How to Stop Getting Overwhelmed By Your Goals

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According to Google, overwhelmed means “bury or drown beneath a huge mass” or “give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.” Setting goals is good, but having so many goals or such large goals that you’re always buried and inundated by them is a recipe for disaster. 

To quit being overwhelmed by your goals all the time you need to do three simple things:

  1. Never set more than four goals at a time, one for each main area of life.
  2. Cut your goals in half.
  3. Give yourself more time to accomplish your goals.

The first one is the most important. It will reduce overwhelm more than any of the others, so let’s jump right into it!

1. Never Set More Than 4 Goals At a Time

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” ― Greg McKeown

One of the main reasons you experience overwhelm when setting goals is that you want to change so many things about yourself at once. This leads to setting too many goals. Which then makes you feel crushed by the weight of it all. And eventually you quit before you see any meaningful results.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. 

You don’t suffer because you don’t want your goals enough. You don’t lack motivation, you’re just falling victim to the social pressure to be the best at everything. But you don’t have to.

It’s good to be ambitious and want to improve. 

It’s better is to narrow those ambitions to only a few that matter most. 

And the best thing you can do to beat overwhelm and set the best possible goals is limit your goals to just one highest-impact goal in each of the four main areas of life. 

Those areas are:

  1. Faith
  2. Family
  3. Finances
  4. Fitness

Think about your current goals and you’ll see that each of them fits into one of these four areas. Everything you do does because these are the foundational pillars necessary for a happy and successful life. When one area flourishes, they all rise higher. 

By focusing yourself on only one goal in each area that you’ve identified will have the highest effect, you limit yourself to what will improve your life the most. You can begin to see double or triple the results in less than half the time because you’re so laser-focused on your priorities.

This makes it impossible to get overwhelmed because you know that what you’re working on will have the greatest impact. You don’t need all those other goals. 

As one of my favorite quotes by Gary Keller puts it:

“What’s the One Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”’

I’ve been setting my goals this way for over 15 years and it always helps me reign in my worries whenever I’m stuck thinking about too many things I want to accomplish. 

As I’ve focused on that “one thing” in each area, I’ve been able to find true happiness by attaining my highest spiritual, relationship, financial, and fitness goals. 

Even though I’m far from perfect and there’s a lot that I would like to change, this habit keeps me feeling happy with who I am. I don’t have to worry about overwhelm when setting goals because I know how to figure out what’s most important and forget about everything else. I find confidence in being spiritually strong, connected with others, financially free, and physically fit. 

Limit your goals to only four, one in each major area of life, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to not be overwhelmed by your goals.

2. Cut Your Goals in Half

“Cut your goal in half. Choose what you’ll bomb. Make it fun if you want it done.” ― Jon Acuff

Sometimes, even though we have the best of intentions, we push ourselves harder than we’re capable of. This can happen regardless of how well you’ve limited your goals to only four as I’ve just mentioned. 

Trying to 10x your goals in the next 6 months, for instance, is simply never going to work. That’s how you overwhelm yourself. 

What you need to be thinking about instead is how you can cut your goals down enough that you can stay consistent. Because the real way to reaching your goals is through consistently doing the right actions over a long period of time. Figure that out and you’ll reach every goal you set for the rest of your life.

That’s why you need to cut your goals in half if you want to make them manageable. Consider, for instance:

  • Expanding your spirituality by meditating for just 10 minutes a day instead of 20 or 30.
  • Improving your marriage by getting back to just one date a month at first instead of once every week.
  • Trying to grow your income by working your side hustle for just one hour a day instead of two.
  • Trying to lose ½ pound of weight each week instead of one pound.

Remember that consistency is key. Cut your goals down enough that you can stick with them for a long time. That’s how you get results. Once you’ve figured out how to stay with it, then you can increase how much you do.

Know also that true happiness in life doesn’t come from extravagant riches, becoming famous, or being ultra-fit. Real joy comes from having enough and letting things stay at that level so you don’t have to worry about managing anything more than that.

You don’t have to set such lofty goals like the world tries to make you believe. You’ll be happiest by finding peace, loving those closest to you, having enough money to cover your needs plus many of your wants, and staying fit enough that you can enjoy the pleasures of life.

Cut your goals in half and you’ll also cut down the overwhelm that comes from trying to do too much at once.

3. Give Yourself More Time

“The rule is ‘There are no unrealistic goals; there are only unrealistic deadlines.’” — Brian Tracy

One thing that really bothers me about society is how it makes you think that you have to have it all right now. Giving in to this societal peer pressure to be impatient is a large reason why so many are miserable with their lives. 

If we would all instead let the beauties of life take the time they need to flourish, we’d have a lot more peace and joy. And we’d also not get so overwhelmed by our goals, too.

Give yourself more time with your goals. You might try, for example:

  • Planning on two years (or more) to get through your mental health struggles instead of just one. It’s really okay to take as much time as you need here and in all of these areas.
  • Being okay if it takes you a year to find someone to date instead of the six months that you might have originally thought it might take.
  • Letting go of the idea that you must make six figures a year by the end of the year and instead, planning to make it happen by the end of the following year.
  • Giving yourself two weeks to lose 0.5% body fat instead of trying to do it in just one.

The easiest way to start if you don’t know how much time to give yourself is to just double your timeline. Take how long you think you need and just multiply it by two and go for that.

Letting yourself take more time to reach your goals may seem simple, but it’s one of the easiest ways to not get overwhelmed by your goals.

Wrapping Up

You can’t reach any of your goals when you get overwhelmed by them. But don’t let that discourage you from quitting altogether. 

You just need to practice these three things to make your goals feel doable:

  1. Set only four goals, one in each area of life.
  2. Cut your goals in half.
  3. Give yourself more time.