I was recently a guest on The Storytellers Network podcast where Dan Moyle asked me about my goal-setting process. After a brief discussion, he remarked on how simple it was…and it is. And the best part? It works.
I began this process in 2007, the same time I started my business. It was developed from a combination of sources; mostly Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit of Highly Effective People and Grant Cardone’s The 10x Rule. I’ve tweaked it over time, but I haven’t found another process that works quite as well as this one.
– A small journal or notebook
I prefer the old-fashioned way here – an actual notebook and a pen. I carry one with me all the time. Now, you can use your smartphone if you want. That’s perfectly acceptable, but I believe paper and pen work best (sometimes your phone can be a distraction).
A Thinking Project: Your Ideal Self
I just finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear (an excellent book). James talks about finding your true identity as part of developing successful habits. I would call this “searching for your ideal self.”
Before you start to think about what you want to accomplish, you need to spend some time thinking about who you are and who you want to be.
- Do you want to be an athlete?
- Do you want to be a successful business owner?
- Do you want to be a great husband/wife or father/mother?
- Do you want to give more than you receive?
Although it’s a bit morbid, think about what your obituary would say. What did you accomplish? What did people say about you? Did you start learning piano at age 50? Did you become a triathlete late in life? Did you transform your city in some way? Did you leave this world a better place?
I recommend sitting with these questions a few days, and if you can, read these before you go to bed at night. The subconscious mind works wonders!
The Three Re’s
Now it’s time to start. I call this goal-setting process “The Three Re’s”: Record – Repeat – Remove.
- Record: Document Your Desires.
- Repeat: Review Them Consistently Every Day.
- Remove: Distance Yourself from the Clutter in Your Life So You Can Be Successful.
What does record mean? This means you document your desire. Depending on what research study you look at, about three in 100 people actually write down their goals.
Let’s say you were going to build a house. If we treated building this house like we do building our lives, we would just call the contractors, the electrician, the plumber, the concrete guy, the drywall team, the roofers…have them get in a huddle and figure it out.
Can you imagine the chaos of building a house without a plan? But that’s what we do with our lives. We don’t plan for our desires to come true.
Think and Grow Rich Case Study
When I was in college I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In the 1930s, Mr. Hill interviewed 500 high achievers like Ford, Roosevelt and Carnegie to find out why they were so successful. He found, actually, that the key similarity for these high achievers was incredibly simple. They wrote down their desires.
But what kind of goals and desires?
Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett says:
“If you are going to try to bat 1000%, you won’t accomplish many things of importance. If you’re willing to strike out a few times, you can change the world.”
So I’m not talking about small goals here…we are talking about I’m Gonna Change the World Goals. I want my goals to be big and unreasonable. The problem is that some might feel overwhelmed at this prospect and not do anything.
Big Goals Are Accomplished through Everyday Habits
I use the HabitBull app to keep track of my habits so I can accomplish my goals. For example, one of my goals for this year was to finish my novel (just finished it…YAY!). So I thought about what habits would get me to that goal.
What do writers do? They write. Everyday.
So I set a goal to write at least one hour every day. From November to January I wrote at least one hour for 44 consecutive days and finished the novel.
So take the big goal, in this case finishing a novel, and write that down in the present tense.
I Finished My Novel in 2019
Then add the habit that will help you accomplish the goal, and so you can measure it.
I Finished My Novel in 2019 by Writing for One Hour Everyday.
BOOM! That’s all it takes.
What do we mean by repeat?
Every day in the morning, and every night in the evening, we are going to review this goal. We are going to take about 1% of our day – less than 15 minutes a day – to review our desires. The plan for our mental house.
In a 2009 study published by Dr. Phillipa Lally in the European Journal of Psychology, 96 people over a 12-week period were analyzed about changing behavior and habits. Each chose one new habit and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior…and…when the behavior became automatic.
Some people chose simple habits like “drinking three bottles of water a day.” or “No desserts.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “exercising for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.
On average, it took 66 days before a new behavior became automatic. The range was 18 to 254 days.
On average, it takes 66 days for a behavior to become a habit.
This is exactly why you have to review your success goal every day over a long period of time. You have to condition your mind to believe that the goal is attainable. And that helps motivate you to do the habit that leads to your successful accomplishment of the goal.
And here’s the big idea most people just don’t get. The MOST important thing to accomplishing your goal is to BELIEVE that it is possible. You don’t need more money, or skills, or abilities, or a better job.
Once you can condition the mind to your goal, your day starts to shape itself.
For me, to be a novelist, I needed to write. Reviewing that goal multiple times a day made sure I was motivated to do the writing…every day.
In order for Record and Repeat to work, we have to clear away all the garbage that is stopping us from accomplishing our desires.
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates didn’t really want to meet Warren Buffett. He didn’t think they’d have anything in common. But at the urging of Meg Greenfield, Washington Post editor, they met on July 5th 1991. Gates was nervous and he was dreading the meeting.
Greenfield gave both a sheet of paper and asked each to write down the one word that is their key to success. Both, as it happened, wrote down the same word.
From that day, the two became best friends.
To be successful…we need focus, we need discipline…and we need to remove the distractions around us.
Put Away Your Phone
A few months ago someone asked me to take a coffee meeting with them. He said he had some very important business model questions for me and thought I could help. We met at Panera Bread on the west-side of Cleveland.
I sat down, put my coffee on the table. He sat down, put his coffee on the table, and his phone just on his left side face up. Throughout our chat, he kept looking at his phone. Instagram, Twitter, Messenger…all kinds of notifications. Clearly he was not paying attention to me.
Whenever I see someone with a phone face up or face down next to them during a meeting, I already know they have a focus problem.
After a bit of back and forth he asked me “What’s the first thing he should do?” I told him to take his smartphone and throw it in the garbage.
Lack of Time?
I don’t have time to accomplish my goals. I hear this all the time.
Did you know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American still watches three hours of television per day.
That’s 1,100 hours watching TV per year. Let’s say you’re blessed enough to reach 80 years old and that was you. That means almost 10 years of total time is dedicated to watching TV.
That’s like turning the TV on when you’re 30 and never moving until you are 40. A lost decade.
What if, instead of watching television (or whatever else you do to kill time), you filled it with meaning?
If You Do It, Success Will Come
Record…Repeat…Remove…the simplest of formulas.
I promise you that if you commit to this, it will work.
Please keep me updated on your process.