Why You SHOULDN’T Attempt to Reach Your Goals with 100% Effort

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its PERSISTENCE.”
— James N. Watkins

So many of us focus on BLASTING toward our goals at full speed.

Yet I wonder… how many of us will stall out within three months? How many will end up right where they were before?

I’ve been there. At first, it feels turbocharged, like nothing can stop me. Like I have powerful engines behind me.

Power is, well, POWERFUL… it’s exciting, motivating, and it absolutely can get you started, but it isn’t sustainable for the long haul. At least not for most of us.

The amount of effort that goes into being 100% “on” or “all in” all the time becomes exhausting and irritating. You can’t keep going on power alone. It just won’t last. We aren’t cut out for that, anyway.

There’s something else you can do, though: persist.

Abandoning power and transitioning instead to persistence will, by its very nature, keep you going — and get you results. Results that LAST.

Why Do We Stall Out on Our Goals?

The Secret to Achieving Your GoalsSo why do so many of us stall out when the power fails — instead of just switching to persistence?

The answer is simple: Transitioning to persistence is scary when we start out relying on power because it feels smaller somehow… like failure. By cranking down to a manageable rate instead of blasting day in and day out, it feels like a downgrade. We’re afraid if we scale back or don’t do things at a constant full throttle, then we won’t get results.

This is the “all or nothing” mentality. And it’ll bite you in the butt every time!

Doing something — anything — at 25% or even 10% every day is better than going 100% for a short time and then quitting. Back in my personal training days, it was shocking how many folks would rather do nothing than something. They felt if they couldn’t work out six days a week, four days was unacceptable, and it was somehow better not to do anything at all than not “do it right.”

I’m not knockin’ my former clients, though — I’ve been there, too! I battle with thoughts like, “If I can’t complete this ENTIRE blog post in one sitting, then I’m not going to start at all,” and “If I can’t fit in a 30-minute workout, why bother with a 15-minute one?”

I sabotage myself! We all do it. No one is immune. The key is to catch yourself when you get into that mindset, and then work your way into persistence.

Get Over the Desire to Be “Done”

Another reason relying on power over persistence leads to failure is because the reliance on power is usually based on the idea that you’ll be “done” quicker.

Guess what? You’ll never be done. If you ever think you’re “done,” you’re actually quitting.

Even if you finish a course, you’re not done with that subject matter. You’ll always be learning; you’ll never be perfect at that thing. Never.

Even if you lose the weight, it won’t stay off unless you’ve built sustainable habits and a positive relationship with food.

Even if you pay off the debt, more will take its place unless you stay vigilant with your spending.

Fear and Doubt Never Go Away

Confession: I’ve been struggling a lot lately to keep going when I feel I’m not getting anywhere.

And here’s the kicker: Even if I am getting somewhere, I feel like I’m not. And once I’m done with the Fear of X, the Fear of Y steps in to take its place. There’s always a new way to self-sabotage and throw in the towel instead of keeping up the forward motion. But there’s always a way to improve yourself, too.

Nobody is immune to fear and doubt. No matter how mindful you are, no matter how much work you do to conquer your fears, no matter how many mantras and affirmations and visualization exercises you do… fear and doubt will always be there.

Fear never goes away; it just changes its face. Change and fear are both inevitable. They’re also completely out of your hands.

The only thing you can control is the action you take every minute of every day. Despite the fear. Despite the intimidation. And despite the lack of motivation.

This is your life — the only life you get. Achieving goals, making money, creating your identity… none of this stuff is supposed to feel easy, and you’re never going to feel ready to tackle it. You’ll never have the power to propel yourself forward. Commit to what actually works, and you’ll soon find yourself loving the progress you make.

Progress is the keyword here. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the next great American novel won’t be written in a day, and a better, smarter, healthier, happier you that makes more money won’t happen in a day, either. Move beyond the way you feel. Show up every day anyway. Embrace the action and enjoy the journey — even the crappy parts — because without those rainy days, we’d never appreciate the sunny ones.

