3 Things that Might Be Holding You Back from Your Best Year Ever

November 27, 2023

Reading Time: 14 minutes

3 Things that Might Be Holding You Back from Your Best Year Ever

What’s holding you back from making 2024 your most intentional year ever? If you’re like most people, that list might include fearing failure, not being quite sure what you want, and feeling downright overwhelmed with life right now. I totally get it.


holding you back

What’s holding you back? It’s THIS.

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 202 of It’s About Time – this week on the podcast we’re talking about three things that are holding you back from managing your time well.

The thing is, our ability to manage our time and be productive doesn’t just start with our daily to-do list. It really kicks off when we set goals for ourselves. I’ll totally admit that when I first started exploring time management, I didn’t quite see the connection between goals and time management. 

Goals seemed like these super big, lofty things, and time management seemed like getting small things done in the moment.

What I’ve learned is that when you have goals – whether they’re big lofty ones or just new habits you want to create – those goals drive the way you manage your time. They’re connected, and having goals makes time management SO much easier! 

But – even when we know that goals are the secret to time management success, and the building blocks to living our best life… there are still things holding us back from even setting goals in the first place! Three big ones to be precise: 

So today, we’re talking about

  • 3 obstacles standing in the way of your best year ever
  • How to learn and grow by redefining failure as feedback
  • The secret to overcoming goal-setting intimidation and moving forward with intention 
  • What to do when overwhelm takes over and we need to get unstuck 

Whether you’re looking to set new goals for the year ahead, make significant life changes, or just find more joy in your daily routine, this episode is for you.

If you type “Why do people not set goals?” into Google, you get tons of different reasons. And not only do you find a laundry list of reasons why people don’t set goals, you start to find articles about people who believe that goal setting isn’t for them, or that traditional goal setting doesn’t work for them. 

And I totally get that. When life is crazy, or you feel like you’ve set goals and experienced nothing but disappointment, or you feel like you’re already so overwhelmed that you can’t add anything else to your life – much less a list of new goals to achieve – skipping out on goal setting sounds like a really solid choice. 

I actually skipped goal setting back in 2021. Yep – I completely skipped it. At the time I was pregnant with my second daughter, we were preparing to move. My husband was in the middle of a job change. I had an almost two year old. Life was wild. With so much change, my goal setting dropped to the bottom of my priority list. 

And I totally regretted it later in the year. I shared that experience in episode 105 of It’s About Time, but the long story short is that life felt crazy, so I didn’t set goals. But without specific goals, life only began to feel crazier. Like a rudderless ship, wandering around lost kind of crazy. 

I know now that I wasn’t alone in feeling too overwhelmed to set goals. Overwhelm is one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of setting goals, and creating the life we want. 

Three Common Reasons Why We Skip Out on Goal Setting 

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s unwrap three common reasons why we skip out on goal setting. 

  • Fear of Failure
  • Lack of Clarity and
  • Overwhelm

Do any of these sound familiar to you? Let’s take a look at each one:

Fear of Failure 

First, Fear of Failure: It’s that nagging voice in our heads that says, ‘What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough?’ This fear can be paralyzing, stopping us from taking risks or trying new things. It’s not just about big life changes; fear of failure can affect the small daily choices we make too.

If you haven’t tuned in to last week’s episode, Episode 201, yet. It’s all about the power of believing in yourself as the most important first step to achieving your goals. Definitely press play on that one if you haven’t yet for a pep talk with practical steps to feeling like your most awesome self. 

Lack of Clarity 

The next big obstacle is lack of clarity. This one is tricky because it’s almost like walking through a fog. When you’re not clear about what you truly want, it’s hard to set meaningful goals or make decisions that align with what you want… because… you don’t know what you want!  Without clarity, we might find ourselves drifting along, feeling unfulfilled and unsure of where we’re headed.

Has anyone ever asked you about where you want to be in a year, or what you want life to look like in 3 years, or what your five year plan is for your business or career — and you’ve totally just stood there like a deer in headlights, because you literally have no idea? That’s a clarity problem, my friend. 


