The Emptiness Of Achieving Your Goals – CMO Throws Down The Gauntlet

Sometimes we think that if only we could achieve a specific thing, our lives would be perfect. “If only” we were smarter, faster, richer, healthier better looking, more successful, earned more money, didn’t have such a big mortgage payment – then we would truly be happy.  Oftentimes in pursuit of these concepts we’ll set some big goals for ourselves. But have you asked yourself – what if you achieve those goals? What’s next?

Today I’m going to reflect on the emptiness and “what next” feeling that can happen when you meet your “dream” goals, and what to do about it. I also throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to join me in creating big goals and dreams for yourself.

Half Marathons, Six Figures, and MBA’s – What Happens When You Achieve All Your Goals?

When I was just out of college, earning $35k with a young child, I had a ton of goals and dreams. I would read all about other women who earned high incomes. I would read about millionaires, how they became one, and look at my investment accounts slowly creeping up a few dollars with every (small) paycheck.

I wasn’t athletic, but sometimes I would read about running marathons and thought that one day, I’d really like to run the Walt Disney World marathon. And as time went on, I would read the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review for fun (yes I know I’m weird) and would dream about one day getting an MBA. After all, I really loved reading about all these tricky, complex business problems and would love to one day be part of trying to solve them, particularly through technology (my specialty).

All those goals seemed so outrageously huge. I would never achieve them! I was a non-athletic, mother (of one, then of two), earning a pretty low income in an OK job. These kinds of things were fun to dream about but I really doubted someone like me could achieve them.

And then, of course, I did. I crushed them all.

I’ll admit that after I finished the MBA I was totally burnt out for a while. I’d been pursuing that degree for four years. I actually finished that half marathon and crossed the six figure salary mark in the middle of it. The market kept helping all those investments I’d spent years putting away grow. And in the middle of my MBA my husband had almost died, leading to the hardest time of my life trying to deal with that, kids, work and school. I needed a break.

So for a few years, I took it (relatively) easy. Yes, I still worked a demanding job and had kids to care for, but that was a cakewalk compared with doing that while trying to get an MBA. Then my youngest son was born, my husband had another very complex reconstructive surgery, and I was made part of an IT leadership program at work. So life was still pretty busy, but much more manageable than it had been before.

After a nice, long break though, I started to get that gnawing feeling – what’s next.

Where Do You Go When You Achieve All Your Dreams?

I was under 35 when I did all that. This means I have an awful lot of life left to go. And as someone who was driven to achieve all this in the first place, you probably get the sense that I’m not a person who likes to twiddle my thumbs and coast through life. I do best when I have huge, big, audacious goals that seem impossible.

And after all this, I had nothing.

Yes, I had a great job, a wonderful family, my husband was healthy again-all wonderful things that I never take for granted. And doing my best at said job/family is always important to me. But always before in my life in addition to those things I’d had big goals and dreams. And unlike many, I would work towards those goals and dreams every day. I’d think about them all the time, and take actions (sometimes small, sometimes big) towards them. But now, I didn’t have any more goals. I’d achieved them all. So…

…now what????

I floundered for a while, unsure what to do with myself. And it was out of said floundering that the idea for this site was born.

I needed a new, big goal. I’d been a fan of personal finance and investing for 20 years, and an avid reader of articles/books/blogs/magazines on the subject. I’d been pursuing financial independence all that time, never giving up even when I had to pause for a while while life happened. And when I looked around the internet, I didn’t see anyone writing on the subject in the way I wanted to read it. Most of the blogs I read were written by men, women without kids, women who didn’t work in a corporate job (stay at home moms, full-time freelancers, etc.), or they were “coupon blogs” written by other moms. And many of the sites I’d read were written by people who had never overcome serious adversity to get where they were today.

I wanted a site about serious investing topics, teaching kids about money, breadwinning women, and overcoming huge obstacles. I couldn’t find it, so I’ve created it here at Chief Mom Officer.

Starting the site gave me the chance to pursue different, huge, seemingly impossible goals. Like perhaps going to FinCon, being a finalist for a PLUTUS award, or being on my favorite podcasts/sites. And, um, all that happened in Year One. I’m also on track to meet, or exceed, almost all of my 2017 goals.

So now I get to deal with a familiar feeling. What’s next? Where do you go when you exceed your goals so quickly?

