Achieving Impossible Goals

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

– Paulo Coelho

I have forever had this idea of myself that I don’t finish what I start. I have had this belief that I get really excited about things at the start of something but then I just sort of fizzle out.

I carry this self defeating belief with me every where I go. I just tuck it in my pocket and bring it along. It manifests itself as this little voice in my head whenever I think about setting a somewhat lofty goal for myself. It tells me that it isn’t even worth it to try to achieve this or that…you know you won’t complete it…you are always getting in your own way…it is too hard…you don’t have the time…you don’t have the brains…you don’t have the stamina.

I heard that voice again this week when I decided I wanted to try something called The Master Cleanse. It is a detox and cleanse that lasts for 10 days. It is really challenging but I wanted to do it for the health benefits. As soon as I made the decision to start it this past Monday the little voice started…”this is crazy”… “you are going to be halfway into this and quit and then how will we feel about ourselves.” Or my favorite for the mere sake of it’s simplicity, “you are going to fail.”

The thing is, when I look back on my life and see all the things I have actually accomplished, I have to call bull$&!% on that little voice. I completed nursing school, got my RN license, obtained my Master’s in Nursing, scrubbed open heart surgeries and heart transplants, completed a half marathon, helped open a level 1 trauma center for a prestigious hospital system and so much more. Thinking of those things, in retrospect, kind of makes that little voice sound pretty silly and a bit of a liar. If you had told me 25 years ago that I would have done any of that I would have laughed my head off. I would have said with all sincerity, “Nope, not me. I am a total screw up.”

So why does the little voice exist? Perhaps it is trying to keep me safe? Keep me small? When we fail at something, anything, it does not feel good. We go through a myriad of feelings, none of them renewing…disappointment, embarrassment and shame are just a few. If we let these negative feelings build up and take up residence in our mind, we will likely stop trying, stop creating, stop taking chances. This leads us to live small but “safe” lives forever wondering what might have been if we had only … fill in the blank.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for taking breaks and stepping back to take a breather from the roller coaster. It is vitally important for us to give ourselves the space to process, reassess and re-prioritize our lives at times. I am currently in that space, as so many of us are, due to COVID-19. But at some point we have to get back up, walk over to the pool and dip our toe in … or if you are anything like me you take a running cannonball leap back into the deep end. Some of my greatest and most unimaginable successes have come from diving right into something. Of course some of my greatest failures have happened by doing this as well. The thing is I have learned to work hard, never letting the failures define who I am.

I see my fear of failure as a great motivator as opposed to something that holds me back. I will give you an example. When I was a brand new nurse in the operating room I had to go through pretty intense training in each of the service line specialties: Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, General, Vascular, GYN/GU, Eyes, Plastics and Thoracic surgery. It was 6 months before I would drive home from work not crying about some mistake I had made that day. It was brutal and I felt like an idiot constantly. I seriously thought daily, “what have I gotten myself into and why the hell would I do that to myself. There is NO WAY I am going to be any good at this!”

Orthopedics was the worst for me, the procedures kind of grossed me out with all the bone cutting and cementing (I know I am a nurse but I am being honest with you, ugh). It was a very difficult service and I hated almost every moment of my training in that service. The nurse coordinator for Ortho was fairly aware of my feelings and was likely not impressed with me AT ALL. When it got to the end of my training in all the service lines and my nurse educator and manager wanted to know what team I wanted to join, I surprised everyone (most of all myself) by choosing the Ortho team as my home. Wait, what?! I hated Ortho! Why?? I chose it because it scared me the most and I don’t like to be afraid. I wanted to conquer my fear and be the best Ortho nurse on the team.

I ended up loving my team, my nurse coordinator and the doctors. Even now when I walk into an orthopedic procedure it feels a bit like coming home. I could have chosen a service that was easier for me, where I felt successful and at ease, but then I would have missed out on so much learning and growing. That may be one of the first times I actively chose to not listen to the voice in my head saying I couldn’t. And the result was such overwhelming growth, accomplishment and joy.

That was a long time ago now. I have been a nurse for 20+ years and have had many of those moments in my career and in my life. I still have that little voice with me though. Now, whenever I hear this little voice come through I smile and say to it, “you are so cute! I love you…but we are going to do this anyway.” When all the thoughts of quitting half way through something get thrown at me I remember all the things I have accomplished in my life thus far and smile. I am only as small as I choose to be. I have attempted many things in my life and have not always succeeded, but I have accomplished so much I believed myself incapable of.

If you find yourself hearing that little voice telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t take a chance in your life, maybe look back at some of the things you have already accomplished and get your strength and courage from that. Step into your own power and create a life that you are proud of and that you wholly deserve. That little voice is little for a reason.

I hope you enjoyed my post! Please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!!

