Personal Development

Leave Goal Shame Behind to Achieve Your Biggest Goals

Many leaders never admit their biggest goals because of invisible barriers. One of the main barriers is goal shame. Goal shame is embarrassment about the things you want to achieve. Sometimes it results from internal thoughts like, Who am I to do this? or Who am I to attempt something so big? Self-doubt, fear, and insecurity fuel internal shame. Imaginary naysayers add to the embarrassment. You don't have to succumb to this. Here are three tips to help you eliminate goal shame and achieve your biggest goals.

Stop being your own worst critic and begin measuring the gains.

Aspirations are fragile. Your inner critic is capable of wreaking more havoc than a whack-a-mole. This can show up as imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome says, I don’t deserve this. It’s only a matter of time before everyone figures out I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. When you get stuck here, progress stops dead in its tracks. Instead of measuring the distance to your goal, start focusing on how far you’ve come. You can either run on autopilot and let the inner critic show up, or you can intentionally choose confidence and optimism.

Stop listening to cynics and start enlisting coaches.

There are people in your community who will try to cut your goals off at the knees. This attack says more about your naysayers than it does about you. The disappointment in their own lives leads to a razing of others’ dreams. While it would be unwise to earmuff every external comment, you need to filter through the noise to divide the personal attacks from the practical critiques. Be wary of the trolls who are uninterested in your growth, and, remember, if it’s anonymous, it’s probably not worth considering. As you quiet the critics, you’ll need to replace the voices with coaches. In other words, find people who are in it for you. This support system will include equippers and encouragers who are committed to your betterment. You may select formal executive coaches, informal mentors, and close friends with a history of constructively speaking into your life. The key is in the construction. Deconstructive coaches are not invited to the progress party.

Stop playing small and start owning your goals.

Big goals are intimidating. They require risks and the willingness to enter our discomfort zone. It’s safer to not try than to try and fail. This risk management keeps us playing small, as we try to avoid failure. But focusing on avoiding failure can lead to self-sabotage. Contemplate the measure of success for a baseball player. In reframing failure, Donald Miller says, “If [a batter] fails 70% of the time, he will end up in the Hall of Fame. I think life gives you even better statistics. If you fail 90% of the time on ambitious goals . . . you’re going to end up in the human being hall of fame.” If you believe you’re not supposed to fail, you’re doomed. When you realize failure is necessary for progress, you can own your goals. You won’t reach the peak by simply wanting it. You must own your summit. It has to be integral to who you are, who you see yourself as, and where you see yourself going.


Goal shame will strengthen your limits. Owning your goals will shatter them. As you go on with your day, keep this in the forefront of your mind: successful and selfish are not synonyms. If you feel the effects of goal shame, you’re not alone. But you hold the power to defeat it.

Last modified on October 10th, 2022 at 9:30 am

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