How to Reach Your Goals No Matter What

Alright, friends. I hope you’re excited about part-two of our goal-setting series. With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to talk strategy!

In last week’s podcast, we mentioned one of the main stumbling blocks in terms of sticking with your New Year’s resolution (or any goal, really!) and that is the stumbling block of planning.

So many of us create a New Year’s resolution or set a big goal for the year ahead, but we don’t create a plan that gets us from point A to point B.

And let’s be honest, how often do you magically reach a big goal without any kind of planning or preparation?

My guess is not very often.

So that is exactly what we’re going to work on today.

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite goal setting strategies that helps you break down your impossible goals into actionable, step-by-step plans.

Are you ready?

Then check out the podcast below!

(Prefer to read? Awesome! You can find the transcript below, too.)



  • How to plan for your New Year’s resolutions and goals
  • Three leading goal-setting strategies
  • My top method for setting and reaching your New Year’s resolution this year



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Have you set a New Year’s resolution? What stumbling blocks do you face when it comes to following through on your goals? What’s a big goal that you’ve recently set for yourself? Let me know below!

How to Reach Your Goals No Matter What (Transcript)

You’re listening to the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 21.

Alright friends… it’s podcast day! Seriously, this is one of my favorite things to do each week. I’m always so excited to talk with you. And, today’s no different.

So in this episode, we are talking about mapping out a plan to stick with your New Year’s resolution this year. Now of course, if you are listening to this at a later date, and it’s the middle of July or something, rest assured that you can still use these strategies today.

In fact, I am one of those people who thinks there’s no reason that you need to wait until January 1st to start practicing a new habit or working toward a giant goal. But, seeing as this episode is airing December 16th, and so many of us have goals and resolutions on the brain for the year ahead, I figured now would be as good a time as any to really dive into some of my favorite goal-setting strategies.

Now, in case you missed it, I also did a deep dive into goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions last week. And in fact, this episode is part two of a two-part series. So if you have not listened to part one yet, I definitely recommend going back and listening to it – episode 20 – after you finish today’s episode. You don’t necessarily need to listen to them in order, but I think that having the tools from both episodes will help set you up for success as you move into the new year.

And in fact, maybe I will give us just a quick overview of what we talked about last week in order to jog your memory so that we can dive into this new material ready to go and get to work.

Episode 20 Recap:

So last week we talked about both the power of setting New Year’s resolutions and goals for yourself as well as the common stumbling blocks that many of us face when we’re pursuing these goals. And then we also explored some strategies that we can use to ensure that we keep moving forward and making progress.


Now within this episode, we also talked about some heavier topics including worthiness and self-worth. We talked about how so many of us think that we need to set and reach big goals in order to prove our worthiness, which is, of course, impossible since we are all 100% worthy already. And whether you reach or miss that goal, it can’t impact your worthiness. Your worthiness was set at 100% the day you were born.

So keeping that in mind, we talked about why we should set goals anyway. And I proposed one of my favorite reasons for goal setting, which is simply because it’s fun. So rather than thinking, “I need to reach this goal to prove myself,” instead, it’s, “how fun would it be to make this happen? Now, this may seem like a minor detail, but I’m telling you – it’s everything

Slow Down

We also talked about the importance of slowing down and enjoying the journey. We explored the concept of 50/50, and that “there” is not better than “here.” We explored the idea that we will be equally as happy when we do reach the goal as we are now. And again, I know this idea might sound a little unusual – especially if you haven’t listened to last week’s podcast yet – so I definitely encourage you to check out episode 20 after you listen to today’s podcast to make sure that you understand these concepts.

Now in last week’s podcast, we also talked about one of the main stumbling blocks in terms of planning. So many of us create a New Year’s resolution or a big goal for the year ahead, but we don’t create a plan that’s going to help us get from point A to point B.

And let’s be honest, how often do you magically reach a big goal without any kind of planning or preparation? My guess is not very often.

How to Stick with Your Goals No Matter What

So that is exactly what we’re going to work on today. I am going to share with you one of my favorite goal setting strategies that helps you break down the impossible goals into an actionable, step-by-step plan. Because that is what I am all about, my friends: simple tools that you can use today to get you moving forward.

