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Mar 29, 2010

Taste Test Your Goals

Think of a big goal you’ve set for yourself that terrifies you because it feels unattainable. Now ask yourself why you feel that way.  Is the goal too big?  To unreasonable?  Too scary? Too personally demanding?  If you’re really asking those questions, you may feel a pang of fear in the pit of your stomach as you wonder if you’re ever going to achieve this goal you’ve set for yourself.

But don’t get depressed at the thought of your big, scary goal – instead, look at that fear as a sign that you need to adjust your strategy.  You can actually defuse that fear and replace it with an energizing sense of certainty that your goal is well within your power to achieve, and it’s a lot easier than you think it will be.  It all starts with a little exercise I call “taste testing your goals.”

A Little Taste Changes Everything

Have you ever been asked to try a new food and it terrified you because of your preconceptions about how it would taste?  If you’ve never tried sushi, the idea of sticking raw fish in your mouth may seem stomach-clenching – I know it was for me, for the longest time.

But then one day a friend was having crackers with tiny slivers of raw salmon on them and invited me to have a try.  Without realizing what I was eating, I gave it a try – and liked it.  After that, the idea of sushi lost its power to worry me, because I had a frame of reference for what it would taste like.  I knew that I could probably handle it.

The same thing happens at the doctor’s office when the nurse says, “This needle will hurt, but not as much the one you used for giving blood last week.”  Your brain accesses this frame  of reference, says “Ok, I get it,” and your shields come down.

In other words, anything you can do to give yourself familiarity with an experience makes it easier to handle future experiences.  A little “taste test” of something can change your whole attitude towards something, whether it’s food, pain, or even your most challenging goals.

Once your mind says “Yeah, I can handle this,” you’re much more likely to take action.  But if you don’t have that experiential frame of reference, you may be staring at that metaphorical plate of sushi wondering how you’re ever going to take that first bite.

Let’s fix that.

How To Taste Test Your Goals

If you have major goals you haven’t taken real action on – whether it’s making your first million or losing those 30 pounds – it might be because you haven’t “tasted” it yet.  Perhaps you have such a weak frame of reference available to you that you’re unable to really commit yourself to doing the things you need to do in order to make it happen.

This isn’t uncommon – it happens to people all the time when they set big goals.  If you’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck, it’s hard to think of being wealthy.  If you’ve always been overweight, it’s difficult to envision yourself as thin.

So how do you create that frame of reference with a taste test?  You simply set one small and utterly achievable milestone towards that goal and make it happen.  For example, if you’re broke and you just can’t seem to believe you’ll ever be making $25,000 a month, don’t shoot for $25,000 right now.  Work on that first $100 a month income stream.  And put that money straight in the bank so you can reinforce the fact that your financial footing is improving.

Or if you’re incredibly out of shape, don’t shoot for a total body makeover.  Head over to and start working on hitting 15 push-ups a day.  It takes a week or so to get to that level and it feels great once you do it.

By focusing on something small like this, you’ll begin to break the limiting beliefs that make you worry you’ll never get to your goal.  Instead of thinking “I’ll never be really wealthy,” you’ll think “Wow, I really can earn a little bit extra.  Let’s take it up a notch and go for $250 a month.”  Instead of thinking “I’ll always be fat,” you’ll think “Hey, I’m actually getting better at this.  Let’s add some sit-ups in there once I get to 30 push-ups a day.”

Get just a taste of your goal, and you’ll likely be much more motivated to come back for another helping. And another.  And another.  And another.

Creating A New Frame Of Reference Is Your Ticket Out

One of the major reasons you’re not making progress towards big goals is because deep down you fear they just aren’t something you can achieve.  Taste testing shatters that limiting belief forever and lets you out of that prison of inaction.

Your real struggle probably isn’t with the size and scope of your goal.  Your problem is more likely to be that you just don’t have a personal frame of reference that helps you believe you can make steady progress towards that goal.  Create that certainty of progress with a simple taste test, and you’ll build that sense of certainty that your goal is ultimately achievable.

So let’s take the first step.

Tell Me In The Comments What Your “Taste Test” Will Be

Writing things down increases your chance of follow-through, so let’s get some stuff out of your head and into words.  In the comment section below, take 60 seconds and think of one of your big, scary goals … and then think of one small step you can take towards it that will make it feel more achievable.  Maybe it’s earning that first $100, or losing that first pound, or writing that first chapter.

Whatever it is, write it down, and commit to taking action on it this week.  And if revealing your name feels scary, just put “Ass Kicker” in the name field below … that’ll be just fine.  Just get something out there and get moving so you can feel better about yourself and your abilities.

