Goal Setting & Achieving: Am I Gearing Up Or Burning Out?

January 28, 2015

Erin Condren Planner

This Erin Condren planner is my paper brain. I cannot function without it lately.

I operate best when I’m busy. In college, I had a color coded day planner with sorority events, my double-major related study sessions, social events and philanthropy.  I wasn’t happy unless my calendar looked like a literal rainbow of activity with each day planned.

For 2015, I set some pretty audacious goals, but not all of them were listed on that post, or simply weren’t fleshed out as in-depth as they’re coming to light now.

It’s only January 21st and I’m already feeling the pull between what I’m used to, and what I want.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered- how do you know when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew or when you’re really just growing beyond your comfort zone?

Right now, I’m grappling between knowing if I’m hitting the ground running, or if I’ve spread myself too thin with 2015 goals that I’m simply going to hit the ground and fall flat on my face.  Seriously, without coffee, I think I’d be dead right now.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m split in three different directions- trying to plan and schedule travel (which takes up a lot of time and headspace for me since I haven’t done much), trying to grow the blog and build a team (which is going to be amazing once it’s in place, right now, it’s just challenging me to balance it all), and finally, scheduling in time for loved ones (which sometimes means I’m up late taking calls from folks back on the West Coast since they’re 2 hrs. behind).

Matilda the rescue pug- NIPRA Our family supports pug rescue, she's just one special pug of many who needed a home!

Matilda’s tired just thinking about it all..her goals include napping, eating, chewing on things & barking.


I’ve been reading Chris Guillebeau’s latest book- the Happiness of Pursuit, which is all about goal setting in the form of a quest.  Instead of just setting one goal, such as visiting Japan- he discusses the idea of a bigger quest, such as visiting every country in the world.  It’s been an inspiring book and I absolutely am eating it up during my morning commute on the L train, but I’m wondering if it’s just feeding the brain overload I’m feeling?

Should I fry my circuits a bit if I’m trying to have an amazing year or should I pace myself?  I seem to be an all or nothin kind of gal- but is that wise?


 I’ve also decided I need some help with my goals for this year- so I’m putting it out there for your input:

– How do you meet new people in a new city who share your interests? How do you build community?

– Do you tackle your goals all at once in a radical fashion, or opt for gradual change?

– How did you know you were working too hard, or that fatigue was a good sign that things were about to happen?

– When you had a long term goal (like paying off debt or losing weight) that was a personal struggle, how did you stay motivated over the long haul? How did you balance time working on your goal & time with friends/partner/family?

– If you’re a city apartment dweller- do you know your neighbors?  Did you introduce yourself? I’m thinking of baking cookies and I honestly don’t know if that’s weird.


I’ve already started on my goals to build this blog- it’s been 4 years since I started and I’m so excited to grow this year. I’ve been researching travel for the year and after a few quick trips for weddings and visiting family, I’m ready to do something amazing- I just haven’t decided what yet. Ideas?

I’m excited to get things going, I feel a bit tired with long hours at work, trying to keep the apartment clean, blogging, planning travel and family events (which takes up so much time, I had no idea, honestly!) and I haven’t even gotten back into running yet, though I have been stretching for 5-10 minutes a day.  I’m not sure what I have the bandwidth for, so I’m hoping y’all will help me figure out how you’ve done things when you’ve felt maxxed out though you’re totally excited- I just don’t want to burn out before spring, that’d be BAD.


You’re amazing and I always appreciate your feedback…seriously.



21 comments so far.

21 responses to “Goal Setting & Achieving: Am I Gearing Up Or Burning Out?”

  1. Erika says:


    I totally feel you right now! I just got my master’s degree, and moved up to Milwaukee (where I know no one-I am originally from Philly) to take a job. I also was living off of nothing every month, so now that I am getting a pay check every two weeks it feels so weird. Everything has changed! I am working 7 to 4 (huge adjustment). I have my two dogs back (they were with their grand humans for 6 months), and I am having to take care of them and jog them every morning in this cold Wisconsin winter. (I was in Tennessee for the past two years…miss that weather) It feels like everything has changed.

