How to Set Goals and Crush Them in the New Year Like a Boss

January 19, 2023

By:

Chris Misterek

Most of us have a pretty decent idea of how to set goals. It's how to set goals AND CRUSH THEM that we all ACTUALLY tend to struggle with.

Ultimately, that's what we really want right?

We want to set goals, and then go on to absolutely demolish them.

No one is ever, like, “You know what!? I'd like to do OKAY on my goals this year. Maybe not hit them all completely. Get 'em about half finished. Peter out at the end. It's gonna be great!”

NO!

We want to face the challenge of building a better life and stand on top of the mountain looking back at all we've accomplished in sheer revelry.

AKA: We don't just want to set goals. We want to set goals and crush them.

Do Any of Us Really Set Goals and Crush Them?

Sadly, hardly any of us actually follow through with our goal-setting plans.

A study from 2016 showed that only about 9% of everyone that set goals at the beginning of the year actually makes good on those resolutions.

And, unfortunately, I'd have to put myself in the category of goal-setting non-finishers.

Let me properly introduce myself.

Hi, I'm Chris, and for years I've been setting goals and doing the opposite of crushing them.

That's me at the Coffee and Tacos shop. Weird combo, I know.

Me sitting at a coffee shop taking photos for an article about how to set goals and crush them

I've learned some things along the way that can help you avoid giving up on the goals you set at the beginning of the year through all my own many, many failed attempts.

And, so, here are 8 of the best tips I've learned that will help get you to the finish line on your goals this year.

OH, and number 6 will BLOW YOUR MIND 🤯 🤯

JK JK.

1. Reflect On Your Accomplishments and Enjoy the Journey

Good goal setting always starts with reflecting on things you've already accomplished.

Why do this? How does it really help?

You've probably heard of Dopamine, right? It's a chemical in our body that produces the happy feelings we all know and love.

It's that feeling you get when you first met your crush or the excitement in the pit of your stomach when you're minutes away from embarking on an epic 3 day weekend.

It's also a key factor in your ability to set goals and crush them.

Whitney Johnson, the author of “Smart Growth,” advises us to look at growth through learning and practice as an S curve.

S Curve graph for personal growth

There at the bottom of the S curve is the “Launch Point.” It's there where Dopamine levels for our goals are highest.

It's at this point that it's hard to imagine not actually following through with our goal's game plan because, well, we've got a pretty natural high JUST FROM SETTING THEM.

The problem starts to occur the higher up the S curve you go, namely, The Sweet Spot.

It's there when things get tough and Dopamine levels connected to our goals start to fade a bit. We start asking ourselves questions like, “Do I really want to do this?”

Or, quite frankly, we realize it's going to be a lot harder than we thought it would.

So, how do we counteract the reduction of the happy feelings chemical when stuff starts hitting the fan?

We make sure to reflect, celebrate and enjoy the journey.

Start by doing that with what you accomplished last year. My bet is that if you really think about just how far you've come, you'll be encouraged.

Sure, maybe you didn't finish everything you started BUT I guarantee you have something to celebrate.

Make sure to celebrate the tiny wins along the way.

Even though I've failed at many attempts to set goals and crush them, I've also had some success as well.

And, you feel kind of sad at the end. Weird right?

After all, the thing you obsessed over for so long is over.

How do you avoid this?

Reflect, celebrate and enjoy the journey.

2. Start Big Picture

I know so many people who have accomplished goals only to find that they weren't actually what they were really after.

There's a saying for that:

“Don't climb a ladder just to realize it's leaning against the wrong wall.”

So, rather than getting into the nitty-gritty details of your goals right away take some time to think big picture.

Ask yourself a few big questions:

How do you want your life to look next year? What's missing from it?

Setting goals isn't just about money. It's not just about our businesses. It's about every area of our lives.

If you only focus on 1 and neglect the rest you won't feel very satisfied.

So, here are 7 areas to think about to make sure you set goals that actually get you to where you want to be.

Best news! They all end with the letters “A” and “L” so you can remember them 🤓

Familial

The people in our family play one of the biggest roles in our lives. So, it makes sense that you should have some goals based on improving those relationships.

Do you want to spend more time with kids? Do you want to build a closer connection with your spouse?

Add those to the list!

Relational

What about the people outside of your family? Friends, co-workers, new besties?

It turns out friends aren't just something we should seek out in grade school. They're actually a key to living longer and being happier no matter how old you are.

So, when you're setting goals make sure to put outside-family relationships on there.

Financial

This is probably a goal that you won't have any problem setting. BUT, what if you thought about it differently?

What if instead of “MAKING more money” you made your goal “SPENDING less money?”

That's a unique way to accomplish the same THING, but maybe you'll find that you're better at spending less than making more.

Or, hey, maybe your financial goal is connected to your website!

This could be the year to finally launch a shop or build a course.

A good financial goal might also be to increase the number of leads coming through your website SO THAT you can make more money.

Physical

Ahh, the ever-evasive physical goals.

Lose that last 10 pounds.

Run a marathon.

Bulk up in the gym.

