The Biggest Test We Face When Setting Goals

Ah, goals. Don’t you love that feeling when you decide enough is enough and you’re ready to make a change? You think to yourself, “YES. I CAN DO THIS. I AM AWESOME. LIFE IS AWESOME. I AM THE ONE.”

And once the feel good feelings wear off, you suddenly start to remember a few things…

You suck. You realize you weren’t strong enough. You can’t keep up with the pace of everyone else. You fizzle out. You let life get to you. And you realize how much you love things like cheese and chocolate. (Or, you know, whatever throws you off track from your goal.)

But let’s put this in nicer terms, yeah?

What’s really happening here: The Universe is throwing you a curveball. 

I recently set a goal to complete three straight weeks of clean eating and exercise. I picked a workout program that was exactly 21 days. I specifically wanted to send in my results to Beachbody and do the program start to finish – no cheats. (And I kinda wanted the free t shirt.)

I had tried this program once before. I got hurt on day ten and had to stop. But this time was different. This time, I decided, I would win. I even had my day 22 cheat day planned: Red Sox vs White Sox game. It was perfect. 

….and then a free Cubs ticket landed in my lap.


Those two words: Free. Baseball. They’re kinda a big weakness of mine.

“But Tony. I don’t believe in this whole thing where the Universe is ‘for or against me.’ In fact, I hate anything ‘woo-woo.’ This isn’t for me.” 

I actually totally get it. And I’m someone who, admittedly, can get a little “woo woo” and warm and fuzzy. At the same time, this lesson applies regardless of whether or not you believe in a higher power. Life is always going to test us. As Alexi Panos would say, it’s like “the universe asking whether or not we’re really serious.” But you can call it whatever you want. 

The reason I like this explanation so much is because it stops making the situation so damn personal. It makes us normal human beings and not some awful person for wanting to revert to our old habits. Which, by the way, don’t just bring us comfort. They bring us joy, pleasure, and instant gratification. And it’s a completely natural thing to want to do when you’re having a shit day. 


I’m going to start referring to those off days as “days where I get to be treated as a princess.” I think it has a better ring to it. 

So be aware that this test is coming. And if you slip – that’s fine. You’ll be ready for it the next time. Whatever you do – please don’t stop. Because there’s people you love who are going to benefit from the “you” who wins.

Let’s go get ’em.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their own terms.

He also loves to blog on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire if he can do some writing for you!  You can reach him at

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

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Wanna see more? Check out my actor website! 

I also have a YouTube Channel with weekly #SundayVideos where I share how to take control over our thoughts and feelings on facebook live! 


Sometimes It’s Better To Keep Your Mouth Shut…When Discussing Goals

Have you ever been drunk at a party? 

As much as I pride myself for building better habits, surrounding myself around more positive people, and becoming the type of person who can reach those big and awesome goals…I’d be lying if I said no to the above question. If you haven’t (or if you just don’t want to admit it), let me paint the scene for you: 

You’re having a great time. Such a great time that you’re suddenly willing to share some gossip with a friend. You even preface it with, “I really shouldn’t be telling you this…” but because you’re in such a great mood, you just have this feeling. That feeling tells you, “Yes. You are right. You should share this information. All other reasoning is irrelevant.” 

Of course, eventually your reasoning comes back. But even looking back you can go back to that feeling and justify why you did what you did. “Oh dear..I shouldn’t have done that. But I can absolutely see why I did that…” 

Now, let’s talk goals. 

Right now there’s a big, juicy goal I’m working on. I can’t believe I’ve even set this. It’s that big. And it’s not cheap. And yet, just last week, I found myself setting up an appointment as an initial first step to making this goal come to fruition. I was feeling awesome, you guys. 

Unfortunately though…I got drunk at a party. 

Okay, no. I wasn’t drunk. I wasn’t even at a party when this happened. And yet I got that same feeling that I could trust someone with this valuable piece of information. So I prefaced it with, “You know, I shouldn’t even been saying this….” and off I went. 

No sooner had I finished sharing this, another person chimed in: “Why wouldn’t you just do [insert the name of something much more reasonable and affordable] instead?” 