Now, this goal-setting strategy comes from several different people. I love reading about goals and goal-setting and reaching goals, and over time I have pulled the bits and pieces from different people and combined them to create one of my favorite approaches. So today I am going to share with you all of these different concepts as well as how to put them together to create a successful plan for this year’s resolution.

Now the first strategy I learned comes from one of my favorite podcast hosts, Gretchen Rubin. She is the author of many books, probably her most well-known is the Happiness Project. And she also hosts a fantastic podcast with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. It is called Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and in each episode, she explores tons of different ideas and strategies to increase your happiness. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already. I will link to both her podcast and her books in the show notes.

20 for 20 Goals List

One of the things that Gretchen and Elizabeth do each year is create a list of goals that they want to tackle in the coming year. And they call this list 18 for 2018 or 19 for 2019. Of course, they’re also doing 20 for 20. 

First of all, I just have to say that I love this idea. And if you are a person who is not interested in setting one major goal, and instead you like the idea of several smaller goals or objectives spaced throughout the year, then I definitely recommend thinking about creating a 20 for 20 list for yourself.

Again, I’m going to talk about how I use this strategy in terms of working toward one major goal or one New Year’s resolution. But their idea in itself is so super fun. Creating your 20 for 20 is an incredible way to get you trying new things, stepping outside of your comfort zone, thinking outside of the box, and seeing clear progress in your life. 

Again, even just thinking of 20 random goals that you set for yourself is such an amazing way to track your progress throughout the year. On December 31st, 2020, you can look back and see everything you’ve accomplished. You can celebrate taking action on a wide range of things that are interesting to you, or are important to you, or that scare you.

You can also share your list with others. Maybe you have a group of friends and everybody is working on their own list of 20 for 20. This is an incredible way to cheer one another on and create a form of accountability. So again this strategy that Gretchen and Elizabeth both propose and practice on their podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin is such a fun way to approach the coming new year, and New Year’s resolutions, and goal setting.

Now, as I mentioned, I like to take their strategy and apply it in a slightly different way. And I’m going to share with you how I use it to move toward the one big impossible goal or resolution that we set for ourselves this year. But first, I want to introduce another goal setting strategy that works in tandem with the 20 for 20 list.

Stretch Goals and S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Now, this strategy comes from a book called Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. You may have heard me talk about Duhigg on the podcast before. He is a journalist and an author and he was a reporter for the New York Times, and I learned about his work through his incredibly influential book called The Power of Habit. Again, I believe I mentioned this book way back in episode 6 when I talked about strategies you need to maintain good habits. And it‘s a book that I highly recommend. 

Well, Smarter Faster Better is another book by Duhigg, which came out after The Power of Habit, and it’s basically all about strategies to take what you do to the next level – which you can probably gather from the title Smarter Faster Better.

In the book, he talks about a lot of different concepts and ideas — and not all of them have to do with goal setting — but that is what I want to focus on it today as we look at our New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for the next year ahead.

So in terms of setting and reaching big goals, Duhigg discusses two different types of goals. And these two goals include stretch goals and S.M.A.R.T. goals. So let’s talk about what these two concepts mean. 

Stretch Goals

A stretch goal is something huge. It is a goal that goes way beyond what you think you could reasonably accomplish in a 12-month period. It’s a goal that you look at and go: “What?! Are you crazy?!” It is a goal that you look at and it kind of scares the crap out of you. It makes you want to throw up a little bit. You’re almost afraid to voice that goal out loud. 

Now chances are, you might even have some of these stretch goals coming to mind as I am explaining what a stretch goal is. If not, don’t worry. I’ll talk about different examples in just a minute. But before we do, let’s talk about the other kind of goal, which is a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Now, you have probably heard about the concept of smart goals before. If not, let me quickly explain what they are. 

Smart is an acronym for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. 

And the idea behind this practice is that every goal you set adheres to each of these five requirements. 

So if you are setting a goal for yourself, you need to make sure it is specific.

What exactly do you want to achieve? You also need to make sure that it is measurable. How will you know when you have achieved that goal?

You want to make sure that that goal is achievable. When you think realistically about your situation, the resources you have available to you, and the time frame in which you want to achieve the goal, is it achievable? As a side note, this is going to be a slight difference from our stretch goals, which feel impossible.

You want to make sure the goal is relevant to you. Why is this important in the first place? What lights you up about it?

