The Best Advice You’re Not Taking: The Real Reason You’re Not Setting Goals - Legally Bold

The Best Advice You’re Not Taking: The Real Reason You’re Not Setting Goals

A few years before I left my job, I started working with a coach whom I randomly met while sampling vegan cheese at a natural products expo.  The story on why I started working that coach is a whole conversation unto itself, but one of the first things we began working on together was my goals.  

In the productivity realm, there are entire books, series, courses, and software on goal setting.  The concept seems simple enough. You envision something that you would like to happen in the near or distant future and work toward it.  In this way setting a goal gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. Your goals help to focus your time, energy, and resources. They also spur you into acting now on your most important life dreams.

Although most people understand the importance of goal setting, few people do it. Here’s why.


Even though we revere athletes and successful business people for setting and achieving goals, in our own lives we look at goal setting with a healthy dose of cynicism. Goals seem like things people talk about but never do. People judge goals as impractical pipe dreams especially if they are bold or audacious. Even when you set a goal, people tell you things like, “we plan, God laughs” which makes your focus on goals setting seem like a futile activity.


To set a goal and really own up to what you want requires courage.  Let’s face it, achieving a goal like leaving your job and becoming an actor sounds fantastic in theory.  However, doing it means foregoing the security of everything you’ve known in the past for a very uncertain future. It means leaning into fear, discomfort, and probably financial insecurity for longer than you know. To face that uncertainty and insecurity head-on takes more guts than you can imagine.


When Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps talks about what he did to win a gold medal, you begin to understand 100% commitment.  Michael trained in the pool seven days a week for 5-7 hours. He maintained a strict diet, slept 8 hours a night, and took a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon. He literally ate, slept, and breathed swimming for years. That is commitment. While most of us don’t have winning the Olympics as one of our life goals, we will need 100% commitment to make any goal a reality.


When I began working with my coach, I thought I had goals but quickly realized that I only had vague ideas. There were things that I wanted for my life, but I never sat down and mapped out exactly what I desired or made a plan to achieve them. Goal setting requires clarity and specificity. If you want to achieve anything, you have to know what you ‘re going after.  This means your goal shouldn’t just be, “I want to buy a house.” Your clarified goal becomes, “I want to buy this style house, in this neighborhood at this price point for these reasons.”

What Happens Next?

Once we move past the hurdles that stop us from setting goals, the next step is to set them. The goals I set with my coach were to leave my job and become a full time, successful entrepreneur, get married to a wonderful guy, and have 2 kids. (In actuality, my goals were a lot more specific than that, but you get the point.)

Did all of that happen? Not yet. I left my job. I am a full-time entrepreneur with a great life. At the same time, I’m not one of those rags to riches in 6 months stories that marketers tell to sell their products online. I’m not married with children, and I have bigger dreams for my business.  Despite this, I wake up every day with a grateful heart because I know a secret. I am Michael Phelps in the pool. I set my goals. I am 100% committed to them, and I am doing what I need to do to get there. Success is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time.

Now that you know why you aren’t setting goals, what can you do to turn these insights into action in your life?  Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.