How to Have and Keep a Goal

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ken showing his life with the goal that he has for his growth and dream

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Having a goal, a dream, or a vision of growth for your life can be difficult. Are you familiar with burnout? Burnout is a feeling of being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. You have no will to continue. This happens when you allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the various environmental stimuli in your life.

Sometimes, you can fatigue spirit as well. Maybe you were hoping for something good to happen, and that good never happened. Maybe you are working to start/grow a business, but no matter how much resources you put into it, that business is struggling with getting off the ground.

Is it possible that there is some deep desire you started pursuing, but life got in the way and took you off course? What do you do when what you have, is not representative of what you want? How can you keep going when the world is telling you to stop or even worse, turn around?

As humans, we get tired. We need sleep, we need rest. But sometimes we also get tired in our circumstance. An expectation is a hope for an anticipated future. To have an expectation implies that you are believing for something to manifest in your life.

Burnout/fatigue can happen when we are in a constant state of hoping, wishing, and taking actionable steps towards our goals, but nothing seems to be happening.  

If you have found or currently find yourself in this position, here are a few ways to combat “expectation burnout:”

The Law of Diminishing Returns

selective focus photography cement showing the life growth goal and dream of building
Photo by Rodolfo Quirós on

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One thing for you to understand is that you may be experiencing the side effects of what is called the Law of Diminishing Returns. This law says that as you grow in your knowledge/skill for something, the rate at which you recognize that growth starts to diminish.

It’s like going from multiplication to fractions in school. Because you are building on existing knowledge, it is easier to learn how to divide a number when you know what a number is. As opposed to having no concept of an integer.

The same is the case with the Law of Diminishing Returns. The more you do something, the better you get at it, the harder it is to identify significant growth. This is because in most cases, the information that you learn at the beginning stages of something is usually the newest in terms of concept, and the most pertinent in terms of execution.

By the time you know the essentials of something, the growth margins become a lot smaller. Consider a sprinter in track. One thousandths of a second can determine the entire outcome of a race. At some point in all our lives, growth becomes more nuanced.

It is not necessarily about the rate at which you are growing. It can be more about the quality of growth that is taking place. If you find yourself in a place of hopelessness, or in a funk, unsure on how to get out, get more detailed about what you do.

This happened to me recently. I was noticing that my growth in various areas of my life was becoming stagnant. I knew I had things to accomplish, but I felt like doing those things alone were not sufficient enough if I wanted to hit my goals. The other issue was, I felt as though I was doing all that I could and that there was nothing for me to improve on.

What I realized was, the skills that I had available to me were in fact sufficient, I just was not using them sufficiently.

Sometimes you have to get granular with your progress. How can you improve on the action behind the action? This is where consistent growth lives, because you are actively looking for improvement.

Be Detail Oriented

The small consistent and actions you make today, will have a significant long-term payoff. The notion behind this is that by doing something repetitiously, you are growing because you are building on your progress.

Repetition is the mother of learning, and a key component of success. When you are always learning something new that is taking you closer to your goals, you are being successful. Success is not about the spotlight; it is about the journey you took to get in that spotlight. 

The problem with this is that it can be monotonous. The way in which you combat that, is by making the monotony, an essential part of your day. Build that daily boring/not sexy activity into your regimen. If you do, you will not think about it as much, meaning it will come more natural to you.

Also, part of a growth mindset is being able to find value in the little things. If you are diligent in the small things, you will be confident and capable to handle the bigger things.

It is Okay to take a Step Back

man sleeping on keyboard tired from chasing his goals with his life so he could see growth in his dream

Now I know this one may sound counter intuitive but hear me out. What is more important: the goal, or when you accomplish said goal? In most cases one would probably say that taking longer to achieve what they want is better than, failing at trying to do it in a faster pace.

You do not have to be superman/superwoman!

If you are feeling fatigued/overwhelmed, it is okay to take a personal day. Refresh and collect your thoughts. Allow yourself to find new muses, and sources of inspiration. You are taking part in the creative process when you do this.

I do not know about you, but some of my best ideas come to me while I am connecting with friends and family. This is because new experiences invite us to explore and uncover different paradigms. Having revelation, the introduction of new knowledge into your life, is all part of the creative process.

Sometimes the water is not going down the drain because the drain is clogged. If you are not giving yourself time to decompress, you are literally clogging up your mental capacity. Take a step back and allow for new ideas to naturally flow. You never know when the next idea will be the right idea, so stay in position to receive.

Reevaluate the Size of your Dream

How big is your dream, how lofty is your goal? One good way to combat expectation fatigue is to realign yourself with your goals. Why are you doing what you are doing in the first place?

Sometimes we could be standing in the way of our own growth simply by being out of alignment with what we want to accomplish. Big goals come equipped with a Rutter. If you find that you are having a hard time excelling in your life, maybe now is a good time to reconsider what you are actually after.

notes on board that share sentiments of having a goal, life, growth, and a dream.
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

I know I personally never worked hard for something that I didn’t want. Being out of alignment with your goals could mean that you are going after something of diminished value. Is what you want still what you want, and are you actually pursuing it, or did you get off track somewhere along the way?

This has happened to me several times before, where I was doing something that I thought I should be doing. But eventually, I would burnout, and run out of energy.

After taking time to reevaluate what I was doing, I would find that what I was doing and what I thought would help me progress, was just me standing in my own way. I wasn’t taking actions that reflected what my main goals.

Taking time to reconsider your dreams also helps you to discover the scale and scope of that dream. A good dream and aspiration has space for others. Who is included in your plans? Sometimes we thwart ourselves by not having a large enough goal. The value in having a big goal is that there is room to grow within that goal.

A small goal can be limiting because its feasibility. If you identify that you want to do something, and that something that you want doesn’t push you to overcome yourself, you really didn’t do anything worth doing. Having an expectation is about giving yourself something to be ambitious about.

You demonstrate that you have hope through the work that you are willing to commit to your goals. You cannot expect something, and then not be ready for that thing to show up. If you believe that you want something to come to pass, you must work for it. It’s in the work that things get accomplished. A dream without a plan is just a wish. A wish is something you make to stars, not a wise plan to live your life by.

If you are getting tired in doing what needs to be done for you to excel and accomplish your dream(s), consider the fact that, you are closer to your dream than you even realize. Don’t give up! But also give yourself time to rest and reevaluate. Growth at this stage in your life is more nuanced and may require a different level of focus.

Expectations are great to have but are even better when they are working in your favor. Burnout and fatigue can happen to anyone, consider it a worthy opponent and not an obstacle. You don’t have to go through life tripping over yourself. Align yourself with your goals and dreams by having big ones and committing to them.  

Click here for the revised article.

Updated June 14, 2023.

Originally published September 4, 2020.

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