Big Goals Falling Flat? You Need Some WOW.

by Alli Polin on January 30, 2018

Goals are meant to inspire you to change in a meaningful way, work hard and help you make the leap from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. Still, for years, my clients have talked about how year after year their goals don’t seem to change. Wanna know why? Because they’re not achieving them. Sound familiar?

Good news is that it’s an easy shift to craft goals that make you want to create your future instead of sitting in the oh-so-comfortable indentation on your couch. 

If you were a fly on the wall, you’d hear something like this:

Mike: My goal is to exercise six days a week.

Alli: Great. What’s stopping you?

Mike: Well, I try. I get there a few days a week, sometimes even six. Then? Not so much.

Alli: Maybe it’s your goal that’s the problem, not you. 

Mike: Tell me more. 

What’s the problem with Mike’s goal? There’s only one major action step required. Get up, put on your exercise clothes, go. It just doesn’t motivate him enough to do it on a regular basis. In fact, he probably dreads it. 

When you confuse a goal with an action step, it’s easy to become demotivated. Action steps you do – or not. Goals take time and a string of actions to accomplish  – they’re rarely one and done. 

Sure, maybe it’s too many times a week or his exercise of choice is not one that’s fun for him. There are lots of maybes, but one thing’s certain – He’s not doing it. 

Ask Yourself the 25,000 Question about your goals

It’s time to ask Mike (and you!) the 25,000 question (actually, a couple of them).

1) Why does it matter?

2) What do you want (beyond bragging rights that you exercise six days a week)?

It has to matter in a bigger, deeper, more personal way. So you want to write a book, start a blog, lose a billion pounds, get a new job… why does it matter? If you get it done, what will you have beyond the ability to cross it off your list? 

Are SMART Goals all you need?

We’ve all heard of SMART Goals. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). Makes sense because they work, however, it doesn’t necessarily make you want to leap out of bed. Practical? Yes. Inspiring? You tell me. 

What are your WOW goals and NOW goals?

Let’s reframe goal setting this way: 

WOW GOALS + NOW GOALS = Getting up off the couch and making sh*t happen. 

WOW Goals are a part of a bigger story and call you to go all-in despite your excuses. 

NOW Goals are the action steps (aka interim goals) to get you there. (Remember those SMART Goals? Transform them into action steps.)


Let’s go back to Mike. 

Alli: Why does exercise matter?

Mike: My doctor says I need to get in better shape.

Alli: Why? So what if you don’t?

Mike: I could die. Are you nuts, lady?

Alli: Why does that matter?

Mike: My wife, kids, my life. I love them and don’t want to leave. 

Alli: Now we’re getting somewhere. There’s a WOW goal in there. I hear it. Do you?

WOW speaks to you on a deeper level; it resonates and inspires. It makes those things you have to do NOW something that you want to do instead of wanting to avoid.

Ready to #MaketheLeap?

1) Figure out your WOW Goals – The big vision that’s calling your forth. 

2) List out your NOW Goals (Go ahead! Make ’em SMART!) these are your steps.

3) BE smart and make your action steps do-able. Not every step needs to be a giant leap – you’ll still get there

4) Don’t sweat it if you don’t know every step in advance. All that matters is that you know the first one. When you take it, the second step will be a heck of a lot clearer. 

5) Write down your WOW. Put it in your journal, diary, on your mirror or at your desk – anywhere that you’ll see it each and every day. 

6) Get started. Take that NOW step… You’ll get there. 


What wisdom do you have to share about overcoming your excuses and achieving your goals that matter most?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Smith January 30, 2018 at 6:38 am

Great read. “Excuses don’t stand a chance when your reason for action matters”. Love that Alli. Motivation is inside out never outside in.


Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 7:00 am

Well said, Brian. Right on. 🙂


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ January 30, 2018 at 8:34 am

Love the focus Alli on “What do I need NOW to get one step closer to my WOW.” You posed a WOW question that takes people truly toward success. It is many steps yet if you get stuck, you must ask what do I need right now.



Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Usually, people get paralyzed because they don’t know every single step required or have no idea what they want beyond their current to-do list. Breaking out WOW (longer term, bigger picture) and NOW can be so helpful. Appreciate your feedback and insight, Kate!



Gary Gruber January 30, 2018 at 9:42 am

Another bulls-eye, spot on center! From WOW to HOW to NOW to WOW. No time like the present to take the first step. Guess I’ll go put on my shoes so I can take a morning walk, the first step to taking the first step. So easy to find an excuse to postpone the next step toward a supposedly desirable goal. And, if I get a few more pages done today on a book in progress, that’s a small step toward a larger goal. If we break the goal down into smaller pieces, it’s often easier to swallow and digest. Thanks for such a timely reminder.


Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 9:45 pm

Even small steps eventually get ya there, right? The trick is to keep taking them. I used to think it was so stupid when people would say to me: “How do you eat an elephant?” (drum roll…) “One bite at a time.” Totally get it. Gross, but I get it. 🙂 On top of it, there has to be a reason for eating the elephant in the first place or why bother?

Appreciate you, Gary!



John Bennett January 30, 2018 at 12:10 pm

You knew it would be coming from me (OK, too strong – but I do mention this in comments to your posts a lot AND you did use “vision” for WOW goals …). This post is another great reason to Consider “Full Steam Ahead” sooner rather than later!!!


Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 9:46 pm

You totally made me smile. Yes, not surprised, however, makes sense. How can you move full steam ahead without knowing where you’re going beyond what’s right in front of you?

Grateful, John!!



Terri Klass January 30, 2018 at 3:25 pm

I appreciate how you differentiate between a “wow” goal and a “now” goal. It is so difficult to work towards a goal if it doesn’t excite you. I have had experiences being stuck with goals that just were “meh”. But once I realized that I could set goals that would play to my strengths and help me see the world through a different lens I was eager to start.

Thanks Alli and will share!


Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 9:48 pm

I spoke to someone today about the progress they’re making on a project that’s they’ve been talking about for ages. Turns out, not much is happening. The question that made them pause was, “Why bother?” When it matters, the answer, even if foggy at the moment, eventually becomes clear. Once that happens, their perspective shifts, and momentum returns.

Thanks for sharing your experience here!



LaRae Quy January 30, 2018 at 10:25 pm

I love how you differentiate WOW goals from NOW goals…WOW is the juice that kicks our butt into action while NOW are the action steps we take. I do think it’s important to connect our wow with our why…one is inexorably linked to the other…and if we can’t pinpoint what makes us tick, it’s so hard to excited about getting off the couch…great article, Alli!


Alli Polin January 30, 2018 at 11:51 pm

Strongly agree with you, LaRae. Everything we do has to be connected to our bigger agenda – our why. Without that, we’re going through the motions. No wonder so many of us would rather give up.



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