Sending you all light and love!

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

– Shel Silversein

59 thoughts on “Achieving Impossible Goals

  1. It’s great that you can look back, it can take a lonf time to get to that point. I had the same problem. I learned by setting smaler goals instead of such lofty ones at first. Now look at the loft goals you have accomplished. Great success. 🙂

  2. It sounds like you’ve achieved so much to be proud of. And I love how you describe the little voice as ‘cute’ – makes it sound easier to deal with 😊

    1. Haha! I see it as a friend how is a bit overly cautious and trying to help😁 It is welcome but not always followed if there is no good reason to not go for something! Thank you for reading!

  3. This was such a beautiful read! It resonated with me a lot! The fact that you chose the thing that scared you the most and didn’t it anyways is brilliant! I need to learn to do that better!? How did you know you needed to do that though? I mean it’s easy to read a book or even your post here and be inspired, but the action is the tough part!

    1. I agree!! All I know is that as soon as I feel the fear bubble up and I want to turn away, I do an awareness check. Am I turning away because I believe I cannot achieve something or I am truly not interested in it. If fear or avoidance is part of the equation, I start with a small step and just keep taking them. I keep my head down and move forward. I try to stay away from that voice. I remember all the things I have accomplished and that pushes me.

      I hope that helps. I believe in you!! The fact that you are asking the questions is a huge plus. Keep moving forward 💙

  4. I am in awe… For the fact that it’s like you knew what I’ve been going through. Amazing post Im encouraged and know that I will be able to push through it all if I just don’t give in to that little voice

  5. Thanks for the inspiring post. I think it’s a great exercise to look back and see how far you’ve come as a person. It’s so easy to only look forward at what you haven’t yet achieved while forgetting the amazing things you have. Wonderful quite to finish. Thanks again

  6. Failure sounds ugly and intimidating until we realize it’s a path in our life of growth. It always depends on how we choose to view “failure.” From as simple as Children fall down, but eventually walk, to professional athletes fail, but keep trying until they get there.
    I love your article & am inspired by you & your friendship.
    Thank you for keeping me in your journey.

    1. Hey, you!!! I didn’t know you were on here❤️ Thank you so much for your wisdom and friendship. I admire you so much and thank you for reading my post!!

    1. That sounds smart…work on smaller ones to get to the bigger ones. It probably would have saved me a lot of tears!! But the journey is amazing no matter what! Thank you for reading and commenting!!

  7. The caveat is that you don’t know how much time you’re given to achieve your goals. Two stories from this week. One gentleman brought his dog inside, laid him on the sofa. Went over later to pet him and the dog was gone, passed. A woman went to stir her husband to get him to go to bed. He’d been in his chair reading. He was gone, too. Neither was old, but their time was done. Dreams can’t wait. The notion that you can delay them or start small is a dangerous conceit.

    1. Wow. Absolutely. This life is precious, every moment. It is so important to honor our journey and keep planting our feet one in front of the other.
      Thank you so much for sharing 💙

      1. It’s not that life is short or long, it’s how fully you live it. The length is uncertain, the only control is over how much you pack into it.

  8. Fear is something I have had to overcome and since has opened the doors of dreaming and freedom! Fear can be paralyzing in so many ways. Love the Shel Silversien quote!!! Thanks for the inspirational writing!

  9. I definitely relate! I very often have that little voice in the back of my head that tries to convince me I’m incapable of anything I set my mind to. Over the past eighteen months I’ve committed to writing a book (one for starters!) and recording and releasing one EP. I have progressed to responding to the little voice in my head less than half the time. Like you say it feels good to acknowledge when I hear that voice and feel that resistance, but get stuck in and do it anyway!

    Thank you for sharing more of your experiences. Fear is a liar, but a very powerful one that can make us think only of the possible negative outcomes of anything we might try – even if there’s next to no chance they will happen!

    I pray you continue to face those fears head on. 🙂

  10. Nice post! You can’t have success without failure and conquering your self doubt is one of the most rewarding things out there

  11. You know what we human beings have a problem
    Out of many problems, there is one more,and this is self-created one.We always expect ease from life.
    We have this amazing fantasy about life. This is how things should work this is my plan. Things should go as perfect my plan. If that doesn’t happen we give up….
    Your blog is truly amazing and motivating..

  12. I carry that little voice around with me all the time and hadn’t realised how much I’ve been feeding it recently… Time to start saying, thank you for your contribution, but we’re going to go kick some ass anyway! Thank you for this. As someone with two retired NHS nurses for parents, I found this a joy to read. Thank you, Luna Xxxx

  13. This is just what I needed to hear. Fear is limiting and sometimes we just fear failure and think small because smaller is safer. It’s much scarier to be out on a limb but the view is better.

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