Setting goals for the year makes us feel like we’re being productive, but it’s not our best option for making real progress.

If you’re subscribed to any self-help or entrepreneurial newsletters or just follow a few influential people online, you would have seen all the encouragement to get those goals set for 2018.

You might even be feeling stressed out that you haven’t finished doing so.

But what if there was a completely different approach that removed the need to set goals for the entire year? Well, there is, and once you adopt this new method of setting goals, you’ll find yourself feeling a lot more relaxed, focused, and, ironically, achieve your big goals a lot faster.

But why the move away from setting 1-year goals?

The problem with setting 1-year goals is simple. A year is a long time. In 12 months, so much can happen that you simply can’t anticipate when setting your goals in January.

Let me give a personal example from my life last year.

Within the span of 2017, I lost two regular sources of income, my girlfriend and her son moved in, that same girlfriend then became my wife, I switched to a completely plant-based diet, and I went on two surprise overseas trips.

Put all those things together and it’s enough to derail any goal-pursuing efforts!

A more effective way to set goals

More recently, I’ve adopted a simpler approach used by many of the world’s top athletes, businesses, and high performers.

It starts by getting super clear on your vision of what you want your life to look like 25 years from now. By looking this far into the future, we ignore all the ‘hows’ and focus instead on the ‘what’ and ‘why’. What do you want to create? Where do you live? What have you accomplished? Let your mind run free.

Then, rather than setting goals for an entire year, you focus on a goal for the next 90 days that moves you closer to that big vision, but would still be a proud achievement in and of itself.

Once you have your 90-day goal (1-3 max), you break it down into all the things that need to get done to make it happen, as well as when they will get done. This could be weekly actions or once-off events like joining a gym if your goal is fitness-related.

Finally, once you have your weekly and monthly goals, you focus on the 1-3 most important things that need to get done on that specific day, as well as setting aside a block of uninterrupted time where all you’re doing is working on that action item (that means no phone, messaging, browsers, etc.).

And, if you really want to accelerate your results, I’d suggest getting accountability such as a coach, mastermind group or accountability partner, as well as tracking your performance each week and making adjustments if necessary.

So why is this so effective?

The reason this works so well is that 90 days gives you enough time to make meaningful progress, while still being short enough to evaluate if you’re on the right track. If things are working, simply keep going. But if you’re not moving closer to your big vision, you can easily shift gears.

The key is to stick to the goal once it is set, and not change halfway through the 90 days.

The last thing to mention is that despite setting goals for each quarter rather than each year, there are still some things I like to do at the end/start of a new year.

I use the time to reflect back on the previous year, what went well, not so well, and what lessons I learned. And then I set a theme for the new year and think about who I need to become as a person in order to reach my goals.

If you haven’t set your goals for 2018, I encourage you to give this approach a try. At least for 90 days. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many more of your 1-year goals you end up achieving.


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