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How Do I Set and Achieve Amazing New Year’s Resolutions

So many people want new things for the New Year. To be healthier, to make more money, to be a better person, to learn something new. But too often we find that the preparation for these resolutions are founded more on motivation, with no actual preparation. They are often shaky and shallow. So how do we come up with goals that have deep meaning to ourselves and how do we actually create a solid plan for achievement?

In this article i will show you everything that i do for my annual plan. I will show you how to create goals that are actually deeply meaningful to you, and i will help you to create a strong vision for yourself and your future.


Similarly to how i stole everything i know about weekly planning from Getting Things Done by David Allen, i stole everything i know about annual planning from Rich Fettke of Real Wealth Network. Real Wealth Network is focused on real estate investing, and every year Rich hosts a webinar called the Focused Investor. In this webinar he walks through many exercises to help you focus on your goals and long term vision. He then helps you break down your vision into smaller and smaller pieces until you have something tangible for the following year. And finally he talks through strategies for ensuring your success towards these goals. This is an exercise that i do every December and i find it to be one of the most inspiring and effective practices that i have implemented in my life (do i say that a lot?).

Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. Thats why we do it daily. -Zig Ziglar

I get so excited about this exercise every year. This is how we get to live a life by design, not default. This is how we can shape and carve our being into who we actually want, not just who we are today. The process has four different parts and we will dive into each of them one at a time. Let’s go!

The Process

- Envision

- Strategize

- Implement

- Observe

- Repeat

First up, Observe…

Whoops, ok so i start at the end, hehe. I do this because it just makes sense to do an annual review, before you plan next year. So in early December i start the process with a little bit it of time to recap this past year and see what i have done. Very similar to my weekly recap, i simply bring up last years vision on one side of my screen, and compare it to my actual accomplishments on the other side of my screen. How did i do? What can i take credit and give thanks for? Who can i thank for helping me with my achievements? Let me sit in my accomplishments for a minute and relish in them. Where did i drop the ball? What happened? Could i have done something differently? Or did priorities just shift?

I write all of this down in a notes file give it a little time to sink in. Once i have a clear vision of this past year, then i jump into next year’s planning.


10 Years Ahead

The first exercise is a look into the future. Usually about 10 years ahead. Close your eyes and think about what your life will look like in 10 years.

Here are some questions for you to think about:

  • What year is it? How old are you? How old are your family members and your friends?

  • Take a minute to look around, where are you? Does your life look like? What does your job look like? What does your family look like?

Start to fill in these gaps and write everything down that you see. Then take a minute to have a conversation with your future self. Ask them some questions about the last 10 years.

  • What stood out to them as important in those 10 years?

  • What were the keys to their success?

  • What goals have they achieved and which ones are they still striving for?

This is a very powerful exercise, but it takes a lot of creativity and focus. It requires that you set aside time where you can be present and not be distracted. Write down everything that you thought about for your future self and your future life. Especially think about what it took for you to achieve those things.

Life Balance Wheel

The next exercise it’s called the Life Balance Wheel. This is a wheel that represents the different areas in your life. The exercise is to fill out each category in the wheel on a scale from 1 to 10. 10 meaning you couldn’t imagine it being better, and 1 meaning you could see it being any worse.

Rate each 1-10

  1. Spiritual

  2. Career

  3. Finances

  4. Physical Environment

  5. Health / Fitness

  6. Fun / Recreation / Self-Care

  7. Personal Development / Education

  8. Family

  9. Significant Other / Romance

As you fill in each section of the wheel you will start to see where it is off balance. You will see which “spokes” may require a little more time this up-coming year. Take some time to imagine what a better score might look like for you in those areas, and what needs to happen in order for you to feel better about that “spoke” next year.

Side note. I often find a lot of excuses when i fill this out. Oh well this one is low because of that person, or this problem. Oh i can’t do anything about this area until XYZ happens. Be very careful about this mindset. Things happen to all of us that we cannot control, but we can always take ownership of our response. We can always think of solutions to make even minor improvements to our current situations. Strive to come up with something that you can do to improve that area of your life.

3 Years Ahead

The next exercise is another look into the future but this time we are only going forward three years. This will help us create more concrete structure around the big life changes that we saw 10 years out.

Picture yourself doing your year end review three years from now. Ask yourself a lot of the same questions you did in the first exercise. What year is it? How old are you and your family? What does your life look like?

But now ask yourself a couple of more hypothetical questions

  • What items would you have to be checking off as completed, in order for you to feel happy with your progress?

  • What items would you be most disappointed in if you have not yet accomplished them?

Write these things down, and let them sync in a little bit. Now the picture of what we want to focus on this year is starting to get clearer as we get focused on what is important to our future self.

