By now many goals have fallen by the wayside.  Many New Years resolutions have been forgotten and a few people have already fallen off the health nut bandwagon and are eating cheesy fries even as you’re reading this.

But what if I told you that a simple tweak or two might change everything for you?

A few days ago I shared my one word plan for 2012.  It’s pretty simple and it’s my turnaround plan for the year: Fitness – specifically developing habits of fitness. But having one word doesn’t necessarily guarantee success (neither does having three words as my failures last year demonstrated). Even having that one word written down and telling a bunch of people about it on a blog doesn’t guarantee success. There is more required and I’m about to share that with you.

The List of Reasons

But before we get into that, let’s hit the same list that just about everybody else uses for why other people fail. Take a long, hard look at the list below; I’m almost certain you’ve seen it before. In fact, I’ve seen it so many times I’m writing it from memory.

  • They never really committed to their goals
  • They didn’t write their goals down
  • They didn’t develop a plan
  • They let circumstances dictate their success
  • They didn’t take advantage of every tool for achieving their goals (affiliate link)
  • Their goals weren’t S.M.A.R.T. (I had to put that one there)

What I’m going to show you in a minute isn’t that different. There are just a couple minor changes – a little more depth here and a slight change there. But what if tweaking a couple of things could change everything?

Decide What You Want

First, decide what you actually want (not what you think you should want).

You can be as detailed or as easy-going with your goal-setting as you want. As a closet nerd I waffle between plans that rival the Apollo launch sequence and pie-in-the-sky ideas that bear no resemblance to an executable strategy. But since you’re not me you need not be caught in my neuroses.

Just figure out what it is that you want.

Note: If your employer has some goals for you, this is not your excuse to ignore those goals.


Then, build your plan.

I’m not planning to spend a lot of time talking about how to set goals but I do want to spend just a little time talking about the O.G.S.M. model. The idea is that your over-arching Objective should determine your Goals, Strategies, and Measures.

For 2012, while my “one word” is fitness, my Objective is to Live fully fit and free for the rest of my life.

Because my Objective is about my life, my specific Goals, Strategies, and Measures are all about fitness (and freedom) in the various areas of my life, such as diet and exercise, relational health, financial strength, and so on.  Does that make sense? (if not, drop me a note and I’ll try to answer your questions).

This is the hard work.  It’s the emotional work.  It’s where you and God and perhaps some other people in your life get together and talk about what’s most important, what’s working, and what’s broken. It’s humbling. It can be excruciating. But, as Sun Tsu would say, it’s possible to predict the winner of a battle based on which general spends more time planning.


Finally, track it.

This where it gets interesting because, while it’s important to track goals regularly, there are different kinds of goals and they need to be tracked differently.  For some goals that I’ll call gain/loss goals, tracking is easy.  It’s not difficult to figure out how to track “I will lose 150 lbs this year” or “I will build a net worth of $1,000,000.”

But what about “fuzzy” goals like “I want to have a better family life” or “I want to have a deeper relationship with God?”  What about “I want to develop healthy habits?”  Sure, there are probably some surveys available that you can use to try to quantify the quality of your relationship (as though that’s not an oxymoron).  But you can’t track that.  Rather, you can only test at the beginning and the end.

And that’s where I had an epiphany.

And it’s where I want to diverge from common practice.

In any instance where it’s hard to quantify achieving a goal, I’m tracking my actions.  Sure, I’ll check in every so often and at the end of the year to see if I’ve actually achieved my goal.  But the discipline of tracking whether I’m working my plan keeps the goal in front of me all the time and it keeps me on track.  It allows me to see the effort I’m putting into my goal even if I can’t check the results for a long time.

Seriously, if I want to improve my relationship with my wife, part of that is spending time with her and I can track that.  If I want to improve my relationship with God, part of that is spending time reading the Bible and I can track that.  If I want to become a better musician, part of that is practicing my craft and I can track that.

And so can you.

Why does this work?

  • Motivation: Whether we’re motivated by fear or desire, we’re more likely to achieve goals we care about.
  • Clarity: if the strategies are clearly laid out and directly tied to our objectives, they’re easier to follow.
  • Regularity: if we review and track our activities regularly, we’re more likely to achieve our goals simply because we’re more likely to actually do what we planned to do.

There’s more coming.

I’ve even been working on a spreadsheet to share with you so that you can track these various kinds of goals.  It’ll probably be a few days before I have it completed and get the instructions written but I’m planning to share it with you soon.  Then you’ll have the tools to track both gain/loss goals as well as “fuzzy” goals.

Why not subscribe by email now so you don’t miss out?  I’ll let you know when I have it done.

Peace and happy goal-achieving.

Photo credit: robennals
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