I think there are three things…
One of them is talked about all the time and I think I’ll repeat here, but we won’t go into a ton of detail. That is that in order to have a chance of achieving your goal, you really need to have it very well articulated. The framework that you usually hear about is the SMART goals or the SMARTER goals, where you talk about how the goal needs to be specific, measurable, actionable, and all of the words that you can use to spell SMART or SMARTER, depending on which framework you’re looking at. I completely totally agree with that.
If you don’t have a well-articulated goal, I encourage you to just Google SMART goals or SMARTER goals, look at some of Michael Hyatt’s stuff on the topic, and you’ll find out what you need to do. Basically, it boils down to you need to make sure that you understand exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish and when you want to get it done.
Don’t say, “I want to lose weight this year,” or, “I want to get fit.” Say something more specific like, “By November 13th I’m going to weigh 200 pounds and be able to run a 20-minute 5k,” or whatever your goal is for yourself. Make sure that is measurable, specific, actionable, time-bound, you know exactly what you’re doing so that you can visualize that goal and measure your progress against it. I think it’s really critical.
It all boils down to you need to have a really well written goal. I do also believe that you need to write these goals out, particularly I think you should write them out by hand. All of that is the case and I think that’s definitely the first thing that you need to do is make sure that your goal is really well defined, well-articulated. That’s a pretty common thing, you’re going to hear that from a lot of people.
I think the second thing that you need to pay attention to is something that my friend Cliff Ravenscraft has been talking about a lot lately. You need to have the right mindset around your goal. I want to encourage you, if you’re hearing this in time, to go over to listen to Cliff’s webinar on goals. He’s talking about what’s the difference between the 12% of people that really do achieve their New Year’s resolutions and the 88% of people that don’t. He’s going to do a completely free webinar on that on January 5th. I imagine he’ll also repeat this. If you go over to MindsetAnswerMan.com you can sign up for that absolutely free and tremendously wonderful content that he’s going to give you.
I’m not privy to everything that Cliff is going to say in that webinar, but I can guarantee you that Cliff would agree with me that the second thing is that you need to understand why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing. You need to be able to know that you’re not losing weight because somebody told you that you need to lose weight, you need to understand what it is that you are going to benefit from, or achieve, or avoid, what pain you’re going to avoid, or what pleasure you’re going to achieve, when you lose that weight and you’re able to run that 5k that we were talking about.
Maybe it’s that you just like that feeling that comes when people tell you that you look great, maybe that’s what fuels you, or maybe it’s something much deeper. Maybe you have grandkids and you’ve noticed that you can’t keep up with them anymore and you’re worried that you’re not going to be able to be the kind of parent or the kind of grandparent that you want to be because you don’t have the energy for it, and you need to get fit so that you can achieve that energy. Maybe you have a diagnosis from your doctor who has told you that you are pre-diabetic and if you don’t lose some weight you’re going to go into full blown diabetes and that’s going to be a problem.
Whatever it is, you need to really understand why you have written this very specific and measurable goal down. It’s one thing to write a goal down, but it’s another thing to be pursuing that goal based on a mindset and framework that will give you the fuel you need to achieve it. You can build a great rocket ship and you can say you’re going to go to the moon, but if you don’t have the right fuel to get there, you’re not going to make it. I bring that analogy because I just saw the most amazing NOVA episode on the Apollo 8 mission, I’m a total science geek. You can check that out over at NOVA. You need the fuel that it’s going to take in order to get you to your goal.
The first thing is have an absolutely fantastic and great goal. The second thing is I want you to know very specifically, and I want you to write it down, break it down, Cliff can give you some ways to do this in order to understand what it is that is making you want this goal, and make sure that you really own it and understand why it is you’re trying to achieve the things that you’re trying to achieve.
I will give you some warnings…
Goals that you’re trying to achieve for other people, they don’t work so great most of the time. I think the data says that. If you’re losing weight because your wife told you that you need to, or your husband told you that you need to, that’s not going to be a great goal.
While not always the case, sometimes if your motivation is just that you want money, a lot of times just money, just a number in a bank account, is not going to be the right reason, the kind of reason that is going to propel you to being successful in your business goal.
