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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work!

It’s that time of year again.

Most of us love to use milestones as a means for reflection and many of those milestones are triggered by a date on the calendar. For many, birthdays that end in a zero are a common one.  As we turn 30, 40, or 50, we take stock of our life, revisit what we have achieved thus far, ask ourselves if we are where we thought we would be and contemplate future plans.

The start of a new year is another common milestone. These days (late December as I am writing this) you can’t escape mention of New Year’s Resolutions. Most studies estimate that nearly half of Americans will make some type of New Year’s resolution. The most common are to lose weight, decrease spending or increase saving, quite smoking or get more organized.

How about you, have you made New Year’s resolutions in the past? Do you have any for this year?

Sadly, it is estimated that only between 8% and 12% of those that make New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving their goals!

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for an excuse to take stock of your life, cut out what isn’t serving you and use it as an opportunity to fine tune your goals, behaviors and habits. But many resolutions fail because they aren’t goals, they are more like “intentions”. And soft ones at that.  It is something you would “like” to do, but there isn’t any real commitment behind it. It is a “should”, but not a “must”.

The problem with “shoulds”, are that they rarely ever get done. See my post about “shoulding all over yourself.”  We might do it when it is convenient, or when we are in the mood. But with all the distractions these days, how often is it convenient? How often are you in the mood? How convenient is it to lose weight or quit smoking?

Any type of change requires a level of commitment and drive that will help you succeed even when it isn’t convenient, or easy. That is where most people fail with their New Year’s Resolutions.

Instead of a New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to perform a Year-End Review!

Here is an example of the format I use for my year end reviews. Feel free to use it to get started, or as a basis for your own version. I prefer to keep things simple as simple as possible.

1)    What went well in the past year?

Even though it may feel like it passes in a flash, quite a bit can happen in a year. Write down some of your accomplishments, your successes.  You can even break these down by category if you prefer (career, family, finances, relationships, personal growth, spiritual). I like to use this as a time to relive what Tony Robbins calls “magic moments”, the highlights of your year that are priceless.

–        For me, 2014 was the year I kicked off my website and started posting to my blog.

–        I was able to really fine tune my brain training classes and make an impact with my students.

–        My wife landed a great new job that she loves.

–        I attended a 4 day Tony Robbins event (UPW) that was incredible. Besides walking on fire, it was a great revitalizer to get myself on track and reenergized.  I also picked up some great ideas for my coaching clients.

–        We had a wonderful family trip to Disneyworld with our two young children.

–        We were all healthy (minus the occasional sickness) and happy!

2)    Where did you fall a little short?

It is just as important to be honest with yourself about what didn’t go as well as you would have liked. Nobody is perfect. This will help provide potential areas of improvement for the coming year. I prefer to stick with things I can control and steer away from outside circumstances that I can do nothing about.

–        For me, I haven’t been as consistent as I would like with my morning routine. With two small children and a working spouse, the morning is my time to set the tone for the day, get some exercise, reading and writing in. Many times, if it doesn’t happen in the morning, it can be difficult to fit it in at all. I started to wake up earlier, some mornings before 6am and it has been really beneficial when I do it. I have been pretty inconsistent with it and could really benefit from taking advantage of this more often.

–        I didn’t write as many blog posts as I wanted to. This post will be my 12th post since I started in April (little under 9 months). I can blame it on not having enough time, but I know that is BS. Everything comes down to prioritization. I have all the time I need for anything I am committed to.

–        I have struggled to organize all my notes from books, webinars, podcasts, research etc. Sometimes I am in front of a computer, sometimes I have a notebook in front of me, but often times I am at the gym or driving. I am still working on coming up with a better way of staying organized with all the learning and research so that I can come back to it whenever necessary.

–        I have been working on my first eBook on procrastination and it has taken me longer than I would have liked. I won’t say I have been ‘procrastinating” necessarily, but the scope has grown and I haven’t been committed to carving out the required time blocks to get it finished.

3)    What would you like to improve and focus on in the coming year?

