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Clarify your courageous goals

Courageous Goals Sara Thomas

What do you want?


What do you want? Making a difference in the lives of people you love, causes you believe in, and organizations you support is worth the effort. It takes focus, courage, and energy to achieve your goals.

So let me ask you: What courageous goals do you want to achieve? You need to know where you’re going if you want to get there.

Whether it’s a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) or a focus on sustained leadership in one area, get clear about your goal.

Said succinctly, answer the question, “What do you want?”

Spend a little time dreaming.

In five years (or one year) what do you want to be different about your life? This is the transformation you’re seeking. If something is going to change, first you need to name it. Is your focus on an aspect of work, family, health, finances, education, etc.?

Name it.

Clarify Courageous Goals Sara ThomasThere is not a plan in the world that motivates the human soul. Promised transformation motivates the soul. The goal is your desired, promised transformation. Focus there. Keep centered there.

“I want to __________ in ______ years.”

Here are a few examples.

  • I want to participate in a triathlon in 3 years.
  • In 6 months, I want to be blessing three families every month by hosting them for dinner in my home.
  • My spouse and I want to travel to Australia in 5 years to explore the outback and immerse ourselves in a different culture.
  • I want to mobilize people be foster families for children caught in the heroin epidemic in the next year.

What’s holding you back?

Tim Ferris gave great TED talk on “Fear Setting.” Wait, I thought we were talking about setting courageous goals? We are! It’s likely your imagination is telling you all the reasons why what you want to do is not going to happen.

Guess what? You’re human.

If the thought of swimming in open water during a triathlon scares the crap out of you. That’s not a reason not to pursue it. It is a fear.

“You suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”-Seneca

Face Your Fears

Ferris gives a three-part approach to moving through these obstacles (see the 6:09 mark of the talk)

  1. Face Your Fears Set Courageous GoalsWhat if….?
    • First, DEFINE the fear. Think of all the horrible things that could happen.
      • Shark!!  🙂
      • I fall behind the pack and lose track of where I am swimming
    • Second, explore PREVENTION: What can you do to prevent this/decrease the chances?
      • Swim with the pack, don’t leave a blood trail (just kidding…but don’t do it.), talk to other triathletes. Truly. Talk to other triathletes.
    • Third, identify REPAIR options. If what you named in the define section were to happen, what/who could help? Who das figured this out before? Who solved this problem?
      • Is it a problem? Talk to another triathlete. Talk to open water swimmers, surfers, etc. 
  2. What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
    • Health, stamina, etc.
  3. What is the cost of inaction (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years?
    • Inactivity will continue, health could be compromised, stamina to do the things I love decreased, etc. 

Now answer the question again, “What do you want?”

It could be you’ll decide your goal isn’t worth it and need to redefine the goal. More likely than not, you’ll see the goal is a transformation you desire to pursue. Once you name your fears, the challenges preventing you from success no longer have power over you.

You are worth the investment.

Break It Down

If your goal is 2-5 years in the future, it’s time to break it down. What can you accomplish in a year? Oh, that triathlon you want to do? First, you need to start exercising again. So maybe your year 1 goal becomes: Run my first marathon.

Here’s the thing. Even a year is too far in the distance. The stats on the number of people who keep new years resolutions is depressing (less than 10% – sorry).

Part of the reason resolutions fail is because the goal fails the specificity test. Run the Flying Pig Marathon the first weekend in May is a whole lot different than “run a marathon this year.” The Flying Pig also benefits local non-profit organizations. Run the Flying Pig Marathon the first weekend in May to benefit Wesley Chapel Mission Center and New Life Furniture is a goal that benefits others.

Set 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals30 60 90 Day Courageous Goals

Keep your goals to 30, 60, and 90-days.  A year gives you too many opportunities to put off working toward your goal. Focus on short increments of time. This gives you an opportunity to succeed, adjust your plan, and keep moving forward. The human brain likes success.

What do you want in 30-days? 60-days? 90-days?

If you want your family to bless three families every month by hosting them for dinner in your home, what is your first goal? Perhaps learning to cook for a large group of people. Or maybe you’ll need a plan for reorganizing the eating area in your home.

Tip: The Twelve Week Year, is an awesome resource to help reframe your year into twelve-week segments.


At the source of why many goals are never achieved is a failure of accountability. There is no one partnering with you to make sure you do what you say you’re going to do. “My husband and I are welcoming a foster child into our home in the next six months by working with Beech Acres” is different than, “I plan to be a foster parent.”

Accountability can happen in many ways.

  • Partner with someone for accountability: Your spouse is a part of your plan. S/he works with you to achieve the goal.
  • Budget money and/or time to achieve the goal. You monitor progress with an advisor, trainer, etc.
  • Hire a professional leadership coach to partner with you. The coach helps you define your desired transformation, monitor your plan and establish accountability.

Let me ask you again: What do you want?

The courageous goals you set can be accomplished.

Summary4 Steps Courageous Goals Sara Thomas

Ready to tackle your courageous goal? Here are a few reminders:

  1. Define the transformation you want.
  2. Examine your fears.
  3. Set 30-60-90 day plans (and remain flexible)
  4. Embrace the power of accountability.

What do you want? Comment below your unedited, fearless desire for transformation.

Making a difference in the lives of people you love, causes you believe in, and organizations you support is worth the effort. May your life be transformed as you set, clarify and accomplish your goals.

To your success, 

Sara Thomas Courageous Goals




PS – The Back Story

The connection to the Cincinnati resource links and mentions in this post comes from a specific experience in my life. I served in ministry in greater Cincinnati, Ohio for twelve years. During a specific season (ok there were several seasons things like this happened), we were starting a new ministry in the urban core.

During this season, Susie was starting Studio S. She trained a group of people to run the Flying Pig Marathon over five months. Their running benefited the ministry we were starting in the urban core. They were the “city lights running group.”

After that experience, I learned several of the organizations we partnered with, including Wesley Chapel and New Life Furniture also benefited from the Flying Pig. I was reminded, difference makers come from many places and have many interests. The people of Cincinnati taught me a lot about being and becoming a difference maker.

I am forever grateful for the experience of serving in ministry in Cincinnati.

1 reply
  1. Chautona Havig
    Chautona Havig says:

    You have some awesome content here. I love the idea of identifying your fears. Because in goal setting, we’re usually encouraged to dream big and forget pesky things like fears. We look at obstacles, but fear is just one, big, huge obstacle sometimes. My brain is spinning!

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