man holding lights

No offense, but your goals suck. Here’s how to actually set personal goals in 2017

Doing this enabled me to take my $800 website and create over $200,000 in steady annual revenue – as a one man show… from home… in my mid 20s.

With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 firing up, goal setting and New Year’s resolutions becomes top-of-mind to many. The gyms get packed with sweaty, carb starved people getting summer ready. Some plan to take that long dreamed of trip, buy that book they didn’t read last year and promise they will this year, or finally get their resume ready to find that job that will make them happy. Guys plan to treat her right and grab flowers and wine. Girls plan to use that Cosmo “how to please your man” article. Yet, according to a study published in the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 92% of people fail to achieve their resolutions…

So, what’s the proposed solution? F@#K SETTING GOALS!?

Well, not exactly.

setting personal goals - man under bridge

In 2009, one year in to building my business, I stopped approaching goal setting like a dreamy resolutioner and stopped planning everything out as though it was in my control to do so. The impact of seizing spur of the moment opportunities rather than planning everything out was so dramatic on my feeling of self fulfillment as an entrepreneur AND it empowered me to take my $800 website and create over $200,000 in steady annual revenue – as a one man show, from home, in my mid 20s.

Setting smart goals is tough, accomplishing them is even tougher.

Not only can we be our own worst enemy in the process of hitting our target goals, but the world around us is in a constant state of chaotic change and uncertainty at every turning moment.

Trump’s America, Kanye for President, smart cars, smart watches, hashtags, memes, trolls, Tesla electric cars that are actually fast and cool, Starbucks holiday cup debates, Starbucks being sold out of double bacon breakfast sandwiches when the app says they have them (ugh…), Venmo, Uber, AirBNB, shall I go on? Hell, just this week I read about bacon made out of seaweed and doctors trying to transplant a human head… who knows what fate has in store for us next!

setting personal goals - barista at work

My point is… the world is constantly changing.

As an ambitious entrepreneur, marketing professional, and mindful human being seeking to contribute the best I can to my community and further my legacy, this uncertainty creates ‘UGE challenges (remember, Trump’s America) for setting goals and planning longterm for both my personal and professional aims. In the book Antifragile, author Nassim Taleb writes, “Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.Love the uncertainty. But how?

I started my first business in 2008, and after about a year into its operation, I realized two things about the way I was setting goals and how I was working towards accomplishing those goals.

There are two things that really matter when it comes to goal planning… two things that actually guide my decisions.

1) the overall vision of where I want to go and

2) the next 24 hours. Not the next month, year, or next decade. The next 24 hours.

Setting an overall vision.

Once upon a time, I had one year, three year, five year, 10 year, 25 year, and even 50 year goals, each broken out by bullets and extensive summaries! At one point I spent countless hours to construct a 23 page document filled with specific plans starting today and going on until I had my AARP card and conversion van.

I quickly learned that the 25 year goal timeframe I had set for myself was the ideal that would be realized if everything went according to how I thought it should, and that goal was also how my passions and hopes would manifest in a grand vision. I created a vision board of my desires and the list included things like raising healthy children that contribute their gifts, building a business that gave me full financial and emotional freedom, helping charities and those in need, living on the beach, and most importantly, becoming Batman.

These visions for different areas of my life were not so much a defined set of items to check off a Wunderlist, but they were the ideal self image and feelings that I wanted to manifest into my life.

With a solid future vision in place, I found that the short to mid-term plans (one to ten year goals) became far less important to my daily agenda, and that my daily actions had an immense amount of purpose behind them and were within my control.

setting goals - smiling man

Working within the 24 hours given to you.

Having a defined image of my future vision helped distill my daily priority into one thing – taking a step towards that purpose for the next 24 hours. I did that over and over on a daily basis with only the grand plan in mind. In essence answering the questions:

What if the next 24 hours are all that matter?

How will I approach this day to get me closer to my ideal?

This thought process removed stress from my operation, streamlined the way I set deadlines and projects, made planning much more efficient in both time and mind space, simplified my methods, and helped me adapt to the uncertainty of culture and business trends. When your next 24 hours are prioritized and uncertainty strikes, the most important step today that helps take me to my vision becomes adapting to the change rather than stressing out about how much it impacted how I planned to do things.

Though it may be easier said than done, my encouragement to all those would be resolutioners or individuals that have defined plans is to find your grand ideal that you deeply connect with. Let go of the weight of having to manage the stress of how drastically life can change your plans, none of which is in your control.

Vision board those ideals and then take the next 24 hours, the present moment, and step towards that ideal. Because in an uncertain world where the only thing you can be truly certain of are your actions and attitude in the moment, perhaps that moment is all that should matter.