On New Year's Day in 2018, I set my first ever "resolution" that I stuck to for the entire year.
I had set resolutions many times in the past but my efforts would fail within a week.
Every. Single. Time.
I'm sure this is no surprise to you. You've heard the same statistics...
Most people don't follow through with their New Year's resolutions.
And I was one of them.
However, everything changed in 2018 after reading Darren Hardy's "The Compound Effect." One simple tip from this book revolutionized my approach to goal setting. And since using the tip, I've completed my New Year's Resolution five years in a row!
Here's how I did it.
The Game-Changing Tip:
In 2017, I was out of shape and inconsistent with gym visits. I'd often visit the gym in spurts, but any progress I'd gain would be wiped out when I'd have any minor injury or illness.
If I missed just a few days and got out of my rhythm, it was over! I may not go back for another 6 months!
I realized the need for a change in strategy.
I read "The Compound Effect" near the end of 2017 and it got me super excited. Darren's advice was straightforward and spoke directly to the issue I was having with my inconsistency. Simply put, my expectations for myself were WAY too high, and when I didn't hit them, I'd quit.
Darren's advice in the book is profound: Set small, simple goals that are incredibly easy to achieve.
We often aim too high, making the adjustment too abrupt and unsustainable, so we quit.
A Story of Incremental Success
In his book, Darren shares a story about a colleague who wanted to run a marathon but couldn't even jog half a mile.
She thought running a marathon was impossible, but Darren helped her to do it with his system. Set goals that are incredibly easy to achieve.
He didn't ask her to run miles initially. Instead, he told her to first map out a one-mile track around her house. The next day, he told her to walk it and to feel free to stop any time she needed to rest. Gradually, he asked her to begin jogging for short periods and to feel free to walk whenever she was winded. Soon she could run the entire mile without stopping. He then increased her distance incrementally - we're talking 1/4 mile a week.
This methodical approach eventually enabled her to run longer distances, demonstrating the power of small, consistent steps. And she was finally successful in running her marathon!
But did you notice the best part?
She accomplished her ultimate goal without ever doing anything that she could perceive as "difficult." At first, all she had to do was walk the mile. Later, when he'd bump up her distance, it was only 1/4 mile more. How hard is it to run 2.25 miles if last week you were doing 2 miles? Not hard. And because it was so easy, she was actually able to stick to it.
A Stupid-Simple Goal
I'm almost embarrassed to tell you the goal I finally set for myself.
I had failed every single New Year's resolution I had ever set. I wanted to embrace Darren's philosophy and finally win at my goal.
My real goal at the time was to exercise five to six times a week. That's what healthy people do, right?
But I had learned the hard way that I would fail if I set that goal. If you don't go to the gym for six months, jumping from zero to 5x per week is a recipe for failure.
So, on New Year's Day in 2018, I decided to take Darren's advice and set a goal that was so stupidly simple, almost embarrassingly simple, that it would prove Darren's system was a sham if I couldn't complete it!
My goal for the year was to exercise only two times per week.
Here's how it worked.
If I went for a jog or went to the gym, it counted. And I tracked each workout using the Strides app on my iPhone, which simply meant I pulled out my phone and clicked one button and that was all the tracking I did.
It's always easy to go to the gym in January when you're motivated, and that's what I did. I went a few times per week and tracked it in my app.
But this time, I didn't stop going after January. I went the entire year!
The big difference was that my goal was sooooo dang simple, that anytime I was sore or busy with work or just wasn't in the mood, I could skip a day... or even two or three days, and STILL hit my goal for the week.
And sometimes I would skip those days.
But more often than not, I went three or four times rather than two.
By mid-year, I was in a groove and realizing Darren's system actually works. I was going to win at this goal!
And that's not all.
I was getting in far better shape. I decided to run my first ever Spartan race which was super challenging and a load of fun.
Surprisingly, by the end of 2018, I counted my workouts in my Strides app and found out I exercised 161 times that year, averaging 3.1 times a week. This simple goal not only broke my cycle of inactivity but also ingrained the habit of regular workouts.