    Just like you, if I am not doing something, I feel like I am wasting away! This year, I set up two financial goals: pay off car and pay off one of my student loans (total of $25,000). Right now, I am trying to adjust to this hectic lifestyle, while still being able to enjoy myself and make friends! I thought I would just share that before I answer your questions:

    1. I haven’t really met anyone yet, other than people at work. I am actually going to a young women’s professional volunteer club tonight to meet people and get involved with the community. Maybe join a club? I really like volunteering. There is nothing forced about it, like meeting people at happy hour. I would volunteer at the humane society, but they are full of volunteers! (what??)

    2. I tackle goals drastically. I definitely go “all in.” I would rather just take it all at once than slowly adjust. That’s just me though. I think it is brave though to accept any change. I know friends that will never leave their home because they are afraid of change. However you handle change, at least you are changing! Good job!

    3. Gosh, I always feel like I work hard. I, too, am a runner, and kind of an overachiever. During the week I know I overwork myself, but that is what Saturday is for! Take a personal day 🙂 I am saving up for some massages 🙂 I think fatigue is a good thing. When you fall asleep on Friday night and wake up Saturday morning peaceful I think that is a good sign! You are earning those rest days.

    4. When it comes to balancing things, I think you have to prioritize. I ran a marathon this past fall, and I prioritized going to sleep early and working out rather than going out partying and drinking. I think the hardest thing about reaching goals and working out is that you definitely do lose time with others and for social interactions. But, I think when you do schedule it in, it makes those social events more special. I just joined the running group up here in Milwaukee, so hopefully I meet some runner friends! 🙂

    5. I have no idea who my neighbors are. I thought about making cookies, but then I thought, “They might yell at me about my dogs running around all of the time. Best to avoid them” haha.

    Keep up the great work! It is great to read your blog!


    • Shannyn says:

      Hi Erika,
      Thank you so much for your awesome comment… I’m not sure if you’ll see this but I thought I’d respond! 🙂

      1. Yes, I think I NEED to make it a point to squeeze in time for a club. I was thinking of joining Junior League, but they only recruit twice a year and I missed the cutoff. Their initiation period is so intense with a LOT of stuff going on, so I opted to skip this round and need to find something else in the interim. I love your idea of volunteering. I used to do that a lot and have fallen out of it- even if I’m not with Junior League I could do something solo, thank you!

      2. I totally agree. I am an “all in” kind of gal, but I’m worried about juggling the big, sweeping goals (like building a tribe/community) with the harder, more tasked goals, like building my blog (which has measurable steps and timeframes). So I struggle with prioritizing and making sure I’m not too focused on one thing.

      3. I got a massage last night after writing this post…it was much, much needed…though I woke up with a headache. When you get one, HYDRATE. Also love that you’re saving up for one..it’s so worth it, it’s like a stress “reset” button.

      4. OMG yes, working on this one!! Ugh!

      5. YES that was my worry too… my neighbor has a bulldog, but I know that I made one of my neighbors mad when I first moved in since a friend cam e over on a weeknight and *had* to fix something with a dresser I’d assembled, which caused more noise than we though, waking him up..I felt awful, maybe cookies would be a peace treaty? hahah.

      Thank you for the advice and kind words, I loved getting your comment!

  2. Betsy says:

    I’ve come to realize that with my goals I really need to take time and do more of a gradual change with a lot of them. A lot of my goals are the types of goals that you can do that sort of thing though. Certain goals it is sometimes better and more productive to take the band-aid approach though!!

    • Shannyn says:

      Hi Betsy- yes, that’s what I struggle with…. how to make gradual, long term changes when they aren’t set to a deadline or administered in steps…i.e. running a marathon. With a marathon you know you have to train at certain times for a certain period, then you hav e a clear goal in mind…but what do you do for something like “Making more friends” or “taking time to be more aware?” which seems so… vague?

  3. Kristin says:

    This year I am in a planning stage. Everything I am doing this year involves a lot of prep work and figuring out what I want and how to get it. It’s caused me to stretch myself a little thin too. There are so many things I want to do this year – grow my blog, save, relocate & pay off student loans. It can be overwhelming how much I want to accomplish. I’m excited to tackle all of this and my mind never rests!

    I left sunny FL a year and a half ago to move to Seattle for a job and it’s been tough. I miss my friends and family and have been in a funk. I miss the friendly south.

    I only work with 2 other people and this isn’t the friendliest city. It’s hard to meet people. I live in a gigantic apartment building and people here don’t even say hi to each other in the hall, it’s so strange! I have turned down dates because I don’t want to commit to anyone and end up stuck here (not that it’s easy to meet people)

    I am ready for a change!

