with Rj. I LOVE late breakfast and movies or football all day.

I do not love getting up at 6am for a 15 mile run. I never have. I never will.

And to make things harder, Rj didn’t have to get out of bed so early so he would roll over on me and say ‘do you really have to get up?’. When I couldn’t hang out with friends at brunch I got the question, ‘can’t you run your long run tomorrow?’

Even telling people that I was training for a marathon got met with various reactions. Most were supportive, of course, but some people just love to bring up all the awfulness of what I was about to do (which only helps to support those thoughts in your head!).

There will be nay-sayers. There will be non-supporters. There will be days when you want to give up.

But if you feel good about what you are doing. If you don’t ever want to ask the question, ‘what if I had…’, If you want to hit this goal, make sure that you feel strong, good and aligned to your goal.

So if you get shaken down the road to achievement, you won’t falter.

Need a little bit of support getting comfortable with putting your big scary goal out there to others and working through those naysayers? Here’s a great speech from Brene Brown (one of my all time favorite people). Take a look/listen – and get motivated to do what you want to do for you.

Now, COMMIT To That Goal!

What, you think that just because you wrote your big scary goal down and defined how your big scary goal fits into your best life that all is good to go?

Nope. You have to commit baby. Really commit. Cause you are really, really gonna do this. Not just a little. Not maybe try and see how things go. Not decide that two months into your goal achievement you are too busy or that you’ll wait another year because this year is just not the right time for whatever good reasons you make up.

We’re committing here. You wanna go there with me? Good.

Get into an achievement mindset.

Everything you do (or don’t do) in life starts with your mindset. Creating the life you want IS mindset over matter.

We all have beliefs buried deep in our brains about how successful we think we can be at something. These beliefs started when we were very young and have grown in our brains over our lives. These beliefs are strong! And unfortunately, many of these beliefs are negative and limiting and impede us doing things that seem big, or scary, or out of society norm.

I could never do that because…..I don’t have enough money, I’m not good enough, no one will support me, I’m too busy at work, that’s not what someone in their 40s/50s would do, I need to wait until I retire/the kids are grown/I get that promotion.

Those negative voices in your head? They are strong! They bully all those positive voices around (and usually win). They are ‘realistic’ or ‘practical’, as many people will confirm for you.

But they are only voices. They can be silenced. They can be changed. Realistic and Practical can have very positive expanding definitions if you just think that way.

So right now, right here, look at that goal that you defined earlier and say to yourself – I can do this! Sure, I may not know how. I may run into issues. Others may think I’m crazy.

But ME? I’m gonna have at this and WIN!

Fight Your Fear


I want you to read that over and over again until you laugh. Literally LOL. Because, right?!

Every time we are fearful, we are thinking about what could happen, and immediately taping into our brain to help us put some sort of rationale behind our feelings.

Remember what you just read about how important your mindset is. Fear is our brain (mindset) saying: You can’t do this because….you aren’t good enough, you don’t deserve this success, you are limited in your resources/support, you’ll be letting people down, since when are you more important the others around you?

Thanks brain – way to support me!

But fear is a made up emotion. Fear is simply expecting that the worst will happen. Because that is how we are programmed.

Those people in this world who have set a big scary goal and made it to their finish line have done so by reprogramming their brains to be positive and supportive AND focusing on doing their best, every single day, and directing their fantasy expectations on a positive trajectory.

I saw a great TEDx video recently from a career coach named Ashley Stahl. In this talk, she address fear and has some really great advice about how to manage through fear. Take a moment and watch – I think you might find very useful (especially for those who’s big scary goal may be to change their career).

Fear is not real. Fear is a mindset.

Change that mindset to confidence, faith, joy, happiness and excited anticipation.

Goals Are Journeys as Much As They Are Destinations

For all of you hard core, go get ’em, take no prisoners, hit that goal people out there, I feel ya. The quicker to get this one out of the way, the sooner you can get onto the next one, right?!

Or, the quicker you can stop this whole big goal setting thing and take a nap. Either way – we want to move as quickly as we can.

People! We have time. Big scary goals take time. Do NOT think otherwise.

And of course, the perfect example of this is a marathon vs. a sprint!!

I trained for my marathon for 9 months. Yes, that’s way longer than most marathon training plans, but I was determined to do this thing right. I took my training slowly. I focused on strength training as much as running. I did yoga. I stretched. I rested. I ate well.

I was going to get to that finish line. I was going to cross that finish line standing up. I was going to recover from my marathon with no injuries.

Because frankly, I never wanted to do another marathon again, so I had to make this one count.

But back to the real point. If you want to do something big, you have to allow yourself time, patience, set-backs, proper preparation and an open mind.

Because remember, this is a big scary life changing goal. Let’s give it the time and attention it deserves!

Commit to taking your time. Commit to making deep impactful change. Commit to yourself to finally hit this goal.

Because you have time. You need to strengthen yourself physically and mentally. You need to work through your fear. You need to research, train, lay groundwork.

As Aerosmith tells us, Life is a journey, not a destination. (Sorry, but classic rock songs always seem to have the right messages).


Build your Who Am I list.
Find your values buckets.
Focus on what makes YOU feel good.

Change your mindset.
Work through your fear.
Get excited about the journey.

And when you are done, look that big scary goal straight in the eye and tell it: SEE YOU SOON, SUCKER!

And if you know anyone else who needs to see/hear this same message today, send this to them!


  • Gayle Hilgendorff

    Executive Health and Leadership Coach, Thrive Global Facilitator, Author and Aspiring Blogger

    Gayle Hilgendorff Executive Health and Leadership Coach / Thrive Global Facilitator / Aspiring Blogger (corporate2carny) / Author of Live More, Work Better: A Practical Guide to a Balanced Life (Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2015) Gayle Hilgendorff is a certified executive health and leadership coach who left her Managing Director of Human Resources position at Accenture in 2011 to found her own business focused on helping corporate executives achieve their best, professionally and personally, through better health. While at Accenture, Gayle was responsible for executive career coaching and leadership development programs for a global organization of 30,000 people. After a turning point in her own career, she realized that true leadership and professional success were founded on being a healthy person – mentally, physically and emotionally – not just working harder. Gayle’s health passion became a platform for her consulting work with corporate executives. Working with participants across the globe, she incorporates holistic health concepts into her leadership coaching. Gayle integrates basic knowledge about how eating better, moving more, and finding ways to manage stress are the true foundations for a successful personal and professional life. With science backed concepts, and easy to integrate actions, Gayle’s programs have received high praise and tangible results. Gayle’s background in the corporate world combined with her likable, easy style make her a believable, relatable coach/presenter/author who has proven success in helping people make big change.