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Reaching Your Goals — What Will You Give Up?

Reaching Your GoalsIt’s the time of year when people start to evaluate the last year and plan for the next. As I do my own planning, I watch myself repeatedly doing things that will never allow me to reach my personal and professional goals.

I want to get more sleep, but I lie in bed playing with my iphone long after I should be asleep. I want to be in better shape, but I find every reason not to work out. I want to do more local work, but I don’t pursue work in Denver. Who in Colorado wants to hire me to speak or do some training? Ok, back on track.

To have something different, we need to do something different, and that often means giving something up. Letting go of a habit or pattern is challenging. There’s a reason we do what we do. Our habits provide something – comfort, distraction, fun, etc. If you’ve ever done a ropes course or graduated to a more challenging ski run, you know you need to let go of what feels secure to get to the next level. And letting go can be scary and difficult. But if we don’t let go, we get stuck where we are.

Make a list of things you want that you don’t have now. Perhaps you want to:

  • Learn a new skill or take on a new responsibility at work
  • Buy a house
  • Save more money
  • Be in better shape
  • Pursue a hobby

Then I’d ask, what do you need to give up (aka stop doing) to have what you want?

You need to do something differently, or you would already have what you want. Doing something differently could be as simple as telling someone who can help you get what you want. We often tell our coworkers and friends what we need to be happy in our job, but we don’t always tell the people who can help us get what we want.

If you want a different job, tell someone in your organization who can help you get what you want. Then create a plan with actions you’ll take, milestones, dates, and measurable outcomes, and follow up until you attain your goal.

Lastly, accept when you can’t get what you want from a person or organization, grieve, and then make a big change. If you have consistently pursued a role in your organization and in two or three years haven’t moved toward that goal, chances are you won’t get that job at that company. It’s likely you need to leave.

Choosing to leave is often the most difficult decision to make. We work and work on a relationship or situation, and eventually realize, we will never get what we want. That’s a very hard pill to swallow. But if you’re certain you won’t get what you want, despite your efforts, move on.

Five Steps to Reaching Your Goals – Ask Yourself:

Reaching your goals #1: What do I want that I don’t have now?

Reaching your goals #2: What do I need to give up in order to have what I want?

Reaching your goals #3: Have I made a request of the person/people who can help me get what I want?

Reaching your goals #4: Can the person/people I’ve asked for help assist me, and do they want to do so?

Reaching your goals #5: With persistence and consistency, can I get what I want from this situation, or is it time to move on?

Keys to reaching your goals: Determine what you want; tell someone who can help you get what you want; be consistent and persistent, and be ready to make changes. To have something different, we have to do something different.

Add a comment to the blog about what you’re giving up or doing differently to create the life you want, and we’ll enter you to win a free copy of my book, How to Say Anything to Anyone. And if you already have the book, you can pick a box of Candor Questions of your choosing.

Reaching Your Goals


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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8 Responses to “Reaching Your Goals — What Will You Give Up?”

  1. Mary says:

    Excellent article, Shari. So timely with the start of a new year on the horizon. One area in which I am working to grow and am “doing things differently” is to be comfortable taking the lead to move stalling projects forward. Often times in my office culture, inititaitves will come to a halt, because no one on the team has stepped up to move it forward. I’m working to do this on the projects that make sense for my team to lead, and letting go of thinking that others will manage the project.
    Cheers to a wonderful holiday season!

  2. Beth Shafran-Mukai, JD, SPHR says:

    Each day I seek to be mindful regarding what is essential, and authentic in asking for the support of others – in reaching those goals and helping them towards theirs. I express appreciation for teamwork, trust, and collaboration. Together, we can do amazing things!

  3. David says:

    In my past life, I used pre-judgment to guide what I was doing. This year, I decided to try something new everyday. So seconds after I say “no I don’t want to eat that” the voice inside my head says “why not? try it and see” and I do. I may like it or may not, but I’ll try it. Same goes with new experiences, and even reconnecting with people that I judged in the past but now am open to finding out who they are now.

    I’m finding it to be a much better way to enjoy life, people, things, and places. I’m expanding everyday. I’m so much more happier. Yea new life!

  4. I am trying to be healthier; eat, exercise, etc. I take it one day at a time. Sometimes I win the day, other times I don’t, but I keep trying and little by little, I am accomplishing my goal.
    It isn’t always the big things, sometimes it is all the little things that make a big difference.
    Keep up the fight!

  5. Cassie says:

    Wow. I’ve never even made it to the first step. This article helped me realize I’ve been chasing things around in my head, waiting for “someday.” The something different I’m going to do is write down a concrete goal and follow these steps to see it to completion. Scary! No more excuses – that’s different!

  6. Dorene says:

    I’m learning to say “no” more! I’m putting “me” time on my calendar and making sure I take an hour a week for self development. I’m putting myself ahead of my clients. I’m making choices that will get me where I want to go. I’m reaching out and meeting with people who are in the position I would like to be in (with the help of my current manager)!

  7. Linda J says:

    I’m giving up on the idea I must be expert at everything. It’s ok to be a learner!

  8. Joan says:

    I am committing to writing each morning for 3 hours, otherwise, the book that I have in my head will not happen!

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