    • Shannyn says:


      I have a friend in Seattle, Erica, (she also writes for this blog from time to time)- she blogs over at TheTruthTea.com and is a transplant herself from NY. She’s told me the same thing, Seattle can be a different culture! I’ve felt that way about Chicago too, but I’m getting better with it, it’s just taken 4 years..yikes!

      Dating can be tricky if you’re not sure if you want to stay. Dating is what lead me to boomerang from California back to Chicago after grad school and now who knows what next adventure will find me here. I’ve been iffy about dating here for that reason, but I’ve decided to give it a shot. Who knows, you might find a person that wants to head to a new place with you (which wasn’t the case with my guy, but many other folks & dudes I’ve spoken to via online dating I’ve seen are flexible).

      Also, I fell in love with Savannah last year so I miss the south too… sigh. Thanks for commenting and keep me posted on how you’re doing!

    • Shannyn says:


      I have a friend in Seattle, Erica, (she also writes for this blog from time to time)- she blogs over at TheTruthTea.com and is a transplant herself from NY. She’s told me the same thing, Seattle can be a different culture! I’ve felt that way about Chicago too, but I’m getting better with it, it’s just taken 4 years..yikes!

      Dating can be tricky if you’re not sure if you want to stay. Dating is what lead me to boomerang from California back to Chicago after grad school and now who knows what next adventure will find me here. I’ve been iffy about dating here for that reason, but I’ve decided to give it a shot. Who knows, you might find a person that wants to head to a new place with you (which wasn’t the case with my guy, but many other folks & dudes I’ve spoken to via online dating I’ve seen are flexible).

      Also, I fell in love with Savannah last year so I miss the south too… sigh. Thanks for commenting and keep me posted on how you’re doing!

  4. Beks says:

    I’m terrible at meeting new people. When I moved back to Omaha, and all my college friends (who I still talk to almost daily) were scattered across the country, my sister started taking me to her single’s Bible study group. I got really into the group, but within two years, it started to get a little cult-like, and I dropped it. I’ve had a hard time making friends ever since. My mom keeps telling me I need to get out and meet people, but my version of “Going Out” anymore consists of going to the gym. If I meet people there, great. If not…I don’t know what. But almost all of my friends are internet friends, which is very sad.

    • Shannyn says:

      Hi Beks-
      No, it’s not sad, that’s how I am! When I broke up with m y ex, I found that while I had the most amazing support system online to get through that time- I didn’t have a lot of people here I felt I could go out and have a glass of wine with if I needed to confide and connect in person. There is nothing wrong with an online tribe, in fact, it’s amazing, but sometimes we need people “in real life,” too and that’s a challenge for sure.

  5. Erika says:

    I have a lot of the same problems with challenging myself and then feeling overwhelmed. For instance I work a stressful job that can be 50+ hours a week and sometimes rotate shifts. In my free time I take online college classes, try to keep my house clean, and squeeze in exercise time for myself and my dog.

    One thing that I do is divide my goals and desires into separate categories. For example, health and fitness, family and friends, career, and financial. After everything is categorized, I lost the goals in order of priority. The important thing to remember is that I can’t do everything all at once.

    Clinton Kelly once said “I realized today that I cannot do everything, so I will do what I can fabulously.”

  6. Love the EC planner! 😉 I’m also in a place where I’m walking the line between extending my comfort zone and just plain taking on too much. I don’t really have advice, just know you’re not alone! 🙂

  7. I feel like in January I’m always burning out I have a million goals they are all like little fresh wounds. I feel them a little with each move, they all DEMAND my attention at once. The trick is to accomplish one goal (or let one wound heal) then there is LESS demanding our attention. I feel like I need a good reminder of this right now too. I’m spinning in directions I need to center and focus on ONE.

  8. Val says:

    I have similar problems as well with taking on too much or making a massive list of resolutions and then becoming overwhelmed by it and giving up without doing much of anything on them. This year I have a five general resolutions (run my first marathon, etc.) and then I am also doing monthly goals. January my goal has been to organize and declutter and then I have a few tasks I want to complete in that month (clean out storage closet in my apartment, get rid of 15 things, read an organization book) and that way its more piecemeal and easier to take on in small steps. I find adding something quantifiable to the goal helps.