And then finally, we make that goal timely. When do you want to achieve this goal? What is the end date that you must complete this smart goal?

The Power of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

And there are so many reasons why the smart goal strategy is effective. It has really skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years because it is so clear and so direct about what, how, and when, you will achieve each goal. 

And this makes sense, right? 

When you make specific goals that are important to you, and that have measurable, achievable, actionable steps, you are essentially mapping out a guide that is going to get you from point A to point B. 

So for example, if you want to lose weight this year, you are going to have a much easier time reaching this objective when you create a smart goal. 

So rather than simply stating, “I will lose 50 pounds this year,” you instead create a smart goal. And your S.M.A.R.T. goal might sate, “I will lose 50 pounds by December 31st, 2020, by going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, alternating cardio and weightlifting. I will also create and follow a food protocol that eliminates processed sugar and flour from my diet.” 

So in other words, by getting incredibly specific, with clear actionable steps, and a clear end date, you will have a much easier time making progress and reaching that goal then simply saying, “I will lose 50 lbs. this year.

Okay. So we’ve talked about stretch goals; remember, these are the big goals. There are the ones that make you feel a little bit nervous to actually speak them out loud. They feel almost impossible. And then we also have our S.M.A.R.T. goals. And these are the goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Generally, the smart goals are smaller in scale than your big stretch goals.

Create a Plan for your Goal

So, how do we put these things together in order to reach your big New Year’s resolution? 

Well, this is where the third strategy comes in, and this is inspired by my coach, Brooke Castillo. 

Brooke also teaches the importance of setting a big goal for yourself each year. And what I love about her strategy, is that she actually calls it an “impossible goal.” And she’s very deliberate about this terminology. Here’s why. 

When we set out to work on a really big goal, our brain is already thinking, “there is no way I’m going to be able to do this.” It already starts spiraling into self-doubt. It questions the reality of even starting this goal in the first place. It tells you you’re crazy for even considering the possibility of working toward this goal. 

And as Brooke explains, often when this happens, our brain convinces us to reduce that goal into something a little bit more “doable” or a little bit “safer.” Our brain might say something like: “Be reasonable. Let’s do something a little bit more realistic.” 

Does this sound familiar?

Impossible Goals

The problem with this situation is that your brain – as I have said time and time again – doesn’t like to be uncomfortable. It doesn’t want to step outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t want to try something hard. And it wants to stay safe. We’ve been wired this way for thousands of years. 

So when you are entertaining the idea of this incredibly huge goal, your brain – in short – is freaking out.

And this is where Brooke’s brilliant terminology comes in. 

She calls the stretch goal your impossible goal to “beat your brain to the punchline, so to speak.” Because when you go into the situation already knowing that your goal is impossible, and you know that you’re already going to fail, but you’re still going to do it anyway, then your brain loses its power of talking you out of it. It might say to you, “What are you doing?! Why are you trying this?! You’re going to fail!” And you can simply respond with, “I know. And that’s okay. So let’s get to work.”

Now, I can hear many of you asking me: “Uh, Paula… If we know the goal is impossible, why do we even set it? Aren’t we just wasting our time?”

And my response to that is this: why wouldn’t you go for it? 

Because the alternative to going for it is failing ahead of time. 

And here’s what I think… Even if you don’t reach the end goal, but you still go all-in, 100%, taking massive action every single day as you work toward that end goal, just think how much you will grow along the way. Just think of everything that you will learn, everything you will do, and the incredible transformation you will undergo as a human when you go all-in on your impossible goal this year.

So don’t fail ahead of time. As that old saying goes, you can shoot for the moon. And if you miss, you will still be among the stars.

Your Goal Setting Strategy

Okay, so let’s actually put these concepts together to help us create that impossible goal and map out a strategy to get us there. Sound good?

What is Your Impossible Goal?

So the first thing you need to do is decide on your impossible goal. 

What is that stretch goal that you are going to set for yourself? What is your New Year’s resolution? 

Take some time to brainstorm your answer to this question. 

Maybe you want to launch a new business. Or maybe you want to get a promotion. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds. Or maybe you want to run a marathon. Perhaps you want to write a book or start a blog or begin a podcast. What is that huge stretch goal — that impossible goal — that both lights you up inside and makes you want to throw up a little bit?