The third major roadblock to goal setting success that we’ll cover today is Overwhelm – something that many of us are familiar with at some point or another. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel swamped by our responsibilities, goals, and our never-ending to-do lists. This overwhelm can leave us feeling stuck, unable to move forward because we don’t know where to start or because everything just feels like too much.

Everything’s a priority. Everything feels important. There’s so much to do, and never enough time to do it. That’s overwhelm rearing its ugly head. 

So what do we do about it? What do we do about the fear of failure, the lack of clarity, or the overwhelm that might be holding us back from setting goals, and therefore creating the life we actually want to live – instead of living in default mode for another 365 days. 

Well – the first step to making any kind of positive progress starts by acknowledging the problem. I ask you… have you skipped goal setting in the past because you’re afraid of failure? Because you’re not sure what you really want? Or because you’re just too overwhelmed to add anything to your plate? How are you feeling now as this episode goes live near the end of 2023 and the new year is right around the corner? Are you excited about what’s on the horizon, or are you overwhelmed just thinking about it. 

Keep listening to find out how to redefine failure, figure out what we really want, and beat back the overwhelm to create the headspace we need for setting goals and reaching them. 

Fear of Failure 

We’ll start by tackling that fear of failure. 

How many times have you stopped yourself from trying something new, just because you were afraid you might fail? Get made fun of… because you were worried about what someone else might think? That you might embarrass yourself if you try. 

Gosh – I think back to the very beginning of my business. At the time, I didn’t know a single other coach in real life. No one I knew personally, in my family or friend group had ever heard of coaching – much less time management coaching. Not only that, back in 2019 when I searched “time management coach” very few results came up. I was totally afraid of trying something and failing… I moved pretty slowly in the beginning, gradually growing my confidence and shaking off the feelings of insecurity around what other people might think, and I’m so glad I did – or else I wouldn’t be recording this podcast for you right now encouraging you to shake it off and take steps forward. 

Here’s the thing about fear of failure – it’s not just about being afraid of making mistakes or getting it wrong. It’s also about how we perceive those mistakes. What meaning do we give those mistakes? And how we perceive our mistakes is totally up to us! We’re in charge! So what if we start reframing failures not as endpoints or game over – but as stepping stones on the path to something greater? 

What if we see them as essential parts of the learning process? Essential parts of your business journey or your career progression? 

Sure – what if I fail…. But what if I don’t? And what if I fail…. But what will I learn along the way that will make me better in the end? What if I fail… but what if the failure leads to something amazing that I could have never expected or experienced without trying? 

So, let’s redefine failure. Let’s decide here and now that failure isn’t a report card judging our worth or our abilities, but instead – it’s just feedback. Neutral feedback. It’s information, not a judgment, a grade or a score. 

Here’s how to do it – Next time something doesn’t go as planned, big or small – you got laid off from your job, a potential client ghosts you, you forgot the kids lunchboxes at home, or you show up late to a friend’s birthday party – ask yourself “What can I learn from this?”

What can I learn from this? This shift in perspective can be liberating! Because it turns every potential failure into a great big – Thank you, next! 

Two more quick tips for battling the fear of failure before we move on: 

Whenever you set goals or make a plan, break big things down into the smallest pieces possible. I don’t mean that you should set tiny insignificant goals, but instead – if you set a BIG hairy audacious goal, break it into smaller parts, smaller milestones so you can celebrate small progress along the way and experience the thrill of building momentum.

Seriously – instead of setting a goal to save five thousand dollars for your next Disney trip and getting frustrated when it doesn’t happen quickly, celebrate saving the first $100, then celebrate at $500 and so on! The mini milestone celebrations will keep you excited and help you see your progress. When we see progress, it’s easier to stay positive and avoid giving up. 

And finally last tip here – Be nice to yourself. Yall we can be our own worst enemy sometimes. We say things to ourselves in our heads that we’d never say out loud to a friend or a loved one. So start taking notice when you’re being hard on yourself. And when you do notice, take a beat and ask yourself – what would I say to my best friend, or my child in this situation? 

Remind yourself that you’re capable, you’re learning, and every step forward, no matter how small, is a success.

