In last week’s blog I discussed how to set a goal and provided steps to take along the journey of reaching that goal.  What comes up for many people after setting a goal is the question “But how do I finish what I started?”  If you are anything like me, you dive into the newness of a book, project or goal and then lose that “loving feeling” and fizzle out half way through.  It’s the main reason why there are so many empty gyms on February 1st.

I did recently finish one book that helped me with this issue.  The witty, informative book is titled “Finish – Give Yourself The Gift of Done” by Jon Acuff.  In this book he discusses the issues most of us have with getting things done and how we sabotage ourselves in various ways to not finish what we started.

The idea particularly relevant to achieving goals is perfectionism.  He explains that perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions – Hiding Places and Noble Obstacles.  A Hiding Place is where you go when you have a fear of messing up and a Noble Obstacle is the “Very Good Reason” you cannot pursue your goal.

This week I’m going to shine a light on our Hiding Places, uncover our Noble Obstacles and provide tips on how to finish what you started.


Hiding Places

I knew someone years ago who said “I don’t do anything unless I can do it perfectly.”  She said this so matter-of-factly that it didn’t register until later.  I remember thinking how sad it was that she avoided so many things by putting so much pressure on herself.  But years later I realized that that type of belief system is just based on the fear of imperfection.  She would rather hide than possibly fail.

Anytime we challenge ourselves to do something new, whether it’s learning a new skill or just setting a goal to clean out our closet, our brain will most likely want to resist.  It’s programmed to like consistency and sameness.  It doesn’t want to expend energy being challenged and will convince us to hide from the new thing we want it to be on board with.  It will convince us to hide where it feels safe.

We may even find ourselves staying busy with something else in order to avoid the “big thing”.  As working mothers we have become really good at justifying “busy work”.  We tell ourselves we can’t leave the kids with our spouse and take that walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise until all their homework is done, they’ve been fed and they’re perfect angels that won’t stress out our spouse.

Hiding Places can look like the things we do “accidentally” to avoid doing something that is challenging.  For example, when learning how to do online marketing for my coaching business I noticed that when I became overwhelmed, I would go to my phone and surf Facebook or Instagram.  By being in this Hiding Place, I told myself I was still being productive but was really just avoiding challenging myself to learn this new skill.

The key to coming out of our Hiding Places is to realize that they aren’t protecting us.  They are actually keeping us from reaching our goals.  We will never finish what we started when we hide from the growth opportunity a goal can provide us.


Noble Obstacles

A Noble Obstacle is an attempt to make our goal harder than it has to be so we don’t have to finish, but can still look responsible.  The author shares that using the words “Until” or “If….then” are indications that we have created a Noble Obstacle.

The term “Until” makes it seem as if you are being responsible:

  • Until I have the perfect storage bins I can’t start decluttering the basement
  • Until I empty the dishwasher I can’t write that content for my next article

The term “If…..then” makes it seem as if pursuing your goal will lead to something bad happening:

  • If I lose 25 pounds then I will need to buy all new clothes and I can’t afford that right now
  • If I start having weekly date nights with my husband then my kids will be upset because I don’t spend enough time with them

One of the most dysfunctional Noble Obstacles that I personally had was a number of years ago.  My former husband and I were having marital issues and I had begun doing a lot of self-help work with a therapist.  My goal was to discover my own inner happiness instead of assuming he was at fault for my unhappiness.  When a friend asked how I was doing I said I was doing great but I found myself purposefully not smiling around my husband even when I was happy.  When she asked why I said “If I smile, then he will think I’m happy with him and I don’t want to give him that impression”.

I was stalling my goal of finding and expressing inner happiness because I thought it would send him the “wrong message”.  Looking back I have to laugh at the insanity of it but I can also see how powerful a Noble Obstacle can appear to be.


Tips on how to finish what you started


Hiding Places can be difficult to discover because we can become so good at kidding ourselves.  If you aren’t sure whether you have Hiding Places then ask yourself the following:

  • What is the phone app you open without even thinking about it?
  • When was the last time you were going to work on a goal but got distracted?
  • How much time do you spend doing things that aren’t in line with what you want to finish?
  • Ask someone close to you if you are spending time, energy or money on something that’s not important to your goal


Uncovering the Hiding Places that keep us busy on what doesn’t get us to accomplish our goal takes honesty.  By applying the Manage Your Mind Model to a Hiding Places situation, we can uncover the thoughts that created the feeling of fear, overwhelm, confusion or any other negative emotion that keeps us from taking positive action  (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).

Once we stop spending time, energy and money in our Hiding Places, we can have them to spend on the activities that would help us reach our goal.  As busy working moms, we don’t have the luxury of wasting time in Hiding Places.  If we want to finish what we’ve started we need to use our resources on the things that matter.  One of my favorite mottos is “We can’t do it all, but we can do what matters”.  Hiding Places keep us from doing what matters.


Noble Obstacles are sneaky as well.  They seem so understandable and you can probably find others to agree with your Noble Obstacle.  If you really want to finish what you start and be in integrity with what you say you are going to accomplish, you may want to uncover your Noble Obstacles by asking yourself the following:

  • Is your goal a worthy goal?
  • Have other people achieved your goal?
  • Noble Obstacles can look like the things we do “accidentally” to avoid doing something that is challenging
  • What have you been focusing on as a distraction?
  • Ask a trusted person if they see that you have Noble Obstacles that are keeping you from finishing what you started

Noble obstacles are just excuses that appear to be justifiable.  Our brains are totally on board with Noble Obstacles because they appear to make sense.  Your brain will tell you that you can’t do X until Y but that is just an avoidance tactic.  Setting a goal stretches us to become a newer version of ourselves and that can be scary to our brains.  But remember that we aren’t here to play small; we are capable of so much more than we may have allowed ourselves to believe.

Anyone who has been the first to achieve anything most likely had to shine a light on their Hiding Places and step over their Noble Obstacles in order to get their desired result.  By being aware of the things that may get in the way of finishing what we start, it puts us in control of accomplishing whatever we set our sights on.

Let’s face it, perfectionism is for scaredy cats and we, my friends, are strong, capable Mama Bears!


  • Perfectionism offers us two distractions – Hiding Places and Noble Obstacles
  • Most of the time our brains will naturally resist learning something new but we can override that programming
  • Setting a goal and managing your mind before, during and after is how you evolve and grow
  • We will never finish what we started when we hide from the growth opportunity a goal can provide us
  • Using the words “Until” or “If….then” are indications that we have created a Noble Obstacle
  • Hiding Places and Noble Obstacles keep us from doing what matters

If you’d like some help with finishing what you've started, please feel free to schedule a free strategy session or email me at and we can get to work together.

#cpamoms, #settinggoals, #femaleaccountant, #goalsetting, #momguilt, #perfectionism, #workingmom