It just hit me that when I'm going for a goal, I'm only competing against others playing the exact same game as me.
So for example, if I want to be a New York Times bestseller, I'm not competing against everyone in the world. I'm not even competing against all other writers.
I'm only competing against other writers who are published with a major publishing house and expect to sell 10K+ books in their first week, in different geographic regions and at a variety of different retailers.
If I think about what it would take to be a NYT bestseller, at first it sounds basically impossible. But when I break it down, I'm only trying to outdo a couple hundred people in any given week.
So when you have a goal you're a bit overwhelmed by, remember that almost no one is directly competing with you. Think of everyone who is aiming for another prize. All those people vying to get into medical school, or become manager of a restaurant, or just get promoted at their current job.
You're only competing against others who are honed in on your particular goal and putting all their energies into it, people who know the rules (or how to break them) and how to play your specific game.
Everyone else falls away.
Note: "published with a major publishing house and expect to sell 10K+ books in their first week, in different geographic regions and at a variety of different retailers," still sounds pretty fucking hard. But it speaks to the same point. When you know what your goal is, you can then figure out exactly what it takes to get there and break it down to a series of tasks. When you're clear on what you want, you can figure out a path and eliminate 99% the competition, and who cares if it's hard? All the fun things in life are a challenge anyway.