Fear and Goal Setting

The December sun has set on yet another year, and with it, we hope to burn off the lesser angels of our nature. But every year we have these high hopes of a triumphant Phoenix rebirth of ourselves and every year the same result…

Unaccomplished and stagnant.

Look, if you’re steady crushing it day-in-day-out. I tip my hat and bid you adieu. But if upon an honest inventory taking of the last 365 days, you realize you’ve come up short. Then take a minute to consider my two-cents on goal setting as we move into 2020.

Our Deepest Fear…

“ Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is we are powerful beyond measure”...

Yeah. I’ve seen the movie coach Carter as well, and I doubt Ella Wheeler Wilcox has ever come across a Huntsman Spider in the shower. So don’t talk to me about fear. But I digress.

Our Deepest Fear (as best I can tell in over my decade of working with clients, patients and athletes) is not that we are powerful beyond measure. Our deepest fear seems to be the unknown that comes with failure. Whether it’s Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis eating from the tree of knowledge only to realize that they are both naked and vulnerable or you’re a client trying to shed a few pounds in the New Year.

Failure scares the living shit out of people.


When most people are prompted to set goals they default to a very vague, Miss America-esque state, just shy of proclaiming “world peace” as an item on their to-do list for the incoming year.

Why is this the default? Why is goal setting so hard? Or rather, why is effective goal setting so hard?

Your goal setting sucks because goal setting clearly outlines the parameters for FAILURE.

So rather than facing the fear, people can get by with failing year in and year out because they don’t really have any system of accountability to clearly categorize their inaction as a failure. They willfully blind themselves to this fear of failure by sheltering themselves behind these vague, poorly outlined goals.

Now,  knowing this isn’t (unfortunately) going to be a magic cure-all for your inability to lay out a plan for a year, next quarter, next week, or even tomorrow.

Getting over fear takes graded exposure.

Imagine being afraid of water, and some jackass friend at a party picks you up and throws you in. That’s no way to get over the fear, if anything, it’ll likely make your aversion to water even greater. A better system is a series of graded exposures over time that will allow you to get braver when it comes to your presence around or even in water.


The biggest obstacle to overcome in this battle for goal setting supremacy is you, and this isn’t some useless “ you vs. you” #motivationmonday platitude. It’s simply a statement that makes us aware and conscious of our main obstacle in setting effective goals.


In goal setting, there is a common practice of utilizing the SMART system which is an acronym that stands for






This is a great system but it doesn’t take into consideration our biggest obstacle. Ourselves.

Performing a SWOT analysis on ourselves is a much better starting point in the pursuit of an effective goal-setting than jumping blindly into a SMART plan. Don’t’ kid yourself, if you know you aren’t capable of being aware, conscious and introspective enough to put a very clear, unfiltered mirror in front of yourself than have some else do this for you. A SWOT analysis is a snapshot of your:





Having a clear understanding of these characteristics will allow you to have a much stronger foundation in which to build your smart goals.

It’s not about painting a better picture for yourself, it’s about seeing yourself in a higher resolution. So as you enter into another year, and set forth another course of action, make this be the year that you take the wheel and start to steer the ship towards creating effective goals that align with you as an individual and setting clear guidelines as to what failure looks like, not fearing failure, but exposing yourself to it in the lifelong pursuit of becoming braver in its presence.

Stay Strong,

Dr Jordan Shallow D.C

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