This area does not just have to include areas that didn’t go well in the previous year (although it might). This could be an area of strength or success in the previous year that you want to develop even further. What would you like more of? Where are some areas of improvement that would make a big impact in your life? What do you need to stop doing, or remove from your life? In short, what would make your life better and more fulfilling?

–        I would like to get into a consistent morning ritual that starts at 6am or earlier and includes some meditation, exercise, reading and writing.

–        I want to continue to modify my food intake to include more fruits, vegetables with more portion control to reduce the “food comma effect”, to give me more energy to accomplish my goals and the goals of others. I experienced great results with this after UPW, but have slacked off a bit over the holidays.

–        I want to spend more time with my kids actively playing, exercising, sports etc.

–        I would like to post more often on the sitegoal blog in 2015.

–        Finish my book on procrastination and offer it for free on my website

–        I would like to get more organized with my notes and great tidbits I pick up from various sources

–        I would like to take my family on another great family vacation in 2015 (Cancun?)

–        Create and structure more time blocks for writing

–        Create a product of some kind to stretch my knowledge and abilities

4)    What are your Goals for the upcoming year

Now that you have taken the time to review your wins and successes, reflect on what didn’t go so well over the past year and gained some clarity on what you want to focus on going forward – you can create your goals for the upcoming year.

The goals in step four will be more specific and time based than the information and brain storming in step three. For me personally, I try to stick to no more than five goals. Any more than that and I lose some focus and commitment. Usually I will write down 10 -15 and then refine it to my most critical list of five that I feel would make the most impact.

–       I will wake up at 6am or earlier 3 days a week, every week to write, read and exercise.

–       I will create and post 25 new blog posts by December 31st 2015.

–       I will complete and have my procrastination e-book available for free download on my website by January 30th, 2015

–       I will schedule and keep 5 hours of writing time blocks each week.

–       We will take a week long family vacation by September 30th 2015.

5)    Review your goals weekly (at least)

Do yourself a favor and don’t skip this last step. A goal doesn’t do you any good if you write it down once and forget it, or never look at it again. Now that you have your five most important goals for the coming year, put each on a separate piece of paper or notecard. Notecards can work great because they are very portable.

Under each goal write down at least five reasons why you want to achieve this goal. The more the better, if you can’t come up with at least five I suggest finding a new goal! Dig deep, this will provide the fuel for you to actually accomplish the goal, especially when you don’t feel like it, or obstacles come up. Review these goals at least weekly and you can use your notecard or sheet of paper to write down next action steps as you go.

There you have it – it is as simple as that! I believe I took about 60 minutes to perform the exercise this year (a little longer to explain it). You can commit more or less time depending on your situation. Have fun with it, use what feels right to you. There is no perfect format, just do it!


Your partner in success,


Josh Paulsen

Part 2 – What’s your one thing – the secret to making it happen!

In my last post I challenged you to come up with your “one thing”. That thing that if you got started, stopped, changed or completed, would have a huge impact on your life.

Did you come up with your one thing? If not, take a moment to do so now, or reread my last post.

I am going to assume you have landed on your habit, behavior, mindset, thinking pattern etc. Let me ask you this first. Is this the first time you have acknowledged or identified it? For almost all of my clients the answer is no. They have felt a desire or urge for quite some time.

So if it has been hanging around, why aren’t you there yet? The answer is incredibly simple. In your mind you associate more discomfort, frustration, fear or some type of PAIN to changing or modifying your behavior, than you do to just staying right where you are right now. If you really think about it, isn’t that true?

As an example, let’s say you have wanted to lose 10 lbs. What have you been focusing on consciously or subconsciously – how great it would feel, how you would look on the beach, the sense of accomplishment? Or have you been focusing on depriving yourself, the loss of eating your favorite foods, being hungry because you are eating less, fitting exercise into your schedule and you don’t have the time?

Just about every person on this planet knows HOW to lose weight. We all know it is some combination of eating less or burning more calories. Then if we all know how to do it, why does America have a large percentage of people overweight? Why is losing weight the top New Year’s resolution?

It is because the HOW is much less important than your WHY.

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As Tony Robbins would say “the reasons come first and the answers second”.