You Get New, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

This is also called BHAG for short. When you’re a goal-driven person and you crush your goals, you need to pretty quickly find new ones or you’ll find yourself floundering. So now I need to figure out where I’m taking this site, work, and family life.

And that’s my advice to you too. Set goals for yourself. Don’t set your sights too low, or you’re going to quickly blow past them and find yourself floundering. Set very big, seemingly impossible goals. Make them fit on a post-it note, write them down, and carry them with you in your wallet. Keep those huge long-term goals in mind when you’re making day-to-day decisions on how to spend your time, money, and energy. If you do this, you’ll be able to achieve everything you ever dreamed-and more. Despite whatever obstacles life might throw your way in the meantime.

Throwing Down The Gauntlet

In the spirit of the Mr. Money Mustache forums, today I’m throwing down the gauntlet and challenging you to come up with your biggest goals ever. What are the top  things you want to achieve in your life? These can be any goals –  financial, business, work, life, giving, or anything else. Dream big and don’t hold back. Join me in coming up with your biggest dreams, and keeping them at the forefront of your mind every single day. Lets work together to cheer each other on in achieving things we only dreamed about before.

This is my BHAG post-it note that I carry in my wallet. It helps me make sure I stay on track for what I ultimately want to achieve before I’m 40. I don’t share it with anyone, but I’m sure you’ll keep it a secret-right internet?

Don’t worry-I’m not selling you a course or asking you to join my email list. Instead, here’s what I’d like you to do:

  • Make a short list of the top three to ten goals you want to achieve in the next few years.
  • Write it down on a small piece of paper and put it in your wallet or purse. You can also put it in your phone notes. Just make sure it’s in a place you’ll look often
  • Tag me on Twitter or Instagram with your list, or a photo of your list and use hashtag #BHAGgoals. If it’s on your phone you can take a screenshot
  • Every month in 2018, I’ll check in with you to see what you’ve done to reach your goals that month. They can be small steps or big ones, but we’ll want to encourage each other to be constantly remembering and working towards our goals
  • I’ll create a post with everyone who’s participating so you can see who’s part of our BHAG community

In 2018, by working together and holding each other accountable, I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve things we only reamed of doing!

Have you every achieved huge goals and floundered figuring out what you need to do next? Or are you going to join me in setting some big goals for yourself? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up via e-mail at

Lets do this!

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20 thoughts on “The Emptiness Of Achieving Your Goals – CMO Throws Down The Gauntlet”

  1. I am TOTALLY in!! I have a lot of major life changes going on right now, so there are quite a few BHAGs rising to the forefront. Should these just be BHAG for 2018 or for a certain time period?

    Let me narrow my top ones down and I’ll Tweet/Instagram them today 🙂

    1. Whatever motivates you! I like big goals that will take a few years to reach personally, because most of the big things I want to achieve will take more than a year. But everyone is different and has different goals-so you do you!

  2. I just want to earn enough from my sidehustles so that I will never be dependant on an employer for the roof over my head ever again.

    Oh, and I want to save the world.

    Is that too much to ask? 😉

  3. I just wrote about our BHAG today (we have one, currently): doubling our net worth in three years. It’s definitely pushed us past our comfort zone and is making us rethink pretty much all aspects of our lives. I’m so glad we made the goal last year, because without big goals you don’t dream big. I love your BHAGs! They’re so big, and I have no doubt you’re going to accomplish them!

  4. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    I love the idea of carrying around your goals! It’s much easier to reach a goal when you set and continually measure it.

  5. I’ve got one major goal for 2018: FIRE On June 8th.

    Beyond that, I’m going to be intentional in taking some time off, free from obligations, to focus on where I want to dedicate the coming years as my life’s Purpose. I’m beyond the point of $$ being the goal. Now….it’s on to the truly important stuff!

  6. Ooh, this is a great idea! It’s kind of terrifying to think about how I want my life to look in a few years (because honestly, pretty totally different is what comes to mind first), but that’s just a sign I should probably actually do this!

  7. I have short term and long term goals (usually the shorter ones are just a step towards achieving the long term ones). Sometimes I make a few adjustments because things are not always what you think they will be (ie: once you reach a certain $ milestone and it’s not what you expected!). I like the note in your wallet tip:)

  8. Not having a goal (or even knowing that we should have one) is what lead to our lifestyle inflation after paying off the mortgage. Always have goals. Always be working towards something, even if it is slowly at times. You’ll never regret it.

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