The truth was, I had considered this option. Many times. And it doesn’t even compare. It’s like saying, “No, let’s skip getting that amazing bacon double cheese burger from 5 Guys and just make one at home using a frozen patty, microwave some bacon, and use the bread we already have. It’ll be cheaper.” 


Yet, on my bike ride home, all I could think of were the following: 

“She was right, Tony. You really should just do the cheaper option.” 

“Why are you considering that expensive option? How the hell will you ever afford that when you’re having trouble affording more reasonable things?” 

“Have you considered that this just might be a stupid thing for you to want, given your situation?”

And so on and so forth. Until….wait a minute…


From “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero

What happened to that joyous, energetic feeling that I had a week ago? Why did that suddenly dissolve? And why am I being such a jerk to myself for wanting something that makes me happy? 

Here’s why you don’t share big and awesome goals with people: They don’t have the same understanding that you do. They’re not bad people. They just don’t think the way you do. You could explain every tiny detail with them and they still wouldn’t get it. They might hear your words. But they won’t digest the message. People who don’t aim for big and awesome things like you do aren’t going to hear your words. And that’s okay. 

But you’re not off the hook. 

Here’s the thing about setting big goals: If you’ve made the decision in your mind that you’ll do whatever it takes to get there – you’re going to get it. And when you do, you’re setting an example that it’s possible.  

Set that goal. Let others laugh at you. See how many people are laughing when their mouths are hanging open because they can’t believe you got what you wanted. 

Go after big things. There’s other people who are going to benefit other than you, my friends. It’s a beautiful thing. 


Having positive mantra cards, like these ones given out by Dallas Travers for her Thriving Artist Circle members, have been a big help 🙂 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

My Unpleasant Reoccurring Theme

Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with the path that I’m on right now. 2104 has been a good year. That being said, this week I noticed an unpleasant reoccurring theme: I continue to put myself in unpleasant situations. I work a part time job I don’t like. I quit. I experience brief joy that I’ve left the job. It’s soon replaced by the realization that I don’t like whichever new gig(s) I’ve picked up. The cycle repeats.

As I made this discovery, those pesky, negative voices crept in:

Are you really making progress? Is it worth it to keep going down this path? Should you just redefine your game plan and try a different route?

These voices don’t usually lead to much confidence or positivity. Thank god that one positive voice chimed in to save the day (she still thinks I’m really cute, too):

Tony…your goals are enormous. There’s a reason this is taking so long. You’re thinking big.

Damn, she’s good.

While we’re pursuing a crazy, awesome life, we encounter a lot of negativity. There are obstacles and resistance popping up left and right. If they weren’t there, our goals wouldn’t be crazy and awesome. Take mine, for example: I want a full time income from acting, fitness, and writing. That’s it. (I’ll make an exception for something better that may come along.) Oh, and I want them to give me a somewhat flexible schedule so I can have a social life too.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress

Photo credit:

Personally, I hate the word perfect because nothing is ever perfect. There’s always one more thing that could make our situation, our jobs, our income, whatever….a little better. But I’m going to use the word in this case: I want a perfect life. I want you to have a perfect life too. Is it actually going to be perfect? Not actually. That would be silly. But in my crazy, awesome, Tony world, it’s pretty damn close.

Go after that crazy, awesome life. Just keep being patient.

Your turn: My reoccurring theme while chasing after my crazy, awesome life is that I continue to get frustrated while working new part time jobs. What theme keeps coming up for you?

How To Start Being Awesome

As you’re all undoubtedly aware, I’m pretty awesome

[Guys in the back disagree loudly]

And when you’re awesome like me, you have plenty of awesome knowledge to spread onto others.

[Guys in the back disagree even louder]

Sometimes when we’re on our quest to be even more awesome, we create this big idea in our heads we feel we have to match. This tends to create stress. We think anything less would be a failure.

Luckily, I’m in a good mood today. I’m willing to tell you everything there is to know about being awesome. With my many years of awesomeness, I believe I am an expert in the field of…

[Guys in the back are outraged and start shouting obscenities.]

Oh, one more thing: You’re always going to have doubters trying to bring you and your awesomeness down. Ignore them.

