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Why You Need Big, Scary Goals (and How to Set Them)

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Last Updated on by Rebecca

setting big scary goals

When was the last time you challenged yourself to do something really big?

I’m talking start-a-business-so-you can-quit-your-soul-sucking-job big.

Pay-off-all-your-debt-and-buy-a-house big.

Totally-make-over-your-life-and-pursue-your-dreams big.

How long has it been since you set a big, scary goal that really forced you to get outside your comfort zone? 

Months? Years? Never?

Here’s the truth:

If you’re not setting goals that scare the crap out of you, you’re not doing it right.

Go Big, or Go Home: Why You Need Scary Goals

When I started freelancing full-time in 2014, I had one focus: making enough money to pay the bills so I could take care of myself and my two kids. 

I worked way too many hours for way too little money. It was a grind and I hated it.

After about three months of that, I’d had enough. I knew I needed to change my approach because I was completely burned out. So I decided to set a new goal: earn more and work less.

Specifically, I wanted to make six figures from freelance writing while working part-time hours. 

So I buckled down and got super-focused on my goal.

I pitched and networked and fine-tuned my writing. Within a year, I’d crossed the six-figure mark and cut my work week in half.

At the time I set my goal, I had no idea whether I’d actually get there or not. I knew other freelancers were making six figures but it seemed like a long shot for me.

But, I set that big goal anyway.

Because here’s the thing: scary goals push you to aim for the next level.

They help you get organized and focused, so you make the most of your time. 

Big goals push you out of your comfort zone.

They force you to be conscious of the choices you’re making (or not making). 

And they give you something to chase — the very best version of yourself you can be. 

How to Set Big, Scary Goals (and Actually Achieve Them)

how to set big scary goals

Setting goals is easy.

Setting goals that make your toes tingle and the blood pound in your ears? That takes a little more effort.

Because if you’re setting big, scary goals you have to get real with yourself. About what you want and who you want to be.

And that isn’t so easy to do. It’s hard to look your goals in the eye and say let’s do this. 

But if you can do it, the payoff is amazing.

Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how to set those big, scary goals you’ve been dreaming about and bring them to life. 

1. Start With Your Vision

The first step in setting goals that challenge you is figuring out what you really want.

What does your vision look like? Be specific. When it comes to setting big goals, vague just doesn’t cut it.

It’s not enough to say that you want to start a business or save more money or spend more time with your kids.

Your goals should be focused, with a purpose. Because once you have a purpose, you can start building your plan.

If you’re having trouble getting clear on the vision for your scary goals, try this.

Set aside at least 10 to 15 minutes that you can spend alone. Tune out any distractions and really think about what your goals are, for the short-term and the long-term.

The idea here is to create a crystal clear vision that reflects your goal.

The thing about setting scary goals is that the limits only extend as far as you can think.

Once you make the mental shift and start thinking on a broader scale, you might be surprised at the shape your vision takes. 

2. Face Up to What’s Holding You Back

Setting scary goals is a huge step and if you’ve got a goal or two in mind, then give yourself a high five.

Now comes the hard part: getting past the things that are standing between you and your goal.

Those obstacles can take a lot of different forms. It might be fear, or self-doubt. Or it may be anxiety or stress.

It could be your friends or family members telling you that you’re crazy and you can’t do whatever it is you want to do. And sometimes, it’s all of those things at once. 

Everybody has something that makes them feel overwhelmed or anxious about setting a scary goal. (And if you don’t then you’re straight up awesome and I need to know your secret! 🙂 )

But you can get over whatever the obstacle is, if you’re able to face it head on.

A lot of times, it’s just plain old fear.

You might be afraid of failing so you don’t even try. Fear of succeeding can be just as intimidating.

It’s absolutely possible to be afraid of your own greatness.

Once you start doing the thing you’re made to do, your life will change and that’s scary to think about, especially if you’ve gotten used to the comfortable (and unthreatening) groove you’re living in.

Self-doubt is another goal-setting roadblock.

When there’s a voice in your head telling you you’ll probably fail, that can stop you in your tracks and keep you from making your next move. 

Whatever the barrier is, acknowledge it. Then push past it and commit to chasing your goals.