    I have the same issue with finding friends in my area; it seems harder and harder to meet people outside of work so last year I had a resolution to “find an interactive hobby” so I started taking a pilates class. I just joined a running club to train for the marathon so hopefully that will help connect me with people with similar interests. I found there are a lot of groups if you check Meetup.com in your area, I found a bookclub through this and while the group wasn’t necessarily for me I do think it could be a great resource.

  9. 1. I am still trying to figure out how to meet new people in my new city (Okay it isn’t so new anymore, I have been here 3 years…) But I always wanted to take up some classes and I am hoping by doing so this will help me meet some new people and get involved in the community more.

    2. This year I am working on goals and change on a month to month basis. I have set up different topics for each month and how I am going to tackle them. So far January’s goals have been easier to tackle now that it is only one topic at a time!

    3. I have just finally hit the work burnout over the past 6 months. I am feeling more agitated and sleeping less. Work is definitely making it tough to reach goals by being overworked and stressed but again I am tackling that one month at a time.

    4. I have been working on losing weight and paying off debt. I have definitely hit some walls but I continue to keep my eye on the prize. I get myself fired up so I can see the end. With weight loss I think it will always be tough but I keep at it. With the debt I set lots of goals and have learned to live on a budget and make fun purchases at a discount. Its so fullfilling to know I can do all these things and not break the bank.

    5. I kinda/sorta know my neightbors. This is only because they enjoy being outdoors in the warmer months so I was able to meet them but I can’t say I spend much time with them. I don’t think it is weird to bake cookies though. Everyone loves cookies!

    Hope these helped! loved the post 🙂


  10. I’m a slave to my planner as well. Nothing makes me happier than everything prioritized and color-coded!

    And I saw above that you mentioned joining the Junior League. YES! I joined the Junior League of Portland Maine last year and I have made so many new friends. I’m a native of the area so I do have friends here but many of them have gotten married and had babies so we’re in different places in life. I find the JL has helped me meet other really awesome women in similar places as me and interests. I highly suggest it the next recruitment session. It’s kind of like an adult sorority!

    I’m definitely the walk the walk type of girl. If I say I’m going to do something then I will come hell to high-water. For my larger goals, like paying off $20,000 of student loans in the next 2 years, I have broken them down into smaller more obtainable goals that lead up to that big goal. For example last year I paid off two smaller loans and this year I have a little bit of a stretch goal of paying off my $7000 SallieMae bill because I loathe them! As a personal trainer and endurance sport coach, I always encourage my clients to utilize the SMART method when setting goals.

    If you need any help with travel planning let me know. I love talking travel! 🙂

  11. Kristen says:

    I often joke around that if I don’t have my planner, I’d be walking around in circles without knowing what to do or where to go. An organized life is a happy one, in my opinion!
    As far as meeting people goes, I had a lot of luck with meetup.com, which I used a few years ago to make some new girlfriends and some couple friend with my then-husband. There were a lot of different types of groups and found it quite rewarding.
    Goals and working towards them are often the most frustrating things of life, but they are hard work because they are worth it. The fatigue/questioning/hard part of doing the work towards something is where I feel I learn the most about myself and life, so try to enjoy the process, even if it feels stuck or forced.

  12. Stephanie says:

    First off I had to share how much I love the new look you have to your blog! My new routine has been spending my Saturday morning catching up and reading your posts from the previous weeks. You ambitious girls has helped and encouraged me to do the same! I’ve gotten myself a planner and took the time to write down what I want to work on accomplishing. What Ive found from that is even though I feel like I have a lot of goals that a lot of them overlap each other so I’ve just drived right in and in this first month felt like a was making progress on multiple fronts. I’d love if you’d do a follow up blog on some of the feedback you’ve gotten as well as your thoughts on some of the questions you posed in this post.

  13. Mary G. says:

    I’ve never been out of my comfort zone but moving to another city is something in my bucket list. I find the idea really scary and I do got homesick a lot (even on week-long business trips). So I’m not sure if this is something I can try out soon but if the opportunity comes along, I’m willing to give it a shot. Thank you for Shannyn for this blog and to the ladies for their wonderful stories.

  14. Flonnie Louise says:

    What a cute planner!

  15. James Rider says:

    Nice stuff and helpful post.


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