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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Lines You'll Hear Yourself Say When You're Scared to Go After Your Goals

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You have a big career goal that’s been on your mind for some time. Maybe it’s changing fields or finally going for that management role.

You think about it a lot, but—if we’re being honest—you haven’t taken any concrete steps toward it.

It’s not because you don’t care. Rather, it’s because those big goals are often the scariest. You want them so badly that you’re terrified of failing. To prevent that from happening, you never actually get started. Instead, you’ve talked yourself into believing that you’re happy with the path you’re on.

Sure, in the short-term that might make you feel good, but in the long-term—you’re only holding yourself back. So, start breaking through that self-sabotage today by seeing if any of these lines sound familiar.

1. “It’s Too Risky”

Big changes make people anxious. The most common fears are fear of failure, fear of what other people will think, and fear of making the wrong decision. Those fears are usually tied to concerns about money (Will I earn enough?).

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the worst-case scenario, and how likely is it really?
  • What can I do to reduce the chance of this happening?
  • What can I do if it does happen?

Usually, the worst-case scenario (I’ll have to get another “regular” job) isn’t so bad after all. Plus, there are often things you can do to mitigate the risk (like putting aside extra savings and making sure you’re not burning bridges before making a major career move).

2. “It’s Irresponsible”

Do you have any of the following beliefs: that doing what you love won’t pay enough, that working for a big corporation is more stable than working for yourself, or that you have to work until you’re 65 and then retire?

If you said yes, you’re not alone. But you’re also wrong! You can love what you do and be successful; big corporations have layoffs; and people retire before (and after) 65.

Write down all the assumptions you’re making—the basic beliefs you have about who you are, what you’re capable of, and what it’ll take to achieve your goal.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the evidence for each of these beliefs?
  • Does the belief serve you (i.e. does it help you to achieve your goal)?
  • How can you transform it into a more constructive belief?

Your beliefs are often inherited from your parents or from how you’ve grown up. They can be so deeply rooted that you don’t even realize that you have them! Simply opening your eyes to a different perspective can help you to challenge those blocks that have been preventing you from making progress. Breaking through your limiting beliefs will help you change your behavior—and that’s what will allow you to achieve your goals.

3. “It’ll Never Happen”

A lot of people think in black-and-white terms: Your big dream is all the way over there, and you’re way back here, which makes the goal seem unattainable.

But what about all the different steps that are in between? For example, let’s say your goal is to be a best-selling author living by the ocean. Sure, that’s a world away from working in a regular job and living in the city.

However, there are steps you can start taking already today to move forward, for example, start to write something! Join a writer’s group, and work toward completing a draft—that’s step one to getting published.

Ask yourself:

  • What steps can I take today to move in the direction of my goal?
  • What elements of that dream can I add into my daily life?
  • How can I break the big goal into smaller, more achievable, milestones?

A big, abstract goal can seem completely overwhelming, as excuses and “what ifs” fly around in your head. By breaking it down into its smaller parts and looking at what actions you need to take, you’ll start to create a more tangible picture of what you can do, starting today. Then, once you start actually taking some of those actions—no matter how small—well, that’s when the magic happens!

The harsh reality is: Turning a dream into an attainable goal takes hard work. But if you start by being really honest with yourself, you’ll be able to move out of your own way—and that’s a powerful first step.

Remember, baby steps add up—and even the tiniest one will give you a confidence boost, create momentum, and get you going on the path toward your biggest, most ambitious career goal.