From Goal Fretter to Goal Getter-How to create goals that actually work

We all know goal setting is important to create change but sometimes setting goals can get tricky. How do we know what the right goal is? Once we’ve pinpointed it….then what? How do we tackle it? Goal setting can feel intimidating to overwhelming but I’m here to take the fear outta the process and help you set goals that both light your soul on fire AND are achievable. First, here are the three biggest pitfalls I see folks run into when creating goals, ever done one of these? (I’ve done em all so if you find yourself fallin’ into one of these, you are not alone!)

Pitfall #1

Overhauling it all- I get it, sometimes when things are tough the idea of a clean slate is reallllly appealing. To achieve this clean slate we will try to hit reset and change a bunch of behaviors all at the same time. We start working out, change our eating habits, track our sleep, reduce alcohol, sheet mask all day every day. We create a self care ice cream sunday and just layer on all these new habits on top of eachother. Often we can sustain all these changes for a bit but before long the overwhelm of it all leaves us to default to old habits. If we don’t groove one thing at a time we don’t give ourselves time to let habits turn into routines and end up burning out.

Pitfall #2

Going full ham- Ever decided you wanted to workout more and declare you are working out 6 days a week? I have. Ever said you wanted to cut down on drinking and decide to do go cold turkey? I have. Guess what didn’t actually last? Both of those goals. It isn’t because of some moral failing, it isn’t because we are bad. Hell no. We just didn’t set ourselves up to succeed. When we decide to make a change our goals have to be realistic and meet us where we are at. Restriction leads to rebounding. If we need to take time off  from our eating or workout habits they are too restrictive. Think about this…. If we are currently working out one day a week, working out 6 days a week is a 500% increase in total training volume. 500%. Imagine takin’ a balloon and shooting a ton of air all at one time….the balloon pops. Now imagine putting a little bit of air into it each week, slow and steady. The balloon has time to expand and adjust and eventually it floats.

Pitfall #3

Keeping it vague- “I want to be healthier” “ I want to run more” “I want to be strong” These are goals I have set for myself in the past. The problem? There are hundreds of ways of getting to these big goals and when we keep it vague we don’t have an action plan. We don’t know how to execute on a daily basis. Ever have a massive long term work project? Looking at the entirety of it is pretty overwhelming right? But when we break it into daily, even hourly bites, it suddenly becomes a lot more approachable. We don’t need to do it all right now, we just gotta do the next right thing.


Now that we know what to avoid, let’s talk about what we can do to effectively avoid the overwhelm and get after those goals. I call it Drinking the Ocean on Glass at a Time. This is a method that has been modified and inspired by GGS-1 Behavior Based Goal setting by Amber Thome.


Start by thinking of ONE larger goal. JUST ONE. By tackling one thing at a time you can turn a goal into a HABIT and once it sticks it takes far less brain space to execute and you’ll free up that motivation for your next goal.

Here are some examples of large goals:  feel energized, to feel healthier, gain confidence, or to get out of pain.

This is your Ocean goal. It’s your big expansive goal that you want to achieve. Ocean goals often have a feeling we are seeking when creating this goal. Next we break the ocean down into rivers.


List and choose your river. Rivers are different actionable ways in which the ocean goal can be achieved. Take the ocean goal of having more energy. This could be achieved by:

  • Drinking more water

  • Getting more sleep

  • Getting more Exercise

  • Lowering stress levels

  • Balancing nutrition

Can you see just how many rivers lead to the goal of feeling more energized? This is why one way of doing things doesn't work for everyone, there are so many ways to get to the same goal.

This where we really get to tailor things to inspire us as well as to fit our unique lifestyle, interests, and abilities. The river that works for you might not be as exciting to me or vice versa. We gotta find what works for US. This means ditching comparison and letting go of what might have worked in the past. I want you to radically accept where you are now so you can best support your current situation.

* REAL TALK*-Comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet isn’t helpful. We don’t know what Karen’s life circumstances are that allow her the time to workout 4 days a week. We don’t know why Tony is dairy free. What works for Tony and Karen has nothing to do with us and frankly is none of our business. Remember, you are exactly where you are mean to be so start from there.

So choose the river to focus on that excites you, is workable, and supports exactly where you are NOW.


Our glass- This is what we are going to focus on and fill each day to get to our ocean goal. Choose one river to focus on and get realllllly specific on what you are going to do. Do= creative actionable goals.

For example: If the river I choose is “getting more exercise”  I need to break that down to weekly and daily goals by asking myself, “what is realistic and achievable to do?” Again, leave the “shoulds” and comparisons at the door. Don’t worry about what P90X Tony is telling you to do, What can YOU do.

If it’s working out 3 times a week, then get even more specific:

  • What classes or workouts are you going to do?

  • What times?

  • Book them and schedule them into the calendar.

Lastly, I need you to get real with yourself and ask, “how sure am I that I can achieve what I set up for myself this week?”

If it is anything less than 90% confident, I want you to modify your goal so you are absolutely sure you can achieve them. This isn’t about proving anything to anyone, this is about setting yourself up for success.

If you are only so so about getting in 3 workout a week, what about 2? Does getting in 2 workouts a week get you to a, “helllll YES”? Start with what you know you can achieve. Set yourself up for success and you will build skills and confidence.

Aim to implement this method on one habit for 4-8 weeks and see how things go. If you feel confident that you’ve turned a goal into a habit, helllll yes. Time to pick a new goal and break that next ocean into a glass and start sipping.

If you want help goal setting, reach out to me for a free wellness consult. I am hear to support you to your highest level of badassery.

With love,

A fellow work in progress

Anna ClausenComment