The more of you who leave this kind of comment on this post, the more people you’ll inspire to take action.

Leave your comment.  Design your own simple “taste test.”  And then eat up.

Do it now.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

That is all -


P.S. – Once you’re done, hit that “retweet” button below & spread the word so others will be inspired to take action as well.  (And if you’ve come to this post via my Stop Settling newsletter, please forward it to at least one person today who needs to hear this!)

27 Responses to “Taste Test Your Goals”

  • Mar 29, 2010 Laura

    My “Taste Test” is to break down my yearly income goal.
    I have broken it down to sales per day and month, and it seems much more achievable than the huge number of a year! Thanks for the advice :)
    Laura´s last blog ..:: my life :: My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 Ass Kicker

    I have lots of big goals staring me in the face. Lose a bunch of weight. Get my house organized. Find meaningful and rewarding work. I definitely get overwhelmed when I think of all the work it will take to accomplish these. I need to remember, it’s not like I’ll get there and be done. I’ll always have to work at it. I just need to start. Thanks for the Taste Test!!

  • Mar 29, 2010 Gina

    Awesome. I tried this last month. I set a very specific and realistic number for the net income I wanted, and/or number of clients. Hit a little over that, and now will raise both just a bit for April.

    Very good!
    Gina´s last blog ..Posture as a Path to Personal Enlightenment My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 china krys darrington

    Big hairy-ass goal = too ginormous to swallow. Take that BHAG and divide over a 12 month period = smaller, digestible chunks. Take each month and divide again over 4 weeks or 30 days and that’s a mouthful of action every day that I can savor.

    I used to think “I never accomplish anything” but that was because I bit off more than I could chew at one sitting and didn’t have a “plan of moderation” to prevent me from gorging on my ambition and then hurling it up with burn-out later.

    I think you have some excellent suggestions in this and I’m setting my sights on this project I’ve been putting off for years because it’s so big I didn’t even know how to start it.

    Ready. Get set. GO!
    Thanks and keep ‘em coming.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Shari Martin

    Have way too many big-ass goals so my taste test is going to be simply selecting the first one to work on. Talk about baby steps…

    Thanks, Dave, I needed that!

  • Mar 29, 2010 Eduard @ People Skills Decoded

    Good point. I think it’s common for us to falsely anticipate how certain experiences will make us feel and thus, make bad decisions. A taste test seems like a good way to anchor our decisions in reality.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Pamela

    My “taste test”, paradoxically, is to do a little less; not strive for perfection in my assignments (I’m in graduate school). Starting today I am going to pull myself away from my computer a few minutes sooner and be satisfied with work that is less than perfect.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Elizabeth Potts Weinstein

    It’s funny, I am having a meeting w/ my COO this morning talking about a BIG HUGE project for 2011 that scares the crap out of me.

    But what is working is to take some big huge steps. Like the day we first started talking about it, I asked someone to be our first keynote, and he said yes. That made it real & ascertainable & possible … and, now I have to do it. :)
    Elizabeth Potts Weinstein´s last blog ..(whine) I don’t wanna write a blog post! My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 Annamaria Rossi

    Infact I tried this morning on setting small actions which gives me the taste of the final goal, an got really more comforted and optimistic
    Now I see the glss half full

  • Mar 29, 2010 Maureen

    Great “kick” this week! Now I understand why some goals are easier for me to attain than others: the frame of reference factor.

    I have a BHAG for my coloring books that has overwhelmed me to the point of stuckification. Reading your post today inspires me to apply the taste test to it.

    So to have fun with it, I’m going to take the fibonacci series approach…for now focus on selling 1 book a week…than another 1 book a week…than 2 books a week, than 3 books a week, and so on.

    for more about fibonacci series go to

  • Mar 29, 2010 Bullwinkle

    For years I’ve wondered what the “big idea” would be. What I could fall in love with. What I could believe in. Now I think I’ve found it. It may work out. It may not. But I fear I can’t do it all.

