Should. Would. Could. Did.
The Year in Review, Setting Goals, Losers
I’m a goal-setter. I have been since 1986 when my Dad’s business partner gave me a set of Brian Tracy tapes called the Psychology of Achievement (still one of the best motivational programs ever produced). In it, Tracy talks about the importance of setting goals and how your subconscious would begin working on them for you. I’ve set goals every year of my life, and have achieved more of them than I’ve not. I’ll talk later about how we go about goal-setting in my orbit of business, clients and family.
Several years ago I was discussing my goal setting process with a friend and mentor of mine. Being suitably impressed with the process, he asked when I took time to celebrate the achievements I worked hard to produce. It led to an exercise I do every December now — the Year in Review.
First, I flip through my calendar to remember what the year looked like for me week by week. Our brains are not wired chronologically but experientially. It serves to remind me when I did what I did during the course of the year and teaches me that things often take longer to bring to fruition than I think when I first set out to achieve them.
Next, I answer a few questions in writing for myself:
What milestones count as major accomplishments in the last 12 months?
How am I different today than I was when I began this year?
What one thing did 2022 teach me that I won’t forget?
What did I not achieve in 2022 that I wish was a part of me now?
What was the biggest headwind against achieving my goals this past year?
Who did I welcome into my life this year and who did I say goodbye to?
Of course, going through this exercise is easier if you’ve set your goals, written them out, and socialized them amongst people you respect.
“Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.”
— Jason Fried
When I took over my company, I instituted a very robust Goal Setting process that we’ve practiced for the last 18 years. We produce a Goal Setting Guide that walks our staff through a process of setting and achieving goals in 3 areas: Personal, Business and Family. Everyone in our business participates, and its the number one requested service in my consulting practice, as well.
In reviewing our goal setting success each year, we find that 72% of the goals written down are marked as achieved at the end of the year. That’s a C, maybe its not a high enough grade, but if you compare it to all the people who didn’t set a goal at all — much less 9-12 goals — then its achievement off-the-charts.
Setting goals, writing them down, sharing them with others on the same journey as you are is the key to curating the life you want to be living. Maybe it’s a lot of work … but the time will pass anyway. You might as well have it take you to a place you want to be. Being intentional means choosing what your world and life look like, not having it chosen for you.
So, as you think about what next year could mean for you, answer the following questions:
“What three things, once achieved, would make me think of myself as a better version of myself?” These are your three personal goals. One of my managers says “How can I be a better person?”
What three things, once achieved, would make me more valuable to my business? These are your three business goals. One of my managers says “How can I be a better businessman?”
“What one thing, once achieved, in each family relationship you hold, would improve the life of that person, or the relationship you hold together?” These are your family goals.
In setting these goals, you may not use comparative terms like “More,” or “Better”, or “Greater," as they are too qualitative to have any meaning. Instead, you must describe the actions that will be completed in order to yield the result you seek.
For example, when my son was 3, going to the park to swing with Dad was the best thing that ever happened to him. I wanted to be a “better Dad” — more committed, conscientious and intentional, so my goal was to take him to the park to swing 100 times in a year. There were some weeks we skipped and had to double or triple up, but at the end of that year, we marked 100 trips off the board. The magic that happened when I set that time aside above other things was the real point of the goal, but I could only know I was achieving it by setting it in the right way.
We now involve our kids in the work of setting goals. Every child over 5 sets 1 goal for himself and we celebrate the wins as they achieve them. My son once set a goal to play Minecraft enough to beat the last dragon. That goal wasn’t important to me, but it was to him, and teaching him to focus and go after things that were important to him is a crowning achievement in my life. They are never too young to start … and neither are you. So get busy. I’d love to hear from you in the comments what kind of things are going to be true for you in 2023!
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
— George Bernard Shaw
Some people entered and exited my life this year. In thinking about why they were here and why they’re gone now, I’ve done my share of ownership on the relationships ending. I’m not perfect, I’m hard to work with, I’m a fast thinker and actor. I own that and recognize that it might not make me the best partner.
As I look to be better in the future, though, it all comes down to selection for me. Identifying the people who are so committed to their own poverty and small life that they won’t trust and take a personal risk is a skill that I have to sharpen and a philosophy that I have to follow from now on.
You cannot want more for people than they want for themselves and I’m always astounded at how little they want for themselves and how much they want me to pay for them to achieve it. It’s a disease and one that isn’t welcome in my life any longer.
I wish them the best in 2023, and you too!