If you could hear the inside of my head, I’m doing this all the time. Constantly cheering myself on for things big and small. Making the bed – way to go Anna! Sending an uncomfortable email – Way to go, you! Looking in the mirror after waking up in the morning with Day 3 hair and sleep in my eyes? Girl – you are beautiful, today is going to be a great day! 

Weird? Maybe, but why does that have to be weird? What if being kind to ourselves and pumping ourselves up was just… normal? How cool would that be? How much happier would we be?

Remember this: “Overcoming the fear of failure isn’t about never failing; it’s about learning to see failure as a natural part of the journey to success. By changing our perspective, taking small steps, and being kinder to ourselves, we can start to move beyond this fear and open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities. The sky’s the limit my friend.

Now that we’ve all gotten over the fear of failure, let’s tackle another big one. 

Lack of Clarity 

But what do we mean by clarity? In this context, clarity is about having a clear understanding of what you truly want in life, your values, and your goals. It’s the sharpness of vision that allows you to see your path forward and make decisions with confidence. 

Gaining clarity can be transformative. It’s like focusing a camera lens. At first things look a bit blurry, and suddenly, the picture becomes sharp, and what you need to do, who you need to be, becomes clear – it becomes evident. When you have clarity it’s a million times easier to align your daily actions with your deepest values and desires. It’s absolutely necessary for big picture time management – like vision casting and goal setting – to meet up with day-to-day time management – like making a to-do list and prioritizing. 

So if you’re listening and you’re not quite sure what you want… and that’s making the idea of setting goals feel daunting or impossible, try this:

Start with self-reflection. Give yourself the space to consider some deep questions about your passions, motivations, and dreams. What brings you joy? What are you naturally good at? What would you regret not doing? Journaling can be a powerful tool in this journey of self-discovery. 

Next, do some experimenting.  Often, clarity comes from taking action. You have to try new things to figure out what you want and what you don’t want. Try new things, explore different paths, and be open to where they might lead. Every new experience is an opportunity to learn more about what resonates with you and what doesn’t.

Between leaving my decade-long career in crisis communications and government affairs and starting my business as a time management coach, my future felt really blurry – so I explored and tried a lot of different things. 

At one point, I thought I might take the LSAT and go to law school. I had coffee with a few female lobbyists to see if that was an area I might pursue. I spent an election cycle as campaign manager for a statewide political campaign. Then, I did social media content creation for two different marketing agencies. I opened a bespoke calligraphy and custom signage company called The Welcome Note and addressed envelopes for weddings and events.  I was a top three finalist for President and CEO of a Chamber of Commerce. And I got certified as a Myers-Briggs personality practitioner. 

If you can’t tell, y’all it was a lot. And it wasn’t quick either. 

Whenever I tell my story of going from burnt out crisis comms pro to time management coach, I usually leave out all of the details of this period of wandering and exploration because it would take me forever to list all of the things I tried before I finally found and figured out how I wanted to serve others in my business. 

If you’re in a period of wandering and exploration, I encourage you to keep going. You just never know what’s waiting for you on the other side. If you’d told 2013 Anna that 2023 Anna published a book about time management, I would have been so confused. 

Finally, don’t forget the value of external perspectives. Talk to people who know you well – friends, family, mentors. Sometimes other people’s insights can help you see angles you might have missed. I literally created a Google Form survey with questions like “What is Anna an expert in?” and “What does Anna know that she can teach others?” and sent it to 20 of my closest friends. The answers to those questions were so valuable and helped shape my next steps and I really trusted the perspectives of this group. 

But here’s a disclaimer – when it comes down to it, your future and your clarity is about you and no one else. Listen to others perspectives, but balance it with your inner voice and what you know about yourself. 

Just because everyone in your family tells you that you should go to law school doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you.  Just because your friends tell you that you should become an influencer because you love to shop doesn’t mean that’s where your heart is. 

Remember, your path to clarity is deeply personal. And just like it took me a whole lot of experimentation to find my path as a time management coach, gaining clarity is a process, not an overnight fix. It’s about evolving and understanding more about yourself each day. So why not start now? 


