Ask yourself this question: how many of your New Year’s Resolutions have you accomplished so far? In fact, how many do you even remember?
Less than 10% of us are successful when it comes to sticking with our New Year’s Resolutions and achieving them. I can’t even remember where I wrote down my resolutions–or if I even did for 2018.
Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever is designed to help you counter those statistics. In fact, it eschews the idea of “resolutions” altogether and instead focuses on the successful achievement of any goal. This book is filled with the latest research concerning goal achievement, willpower, and the implementation of new habits.
For those interested in goal achievement and personal top performance, he also has a few programs out on Youtube with lots of content and tips for goals setting and implementation, has created several information products on the topic, authored several books on achieving personal success, and hosts workshops and live events.
For this reason, I hereby dub Hyatt the “Guru of Goals.”
The real core of Hyatt’s book is his system for goal formulation, which he calls “SMARTER.” I’d like to share the basics of this system with you, since it’s instantly actionable and has helped me immensely in the area of goal achievement.
Hyatt has taken a popular form of goal achievement, originating from General Electric’s “SMART” system, and refined it, added to it, and made use of the latest research.
The key is to write down your goals within the parameters of SMARTER, which I will share with you below. Just writing your goals down has been shown to increase their successful achievement (in some cases, by as much as 42%).
Specificity: your written goals need to be specific. As Hyatt writes, “What the studies show is that the tougher and more specific the goal, the more likely we are to engage our focus, creativity, intellect, and persistence.”
The key here is to avoid vague statements of intent, like “I will become healthy.” Instead, be more specific: “Cut out processed sugar from my diet” for instance, or something similar.
Measurable: Your written goals need to be measurable, in terms of their progression towards completion. “You need to be able to measure yourself against the goal,” says Hyatt, who also quotes psychology professor Timothy A. Pychyl: “We experience the strongest positive emotional response when we make progress on our most difficult goals.”
An example of this may be to take body measurements every month when undergoing an exercise program, and to have a specific target measurement that you are aiming for. If you want to quit smoking, keep track of your streaks. The feeling of progress builds momentum and helps you to believe in yourself.
Actionable: Your goal should be written using a “strong verb to prompt the action you want to take.” We have a tendency to write things like “I WILL read three good books on goal achievement,” instead of something like “Complete three books on goal achievement.” The strong verb helps to put the image in your mind, and this helps motivate the brain to actually do the action stated.
Risky: Your goal needs to be difficult to achieve. This sounds counter-intuitive, of course. But the research actually indicates that we tend to rise to the challenges that take more effort (one statistic suggests that people with higher goals are 250% more successful than those with easy goals).
Hyatt warns that its easy to downplay this tendency, because “we are driven more strongly to avoid losses than achieve gains,” quoting psychologist Daniel Kahneman.
The challenge here is to not get too carried away. We need something challenging, but we also need to be realistic. Hyatt speaks more about this in his book.
Time-keyed: Your goal needs a specific target date of completion. If its a habit, it should have a specific target time (“exercise for thirty minutes in the morning”, or “do twenty minutes of yoga immediately after waking”).
Research shows that goals that are too distant tend to discourage us from setting out to achieve them; you’re better off with a time frame that is realistic, but not too lenient on yourself. “Short time horizons concentrate our effort. The tighter the deadline, the more productive you can be,” says Hyatt.
For example, if you wanted to add 100 subscribers to your blog, you could give yourself a month or two to do so. You could write it this way: “Add 100 new subscribers to my blog by December 1st.” A specific time frame helps to motivate and focus.
Exiciting: Your goal should be something that you are motivated to actually accomplish; you should get excited by it. “Researchers say that we stand a better chance of reaching our goals if we are internally motivated to do so.”
Part of the reason for this is the resiliency we exhibit when excited by a goal. When the going gets tough, we are likely to give up if we don’t have the motivation to actually slog through the pain.
Excitement works hand in hand with the riskiness of the goal because a tough challenge that nevertheless has an extremely high pay off for us is easier to stick with.
Hyatt also talks about “Finding your why,” meaning that you are likely to find that excitement if you can be clearer to yourself about why you want to achieve the goal in the first place. He gives several methods for doing this in the book.
Relevant: You need goals that actually work with the “legitimate demands and needs of our lives.” This means aligning with your needs, values, situation, and life roles. You have to be realistic, even as you balance this realism with riskiness and excitement. Hyatt gives tools for doing this throughout Your Best Year Ever.
One of our greatest challenges when attempting to acheive goals is to keep them in mind throughout our day.
Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct, talks about the role of memory in harnessing the willpower needed to acheive our goals. Holding in mind our long term goal in mind, such as health and happiness, helps us to quit, say, smoking or junk food binging.
I confess that I’ve struggled the most with this element of goal setting. I’m great at writing down goals, but after a week or two, I don’t even remember that I’ve set the goal. And I’m sure I’m not alone here.
One of the best pieces of advice from Your Best Year Ever, and the one that has probably helped me the most in acheiving my own goals, is to set up a DAILY review session of your goals.
It doesn’t take long. Just give yourself a minute or two to read over your goal list in written form, and have a to-do list out, noting the things you need to do in order to make progress.
Each week, set up a longer period of time to review your goals, this time focusing on planning out your week accordingly, and reflecting on the success you’ve accomplished so far–as well as any setbacks.
I like to think of this time as a strategy session, like a general planning a grand campaign. I try to anticipate set backs, find my motivation, and rededicate to my goals. It pays to make this a lifelong habit, as I am quickly learning. Life is chaotic; setting aside time to bring order to your universe helps keep your goals fresh in mind, in my experience.
Your Best Year Ever includes many more tips for goal setting; Hyatt has designed an entire method and system, and its worth checking out his book. What is best about it is the reliance on actual research. Hyatt takes goal setting seriously, and he marshals every resource in helping him to design a method by which to accomplish your life goals.
I really cannot say enough about Your Best Year Ever. It has helped me in tremendous ways, and I hope it will help you as well! If you liked this blog and found value in it, please like and subscribe! Share on social media if you’re so inclined.