More helpful might be something like what are you going to do with that money. Is that going to allow you to do charitable work? Is it going to allow you to take vacations? Help people that you love? What is that money going to be for?
Those are the kind of things that I’m talking about. That’s the second thing. The first thing is to have great goals. The second thing is know why you are chasing after them.
If you know me and you’ve been following me for a long time, you know that I’ve been talking about these two things for quite some time. A lot of people have. It’s not a new thing, understanding these things, this stuff has been around for a long time.
For me personally, as I described, I’ve had somewhat limited success in actually achieving my goals. Why is that? When I go back and break that down, if I go back and look at last year’s goals, or the year before that, or the year before that, almost always the reason is a lack of focus.
You can say that the lack of focus is because I didn’t know why I wanted to achieve the goals. That certainly helps with focus, when you’re clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing that helps you stay focused. I think in my particular case, I just have that personality where it’s really hard for me to stay focused on something over the long term to fight through what Michael Hyatt calls ‘the messy middle’ for an entire year, 365 days is just a long time for me to stay hammering after the same thing.
Something that is not going to happen for 12 months usually is going to be pretty big. If I’m going to work on something for 12 months, it seems like almost unattainable. It’s such a big goal by the time you get it out to the end of 2019, that’s far away. If it’s a financial goal or some kind of accomplishment, I have to pile up a ton of work, and sometimes I think for me personally it seems psychologically like a very big thing and maybe a little hard for me to get behind.
I read a book, and re-read it recently, The 12 Week Year. The premise behind this book is simply that a year is a really long time and it makes a lot more sense to break your year down into four chunks. For me, this year I have the same kind of goals that I have every year, but I have broken my goals down into quarterly goals. This is the kind of thing that we do in business, you normally have these quarterly milestones that you want to hit to try to hit your major goal. I think this book, 12 Week Year, does a really great job of breaking down exactly why you want to break your goals down into these chunks where you can actually manage these 12 weeks to hit a goal.
That’s something that you can really get your head around, because it allows you to know exactly what you need to get done this week in order to hit that goal in 12 weeks. It’s not what you need to do this week in order for something to happen in 52 weeks – that sounds like a really long time from now, but 12 weeks is really soon. When there are only 7 weeks left, that’s really soon.
I think bringing the focus in of those goals, you can have the same goals, just set the milestones for the goals in three-month increments. This sort of forms what starts the basis of the third point, which is you need to have a plan for executing your goals.
You need to have well-articulated goals, that’s the first thing. You need to know why you’re trying to achieve those goals so that you have the right fuel to get to them, that’s the second thing. The third thing is I really believe, and this has been the missing piece for me, that you need to have a framework for achieving the goals.
The first thing that I suggest is that you narrow the timeframe you’re thinking about at any one time down to these three-month goals, four sets of 12 weeks to form the year. Once you’ve done that, I think you can start to ask some details about what’s the mechanism for that. The first thing is, of course, this goal can be broken down into chunks.
I believe, at least for me, I have been applying the rule of threes lately. This is something that I started trying on at the end of last year. I kind of believe that for me I really can’t focus on more than about three things at one time. I don’t mean three actual things, because obviously there are 75,000 things going on in my life at any one time. As far as major things that I absolutely feel like I have to accomplish, three is a pretty good number.
If you take that out for the whole year, then maybe you have 12 goals that you’re trying to achieve at various different points during the year that you’re totally focused on. Some of those goals will be a goal that ends in March for stage one and then the second stage is in June, so they add together, so they’re really one big goal. Some of those goals will be goals that actually just end in June, it’s something you want to do. You want to run a marathon and you need to train for three months to do that, that’s a three-month long goal.
Those sorts of things will work themselves out to where at the end of the year you’ll find yourself having 5 to 10 major goals broken up into three-month increments. I think that’s a really good approach to break these things up. Once you’ve done that, what does that allow you to do?
One thing that allows you to do that I think is really powerful is it allows you to break up a goal into 12 steps. If you do 12 smaller things, you end up achieving your goal for that particular timeframe.
For habit goals, I think this is very straightforward, you need probably to do the same thing, maybe slightly increasing intensity over 12 weeks. You want to drink water and that’s your big goal, you want to focus on this week drinking water seven days. Those are very straightforward.