So far, we’ve tackled fear of failure and the quest for clarity. Now, let’s address our last obstacle: overwhelm. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with an avalanche of to-do’s, decisions, and expectations, feeling overwhelmed can seem like the norm. We’re so used to running around feeling flustered that it’s hard to imagine life any other way. But I can promise you this – it doesn’t have to be this way.

Overwhelm often comes from feeling like we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. The key is to simplify and prioritize. Easier said than done, right?  Let’s dive into some strategies to help manage this feeling. There are about a million different things I could share with you here, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with strategies for beating overwhelm either, so we’ll keep it simple. 

First, make a list. But not just any list. My favorite kind of overwhelm-beating list is called a Mindsweep List. I talk about doing a Mindsweep in Episode 90 and you’ll even find a memory jogger list over on the shownotes for that episode to help you do your first, or next Mindsweep.

Basically, you just write down everything that’s on your mind – tasks, goals, worries – and group it by things you must do, things you could do, things you should do, and things you want to do. 

Getting all of this stuff out of your head and onto paper can make it seem more manageable. But it can also make it seem more overwhelming to see it all in one place. Where do you even begin? 

Do some prioritization. What needs to be done now? What can wait? What is just a worry that I can’t even do anything about? 

Also, don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Again, I know that for some of us this is easier said than done. When we’re so used to being relied upon and counted on, it can be really hard to say no or to even delegate. But – to share an overused cliche that is still very true – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Remember, every time you say YES to something, you’re saying NO to something else, because our time is not limitless. 

It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to delegate. It’s even okay to quit. Taking care of yourself isn’t just important, it’s essential. And goal setting, the way that it gives you space to engage in self-reflection, dreaming and planning – that’s a form of self-care itself. 

Overwhelm doesn’t have to be a permanent state. With the right strategies, you can regain control and find peace amidst the chaos of life. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed in this season, I encourage you to set goals anyway. Even if you can’t start making progress on them right now, having them waiting for you when you’re ready to take action will make your life so much easier. 

So there you have it.

I want to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve discussed. We’ve tackled some significant obstacles today – fear of failure, lack of clarity, and overwhelm. These are challenges that many of us face, but as you’ve heard, they are not insurmountable. 

We talked about redefining failure as a learning experience. Failure is feedback! And we talked about the importance of positive self-talk. When it comes to gaining clarity, self-reflection, experimentation and looking for external perspectives can be helpful. And finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try getting everything out of your head and onto paper, setting boundaries, and saying no. 

I truly hope you’re feeling armed and encouraged to face these obstacles in your own life. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, to grow and to move one step closer to the life you want to live. 

Join me for Ready. Set. GOALS! 2023

And you’re planning to set goals for 2024 and you want a partner in the process, I’ve got just the thing. 

This year I’m bringing back Ready. Set. GOALS! My live goal-setting workshop to walk you through the exact process I use to set goals and plan my year. This is the method I’ve used with dozens of clients to help them step into the new year feeling confident, with a clear vision for the future, and ready to live with intention. It’s happening December 13th and 14th, and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! Every year, Ready. Set. GOALS! gets better and better! 

This year, when you get your ticket for ready set goals, you’ll have access to live two-day goal-setting workshop with me as your guide, a full-color printable workbook to capture all of your reflection and big dreams, plus a printable goal tracker, and 30 Days inside the It’s About Time academy for accountability and support. I’m also gifting every goal-getter who joins Vision Board 101, my virtual masterclass where I walk you through creating your own gorgeously inspired vision board, just like the ones I create every year – complete with 6 drag and drop, plug and play, easy to use templates! 

Grab Your Seat

For a limited time, you can grab your seat for Ready. Set. GOALS! for only $47 by heading to the shownotes for this episode, or by going straight to

This $47 ticket price won’t last forever, and it’s only available from Wednesday, November 22 through Monday, November 27th, so grab it quick before time runs out and the price jumps back up to $97 on November 28th. And if you’re listening before the tickets go on sale – set a reminder, put it in your calendar, tie a ribbon around your finger – whatever it takes so you remember to grab your $47 seat for Ready. Set. GOALS!

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