When Setting Goals Feels Overwhelming and How to Conquer It

If you have a word of the year and goals, I admire you.  The thought of choosing a yearly word and setting goals overwhelms me.  It is more than overwhelm; it terrifies me.  


I know many wives who set, plan, and track goals. But what if you’re not one of them? What if you’re more like me?


Consider why.  Does your personality type clash with wanting to look ahead and set goals? Do goals make you feel restricted? Or is there an underlying reason for your fear of setting goals? Are you afraid that by setting them you may not reach them, leading you down a trail of even more fear?


After much prayer and reflection, I realized it was much more than a personality type that caused me to fear setting goals.  I carefully identified three intense fears that infiltrated my life and kept me from dreaming, looking ahead, and setting healthy goals. I realized these fears are common amongst my friends who also don’t like goal-setting in the new year.


Fear of being wrong.  What if I choose the wrong goal?  What if I think one thing should be my goal, but that is not God’s plan for me at all? What if it sounds underwhelming to others? Is my goal too easy? Too hard? 

Result: We don’t set goals.


Fear of failure.  What if I make a goal and can’t stick with it?  What if I can’t obtain my goals? What will be the result of my inability to reach goals I set?

Result: We don’t set goals.


Fear of worth.  What if I make a goal, and I succeed?  Am I “good” enough for that? Should I be the one making a difference in this world?  On the opposite side of that, am I going to define myself by my successes? Will I have to accomplish more the following year to feel good about myself?

Result: We don’t set goals.


No wonder goals were scary and overwhelming.  Setting goals can trigger deeply rooted fear.   


What can we do with these fears? 


Allow yourself to feel “all the feels.” When you recognize what is holding you back from setting healthy goals,  it’s normal to feel the weight of those fears in our lives. How suffocating is it to live life believing mistakes are never allowed?  How exhausting it is to hold a ruler of perfection over your own head and allow yourself no grace! It does yourself and your family good to recognize how you’ve possibly lived life being limited in what you can do because you’ve been afraid you aren’t good enough.  


Know the purpose of setting goals. Goals give direction to where it is you desire to grow. It gives clarity to the growth you hope to achieve. Without a clear destination, we flounder with no certain objective. I have two friends: one who set a goal of reading 52 books this past year; the other who shared with me (recently) she wanted to read more this past year. Who do you think read more? A simple goal gives us a clear path to a destination. 


Pray before you set your goals. By asking God to help you set goals that will both challenge and motivate you to grow and become more like him, he will guide your goal-setting and the process throughout the year. There is no pressure with God and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Ask him to join you and guide you, and he will!


Recognize self-limiting standards. Oftentimes, those who struggle with perfectionism also struggle to set goals. This is because we tend to place large requirements on ourselves we would never place on other people. I would never expect my children never to make a mistake.  I cheered loudly for my friend who was about to run her first marathon even though we both knew she might not finish the race. I encouraged my husband that he was important despite having a debilitating disease.  It became undeniable that I held different standards for myself than I did for other people. Recognize your tendencies when they creep in throughout the year.


Speak God’s truth over your heart. Remind yourself often that we are all sinners.  The world is not going to fall apart if you make a mistake. As far as goals, any goal that is in line with God’s character and His word is excellent!  Simply stated, any goal that brings you closer to becoming more like Christ are great. Speak this verse over your life and the goals you consider setting: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)


Do you know what I did this year?  I bought a goal-setting book. I’ve spent years being afraid of setting goals. I’ve spent years letting fear have a stronghold in my life.  No more. Not this year, Satan.  


I encourage you to feel the feels, recognize the unrelenting personal standards, and begin to speak God’s truth over your heart.  I want to encourage you that your fears may not be erased overnight. It might take a long time of feeling, recognizing, and proclaiming the truth.  However, I am confident, if you and I are persistent in seeking freedom from our fears, God will bring freedom!


Wife Step:   If goals are overwhelming, spend time reflecting and asking God to help you understand the fears behind the overwhelming goal planning sessions.  Then, ask God to help you set one goal this new year. 

Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children. Karen has served as Preschool and Children’s Pastor and has been involved in women’s ministry for many years leading small groups, making hospital visits, organizing retreats, and encouraging the hearts of women. Karen now blogs at Glimpses of Faith and Struggles.  What started out as a way to communicate medical facts has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey.  When she’s not busy caring for her family or writing, you might find her cooking or crafting.


  1. Jana

    This speaks directly to my heart…thank you for sharing yours so we can relate and be encouraged and find hope! I feel encouraged to begin approaching my dreams.


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