Conquering Your Big Goal Saboteurs

02.04.2020 |

Episode #6 of the course How to accomplish your goals by Jordan Thibodeau and Samara Veler


“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent van Gogh


Hello again, class!

For this lesson, we will be discussing the damaging habits and mindsets that most commonly sabotage us as we attempt to accomplish our goals.

Nobody intends to give up on their goals halfway through, but sometimes that’s what happens. Often, this loss of commitment to our goals can be attributed to one or more Big Goal Saboteurs, mental traps that work against us as we work on our goals. These Goal Saboteurs come in many different forms, and although one person may be plagued by multiple Goal Saboteurs, not every Saboteur will apply to everyone. In fact, some people may recognize just one or two Saboteurs, while others may recognize them all.

Here are the Big Goal Saboteurs:

The Overzealous Saboteur: Even though we intuitively know that we can’t possibly complete all our goals at once, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. We set our sights on what we stand to gain by completing our goals without first considering how difficult it would be to do them all at once. This causes us to stretch ourselves thin until we throw our hands up and decide that the whole endeavor was a mistake. This ends up sabotaging our plans and making our goals feel unachievable.

The Overwhelmed Saboteur: It can be hard to determine what to achieve next in life. We tend to have so many opportunities that we can feel paralyzed by the wealth of possibilities. This causes us to second-guess ourselves and make half-hearted attempts at each of our multiple goals or not aim for anything at all. This, in turn, can cause the rocking chair syndrome, wherein we thrash back and forth yet go nowhere at all. The end result is a feeling of guilt due to our perceived stagnation from our lack of forward progress.

The Fickle Saboteur: Many worthwhile goals have trade-offs. We sometimes need to be willing to give something up before we can achieve our goals, and the Fickle Saboteur prevents us from doing this. Often, the thing we’ll need to sacrifice is something like our comfort or our money, though it can be anything. But in order to have good things in life, we must usually decide which things we don’t need to have, and then we must be unwavering in our decisions.

The Perfectionist Saboteur: We try to optimize which Big Goal is the best one to work on now, but rarely is that 100% clear. There are many factors that go into picking a Big Goal, such as what currently interests us, how much time we have available, what resources we have at our disposal, and how emotionally engaged we are in our goals. But the Perfectionist Saboteur will spend an endless amount of time tricking us into believing that there is only one perfect goal, and if we could just find it, then everything would be perfect. It’s important to keep in mind that working toward a Big Goal can reveal which goal to work on next or even that you would rather work on something else right now—and that’s okay!

The Insecure Saboteur: Our Big Goals often require skills we don’t yet wield. As a result, we can easily feel discouraged, like we don’t deserve to accomplish our goals anyway or like we aren’t good enough to achieve what we hope to in life. We abandon our goals because we are convinced that we can’t learn the new skills we need or that we won’t excel at them, and everyone will see that we just aren’t good enough. But this is a destructive and false mindset that only hinders our self-improvement.

The Impatient Saboteur: Achieving a Big Goal takes time, but the Impatient Saboteur doesn’t want to just sit by and wait for results. This Saboteur convinces us that because the results we’re looking for haven’t come as quickly as we’d hoped, we should just quit immediately and move on to other things. The Impatient Saboteur can be particularly insidious because it can feel perfectly sensible in the moment to shift our focus away from our Big Goal, but if we repeatedly fall for this trap, then we will never accomplish what we want to in life.

The Cowardly Saboteur: Any goal that you embark on has a risk of failure, but the Cowardly Saboteur convinces you that simply because this risk exists, you shouldn’t even try to accomplish your goals. After all, “if you don’t try, then you can’t fail,” and failure could bring embarrassment, disappointment, shame, regret, anger, or sadness. It seems safer to just keep everything as it is than to try to achieve something new. But in order to get what you want in life, you’ll need to realize that the risk of failure is worth the fulfillment of meeting your goals and reaching your full potential.



1. Review the list of common Goal Saboteurs, and reflect upon which Saboteurs have sabotaged your commitment to your goals in the past.

2. Make a prediction about which Saboteurs may try to disrupt your progress on your next Big Goal. Brainstorm ways that you might be able to combat these Saboteurs.

We will be taking a closer look at how to mitigate the impact of these Big Goal Saboteurs in our next lesson.

Jordan Thibodeau and Samara Veler

Scheduling Mentors


Recommended book

Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential by Shirzad Chamine


Share with friends