Your Goals may be SMART, but are they Scary? 6 Ways to Know

This year, I set a goal that scared me. 

Actually, as a healthcare executive turned entrepreneur, most of my goals scare me a little bit! 

But this particular goal seemed scarier than usual. 

It wasn’t that I doubted I could reach the goal that scared me. It was the unknown. It was the time it would take away from my core direction and not knowing if I was 100% ready to be successful.

And here’s the thing with this particular goal…I felt it in my bones. It was more than a business goal. It was a life goal that was 100% aligned with the impact I want to have. 

It required me to get out of my comfort zone. Get vulnerable. Ask for help. 

My goal was not unique. It was something that many others who were better educated and more experienced than I had done. 

But I knew my way would be different. I trusted my strengths and ability to grow in areas that might be required to accomplish this goal.

What was my goal? 

My goal was to land and deliver the talk of my life:  a TEDx talk.

And recently I found out that I would get the opportunity to do just that! I will be giving a TEDx talk early in 2020.

This process got me thinking. How good are we at setting goals that scare us? 

Do we focus on the important work of shaping our goals in a way that is a bit risky and aligned with getting results that are beautifully unexpected?

Do we set goals based on what our leaders can uniquely do using their strengths? Do we then use these strengths as our superpower, making what our competition is doing irrelevant? 

What if the goals you set for next year scare you enough to excite you? 

Not sure if your goals are scary enough? Here’s how you will know:

  1. You don’t feel ready (and you do it anyway)!
  2. Others might believe you are crazy for thinking it is possible.
  3. You might doubt that you will be successful or worse yet, you will be successful but fear you won’t have the impact you hope to have
  4. When you think about the goal you feel a bit of tension because while you believe it is possible, but you haven’t figure out how to make it happen (yet)
  5. You feel strongly in the “why” and the “what” and trust that the “how” will take shape using your leaders and resources
  6. It will require two new things: A new skill set and a new mindset


As you set your goals for next year, test them against these 6 requirements for a scary goal. 

By setting scary goals, we create an opportunity to grow the leaders around us, grow ourselves and create an impact in our world.


What if you had an easy-to-follow checklist to help you overcome the three most common leadership challenges? Simply put in your name and email below and I will deliver the free checklist to your inbox! (p.s. I will never share your email, no one likes spam including me.)

Carrie Koh is a healthcare consultant, speaker, Interpersonal Efficiency executive coach and healthcare executive with a passion for enhancing the way we communicate with one another to ensure efficient and innovative results with greater fulfillment along the way. She partners with her clients to create innovative physician leadership development and retention programs and believes we can bridge the multiple divides that exist in healthcare. She would love to connect at