How to actually achieve your goals and resolutions

Most people take the time around Christmas and New Year’s Day to do some self-evaluation and decide what new goals, accomplishments, or habits to develop for the next year.

The vast majority of those goals are only acted on for a few days, and then they’re forgotten until the following year.

Nobody WANTS to set goals that they don’t accomplish.  It’s not fun.  It’s not rewarding.  And it sets up a sort of mental inertia where your mind stops taking goals seriously.

So today, I’m going to tell you a few simple steps that you can take that will drastically increase the odds that you’ll achieve all of your goals.

I’m not a motivational speaker…and I’m not going to throw in a lot of fluff.

I’m simply going to tell you the techniques that I’ve learned through the years and actually use myself to create dramatic, lasting changes in my life on a constant basis.

When I follow the steps I’m going to tell you, I get the dramatic, lasting change I’m after.

When I shortcut the process, I fall flat—just like everyone else.

The first thing you want to keep in mind is dosing.  Dosing the challenge level of your training is key, regardless of whether your goal is related to weight, shooting, fitness, financial, or relationship goals.

What do I mean by “dosing?”

You want the challenge level of what you do to create adaptation rather than aversion.

You want it to start a little slow so that you create continual progress over time rather than blasting towards the goal at 110% and burning out right away.

Next, you want to set SMART goals.

Smart is a mnemonic that means:


I’ve been including the idea of “SMART” goals in my writing for 14 years, but the concept first appeared in the journal, “Management Review” back in 1981.  Even though it’s 40 years old, it’s worth reviewing to find new angles that will help move the ball forward for you.

The SMART mnemonic serves as a negative filter.

In other words, just because a goal meets these 5 criteria doesn’t mean you will achieve it, but if your goals don’t meet these 5 criteria, then your chances of success drop to roughly the same as Alec Baldwin winning a popularity contest.

As an example, let’s take fitness.  If your goal is to “get in better shape” I would bet you money that you will fail.  It’s not specific, measurable, or timely.

A better goal would be:  “I will walk/run/exercise 30 minutes at a time, 4 days a week, breathing only through my nose, between now and March 1st, 2023.”  (There are HUGE benefits to nose breathing during both rest and exercise…enough to fill books)

An even better goal would be to tie your exertion level to something that would help you have more fun and be less likely to burn out or get injured.

Do this with me…

Take 220

Subtract your age

Add your resting heartrate (you choose)

Divide by 2

Add 10

For me, that’s 220-48(age)+68(resting heartrate)/2=120.  Add 10 = 130.  That would be my target heartrate.  It seems slow for most, but it’s going to reduce plateaus, injuries, and quitting.

This goal meets all 5 criteria:

Specific – It has exact numbers, dates, criteria, and actions.
Measurable – “better shape” is open to interpretation and can’t be measured.  30 minutes, 4 days a week, and heartrate can.
Achievable – It left open the reality (4 days instead of 7) that you might not exercise every day.
Realistic – Running a marathon by March 1st may not be possible.  Setting crazy goals leads to frustration, injury, and reinforces the belief in your mind that you won’t achieve future goals.

Timely – There is a time component.  The goal has a start date and end date, so it won’t be hanging over your head forever.  For me, the more compressed the timeframe that I have to achieve the goal, the better and the more solid the deadline, the better.

Making a SMART goal is great, but there are a few more things that you’ll need to do to increase the odds of success.

Make it emotional. Goals that are purely fact based don’t pull you out of bed in the morning.  Try to come up with reasons in your head of why your current situation is unacceptable and everything that will be good about achieving your goal.  If you can’t figure out why achieving the goal will be emotionally rewarding, create a tangible reward for yourself.  Exercising may not excite you…a lower heartrate and bp may.

Write it down. A goal that’s not written down has no more value than a fantasy.  Writing down goals has a powerful effect of combining emotions, logic, and the senses of touch and sight.  Getting that sheet of paper out every day, seeing them written in your own handwriting and reading them out loud to yourself is even more powerful.  Consider taping it onto your monitor or a wall you can see from your toilet.

Talk about it. Tell people what your goals are.  If for no other reason than the fact that you may be willing to disappoint yourself but you will be less likely to be willing to share poor performance with friends and family.

Break it down. If your main goal is 2 months out, set monthly, weekly, or daily intermediary goals.

Track your progress. I like to use grid paper for this.  I have the goals down the side, dates across the top, and I fill in my progress as I make it.  For goals that take daily action, there’s nothing like a week of blank boxes to slap me in the face.

Set alarms. Set alarms on your phone or computer and schedule time in your day to accomplish your goals.  Entropy (the tendency of things to move towards chaos unless acted on by an outside force) will always fill your schedule with “stuff.”  You’ve got to cause order to happen by scheduling time to make your goals happen.

Stay consistent. Some goals, like getting out of debt or building up food storage don’t necessarily have daily components.  Other goals, like reading, learning, fitness, breaking habits, making habits, and relationship goals, DO have daily action.  The more frequently you can revisit your goal and take forward action on it, the more likely you’ll be to achieve it.

Make the JOURNEY addictive.  The more you can figure out how to make the journey a reward in and of itself, the more likely you are to reach your goal…and not rebound when you do.  We all have activities that we’ve found at one point or another that we could lose ourselves in and enjoy, regardless of the outcome.  This is called an autotelic activity.  The real secret is learning how to turn an activity that you may not like at first into one that feeds you and that you’d do with or without the end goal.

This isn’t theory…it’s what I use on a daily basis and it’s the “recipe” that I’ve found works for me.  If I skip any of the steps, I usually fail.  If I follow all of the steps, I have achieved the vast majority of the goals I’ve set over the last 15+ years.  Remember, since the goals are specific, measurable, and have a time component, it’s easy to determine success or failure.

So, what are your SMART preparedness goals for 2023?  Fitness?  Education?  Relationships?  Skills?  Supplies?  Firearms training?  Hand to Hand Training?  Please share them by commenting below.  Have any proven tactics (not just something you’ve read or heard) that help you achieve your goals?  Please share them below as well.

If one of your goals involves firearms training, I want to encourage you to take advantage of our limited, Scratch-n-Dent sale where you can save 27% >HERE<



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