Situational Awareness

Next we have some questions about this upcoming year. What things are coming up in your environment that you cannot control that you must react to? Are there changes coming in your life this year that you already know are coming? Maybe its a move, or a change in your family, maybe its a job change. Think about what is coming up and answer the following questions so that we can best position ourselves for these known events.

  • What are the current dangers to achieving your goals. Do any of them need to be addressed or eliminated?

  • What opportunities need to be captured?

  • What do you need to prepare for?

  • At the end of this year, what items would you have to be checking off as completed, in order for you to feel happy with your progress?

  • At the end of this year, what items would you be most disappointed in if you have not yet accomplished them?

Make a Theme

What do you want the theme of this next year to be? Asked another way, if there was a movie made about this year, what would the title be? Think about it, write it down and keep it with you this year.

Who do You Wanna Be?

We should all continually strive to be someone just a little bit better than who we are. This is how we make our dreams come true. Who do you need to become to achieve all of these things you have envisioned? What personal quality do you most want to develop this year?


Now that we have quite a large list of ideas for what we could and should focus on. Let’s work on narrowing it down and building out tactics for achievement.

The Rule of 3

The human brain likes to remember things in threes, too many more than that and it will forget. We will create 3 goals so that, if someone woke us up in the middle of the night and asked ‘what are your big three?’, we could immediately answer with no hesitation. Note that you can have three personal goals and three professional, or 2 personal and 1 professional. But if you lose track of what they are, then you have too many. Try to keep 3.

When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn't actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business. - Gary Keller

  • What are your big 3 goals for this year? Write them down.

  • Why did you choose these three? Take some time to think deeply about the WHY for each of your goals.

  • Now envision that you are at the end of the year and you have achieved these three things, write down what it FEELS like to accomplished this.

  • What obstacles can you envision encountering this year and what will you do to mitigate and overcome them? Write these down.


Now we have Goals! We’ve got some bright shiny New Year’s Resolutions. We are motivated and ready to start. Now it is important that we take our big goals for the year and break them down into the smallest actions possible. It is our habits, not our goals, that determine our future. There are a number of articles around my habit creation, weekly planning, etc. but i will just give some high level examples here.

Figure out what daily or weekly rituals that would help you achieve your goals. Ask yourself if you need to give anything up in order to achieve these things. Are you prepared to do this? Remember your WHY. How can you schedule time for these goals daily? Think about what skills you need to learn and acquire, and how you will do that.

Example Rituals

- Practice _____ 15mins a day

- Acknowledge someone daily

- Do ____ repetitions of ___ daily

- Meditate 5 minutes each day

- Wake up at 5am every weekday

- Read ___ minutes every morning

Figure out how often you will revisit your goals and theme. Remember what Zig said about bathing?

Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. Thats why we do it daily. -Zig Ziglar

Figure out the proper cadence to revisit these big 3 goals and your theme. I personally review these things quarterly and i review smaller pieces of each goal at least weekly. Use these smaller cadence meetings to make smaller versions of your goals. Make progress towards your bigger picture. There is so much more on the implementation of your goals. I have linked a couple of articles below to help you dive into those topics.

Course Correction

Plans are nothing, planning is everything. -Dwight D Eisenhower

A year is a long time. Many things change over the course of twelve months. We tried our best to achieve situational awareness as to what is gonna happen. But we obviously cannot see everything. I actually don’t think i have ever gotten through a year without changing one of my big 3 goals. And that is ok. That is why we reevaluate them. Things in our lives change and our priorities must be ready to change with them. But it is great to have this foundational picture of what we want in the long term to make sure that whatever we are doing, aligns with those big goals on the horizon.

Get Ready for the Hits

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. -Mike Tyson

As with all things, failure is inevitable, and in this case i would even say it is welcome. When we fail we know we are pushing hard. And if we never fail we know we aren’t really striving for all that we can achieve. It’s ok to get knocked down. It’s ok if its June and you realize you have done nothing towards your goals. Take the action to re motivate, realign with your vision, and re engage with your habits and rituals to get yourself back on track.


You can see now how this process is so different from most New Year’s Resolutions! By building this foundational support into your goals, you are creating a platform of strength which can help to launch you in the right direction.

  • You know WHY you are doing it.

  • You know WHY you are NOT doing other things.

  • You know how these goals fit with your larger dreams.

  • You know what problems and obstacles are waiting for you, and you know how you intend to deal with them.

I am not saying everything will be easy now, there is still hard work that must be done. There is still discipline that needs to be flexed. But this foundation will give us a huge head start and support us through the hard times. I hope this helps you create an amazing and inspiring plan for next year. Now go get it.

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