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Don't be non-committal when it comes to setting goals.

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Do you ever feel a bit evasive when it comes to setting goals? You love a New Years Resolution but tend to keep them to yourself or quite vague, or fail to set goals altogether?

Why is it we’re scared to set goals? As soon as we set one, and speak it out loud, we have an overwhelming fear of failing. A fear of failing to achieve the goal or take any steps towards it at all. So, instead, we fail to commit to a goal in the first place. Not only do we fear failing before we’ve even started, self-doubt sets in (“what if I can’t do it?”). We compare ourselves to others (“so and so did it last year and made it look easy”) and scare ourselves off from striving in the first place. We avoid telling people (which might actually be the thing that spurs us into action) for fear of looking weak / lazy / failing in the eyes of others.

This year however, there was one goal I set for myself which I am reflecting on. Towards the end of last year, I noticed that I was close to running 500 miles. This wasn’t an intention I set on 1 January, I had simply been totting up the miles over the course of the year. Realising I was near to the 500 target in October, I decided to go for it and ended the year on just over 500 miles. Moving into 2019, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could run 600’? So I set that as a goal, breaking it down into a weekly target. Not only have I achieved that goal, but I achieved it early so will finish the year with 600 miles safely under my belt.

What I learnt which will help you with setting new goals (not just applicable to running goals!)

  • Who are you doing it for? - When it comes to setting goals, we’re more likely to achieve them if there is internal motivation to do it. Ask yourself who you’re doing it for? My running goal was something I wanted purely for myself. I wasn’t influenced by others, no one else was doing it, I didn’t care or know what others were doing. Watch out for what is driving you towards a goal. If it’s others influence, you’ll be less likely to achieve it and it will certainly feel harder in getting there.

  • Small steps - It’s often easy to be put off by long term, ambitious goals. The key for me was to have a smaller weekly target. I knew I had it in me to reach my weekly target.. Setting these smaller targets helps you celebrate more frequently and stay positive which in turn spurs you on even more.

  • Go with it - When you’re in the zone, do more. I wasn’t bound by my weekly target, if I felt like running more, I did. I became competitive with myself and this meant if there were weeks I was away working or on holiday, I could go easy on myself.

  • Be flexible - If you know you don’t like being too restricted, make sure you’re flexible with yourself. Have enough wiggle room to flex the plan week by week, month by month. When we’ve got too many rules, we can rebel against them, feel constrained or suffocated by them. Having flexibility allows you to act in tune with how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life at that particular time.

  • Don’t beat yourself up - If you have an off day or week. It’s ok. I knew my internal motivation would drive me forward and yours will too. It’s important to let yourself off the hook if you don’t meet one of your sub-goals. You’re in it for the long haul and you have chance to get back on track. Be kind!

  • You will glow with pride - I had a great sense of achievement having hit my target, and felt proud of myself. Achieving your goals will build your belief in yourself and give you the confidence to go on and do more.

Whatever your goal is for next year, or next month, have faith in yourself, think of what you truly want, and do it for you. It might be a work goal, going for a promotion or negotiating a pay rise. It may be an exercise goal, health goal or some other personal development target that you have in mind. Whatever type of goal you have for 2020, keeping your eyes on the prize will help you stay focused and ensure you’re beaming with pride when you hit that goal.


Gemma Brown is a certified coach who works with successful women, 1-2-1 and in groups, to identify their strengths and build confidence which enables them to have the self-belief to fearlessly bring their whole being into all areas of life. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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