I know physical goals all too well. I actually lost about 60 lbs in 2022. BUT, my journey wasn't a straight line. There were ups and downs all along the road.

Man running to prove how to set goals and crush them in health

Now my sights are set on longevity. I plan to live to be 100 and healthy.

Because no matter how many other goals I accomplish, if I'm sick or feel like 💩 it won't mean much.

Spiritual

Spiritual goals are important no matter what faith background you have.

There is more and more data coming out that shows a pretty direct link between spirituality and health/happiness.

So, don't overlook this key component of your life.

Intellectual

I'm a course-taking junkie. I love learning new things. In fact, most times my goals are to finish the LAST 12 educational resources I bought.

When building a plan to set goals and crush them make sure to include learning OR intellectual goals. Read some non-fiction books or take some courses.

Career

Your career goal doesn't necessarily need to be getting a bigger office OR getting a huge pay increase.

It could be connected to helping OTHER people in their jobs OR cutting down the number of hours you are working.

3. Get As Specific As Possible

We set goals as a family.

And, we have more than the 3 people in our family that you see in this photo:

A family of 3 to show how to set goals and crush them as a family

We're a family of 6. The three oldest were in school at the time we took these photos. So, I'll have to write another blog post that requires them to be in the photoshoot 🤪

Each quarter our family decides what types of things we want to work on. We have family goals AND individual goals per person.

You get points for the goals that you accomplish. And, then when we reach a certain number of points we get certain rewards.

That might be going out for ice cream together OR going to Medival Times as a family.

My wife, who is awesome, made a chart for us to track things.

You can actually get one of these lovely charts customized for your family at her Etsy shop.

This quarter my youngest daughter wanted to make a goal for playing guitar. So, she filled in her own goal and titled it: “Get better at guitar.”

Here's the problem with that. How do you know if you got better at guitar?

Who's judging you? Is it you?

How much better? Just a little bit or a lot? What does a little or a lot look like?

If goals aren't REALLY SPECIFIC they are incredibly hard to accomplish.

So, instead of “get better at guitar” her goal should be “learn 3 intermediate-level new songs.”

See how specific that is?

That way you know EXACTLY what accomplishing your goals looks like AND it's something that you can make a game plan for.

So, instead of saying “make more money this year.” Say, “make $10,000 more each quarter than last year.” That gives you a really specific “North Star” to aim for.

4. Make Your Goals Realistic

You've probably heard the phrase: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you'll land among the stars.”

Sad news.

That's actually dumb advice despite how inspiring it may sound.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most goal graveyards are filled with resolutions that were unrealistic.

We get discouraged when we don't fully accomplish goals even if they're “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” whatever the heck that means.

You feel like you've failed EVEN IF you probably haven't. AND, it's tough to be motivated to try and accomplish ANYTHING when you feel like you've failed.

So, setting your goals REALLY HIGH is one way to sabotage actually accomplishing them.

Instead, make your goals attainable.

There are a few ways you can do it.

Cut them in half

Whatever your goal is just slice it in half. Instead of making $10k more a month this quarter make it $5k. Heck, make it $2k.

$2k extra a month is a pretty big increase even if it's a little on the conservative side AND if you hit it you can feel good that you actually accomplished it!

Something that helps me with this is the question “What's something I can accomplish with just a little bit more effort?”

Make Sure Your Goals Don't Work Against Each Other

Sometimes we set goals that actually work against each other.

In other words, Disney lied, my friends. You CAN'T have it all and be it all.

For instance, a goal to “make more money” can VERY easily be at odds with “spend more time with my family.”

It's incredibly possible that you're going to have to spend more time working if you're going to make more money. And, then you'll likely not have as much time for your family if you have to spend more time working to make more money.

So, again, even if you hit ONE of the goals, which would be a huge accomplishment, you still end up feeling like a failure.

Two goals that work together are “decrease my working hours down to 38 without losing pay or productivity” and “spend more time with my family.”

See how that works?

Whatever you do, you have to make sure they're actually attainable if you want to set goals and crush them.

I like to look at my goals seasonally. One season I might work to increase my income and the next I worry less about that and focus on spending more time with my family.

I tell my family that I'm going to be a little less available when I'm working on increasing my income, AND I tell my clients that I'm scaling back on work in seasons I'm focusing on my family.

That way no one feels jipped and can spend less emotional and mental energy trying to do everything all at once.

5. Give Your Goals a Timeline

“A goal without a deadline is just a dream.”

Heard that before?

I'm not sure I'd lean that heavily on timelines. I've had some running goals that I actually ended up accomplishing that just never had a set deadline.

BUT, I will say that I hired a coach to hold me accountable to keep going.

So, I think it's pretty reasonable to say that you either need to have some type of TRULY motivating accountability to keep you in line OR you need a deadline.

Again, we don't want to make our deadlines unrealistic. That will sabotage our goals.

But, you do want to have a general idea of when you want to accomplish your goal.

If you're like me you likely WAY underestimate the amount of time it's actually going to take you to do something.

So, give yourself some grace. Give it an extra month or two.