The next year, 2019, my goal was to exercise 3 days per week. I increased my output to 3.6x per week, and did three more Spartan races!!
The best part?
I haven't had to set a workout goal since 2019. I've set physical goals, like a pull-up goal, but as far as actually just exercising, I am so used to going four to five days per week now that my skin crawls if I don't do it. So I don't NEED to set that goal anymore just like you wouldn't need to set a goal to brush your teeth.
And that's the power of the Compound Effect.
Two Bonus Tips for Successful Goal Setting
#1 - Write It Down: Whether it's a journal or an app like Strides, documenting your goals and progress is crucial. It serves as a constant reminder and motivator.
#2 - Limit Your Goals: Focus on no more than three goals at a time. For example, in 2018, my primary focus was on fitness. But I didn't set any other health related goals. I turned out I didn't need to. This singular exercise goal indirectly influenced healthier eating habits, illustrating how one well-tracked goal can positively impact other areas.
The Habit Goal Versus the Actual Goal
It's crucial to differentiate between your ultimate objective (like losing 20 pounds or improving a relationship or doubling your business revenue) and your habit goal (the specific, trackable action that will help you reach the main goal).
I've learned that if you focus on the daily or weekly habit goal and track it, your ultimate objective will take care of itself.
Just be sure that whatever habit goal you decide to track, that it will be easy enough that you can complete it, but challenging enough that if you are successful, it will help move you toward your ultimate objective.
Ultimate Goal: Double Your Business Revenue
Super Simple Habit Goal: Create two videos per week
Personal Life Example:
Ultimate Goal: Improve Relationship with Your Spouse
Super Simple Habit Goal: 1 Date Night per Month
Other Business and Personal Goals I've Now Accomplished:
Here are a few more daily or weekly habit goals I've set for myself if you need more ideas.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to spend more 1-on-1 time with my three daughters so I set a goal of 4 date nights with each daughter for the year. This is actually harder than it sounds when you have three kids since at night, we're usually running one of them to work or gymnastics or soccer practice.
But we got in a groove early in the year and I took one of them out just about every Tuesday night, and we had this one knocked out by June. We ended up doing 26 for the year, but that included some date nights with my wife, Brenda. In this case, rather than just keeping count in my Strides app, I physically wrote them down and included a note about where we went or something memorable so I could look back at the memories.
And just a quick note... If you're a dad and you have daughters, it's so important for them to know how a man should treat them on a date and give them the attention they crave so they don't go looking for it in some dirt bag! Haha!
We've continued to do dates but not at the same pace. I should probably make this my personal goal again next year.
Last year, I did a pull-up goal. While I don't have a problem going to the gym anymore, I've never loved doing pull-ups, so I tend to avoid them.
But I know how great they are for your back and core, so I decided the only way I'd make them a priority was to set a year-long goal of 1,000 pull-ups.
Now, I realize that averages out to fewer than 3 per day! LOL
But I normally only work out my back once per week, and I don't have a pull-up bar at home, so it was harder than you'd think. I didn't end up crushing this goal like I usually do. I only got around 1,100 and didn't fall in love with pull-ups. But I did hit my goal!
In business, I've also completed goals for writing articles and one of my favorites was creating one instructional video per week for a VA or team member. I hit this one but also didn't crush it. But still, by the end of the year, I had created 70 new instructional videos for my team! That's 70 tasks I don't have to do anymore!
In 2024, I'm shifting my focus from blog content to video content. That's where the opportunity is right now. This is new and foreign territory to me, so I'll be setting a super weak goal of two videos per week. (Even though I really need to put out four per day!)
You have no idea how empowering it feels to actually hit a goal and know how to set goals that you can achieve.
It's been a life changer for me.
I highly recommend you read Darren Hardy's book, "The Compound Effect," with the goal of establishing small, manageable habits that lead to significant, lasting changes. If you're a business owner, consider profiting on your expertise by creating an online course. You could create just one lesson per week and have a complete course done in a few months.
Embrace small, manageable goals, and you might just find yourself looking back at the end of 2024 with a sense of accomplishment and a new set of habits ingrained in your daily life.