Goal Setting: 3 Things Making You Play Life Small

Ahh, do you feel that? It’s that deep breath in. You know, that sense of temporary calm you get when you sit and write down a new goal. It can feel like a clean slate, a fresh start. But, in the blink of an eye, that “starting over” feeling can quickly turn into self-doubt and, occasionally, failed promises and goals. Honestly, have you ever found yourself living life, watching others have the life you would LOVE to have, but you keep telling yourself, “GOSH, I could never do that…” or  “I could never put myself out there like that.” The list of negative self-talk and self-doubt goes on.

Think about how our identity and the way we talk to ourselves are tied to our goals. If we never learn how to reprogram our identify and how you we talk to ourselves, then we can never change our reality. What we’re ACTUALLY saying when we say, “I could never do that…” is this: “THAT person, or THOSE types of people are driven, capable, powerful, and able to do things with their life. I am not capable or able.. I am helpless, and I am stuck in my current situation.” Does that sound familiar at all? Well, here’s the thing: It’s not true.

Top 3 Reasons We Are Playing Life “Small” + How It Impacts Our Goals

The truth is that you can do whatever you want to do in life. You CAN find happiness, you CAN learn to balance a heavy or demanding workload, you CAN find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in your life. If there is one thing I have learned in being a part of over 70 life-changing weight loss transformations on our show Extreme Weight Loss, and by seeing THOUSANDS of transformations through our app and coaching program, it’s this: We are more powerful, more creative, and more resilient than we can even comprehend.

What Does It Mean to Play It Small + How Does That Relate to Our Goals?

“Playing it small” basically means that our actions are motivated by our fears and insecurities. You know what I’m talking about: those times we focus on how broken, disadvantaged, underprivileged, and under-resourced we are. It’s that mentality that makes us “play small.” Our reality is a reflection of our inner self with all of that negative self-talk we bring to our own dang table. You guys, we might feel so small in the grand scheme of the big world, but our reality stems from our inner state. When we keep looking down and playing small, we TRAIN our minds and our realities to BE small. Instead of seeing “what’s possible,” we find ourselves looking at others, thinking, “I could never do that,” and it leaves us unable to accomplish our goals.

Here are three reasons you’re playing it small.

1. Feeling like you don’t have anything to offer.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life” – Steve Jobs

One of the most common questions I get when I’m talking about goals is, “How do I set a goal in life if I don’t even know what my purpose is?” It’s so common to feel like that because since we haven’t discovered our purpose, we feel like we aren’t able to set a goal. The thing is that while you feel like you can’t move forward until you’ve mapped out every piece or that you need the full big picture, you actually can still set goals. You guys, you had to walk before you could run, right?

Think about it: You can take the first step even though you can’t see the 99th step, right? When you approach your goals with a need for ultimate purpose, you’re saying, “I can’t see any fruit, so I’m not going to plant the roots.” Our job is not to understand how our ideas are going to impact the world. Our job is to follow our intuition and take the first step, knowing full well that we might actually be taking a leap of faith.

2. Feeling like goals are for everyone else (and not for you).

Do you ever hear someone you know talking about how they are working towards that new promotion, or saving up for that dream vacation, or working on getting XYZ, and you feel a sense of powerlessness? This sense of powerlessness leaves you feeling neutral or like goals just aren’t for you. You’re not happy or jealous, you’re just existing. The truth is that sometimes we get so used to sitting in the passenger seat that we forget that the driver’s seat is even an option for us at all. We look at the things we WOULD want in our life, and we feel nothing because we have trained ourselves to feel nothing. Martin Seligman calls this “learned helplessness,” and that leads us right into reason number 3.

3. You’ve tried to play big and got burned.

If I were to say to you, “I want you to set a goal of waking up and going on a 10 minute walk every day,” what would be the first thing you would think to yourself? Maybe it’s, “I am never going to follow through on this,” or “I’ll get to that tomorrow,” or “Been there, tried that, and it doesn’t work.” The reality is that every single person, myself included, has attempted and failed in life. As a result, we train ourselves into self-talk that says, “You are powerless.”

This is called “learned helplessness.” It can be summed up in the story of the elephant and the piece of string:

As a man was passing some elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front legno chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds, but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “When they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals couldat any timebreak free from their bonds, but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

How Playing It Small Impacts Our Goals

If these sound relatable to you, and maybe you’ve even been sitting here nodding your head, then you’re probably saying, “Ok. But what’s the answer?” or “How do I overcome this mindset?” The short answer is… you just get going. You have to start somewhere. I hear you already, “Heidi, easier said than done.” And you’re not wrong!

Here’s how to shift towards finding the secret sauce to setting goals: Think about how your identify, how you see yourself, and how your self-talk are tied to each of these scenarios:

  • In the first, you identify yourself as not having anything to offer.
  • In the second, you identify yourself as not being capable because you don’t see the bigger vision.
  • In the third, you identify yourself as someone who cannot break away.

So here’s the thing: The ability to accomplish our goals comes from within. If we never learn how to reprogram our identify, then we can never change our reality, and even when we accomplish a big goal, it’s easy to revert back to old habits. Our outside is a reflection of our inner self, and even though we feel so small in the grand scheme of the big world, the outside stems from our inner state.

So what’s the secret sauce? Drum roll, please….You guys, our perception of ourselves is directly tied to and is created by our integrity. I know you have integrity, but guess what? People who set goals and achieve them have integrity with themselves. And while you probably have integrity with everyone around you, my guess is that you don’t have integrity with yourself, and that’s the biggest misstep.

Now, think about what you want in life, and then think about the SMALLEST possible step you can take towards what you want and when you take that small step, you’re already on your way to getting over the hump of scenario two and shifting your mindset. The easiest thing we can do is the simplest: Just get moving. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. I’m going to be sharing a lot more about goals in the coming weeks, so I’d love to know what you think. Do any of these reasons resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below. Together, we can accomplish those goals!


Related reading:

How SMART Are Your Goals?
How to Beat the Odds and Actually Finish Your Goals | Jon Acuff
6 Secrets to Success: How to Reach Your Goals This Year
Consistency Is Key: How to Make Your Fitness Goals a Reality
Two Secrets to Nailing Your Transformation Goals in 2020

2 Responses

  1. I love this, this made a lot of sense to me and really reflects the way I’ve been feeling since I got ‘burned’ on a big life goal a year and a half ago. Time to get moving again!

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