3. Nail Down Your Why

goal-setting scary goals

Knowing what your big, scary goals are is just one piece of the puzzle. You also need to understand the why behind them.  

Ask yourself why you want to:

  • Start a business
  • Go back to school and get that degree
  • Increase your income
  • Get your finances in shape
  • Do any of the things on your scary goals bucket list

In other words, what’s your motivation?

You need to understand the why factor if you want to achieve your goals.

The why has to be something so important that it won’t let you slack off and allow your goals fall by the wayside.

It has to light your fire and get you excited about reaching for something big.

For me, my main why in setting a huge income goal for my business was–and still is–to be more available to my kids.

Earning more and working less means we can do the things we want to do, without time or money being an issue.

And that’s been worth everything I’ve had to do to get here.

4. Make an Action Plan for Hitting Your Goals

Setting scary goals can be overwhelming. And it’s tempting to pull back instead of pushing forward. 

A great way to dial down your anxiety is creating an action plan to follow. You lay out the steps and check them off one by one and before you know it–boom–goal accomplished. 

That’s what I did a couple of years ago when I decided to quit renting and buy a house.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal but for a single mom like me, owning a home was everything. But I wasn’t 100% sure I’d actually be able to do it.

I knew I could afford to buy a house but finding one I liked and getting a mortgage was a big question mark. So I broke my goal down into steps that weren’t so panic-inducing.

If you’ve got your goal and vision in place, think about the steps you need to take to make it happen.

What exactly do you need to do, in what order and how long will it take?

Be specific and don’t skimp on the details. Whether the line from A to B is perfectly straight or ends up having some zigs and zags, your road map can keep you on track and moving forward.

5. Be Consistent

set scary goals today

Consistency is the secret sauce to achieving scary goals.

Because the most important thing you have to do if you want to reach your goal is show up.

Sounds simple, right? But it can be hard to do. If you struggle to be consistent, try these tips:

Make time for it every day. 

I get that you’re busy. So am I!

But if you’ve got a scary goal in sight, you’ve got to make time for it.

Whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours to spare, commit to doing at least one thing every day that puts you closer to your goal.  

Remind yourself what your goal is constantly.

It’s important to keep your goal at the front of your mind, even when you’re not actively working on it. There are some different ways to do this.

Creating a vision board is one option if you’re the visual type.

Here’s another simple trick: change your email or bank account password to a phrase that reflects your goal.

That way, every time you log in to your accounts you’re getting a quick reminder of what your goal is.

Be accountable.

When you’re working towards a big goal, especially one with a longer timeline, it’s easy to get a little goal-weary. Having an accountability partner, like a friend or family member, can help you maintain momentum.

Something as simple as scheduling a regular weekly check-in to talk about your goals and the progress you’ve made can be enough to help you stay on track.

Are You Setting Big, Scary Goals for Yourself?

When it comes to goals, especially ones that scare you, getting started is the hardest part.

Starting is hard. But it’s also necessary. Otherwise, your scary goal is going to remain just that–a goal. 

Take baby steps in the beginning if you have to. If you can just do one thing, that one thing can turn into two things, then three and then before you know it, you’re doing the thing you never thought you could do. 

Do you have a big, scary goal that you’re working towards? Tell me about it in the comments and make sure to share this post if it helped you!

And don’t forget to join the Boss Mama Resource Library if you haven’t already. It’s chock full of free resources to help you grow your blog & biz and live life like a boss mom!


  1. This is huge. When you take on something as big as starting a business or buying a home, it is without a doubt the most terrifying thing as an adult. Those what if’s are always nagging at you in the back of your mind. Great post and thank you for writing.

    • Hi Kel,

      Doing big things takes a big vision and big goals, right? But it’s hard to get over the hump sometimes–you get stuck because you’re afraid but you know you just need to push through and do it!


  2. I usually fall down in two areas – making time, and being consistent. I’m really guilty of spending money that I don’t have to spend on things like days out. I think they’re important as family time, but I’d like to be in better financial health, too!

    Great blog!!

    • Hi Kari,

      The time factor is huge for me too! I feel like on the weekends, we have to be doing something “fun”, which somehow always gets equated with spending money.


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