While I don’t really know everything there is to know about being awesome, I do have a couple of neat tricks that can get you on track to being a better you:

-Think small: This is a GREAT trick that we often overlook. A lot of us use the “go big or go home approach.” While it’s great to have a strong work ethic, it’s perfectly acceptable to think small starting out. Our end goal is still the same: It’s big and it’s awesome. But we might need to take baby steps to get there. Think about what small, tiny steps you can take to get to your goals. (Stole this trick from Darren Hardy.)

-Surround yourself with positivity: It’s hard to accomplish our big and scary goals when we’re surrounded by negativity. A great “baby step” to take towards a more positive life is to read personal development books (Sound familiar yet?) Again, think small. No need to set aside two hours of your day. I personally start my day off reading just ten pages of a personal development book. You can also listen or CDs and audio books while driving or performing small chores around the house. Dedicate just ten minutes every day for a month.  You’ll see results.

-Follow inspiring people on social media: Some of my favorites include Jim Rohn, Darren Hardy, Les Brown, and Brian Tracy. Having positive quotes fill up your newsfeed makes logging into facebook a delight. I promise you can find another way to look at pictures of food, political rants, and the list of reasons your friends hate our country. (Though if you want my opinion, start hiding those posts from your feed…except maybe the food pictures. I enjoy a good meal.)

If reading any of this overwhelms you, think of a way you can make these tasks even smaller. The point is to think small while taking action toward becoming a better you.


Oh, and if hitting the “like” button really does overwhelm you, please see me after. This is concerning and we need talk.

Have an awesome weekend, friends.

An important letter to read when you’re feeling frustrated


Hi there!

Really glad you’re reaching out. I realize that chatting with me seems kind of silly, so I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Let’s get down to business.

First off, congratulations! I’m so glad that you’ve been taking action towards something that you really want. I understand that you’re not where you want to be right now – don’t worry, I’ll address that shortly. But I want you to know how proud I am of you for getting where you are now. Even if you are far away from the overall goal, you’re taking action. That’s a success. Always celebrate your successes.

Now let’s talk about this negativity you’ve been feeling lately: This is normal. After the honeymoon phase of “Hooray! I’m taking action and everything is wonderful and smells like peaches!” phase is over, you’re bound to run into some obstacles (though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have peaches around the apartment). From here on out, I need you to pay attention to when that negativity creeps in.

Ever hear that negative voice when you reach an obstacle? You’ll hear things like, “You’re not good enough,” or “You’ll never get this done”? I like to call this guy, “asshole voice.” The more you listen to asshole voice, the more you’re going to believe it. And that’s when you’ll find yourself getting more and more frustrated. Hence where you’re at right now.

So what are you supposed to do whenever that voice creeps back in? There are two options:

1) Come find me. Then we’ll have this talk again so I can remind you how awesome you are. Remember what we talked about in the beginning? How happy I am for you that you’re taking action and for getting to this point? I’m not saying this just to kiss your ass. (Although you do have a great ass, if I say so myself). I’m saying it because it’s TRUE. You are awesome, and you’re doing awesome work. Don’t listen to asshole voice telling you otherwise.

That being said, there are going to be times when you don’t feel like listening to me (which is outrageous!…but understandable). When this happens, you have another option.

2) Find a friend to talk to. A real friend. Someone who always listens and doesn’t criticize you. We have lots of friends who are easy to reach out to. But for this specific example, I want you to get in touch with one of those people who always makes you feel awesome.

I don’t wanna be too redundant here, but please, remember the message: You are kicking ass right now. Try to remind yourself of this when asshole voice comes back.

Talk soon,

Your inside voice who gives you confidence.

Okay everyone, I just want to say a few words about the above letter.

*Guys in the back from last week grumble because they thought we were done*

Don’t worry, I’ll be quick!

*Guys in the back cheer!*

Sometimes we forget about our voice that gives us confidence. Usually it’s because we’ve encountered new obstacles that we didn’t consider when mapping out our goals. This is when asshole voice creeps in and tells us that we’re not going to be able to achieve them.


Find that inner voice who loves us. If you’re feeling too frustrated to listen, find a friend!  It’s always helpful to get encouragement from others.

And it doesn’t hurt to tell yourself you have a nice ass.