Dream Small? Set Timid Goals?

Last year threw me for a loop. Here's what I learned.
Christi Hegstad February 7th, 2024

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I’m an advocate for dreaming big, setting bold + meaningful goals, and making a positive, purposeful difference.

I have, in fact, built my life’s work around these practices.

Last year, some confidence-rattling things occurred in my life. Not for the first time – not by a long shot. My confidence gets challenged on a very regular basis.

This time, however, shook me to the extent that I began to wonder if I needed to start aiming lower. Dreaming smaller. Setting only goals that I felt certain I could achieve instead of bold, stretching, reach-for-the-stars goals.

Was it time to change it all?

Reality Check … According To Whom?

In that state of bruised confidence, I decided I needed to take a look at my goals and ‘get real.’ I imagined showing my goals to an external, objective ‘reality-consultant’; I then imagined them looking at where I wanted to be, at where I was, and breaking out in laughter. There was no way I could actually, realistically achieve these goals, right?

Who did I think I was?

But when I thought of scrapping them altogether – of aiming lower, dreaming smaller – I felt almost ill. Sure, it would be nice to say I reach all my goals all the time – and to check every single one off my list.

But without stretching myself? Without experiencing the growth that accompanies reaching, or attempting to reach, the out-of-reach?

I love to check things off the list as much as the next person, but I knew the satisfaction in that would be short-lived for me. It’s when I exceed my own expectations, and help others achieve beyond what they think possible, that really lights me up.

Also, I – like you – have a track record of wins and successes behind me – large and small, planned and unexpected. Yes, that fictitious reality-consultant could say I’m completely out of my league. But it’s ultimately up to me to decide if they’re right.

So I took a step back, cleared my head, and asked myself a question I ask pretty much every day – but this time in the context of my Bold Goals:

Who, and how, do I choose to be in this situation?

That, and some other actions that I’ll outline below, changed everything.

Back On Track (Or Actually, On A *New* Track)

Here are a few of the strategies that helped me redirect my mindset, fuel myself up, and start dreaming and believing big again:

Celebration of Triumphs

If you’ve attended any of my goal-setting sessions, you’ve heard me encourage you to start by making a list of wins. And remember, you get to decide what constitutes a win: Maybe it’s a goal you reached, maybe it was a meaningful conversation you experienced, maybe you kept your houseplants alive longer than usual. (All three of these showed up on my list this time! 🙂 )

Seeing your track record of success will remind you that you can and do achieve great things.

Dear Friend

When you miss the mark, ask yourself, ‘What would I say to a dear friend, or client, or child in this situation?’ Chances are you’d be more supportive and encouraging with them than you are with yourself. Flip the switch and apply those words to yourself and your own situation.

And just like your dear friend may take a bit of convincing, so might you. Be patient but persistent.

Change of Scenery + Conversation

In the midst of all this, I actually had a couple out-of-town trips planned – and the timing could not have been better. I talked to new people, saw new scenery, and got out of my usual routines (and out of my own head, too). And while my goals/decisions weren’t the topic of these conversations, just hearing new perspectives and ideas and others’ current pursuits refreshed and energized me.

Even if you’re not heading out of town, you can experience these same benefits by spending time in unique-to-you places (I love our local art center and parks for this), asking a few acquaintances for coffee, or reconnecting with someone you respect and haven’t seen in a while.

Confidence Role Model

Whom do you admire for their confidence, perseverance, or other quality you appreciate? Consider them a confidence role model, even if from afar, and think about how they might carry themselves in a certain situation or talk to themselves when things don’t go according to plan.

I took this a step further this time and made a list of inspirational people – even including a few fictional characters. My confidence role model is currently an amalgamation of several different people I admire!


If I only set small goals that I was confident I’d easily reach, I’d eventually feel bored, disappointed, and/or unfulfilled. If I only set bold, shoot-for-the-stars goals, I’d likely feel overwhelmed, disappointed, and/or – for different reasons – unfulfilled. The magic involves a blend of the two.

Create a mix of big dreams, bold goals, doable projects, and check-off-the-list items. Not 357 of them, mind you, but a variety to keep you delighted and moving forward.

A New Chapter

I definitely struggled with this last year. The above strategies helped tremendously, as did talking with my coach and a few wise friends.

I also decided to let go and start fresh with my goals and plans, to the extent possible, even though we were well into the year by this point. Making the mental choice to embark on a new chapter helped my all-or-nothing personality greatly (see last month’s newsletter for more on that particular ‘goal-itude’!).

And back to that earlier question of who and how I choose to be in this situation?

I chose, and am still choosing, to dream big. To aim high. To help as many people as possible achieve their bold and meaningful goals. I choose to live my purpose, and fuel myself with positivity, and celebrate along the way – not just at some distant point in the future.

My Conclusion?

Here’s what I’m ultimately taking with me:

Dream big. You’ve been given the dream for a reason. Plus the world needs more big dreamers.

(Side note: You also get to decide what ‘big’ means, which may look different in different seasons of life. One person’s ‘big dream’ may be another person’s ‘Thursday afternoon,’ and that’s ok!)

Bold + meaningful is the way to go. You have a track record of success behind you, and a world of possibility ahead of you.

Take action. What’s that saying about small hinges swinging big doors? Take small actions, and mark your progress as you go. Make sure one of those actions involves getting support to help you stay motivated, accountable, and encouraged, too.

What big dream or bold goal are you going for? Let me know if I can help – I am rooting for you!

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