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Goal Setting Exercise: Are You Holding Back Goals?

Goal Setting Exercise: Are You Holding Back Goals?

  • October 8, 2021

“I’ll be happy if I fit into my old Levi’s.”

(You really did make your bum look good)

Have you said something like this before?

Or how about:

“I am happy when I earn a six-figure income.”

“I’m happy when my child goes to a good college.”

“I’m happy when I meet my person.

The truth is that most of us have beliefs like this in our psyche.

If you’re a coach, you’ve probably seen this too:

Customers who believe that they will not be happy until they reach a certain weight, a certain body fat percentage or an athletic performance.

“Enjoy the trip? Pfft. It’s about the goal,” they say.

Of course, some eagerness to cross the finish line is normal and perfectly fine.

And hey, having goals is great.

Goals give you meaning and direction, and encourage you to grow beyond your previous abilities into a smarter, better version of yourself. In addition, research shows that goal setting is a sign of trust, commitment, autonomy, and motivation.1.2

The problem is that some people keep delaying their happiness thinking there is always a better life only at the horizon.

But in this article we’re going to discuss this counterintuitive fact:

Achieving a goal doesn’t always make you happy.

Indeed focus too much of on the outcome of your goals, you may be missing out on the potential you NOW have for happiness.

If you think this might be you (or a customer), check out this quick three step process below.

This quick exercise will benefit anyone who feels:

  • To like her life is on hold until they reach their destination
  • How is your goal makes her unhappy
  • Concerned about her goal may not be sustainable or even possible

Sound familiar? Continue reading.

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Enjoy your goals (and your life) more in 3 steps.

These steps are a mix of “thinking” work – to create awareness of your beliefs and behaviors – and “working”. (Tip: It is the to do that will actually change those limiting beliefs and behaviors.)

Thinking-brain and doing-body, activate!

Step 1: Find out what your “I am happy when …” beliefs are.

Grab a piece of paper and brainstorm all of your “I’m happy when …” beliefs.

You may have many.

For example:

“I am happy when …

  • … I have visible abdominal muscles. “
  • … I’m moving into a bigger house. “
  • … I’ll be in the top 5 at my next triathlon. “

Everything goes.

Once you’ve done a proper brain dump, choose one from the list to focus on – preferably the one that feels most important and urgent.

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Step 2: discover how you held back.

Now is the time to do a little digging.


What are all Things that you are waiting to do or feel until you reach your goal

These are not just the things that you look forward to, but also things that you are not yet “allowing yourself” to.

For example, “As soon as I’m 20 pounds lighter, I’ll …

  • … let me wear the clothes I like. “
  • … start dating again. “

Or: “As soon as I reach six digits, I will …

  • … feel like a success. “
  • … start taking weekends off. “

Or: “As soon as I meet my soulmate, I will …

  • … finally be self-confident. “
  • … take a Mediterranean cruise. “

Chances are that you will come up with a number of things – some trivial and some very meaningful – that you will not allow yourself to experience. Probably because of a belief that you don’t deserve to do or feel these things until you are “better”.

Well, we have a surprise for you …

Step 3: stop waiting and live.

Once you find yourself holding back from feeling good about yourself and doing all these cool, meaningful things, it could explain why you were so impatient, just plain come there beautiful.

It can also explain why you might not have enjoyed that process to get to your destination.

Somewhere inside you is a part of you who believes that your life cannot really begin until you have reached your goal. And that nothing good should happen to you until you are leaner, faster, stronger or more successful.

This may be an uncomfortable finding. As you uncover this belief, you may feel sad, relieved, angry, or any combination of emotions.

You may want to take some time to unpack these feelings. However, nothing creates more significant change than Plot.

So take the easiest, lowest hanging next tangible step to begin living and feeling the way you want.

For example:

  • Create a dating profile, with pictures of how you look right now.
  • Buy a pair of shorts, a tank top, a summer dress or whatever you always want to wear – in your size – and wear it proudly.
  • Think about how you are beautiful successfully: Do you feel excited about showing up for work? That is success!
  • Stand up straight and Say nice things to you about your worth as a person.
  • Book a solo fun weekend getaway for yourself. (It’s not a Mediterranean cruise, but a start.)

Bottom line: allow yourself to feel and do the things that you would do if you had achieved your goal, even if you haven’t made it yet.

This can feel uncomfortable. But with practice you will find …

Happiness is not the effect of achieving goals. It is the cause.

Once you stop holding back, you may find that your goal is less important. (Maybe your luck doesn’t depend on fitting in those jeans after all.)

Or maybe the goal is still important but you are enjoying the steps you need to take to get there now that you are no longer putting your life on hold.

In either case, you are likely to find that whether or not you accomplished your goal, you are behaving, living and behaving feeling like the kind of person it would reach.

Because although it feels good to achieve a goal, people usually don’t want the outcome of the goal as much as they want to be the kind of person who gets this result.

Not only can you lift X-weights on the bench. You are a fit person.

Your kid didn’t just make it into one Ivy League. You are a good parent.

They don’t just make six digits. You are a smart and capable professional.

You didn’t just win the race. You are a winner.

This is the secret of why the above process works. Because no matter whether you made it to your personal finish line or not, your identity will begin to shift towards the person you always wanted to be.


You do the things that type of person would do.

The best part?

You don’t wait any longer.

You just live.


Click here to view the resources referenced in this article.

If you are or would like to become a trainer …

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes – in ways that are tailored to their unique bodies, preferences, and circumstances – is both an art and a science.

If you want to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

Thank You For Reading!


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