Now, don't go and give yourself 2 years for something that will take 2 months. But, on the other hand, don't give yourself 2 days for something that will take 2 weeks.

6. Get Laser Focused on Small Doable Things

Here's where that S Curve we learned about earlier comes into play again.

S curve of goal setting

Now we put our attention on the “Sweet spot” section.

This is the place where we're in the thick of it. And, we're likely doing something over and over again until we feel like puking.

You need measurements to know if you actually accomplished something if you're going to set goals and crush them.

Unfortunately, most of us focus on what's called “Lag Measures.”

Lag measures are the end results. They're the finish-line so to speak.

The “I lost 60 lbs!” of the equation.

BUT, you can't just accomplish your goals if you have nothing but lag measures.

There's a lot of space between 233 lbs and 173 lbs both emotionally and physically trust me 🤣

So, in order to make sure you're headed in the right direction you need “Lead Measures.”

Lead measures are little mile markers between 233 lbs and 173 lbs that let you know you're on the right track.

They're things like walking for 30 minutes every day at a 110 bpm pace AND keeping calories below 1800 in your diet.

In other words, they are “small doable goals” that can be accomplished in a day or less.

Your focus should NEVER be your lag measure. You will likely get pretty discouraged if it is.

Think about it. There's going to be a lot of time between when you start on your goal journey and when you finish. And, if that's all you have to celebrate you won't be doing a lot of celebrating.

So, create little lead measures to let you know you're on the right track, AND then get everything else out of your mind.

Forget about the lag measures even. The only thing you care about is lead measures.

This is called “learning to love practice.”

So, if you're goal is to create $2k more income per month in Q1 of this year, your lead measures would be to reach out to 10 more clients every month OR get on 20 more discovery calls per week.

7. Create a Rhythm and Live By It

I don't know about you BUT I'm horrible at routines.

Blame it on ADHD. Blame it on my bend toward creativity. BUT, I have the hardest time sticking to a schedule.

However, something that WITHOUT A DOUBT is a key part of my ability to accomplish anything is having daily and weekly rhythms that I live by.

I wish it weren't true. But, my goal accomplishment skyrocketed when I figured out a way to actually have some semblance of a schedule.

So, what do I mean by “create a rhythm and live by it?”

Simply that you need to have some type of consistent check-in where you can cross off whether or not you did your lead measure for the day.

I personally have to do my check-ins first thing in the morning. I open my laptop and cross off whether or not I did the small tasks connected to my big goals.

What do I use? The basic reminders app on my Mac and iPhone. The one that is on every Mac computer or iPhone. Simple as possible. Easy to set up.

Man adding reminders in his phone so he can set goals and crush them

I use recurring reminders that tell me to complete whatever my lead measure is for a specific goal. When I do them I hit the check box and it goes away for that day.

Easy.

There are plenty of other things you could use like Todoist or some fancy Notion template. My friend uses Monday which connects to his calendar.

The best thing you could do is pick something simple at first.

A lot of folks get way too bogged down trying to find the best app that connects to all sorts of different things and communicates with their Apple watch or Alexa or whatever.

Don't worry about any of that at the very beginning. Don't over complicate it. Pen and paper work fine, even.

Just make sure you have something that you come to on a consistent basis. It'll be tough to actually accomplish your goals without incorporating some kind of rhythm.

8. Go Easy on Your Failures

Bad news.

Even if you do all of the first 7 tips to help you accomplish your goals, you're still going to fail sometimes. Maybe a lot

You'll miss a day. You'll forget for a week. Half the year will go by and you won't be any closer to accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.

The best thing to do when that happens is to be VERY easy on yourself.

Don't do what most of us do and pummel yourself into giving up altogether.

Be kind to yourself. You're probably carrying a heavy load in life. We all are.

Instead of treating yourself worse than you would your worst enemy, be nice. And, if you have to, adjust your goal a little bit.

You might need to relax your goal a little bit if you find that your consistently not doing your lead measures.

Or, you might need to change your goal completely if you don't have the motivation at all to actually work on things.

At that point, you have to ask yourself who's goal it is in the first place.

Are you trying to impress someone else? A parent. A friend. A boss.

Goals that don't really line up with YOUR values aren't worth the effort and most of the time end up going the way of most new year's resolutions: given up on by mid-February.

So, be kind to yourself and make sure the goals you're working on truly reflect YOUR heart and desires, not someone else's.

Set Goals and Crush Them in the New Year

There you have it folks.

A list of all the things that I've found have actually helped me set goals and crush them.

Do I stick to my own list all the time? No. But, I keep trying.

That's the beauty of goals. You've got a whole lifetime to get some of these things done.

But, if you stick to the basics and:

  1. Encourage yourself for small wins along the way
  2. Make sure you set goals that line up with what your ideal life looks like
  3. Stay away from really general goals like “get better” or “do more”
  4. Stay realistic about what you can actually accomplish
  5. Set deadlines for what you're trying to do
  6. Make lead measures to your lag measures
  7. Have consistent goal check-ins
  8. AND, be easy on yourself when you mess up

You'll be well on your way to crushing those goals this year 😉

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