I started my year looking at a book about having Your Best Year Ever, by Michael Hyatt. It’s fairly common knowledge that most goals start well, then die by February. The goal of Hyatt’s book is to give us the goal setting and achieving tools so that our year can be the best year we’ve ever had.

Hyatt has 5 key assumptions that form part of the book’s foundation.

  1. Life is multifaceted and has these 10 parts
    • spiritual
    • intellectual
    • emotional
    • physical
    • marital
    • parental
    • social
    • vocational
    • avocational
    • financial
  2. All 10 domains matter and affect each other
  3. “Progress only starts when you get clear on where you are right now.”
  4. You can improve any domain
  5. “Confidence, happiness, and life satisfaction are by products of personal growth

The rest of the book is founded on Hyatt’s 5 steps to building Your Best Year Ever. They form the bulk of the book as Hyatt teaches us to walk through them.

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Step 1: Believe The Possibility

Hyatt starts where many goal setting and productivity people start1, helping us cast our greater future. Our better tomorrow. His goal is to get us to believe that we can take control of our life.

If our habits of thinking are beneficial, we tend to experience positive results. Such as happiness, personal satisfaction, even material success. If our habits of thinking are counterproductive, however, we often experience the opposite: unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and the nagging feeling that the deck is somehow stacked against us.

He tackles the idea, that we limit ourselves with your beliefs. He even hints at the idea that once we get some success, we sabotage further success because we feel we don’t believe it. This idea is covered much deeper in The Big Leap.

Hyatt also acknowledges that challenges will happen, and we need to believe we’re up to it. He doesn’t take it as far as Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle is The Way, but if you’re avoiding hardship Hyatt would say you’re on the wrong path.

To accomplish anything, we have to believe we’re up to the challenge. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that we even know how we’re going to accomplish it. Usually we don’t know. It just means we believe we’re capable; we have what it takes to prevail. Why is that important? Because every goal has obstacles.

Hyatt wraps up his look at setting our brighter future by looking at the resources we have. Yes, each of us has different resources, but using your resources as an excuse for lack of achievement is a crutch.

Resources are necessary, but they’re never the precondition for success. The perceived lack of resources is often a benefit in disguise. In fact, dealing with constraints can trigger a cascade of unforeseen rewards. For one, they force us to rise to the occasion and give our best to the pursuit.

In fact, any goal that’s big enough means you probably don’t have the resources you need.

If you goal is big enough, you’ll probably require more and different resources than you assume when you start. But start. A lack of resources is never a good excuse to stay put.

Don’t use resources as an excuse. Go as far as you can now. Then you’ll see further and can go further.

I’ve heard it said that you don’t drown by being in water. You drown by staying in the water. If you’re stuck, start doing something so that you’re not staying in the water and possibly drowning.

Step 2: Complete The Past

After limiting beliefs, the next most common barrier we encounter is the past. We tow it around like a trailer full of broken furniture. We can’t fully consider the future because we’re too tied up in what’s already happened.

We all have a friend who says that if they had made that last touchdown in high school, life would be different for them now. They’re letting their past dictate their future. Dragging it along with them and using it as a crutch.

Instead of this Hyatt encourages us to perform a review of the past so that we can learn from it.

What were the major life lessons you learned this past year? Unless we learn from our experiences, we can’t grow.

An after action review takes usually takes the form of looking at what went well. What didn’t go well, and then the most important part, what are we going to do to fix the parts that didn’t go well?

We should be spending the most amount of time in that last bit. Figuring out the path around the things that have got in our way.

Gratitude also is key to going forward without the baggage of our past.

The first way gratitude makes us resilient is that it keeps us hopeful. Gratitude is a game of contrasts. Our circumstances look a certain way; then something happens to improve them. Gratitude happens when we take notice of the distance between the two.

We need to measure the gain, how far we’ve come, not the gap, where we want to be or where we perceive others as being.

Step 3: Design Your Future

You don’t usually drift to a destination you would have chosen. Instead, you have to be intentional, force yourself to get clear on what you want and why it’s important, and then pursue a plan of action that accomplishes your objective.

I loved the picture drawn by the quote above. Don’t be aimless. Have a goal in mind, and then you need a plan to get from where you are today, to that goal.

Hyatt also acknowledges that there will be pain on the way to our ideal future.

You and I should embrace discomfort for at least three reasons, whether we deliberately choose to or it simply happens to us. First, comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It often leads to self-absorption and discontent. Second, discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt. Third, discomfort signals progress. When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort, but there’s a profit in the pain.

The final huge…huge idea that Hyatt introduces us to is the three different zones of goals.

Goal Zone 1 – Comfort Zone

For a goal to matter, it has to stretch us. That means it has to stand somewhere outside our comfort zone.

These are your real dreams throttled back to “reasonable”, to something you can say to someone. They’re not your real dreams, they’re just what you’ll say to feel safe.

