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Reaching Your Goals – What Will You Give Up?

It’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.Reaching Your 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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9 Responses to “Reaching Your Goals – What Will You Give Up?”

  1. Melinda M says:

    I’m trying to go from being an avid walker to a jogger. My goal is to jog a 5K in 4 weeks. I’ve had to give up sitting on the couch and walking TV after putting my children to bed. I’ve had to give up eating junk because it makes me feel tired and lazy.

  2. Shelly says:

    Thank you for this article. I seem to be stuck not at work but in my home life in general and I always take your articles and use them at work. This time I have decided to take it home and push for my goals.

    I have decided to have a healthier lifestyle. I want to watch what I eat not so much to lose weight but to just feel better. Losing the weight will be a plus, but I just want to learn to make better choices. I also decided to push toward buying my first home. I have always been hesitant but I think its that time. Your encouraging words has set a fire in me and its just time to move.

    Thanks again.

  3. Cassie G says:

    This post has opened up my mind to think about things differently, and to realize that things can change. My entire life there have been ideas in my mind that have seemed like impossible dreams. Your post has inspired me to quit feeling sorry for myself, quit squashing ideas that seem impossible, and to get about the business of writing them down, following through, and either making them happen or crossing them off my list. What a waste of energy all these years! Thank you so much!

  4. Nancy G says:

    I gave up working closer to home and leaving close friends in order to advance my career. I knew that my career path and salary was not going to grow anymore. I finally took that step and decided to search for a similar position in the City. I was surprised to discover that my skills were in demand and got 2 offers at the same time. I think with me the biggest concern was overcoming my own fears.

  5. Mel S says:

    It’s always encouraging when a manager tells you to pursue a different path over offering suggestions to advance one’s career within a company. I took her advice and this article and chose to leave my place of employment after 15 years. I could not be happier with this decision!

  6. Kim says:

    I have had issues with my muscles and extreme inflammation the past year or so. I had given up working out on and off to help relieve my bodily issues as they would arise (I have always been very active and loved to “lift-heavy” on a day-to-day basis so this was not easy for me).

    Even with the very minimal physical activity, I was not getting better. I eat “healthy” for the most part and stay away from food with preservatives. That wasn’t enough. After learning more and more about meat and the industry it comes from, and the information on why it is not good for our bodies, I decided to do an experiment and quit eating meat.

    After the first week without meat, I started to notice changes in my body. After the second week, I felt strong and decided to try to incorporate weights into my workout regimen again. I was definitely sore after my workout (after not doing weights for quite some time), but I did not have the same after-math effect when it came to the inflammation and knots I would usually get after slight activity.

    I am a month without meat. Occasionally, I will take a bite of my boyfriends meal that contains meat, and it no longer satisfies me as it did before. I know the consequences that could take place on my body if I were to eat meat again, and it is not worth satisfying my taste buds for. This is coming from a meat n potato’s kind of girl too!

  7. J.R. says:

    “If you keep on doing what you`ve always done ,
    You’ll keep on being what you’ve always been,
    Nothing changes unless you make it change…”

    From the Samuel Jackson movie, “The Samaritan”

  8. Jacqueline says:

    I’ve been a political news junkie and very active on social media, and I’m realizing I need to give that up to enjoy better sleep > work/life balance and make more time in my life for the things that I really enjoy and that matter to me. Being politically engaged will continue to be important in my life, but I am going to think about what one or two issues matter the most to me and work to make solid progress on them at the local level, vs. spending my energy flailing ineffectually at a different outrage every day.

  9. Luis says:

    I challenge and push myself to get started with something new. Sometimes NEW is a challenge but it can lead to growth and the hardest part is to get started. Once I get started I continue to push myself to make progress that can lead me to completion of my projects.

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