I think where this is most useful is where you’re trying to achieve some sort of business goal where you’re building something. You want to start a new blog and your goal in the first three months is to get the blog launched with 15 pieces of content. You know in the first week you need to get a domain name, the second week you need to build the site, the third week you need to create a content plan, the fourth week you need to write the first three posts, the fifth week you need to write the next three posts, and so on, you can break down.
Now all of a sudden when you come to Sunday night or Monday morning, whenever you do your planning for the week, you’re not overwhelmed with this big goal that is three months away – or worse, a year away. You have a very straightforward goal in front of you, you have a goal that is for this week and you know exactly what you need to do for this week.
Then you can ask this very simple question. Let’s take this blogging example, “I know that I need to get my blog up and running this week. What are the one, two, or three things that I need to do today that will move that goal forward so that I’m done by the end of the week?” In the case of starting a new blog, maybe the one thing that I need to absolutely make sure that I do today is research and buy the best hosting for this blog. Maybe in this example that’s the next step.
That’s the only thing that you need to do today. Make that thing more important than all of the other junk that’s going on in your life. Make sure that’s the thing that gets done first. That hosting task is the task that you try to check off early in the day before you get swamped by the rest of life.
Repeat that the next day. By the end of the week, all of a sudden, you’ve achieved your goal for the week, which is getting your blog up. That is one of the major 12 steps that you need to get through to launching this new online platform, if that’s your goal for the three months.
I think that breakdown, break that year down into four three-month chunks, break those three-month chunks down into 12-week steps, which is articulated in the book, The 12 Week Year, and then each week when you know your goal for the week, go ahead and ask yourself the question, “What can I do today, what must I do today in order to advance that?” Use this rule of three; try not to ever be working on more than three big goals in a quarter, don’t work on more than three big goals for the week, and don’t have more than three big tasks that absolutely must get done today.
If you’ll religiously execute this sort of system, I think what you’ll find is that day by day you’ll make these small progress steps and you will be shocked at the end of the weeks, at the end of the month, and at the end of the year at the amount of progress that you’ll be able to accumulate.
The last question is how do you keep track of all of this? The best tool that I’ve found to keep track of all this, especially if you like to write things down, which I’m going to encourage you to do, is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. There’s no affiliate program, I’m not promoting this other than the fact that I really like Michael. I’ve looked at a lot of planners, there are a bunch of different ones out there, and I really like the Full Focus Planner and I like the fact that you actually write down the stuff that you’re going to do every day and physically check it off. A lot of research has shown that things you write down tend to get remembered and done.
The Full Focus Planner is an excellent tool for implementing what is articulated in The 12 Week Year. Those concepts dovetail nicely with what Michael Hyatt has done with this planner. The planner also comes with some training about how to use it, which is also highly recommended and free. That is my recommendation.
To sum it up, for 2019, the three things that you need to be doing to achieve your goals, no matter how you decide to do them, are…
- You need to have really excellent well-articulated goals that are clear, SMART goals, measurable and time-bound, and you know exactly where you stand at all times with achieving that goal.
- You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing. You need to make sure that you have the right fuel to get you through this year of achieving these goals.
- You need to have a method for hacking away at this goal. My recommended method for you is something sort of related to the book The 12 Week Year, where every day you can wake up and you know what the three things are you need to do that day to move your goals forward.
That’s my recommendation to you for 2019. If you have a chance and it’s not too late, go over to MindsetAnswerMan.com/webinar (and maybe there will be a replay over there) to check out Cliff’s comments in the webinar that he’s offering for topic number two, to make sure that you have the right mindset to achieve your goals. He’s going to teach you how 12% of the people actually achieve the goals they set this year.
Then make sure that you have a way to hold yourself accountable and to break down your goals on a day by day basis so that every day you know exactly what to do. If I had to articulate the one problem that I think probably keeps most people from achieving their goals, it is they don’t know what to do today, right now today, to hit their goal by the end of the year. That’s what this is going to solve for you.
This is the special New Year’s Day edition of the Late Night Internet Marketing podcast. I’m normally releasing episodes on Thursdays, so about 10 days from now on January 10th I will be back on the air and we’ll be talking about all kinds of cool internet business stuff. Until then, go crush it.