Photo Credit: Francisco Gonzalez,

To paraphrase Pinky and the Brain . . .

“What are we going to do this year, Brain?”

“The same thing we do every year, Pinky. Try to do everything!”

Pinky and Brain taught us much about perseverance. It’s not that they didn’t have goals (or even ambitious goals!). Heck, they tried to take over the world every single day.

But they never achieved their goal . . .


First of all, their intentions (at least, Brain’s intentions) came from a place of control. They wanted world domination at any cost–and that’s not cool.

Secondly, they didn’t really stop to consider what it’d really take to “take over the world” (or even if it made sense to do so).

I mention all of this because, for many of us, the start of the year’s the time to create new goals. (Yay! I love goals.)

But . . .

There are two common pitfalls that many of us (myself included) fall into:

1. We plan goals that are too big.

Now, I’m an (annoyingly) huge optimist. My world’s dominated by potential and possibility. It’s my job to see the unlimited greatness in others and help them tap into that remarkable energy. I couldn’t think of a more rewarding profession.

However . . .

It’s not uncommon for me to set ridiculously high standards for myself, my business, and (. . . um . . . yep. My kids, too). Again, I love the possibility, but I don’t always pause and reflect on what it would really take to achieve such feats.

Which brings me to pitfall number two.

2. We don’t spend enough time understanding the energy it’ll take to reach those goals.

Let’s say that someone has a goal to lose weight. And, just for a second, let’s consider that it’s a lot–150 pounds.

The STRATEGY may seem quite simple:

A. Make “healthy” dietary changes
B. Increase regular exercise duration and frequency
C. Hire a Health and Wellness coach

Now, let’s say that this person considers all the tactics needed to make each of those strategies a success:

  • The higher cost for higher quality foods
  • Difficult conversations with other family members who don’t want to change their diet
  • The cost and commitment for effective exercise
  • The ramp-up period
  • Finding the right coach, etc.

Okay, so I’m not saying these things to trigger overwhelm or to analyze tactics to the point of paralysis. The reason I’m calling out overly big goals and misunderstanding the energy required to achieve those goals is that I want you to consider simplifying your goals.

All too often, we take big, long, complicated approaches to getting things done. And when this happens over and over, it’s common to abandon the goals, disconnect, and maybe even feel a bit apathetic. In turn, we feel stuck–like we’re not growing (or going to grow any time soon).

In order to simplify our goals, here’s what I propose instead:

1. Write your big goals for the year. Make them as big and as bold as you want–stick with me here . . .

2. Now simplify. Turn down the “volume” on those goals so that they’re much more reasonable to achieve. Maybe, instead of losing 150 pounds over the course of the year, we focus on losing five pounds over the next three months.

3. Brainstorm specific tactics to achieve that goal. Continue doing this until you run out of ideas. Then set a five-minute timer and keep brainstorming for five more minutes (so we stretch your comfort zone a bit).

4. [CRITICAL] Re-evaluate your simple goal. After brainstorming tactics, you have a better idea of what it really takes to reach your goal. Now ask yourself: have I simplified enough? If not, change your goal again until it feels like an attainable stretch.

5. Of all the tactics that you brainstormed, what will you do this month, this week, and today? Are these strategies specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and within your timeframe? If not, keep working at it until they are.

I love goals. I love big hairy audacious goals. It takes visionaries with massive ideas to make tremendous change.

But we don’t have to kill ourselves to achieve the impossible right away. Keep your goals simple. Because simple leads to success and success creates more energy for change. Simple also allows you to focus on what’s most important.

And then enjoy your year with more peace–knowing that you’re taking reasonable steps to achieve practical goals. So when you reach the end of the year you’ll surprise yourself with all that you have done! You’ve avoided the pitfalls that lead to burnout or abandoning goals. Instead, you’ve made real positive and powerful changes.

Crossing the TEA’s

Now, let’s check out the energy levels behind these Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions:

Low-Energy TEA:

  • Thought: Things aren’t going to change unless I make big goals.
  • Emotions: Overly Optimistic, Lack of choice, Swing from High to Low
  • Actions: Create unrealistic goals that are abandoned once we attempt to implement.

High-Energy TEA:

  • Thought: I’m growing all the time–and I grow with sustainable, incremental progress over time. I understand that the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step and is followed by the second step (and so on).
  • Emotions: Curious, Excitement, Eager, Inquisitive, Gentle, Peaceful, Free
  • Actions: Set reasonable goals that still stretch to new levels and new possibility.
Photo Credit: Francisco Gonzalez,