Fall in LOVE with the journey of becoming the best version of you. I promise you’ll be much happier when you do. 🙂


  • Kathy
    This is so motivational! It is right on target with where I am with my career choices right now. Keep 'em coming! Love it.
  • Mary
    Hurray! I'm so happy to hear this. It's not just me, then. I have some chronic health issues that make "powering" through the course (and life) difficult. It's tempting at times to give up on the pursuit of this new life I want for myself. Other people are doing it faster/better, etc. The internal dialogue is really the problem. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm chugging along at my pace, and that's just fine!
  • Tracey Nyland
    I am taking your advice. In the beginning, I was gun-ho for everything. Then I realized that I was trying to do too much at one time. So, now I am taking it one day at time and doing a little something every day. You are right! It makes me feel like a accomplished something for the day instead of trying to do it all at once. Thanks for the inspiration and keep them coming!
  • Thank you for this much needed reminder. I saw this in my inbox and it was exactly what I needed to hear today. It's so funny how much better it feels to put something off in the moment. It's like you can't fail if you haven't started. I definitely resonate with the 100 percent or nothing and it really has kept me from taking small steps to establish big goals. I think we all can benefit from taking a moment to reevaluate and set small goals within our large goals. This way, you are setting yourself up for success and you really do feel accomplished with every small step
  • Tracy
    Thank you so much for this post. I REALLY needed to hear this to keep up the momentum. I am moving forward and I have improved. I need to keep the focus on moving forward and not focus on how big or small the steps may be. I would still like to be done tomorrow, but that's just not realistic. I was wearing myself out. This smaller, more manageable pace seems more suited for me and that is ok. I'm still working toward a new goal!
  • Carol Cosby
    Excellent post!! I am retired and fortunate to have lots of free time but there are a number of things that fill up my days. Once I started working on the PTs I realized that it would probably take me over a year to finish this course (started in March). I then decided to pay for the entire course which gave me such peace of mind and now allows me to work at my own pace. Thanks for the words of encouragement!
  • caitlinpyle
    Hi, Carol! So glad you enjoyed the post! The PTs may take you longer to finish, but that only means you'll have more time to fully absorb the material and wow your clients! :-)
  • caitlinpyle
    Thank you for sharing your struggles, Mary. I love that you're doing your best to drown out the noise and keep plugging away!
  • caitlinpyle
    I agree, Tracey! Trying to do everything is too overwhelming. It's best to find a rhythm that works for you.
  • Thanks Caitlyn, you make me happy!
  • Caitlin Pyle
    You're welcome, Robert! Glad I could put a smile on your face. :)
  • Pamela Priest
    OMG, thank you for this blog post - it is how I feel - if I just do 0.5 hours a day on my course, I will eventually get through it. If I go for a 20 minute walk, eventually it will become a 45 minute walk. Thank you, Caitlin!
  • Caitlin Pyle
    You're welcome, Pamela! So glad you found it helpful! Keep it up! :D
  • Cherie Eifler
    This was awesome to read this morning...I have been working at breakneck speed for several months now, and I'm exhausted, not getting enough sleep and really not at my best. I AM persistent though! I am working full-time in a career that I love, and I have been doing transcription on the side for extra money. I'm also working to build that into an online business of primarily editing and proofreading within the market that I'm currently working in, actually targeting small businesses that can't afford to hire full-time marketing and proposal staff. I know there's a need, and I am one of the few people in my industry who actually love doing proposals. Lol. Everyone wants to be in business development and the "exciting" parts of marketing. Developing collateral, website and social media content, presentations. Proposals are "routine, boring, and tiresome." And they also are necessary to get work, so they have to be great. That's where I come in, because I like producing quality, accurate, and easy-to-read proposals. So, that's probably way more than you wanted to know, but my point is that I have a long-range plan, and I have some shorter-range goals, but I had been a little discouraged because I'm not making huge progress right now BECAUSE I'm so tired with everything else in already doing. This post was just the encouragement I needed today. Thanks, Caitlin!! Have a super weekend.
  • Caitlin Pyle
    Thanks for sharing, Cherie! Don't worry about what you're "not" accomplishing. Focus on what you are achieving -- no matter how small. Progress is progress, and it will bring you closer to your goals! Never give up! :)
  • Faye Bennett
    Thanks, Caitlin... You seem to always know what to say and when to say it. Keep it comin'. Faye Bennett
  • Caitlin Pyle
    You're welcome, Faye! I try. ;)

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