Goal Zone 2: The Discomfort Zone

For a goal to be meaningful, its attainment should lie in the discomfort zone. You’ll know you’re there when you start feeling emotions we normally consider negative: fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

This is a marathoner deciding to tackle a trail 50km run. It’s just outside of their comfort zone. It will require different training, and some new skills. But it’s possible.

Goal Zone 3: The Delusional Zone

You don’t need one crazy leap to land in the Delusional zone. Sometimes we can drift there with the accumulated demands of multiple goals.

This isn’t just a 400 pound person deciding their goal is to run a sub 3-hour marathon in 12 weeks. This is getting so many goals and tasks stacked up that there is no way you can ever get anything of worth done2.

As you set your goals, look at the zones and decide which zone you’re sitting in. You should be aiming right at the cusp of Zone 2. It should feel just a bit scary when you say your goal out loud.

Step 4: Find Your Way

The truth is that anything worth doing isn’t all fun; it’s almost never fast, and it certainly isn’t easy.

With goal set, you need to move on to the most crucial part, accomplishing them. We don’t want to be the type of person that has a set of goals and then finds the paper in 12 months with little accomplished.

We want to be people that achieve great things.

If you want to go the distance, you’ve got to find a reason that speaks powerfully and personally to you.

A big part of this is finding WHY3 you do what you do. Who are you serving?

For Hyatt, there are 4 keys to mastering your motivation so that you can accomplish your goals.

  1. Internalize Reward
    • the reward for the action must be something inside you not just some outside (external) goal
  2. Be realistic about the commitment
    • its going to take hard work so be ready for it
  3. Gamify it
    • like tracking streaks (Seinfeld calendar)
  4. Measure the Gain
    • don’t just look at how far you have to go, look at how far you’ve come

I especially love the fourth item, measuring the gain. I’m working on my drawing skills for a future book project and it’s hard to sit back, look at what I’ve produced against the example. I see where I’m not as good, but then I look back 11 days into my 365 project and see how far I’ve come with 11 days of proper effort.

It’s hard to measure the gain when your finances are on the line though. When you start a new part to your business and even as it’s successful, it’s not quite paying the bills, how do you focus on the gain instead of the gap in your finances.

I don’t have an answer to that, but I’d love one.

Hyatt also echos Perennial Seller in looking for incremental change over the long term.

Success is about incremental change, but we live in an instant-gratification culture where we just don’t want to wait. When we take control of our motivation, however, we can stay in the game long enough to see how that incremental change adds up to major achievements.

In Perennial Seller, Holiday says:

Everyone wants a platform when they need one. People want to have a big list — they just don’t want to lay the groundwork for one beforehand. – Perennial Seller

Holiday is using the same idea as Hyatt. They’re both saying that our work builds on itself and that if we want something big to leverage, we need to start building it now with little steps.

Then we keep going.

Step 5: Make it Happen

It’s not enough to plan. It takes action to fully realize your goals.

Just start. If you can’t see the whole path. Go as far as you can see. Then you’ll see further and can plan further.

You’re looking for one discrete task. You basically want to put the bar so low, you can fall over it. Then once that task is done, you can set the next.

Pick one small task to get started, and start.

Put together a review schedule for your goals and actions so that you can stay on track. Hyatt calls to this idea here:

Reviewing your goals and motivations will keep you ideating, self-checking, and analyzing. And that will up your resolve and stimulate creative problem solving.

and here:

One of the main challenges we face with reaching our goals is losing track of them. We get distracted and sidetracked by life, and they slip out of focus. We can lose months of the year before we realize we’re not making progress.

While he does make mention of his course and planners which will help us with our goals, he doesn’t leave us high and dry to purchase more things from him. He provides us with three reviews we should be doing to stay on track.

3 Recommended Reviews To Stay on Track

  1. Quick Daily goal scan to make sure your three tasks match to your bigger goals
  2. 20 minute weekly to stay connected to your motivations to help push us through the messy middle. Mini AAR on the week and then plan the week ahead
  3. Quarter version scaled down of the whole beginning process for casting vision

Hyatt ends his book with the encouragement to celebrate the wins. Don’t just achieve a goal and move on to the next thing without stepping back a bit and celebrating what you’ve accomplished.

When we achieve our goals or reach milestones along the way, we need to take the appropriate time to celebrate.

When we don’t celebrate the win, we don’t validate it. We leave it hanging, and make it just a bit harder to do the next goal because we cheated ourselves out of the celebration.

Should You Read Your Best Year Ever By Michael Hyatt?

If you’re struggling with goals, and getting them done, then Your Best Year Ever has a good framework to help you get on track and stay on track.

I think it’s a good read, though not my top read in this vein. That still goes to The ONE Thing and The 12 Week Year.

Purchase Your Best Year Ever on Amazon

Photo by: ummwho 

  1. I start here too in my bootcamp
  2. The ONE Thing helps address filtering down to the single action that you need to take. 
  3. Jeff Goins has a great book called The Art of Work that is stellar at helping you find your WHY.