What is your “Why?”

And as you ponder this impossible goal, make sure you reflect upon your “why” as well. Why is this goal so important to you? And as a reminder, I do a deep dive into finding your “why” in the previous episode – episode 20. And I share my favorite “Why x 5” strategy to help you really get to the root of your “why.” 

So again, if you have not listened to that episode, make sure you go back and listen. You will learn how to practice this “Why x 5” strategy, which will help you uncover the main motivating reason behind why you are pursuing this goal or this New Year’s resolution in the first place. I promise you, it makes a huge difference. 

And of course, if you want to work on figuring out your impossible goal, or uncovering your “why” for that impossible goal, I really encourage you to sign up for a free session with me. We will talk through your goals, we will explore the stumbling blocks that might come up along the way, and we will create that plan to get you moving in the right direction and on track to make that impossible goal a reality in 2020. Just head to, find a time that works for you, and I’ll take care of the rest.

Make Some S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Now once you have that impossible goal set for yourself, this is where the S.M.A.R.T. goal strategy comes in. First of all, take some time to make your impossible goal smart. 

Let’s say you currently have a side hustle that you want to turn into a job that contributes significantly to your family’s income. That’s awesome.

First of all, you need to get specific about this goal. How much money is a significant contribution? $25000? $50000? $100,000? What is your number? What does a “significant contribution” mean to you? 

Once you’ve gotten specific about that number, then you need to know how you’re going to measure that goal. How will you know when you’ve reached 25k or 50k? Maybe your measurable goal is that you see it on your tax return, or you see it in your bank account. Whatever it is for you. Make that clear.

Then ask yourself, is this goal achievable? Now, I know that this one might feel uncomfortable. Because again, this is our impossible goal. So it might not feel totally achievable. That’s okay. So instead, ask yourself, is this goal in the realm of possibility? Is it possible that a human in this world could reach this goal? Maybe not you. But could somebody in the world make 50k doing your side hustle? 

Next, check in with the relevancy of your goal. Have you identified your why yet? Why is this goal important to you? 

And then finally, make that impossible goal timely. When are you going to achieve this goal? If you are listening to the podcast in real-time, or around the time of this episode’s release, and you’re thinking about creating a New Year’s resolution or goal, then I suggest reaching this goal by 11:59 pm on December 31st, 2020. Give yourself the year to make this incredible goal a reality in your life.

So if we put this together, the side-hustle goal would look like this. My impossible goal is to make $50,000 this year in my side hustle. I will know I reached this goal when I see it on my tax return, or in my bank account. I know this is achievable even though it feels impossible for me right now because other people have done similar things. And I will reach this goal by 11:59 pm on December 31st, 2020.

20 for 20 S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Okay so now that you have made your impossible goal smart, now it’s time to map out a strategy to get you there. 

And this is where your smaller S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play. 

I want you to take some time and brainstorm all of the different things that you might need to do to get you to your impossible goal by the end of this coming year. Now, your brain is going to want to tell you: I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. And I don’t know where to start. That’s okay. Just ask your brain: what if I did know? And then answer from that space. Just brainstorm like crazy. There are no right or wrong answers. You are just getting everything out on paper.

Now, look at that list. I want you to choose your 20 for 20 from this list.

What are the 20 goals that you must reach in order to get you to your impossible goal by the end of the coming year?

And as you choose those 20 goals, I want you to make each one of them S.M.A.R.T. Put each goal into the smart format, so you know specifically what, why, and when you will reach each goal throughout the year. 

Now, if you really want to take this to the next level, I recommend doing this each quarter throughout the year. So you have 20 for 20 in the first quarter, 20 for 20 in the second quarter, 20 for 20 in the third quarter, and 20 for 20 in the fourth quarter. This is going to help you get really specific about your goals and really specific and strategic and how you are going to continually take action throughout the year to get you to that end goal.


Now, I know this all might sound a little bit overwhelming. So I created a free workbook that guides you through this entire process. So it takes you through finding that impossible goal turning it into a S.M.A.R.T. goal. And then it helps you break down all of the smaller goals that you need to achieve in order to get you to that impossible goal by the end of the year. 

