Sacrificial decisions: Here are three mid-year goal-setting tips for leaders 

If you’re feeling some anxiety or struggle about achieving goals that you set earlier in the year, here’s my advice for relieving that pressure: fail fast and avoid the drama. Just avoid making goals altogether. Seriously, you ask?

The concept of stretch goals for personal and professional growth can be inspiring and hopeful, but the reality is that they’re very difficult because it requires us to break old habits and adopt new behaviors.

Sacrificial decisions

Think of a time in your life when you made a worthy sacrifice, like the arrival of a new baby. It’s an inconvenience, and yet couples quickly make drastic changes in their mindset and behaviors. This type of sacrifice is obviously a willing investment with a valuable payoff.

Ironically for worthy goals, giving up an old mindset or behavior can actually lighten the load mentally, emotionally and physically. And it’s an authentic and inspiring example in leading others, too.

The elevator isn’t working

One of my schoolteacher mother’s students made her a sign for her class and ultimately for our home:

“The elevator to success is not working. You’ll have to take the stairs.” *

Seeing that sign often sealed in my mind the principle that success is usually a series of steps that require diligent, hard work for any profession. The sacrifice is ultimately worth the cost because passionate leaders believe in their goals.

Here are three goal-setting tips for the rest of the year:

  1. Remember how you have sacrificed in the past and the reward that came from your suffering.

When you have eaten nothing in a Vietnam POW camp but a bowl of thin soup and a piece of bread or cup of rice twice a day for weeks, months, years, you know you can eat almost anything and survive. What seemed like sacrifice became the accepted way of life because it was the only way to achieve our goals. You also have examples where you’ve paid the price

  1. Use determination and discipline to overcome your fears.

When you sacrifice (and even suffer) to achieve an important goal, it’s fear that you have to combat. We must fight back, knowing that once we kick fear out of the way, we’ll find that sacrifice helps us reach beyond ourselves and find success. Lean into the pain of your doubts and fears and do what’s needed to achieve your worthy goal.

  1. Make your goal public and enlist a support team to encourage you along the way.

The wisdom of the ages is that you should never fight alone. Victory is usually a team effort and especially when you’re fighting discouragement. Who will encourage and support you when things get tough and help you stay the course?

So what’s your decision? Hopefully, it’s making the willing sacrifices to grow, change, achieve, and reach a higher level.

As president of Leadership Freedom® LLC, a leadership and team development consulting and coaching company, Lee Ellis consults with Fortune 500 senior executives in the areas of hiring, teambuilding, human performance, and succession planning. His media appearances include interviews on CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, and Fox News Channel. A retired Air Force Colonel, his latest book is entitled Engage with Honor™: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability. Learn more at