    This week’s taste test has to do with the day job. I can’t go any further until I tell them what I’m doing. It could totally derail me.
    Bullwinkle´s last blog ..Dude: to Ned My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 Lisa Trank

    This is exactly what I’m working on and what inspired me to start One Dream A Month, which is all about breaking down the barriers to turning our dreams into doable actions. As it turns out my March One Dream A Month is a GINORMOUS project and may well turn into the One Dream a Year, but each piece of it represents another part of the dream transformed into action. Thank you!
    Lisa Trank´s last blog ..Knocking Down Some Walls My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 African Asskicker

    I have huge goals for my life, but have never had a frame of reference that would push me enough to believe in their attainability. This week I will believe I will acquire just one more client, one more ‘0′ in my monthly income and one more avenue for networking with big wigs. Thanks Dave, from Africa.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Sid Savara

    Hey Dave,

    I often do look at goals as these big “all or nothing” types of things, but I like your concept of stepping back and trying it out first. I’ve often mentally tried to commit to the whole goal up front, because I know that those first steps are the hardest – and if I am not committed, that’s the easiest place to give up.

    I like the idea though of going into it with the intent that hey, we’re committing not to make the decision about committing just yet – we’re going to try it out, and have a set milestone at which to reevaluate.

    One thing that’s been holding me up is video blogging, I’ve wanted to do videos on my blog for a while but I come across much better in my writing, so I’ve been putting it off. It’s time for me to just start and put some up – and see what the response is. I can always stop if I don’t like it ;)
    Sid Savara´s last blog ..13 Ways To Improve Your Concentration With a Distraction Free Work Environment My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 Catherine Caine

    I actually did this recently with the cash! I started an Awesome Chat group coaching call on subscription. Suddenly I have regular cash coming in! I’ve nearly, nearly become cost-neutral. Next step is to be able to pay for all those infoproducts! :)

  • Mar 29, 2010 Amber

    I’m going to get something up on my website for people to “buy…” There’s no way people will ever work with me unless I give them the option to. Let’s see how this goes! :)
    Amber´s last blog ..Celebrate!!! I Made A Decision. And Allll Sorts of Goodness Has Followed! My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 29, 2010 Rhea

    This fits with my motto of the last two weeks (maybe an ofshoot of one of your blogs?): I can only hit the targets that I shoot an arrow at.

    I’ve shot several “arrows” recently (ie found a mother-of-bride dress, set up social events, etc) that I would not have initiated without that motto across the top of my calendar.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Dan Harding

    will put systems in place for my non-profit so volunteers are empowered to operate one event/wk on their own.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Confused

    think of one small step you can take towards it that will make it feel more achievable write it down, and commit to taking action on it this week.

    I am going to learn to follow “it” instructions.

  • Mar 29, 2010 Bernie

    I have been struggling with my weight and finances for years. I also have projects that are incomplete because of fear.I AM going to change my terms of references and embrace small steps towards my big goals.
    Starting now

  • Mar 29, 2010 Ass Kicker

    My huge scary goal is to have my paintings become my career.

    Framing my existing body of work so it’s actually ready to hang if I were to have an opportunity to exhibit would be a good start. I bet just seeing it all in frames would make the concept of showing it to others seem less far-off and like something I’m not prepared for.

  • Mar 30, 2010 Ben

    It will be getting my first client. Christ on a bicycle, that seems impossible!

  • Mar 30, 2010 Melanie

    Hard to admit, but it’s taken me over two years to muster up the courage to create a landing page and start an online business. Just yesterday (great timing on this blog post!)I did a “taste test” by recording my first audio. Pretty scary stuff! No, it’s not perfect and I’ll probably never be happy with it if I re-do it a hundred times. But now that I’ve gotten my “taste”, the next step in this process will seem like a walk in the park. :-)
    Melanie´s last blog ..Online Marketing: Your Big Electronic Business Card My ComLuv Profile

  • Mar 30, 2010 Prabu Rajasekaran

    Okay, my BHAG is to make $50k a year. Right now I’m making twice Rs.50k a year.

    My first goal would be to complete current projects by Thursday. Now I’ll complete one writing project in the next 2 hours.

    Sounds challenging, but I guess the high I’d get completing them would be worth it.
    Prabu Rajasekaran´s last blog ..Hello world! My ComLuv Profile

  • Apr 1, 2010 Sandra

    Ah…I started something like this recently, and it’s been giving me all kinds of confidence. I realised that right now I don’t have the guts to tackle my big plans, a long, lovingly-illustrated webcomic. So I set myself the task of doing one little illustration each day, no matter how crappy, to try and build up some momentum. I’ve been at it since January, and though I’ve been sick recently and missed a couple of days, I’m starting to find the motivation and work ethic I need to tackle the big project a little later.

  • Aug 18, 2010 knockoff gucci handbags

    My site to be in building, and I am came here for to see the your blog. Very good! Adrian

  • Sep 15, 2010 Angie

    I’m going back to the basics!

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