So, if you want to get your hands on this workbook, just head over to (all one word) and grab your free workbook there. I’m telling you, when you do this, you will remove all of the guesswork in the process, and you will create a clear roadmap to get you from point A to point B.

Now as you go through this process and as you start taking action on these goals, you’re probably going to run into quite a bit of mind-drama. You’re going to have discouraging thoughts. You’re going to run into failures. You are going to have setbacks. And that is all part of the process. And I’m not saying this to dissuade you. But rather, I’m telling you this to let you know that nothing has gone wrong if (and when) that happens. So put your head down, and keep moving forward.

Work with a Coach

Also, when you have these incredible goals, one of the best things you can do – in addition to mapping out a clear plan – is work with a coach. When you have that outside person to help you sort through the mind drama, create concrete plans, offer accountability, and explore different ideas and strategies, it is truly a transformative experience. 

So again, if you want to see what that’s like, I encourage you to sign up for a free one-on-one session with me. We will get started on mapping out a plan, identifying both your impossible goal and your S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you get there, and whether my coaching program is a good fit to help you get there. Just head to and grab a spot that works for you. And if you don’t see a time that works with your schedule, you can always send me an email at Paula @ Suggest two or three dates and times that do work for you, and we’ll make it happen.

Oh, and one more free resource that you should definitely take advantage of is my free goal-setting mini-training. It takes less than 15 minutes of your time, and it will get you taking action on one of your goals this week. Seriously. So just head to and you can sign up there. And of course, I will have all of these links in the show notes as well at

Quote of the Week

Now before we leave, I want to share with you this week’s quote of the week, which comes from the one and only Marilyn Monroe. It reads: 

Don’t let your fear of failing triumph over the joy of participating.

Marilyn Monroe

So many of us are afraid of failing. We’re worried about what others will think. We’re worried about what we will think. And we’re worried about how we will feel. 

But here’s the deal… when you allow worry about failure to take over and fear wins, you’re failing then, too. But rather than missing the mark of your final goal, you’re just failing ahead of time.

Sure, that might feel safer now.

But think about all of the growth, and the learning, and the development, that you experience when you actually chase that big goal. When you risk feeling uncomfortable. And when you step outside of your comfort zone to go after that thing that lights you up inside. 

Even if you do miss the mark, the experience, the journey, and the lessons that you learn along the way are completely invaluable.

So today I invite you to take the challenge. 

I invite you to dream the impossible dream. 

And I invite you to experience the joy of participating in life. 

Because that is what this is all about.

Alright, my friends, that’s gonna do it for us this week. So tell me, are you busy being awesome? If so, be sure to snap a picture, throw it up on your Instagram stories, and be sure to tag me @imbusybeingawesome. I would love to cheer you on!

Also, if you want to keep getting more great strategies to increase your productivity, manage your time, and start living your best life, then be sure to hit the subscribe button on your podcast app now. And while you’re there, would you leave me a quick review?

And finally, do you know of anyone who would benefit from hearing this message? Then be a rockstar and share it with a friend! 

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.

30 thoughts on “How to Reach Your Goals No Matter What”

  1. I haven’t written down my 2020 goals yet, but I have them in mind for months. As you know I worked on myself a lot this year and I will go on in 2020. Will listen to the new podcast on my way to the mountain, Merry Christmas x

  2. Goal-setting AND how to accomplish/measure the steps towards a goal is super important to teach to young students, too, so I love that you’ve broken down how to turn a big goal (i.e., learn Spanish or something) into actionable steps!!!

  3. Wow this was full of rich, positive, important messages. Very good read to help jump into the new year on the right foot.

  4. Planning a bunch of small goals is super important! I’ve found that when I did one big goal, I consistently didn’t reach it (I also didn’t have action steps to take to reach it, but that’s another story 😆)

    This year, I’ve planned and measured actionable steps and started early so the weight of the New Year’s Resolution wouldn’t feel so heavy.

  5. This is great! I’m always trying to prove I’m worthy and I should stop doing that. I’m definitely taking the 20 for 20 going into 2020!

  6. I haven’t set annual goals in a while. I think I was feeling so defeated but this year we finally took care of a ton of things and it has been great.

  7. I love what you said about how we don’t have to prove our worthiness. This is something I’ve been working on for years as a reformed people pleaser and I think it’s something many people, especially women, deal with. Thank you for sharing your insight!

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