If you have yet to lose the 10 lbs. then you are simply associating much more pain to the process of losing those 10 lbs. than you are pleasure in achieving that end. It is that simple. Now I say it is that simple, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to overcome unless you consciously choose your perspective. Most people don’t give it a second thought.

Let me help you set yourself up for success in achieving the “one thing”. Write down that thing you wish to change. Now underneath your one thing, write WHY you want to change it.

For instance, let’s say someone kidnaps someone you love and tells you the only way you will see them again is to lose 10 pounds in 45 days and keep it off for a year? Do you have any DOUBT you would achieve that goal? Of course not, you would probably lose 20 or 30 lbs.! You might take an approach that is not all that healthy, but my point is your WHY is big enough. The why is the most important part of achieving any goal.

So what is your why for your one thing? Take the next two minutes and write down your top 20 reasons. Get to 50 if you really want to guarantee success. Don’t put it off for later, do it right now. You have been putting it off long enough!

Ok, now that you have your 20 reasons why you want to achieve your one thing, write a paragraph describing what it is costing you right now to not have it. What has it cost you in the past? What will it cost you 10 years from now? 20 years? Don’t worry about the format, the spelling, just get it on paper. Get just as clear on what it is costing you not to have your one thing as you do on why you want it. This will provide leverage in both areas.

Most people will do more to avoid loss, or avoid pain, than they will to seek pleasure.

Mindset is everything, get crystal clear on your lists, internalize it, picture it, feel the emotions. If you do this consistently with enough focus, it will be difficult for you NOT to achieve your one thing.

No, you don’t need the latest and greatest exercise class, you don’t need the newest diet pill, or the fad of the moment. Your thinking and what you are associating to your “one thing” is what will really allow you to achieve it!

Your partner in success,
– Josh

What is your ONE thing? – Part 1

So what’s your ONE thing that you know if you – changed/started/completed/eliminated -would have a drastic impact on your life?

I am willing to bet you have one. Don’t worry about the HOW to change, or IF you can change. For right now, just identify what that one thing is. Stay with me it will be worth it.

What is the one thing that would have the biggest impact on how you feel about yourself, the income you make, the results you get, and the satisfaction of your relationships or your happiness level? Don’t over complicate it, don’t pick five things, just pick ONE.

Now, this part is important. As you are identifying your one thing, do it without judgment of yourself or what you have done in the past. This is an exercise about your future not about your behaviors or actions prior to today. The only place the past exists is in your mind. Right now, let go of any shame, blame and disappointment regarding these areas and just focus on the reality as it is, without all the extra “stories”.

Perhaps for you your one thing is finally losing the weight you have been talking about losing for the past ten years. The weight that if you lost, would give you the confidence, self-esteem, pride and sense of accomplishment that would elevate all the other areas of your life. Maybe this one area is holding you back from putting yourself out there and seeking out a relationship.

Perhaps your one thing would to find a new job or career. You wake up every day dreading going to work. Or, maybe work is just ok, but it doesn’t challenge you, you aren’t using your strengths and there is no opportunity for growth. You know you have more to offer and you are capable of much more.

Perhaps your career is heading in the right direction, you feel great about where you are physically and your one thing is to establish a new morning routine. Instead of hitting snooze three times in the morning, you know that if you started your morning with exercise, meditation, prayer, reading, yoga etc. it would have a drastic effect on your mindset and how the rest of your day unfolded.

Perhaps your one thing is to finally take your finances seriously, to create a plan and stick to it. To measure where your money goes and hold yourself accountable.

Perhaps your one thing is to stop living in a mode of reaction, but instead proactive planning your week and days around your highest priority. Being more deliberate in how you spend your time and eliminate your many distractions that are holding you back from being as productive and getting the results you are capable of.

For today, don’t worry about HOW you would accomplish your one thing, don’t think about what it would take or any of the potential roadblocks or stumbling in the past. There will be plenty of time for that later and I will address that in my next blog post.

Just decide on your one thing first, and then we will move on to the next step in our next blog post.

So what’s your one thing?