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Hey, Happy New Year!

Now let’s talk New Years Resolutions. For some people, they are almost a dirty word. People scoff at them but listen, even when done poorly, they can work. They can change the trajectory of someone’s life forever.

New Year’s Resolutions have always been a big part of my work and personal growth.

For twenty years my fitness businesses have helped millions of people set goals, change habits, and transform their bodies. However, most people go about setting goals all wrong. This was something I struggled with until my early 30’s. That’s when my mentor, Mark Ford, taught me to replace my ‘shotgun-scattered’ approach to laser-focused planning.

In 2006, when I was 31 years old, I sat at my parent’s kitchen table prior to a New Year’s Eve party, writing out my goals for the next year. At the end of my session, I had dozens of (minor) goals on a page in 10-point font. The next year I achieved minor success in several areas but didn’t hit the major objectives that would have significantly altered my life for the better.

That’s when I asked Mark Ford for advice. He taught me to focus on just one goal for each of the 4 big areas in life… Health, Wealth, Social Self, and Personal Enrichment. With apologies to Mark, in the 1-2-3 system, I’ve gone a step further, as I’ll explain in a moment.

It freed my mind to write my book, start a business in a new industry and allowed my coaching clients to achieve 12-month goals in only 90 days. And now you can use it to reach your goals this year.

For the 1-2-3 System, we use a 90-Day Deadline, pick 1 outcome goal for 2 areas of our life (one personal, one professional), and outline 3 major actions steps for each.

Why does this minimal approach work better than Resolutions?

Imagine waking up on New Year’s Day and saying, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” or “I want to make an extra million dollars.” That’s nice. But there’s no plan, no path, no focus, and no urgency. This dream won’t come true. It’s no wonder over 91% of New Year’s Resolutions fail.

Why do we use a 90-Day Deadline?

In my book, The Perfect Day Formula, I outline five pillars of transformation. I discovered the 5 Pillars through my weight loss transformation contests.

The 5 pillars are:

  1. Better Planning and Preparation than Ever Before
  2. Professional Accountability
  3. Positive Social Support
  4. Meaningful Incentive
  5. The BIG Deadline

The 5th Pillar is The BIG Deadline. It turns the abstract into the concrete, spurs us to action, keeps us going through tough times, and makes us move faster to the finish. So that’s why we use a 90-Day Deadline in this system. It’s just like how most successful businesses use Quarterly or 90-Day Planning to grow revenue and sales.

We use the 90-Day Planning approach at ETR, so why not use it for your personal life.

Why only 1 outcome goal?

An outcome goal is a numbers-based objective such as losing 10 pounds or making $1 million. It’s measurable and more specific than “losing weight” or “getting rich”.

We limit it to just one outcome goal because we want to be singularly focused on the goal with the most significant impact in our life. Think of the outcome goal as the bulls-eye on the target. If you hit the bulls-eye, it’s worth more than hitting the outside ring ten times.

Why just 2 major areas of life?

This is where I’ve upgraded the system from what Mark Ford taught me 10 years ago. Four goals are better than 20, but even then the waters get a little muddied. For the next 90 days, we are just going to focus on 2 major goals

  • One personal
  • One professional

And the great thing is, when you achieve major goals, pretty much every other area in your life improves. Plus, you open up more time and energy for the other goals of your life in your next 90-day sprint. This extreme focus helps you knock off fewer goals faster, rather than chipping away at multiple goals for a long marathon.

Why 3 process goals? And what are process goals?

We need to use process goals because there is a FLAW in only setting outcome goals. A good friend of mine, Alwyn Cosgrove, taught me that we do not control our outcome goals:

There are always external circumstances influencing the final outcome. We might lose 9 pounds or 11 pounds instead of 10, or we might make $900K or $1.5 million instead of an extra million. The final objective outcome is never fully within our control.

However, what you do control are the action steps that move you in the direction of your outcome goal. We control our:

  • weight loss efforts
  • diet, our exercise
  • sleep
  • water intake
  • revenue generating activities
  • lead generation systems
  • sales scripts
  • follow-ups
  • referrals

If we do our best with our action steps (process goals), we’ll get as close as possible to our outcome goals. If you simply put this in place today then you’d be amazed at what you can get done in the next 90 days. And I want to hear what you accomplish. Just email me at with your success story.

The better planning and preparation doesn’t stop there.

I want to take it one step deeper. Here’s why:

There’s a great book that had a big influence on me over 15 years ago. It’s called Eat That Frog and was written by Brian Tracy, a legend in the field of personal development. Now you might be wondering, what does eating a frog have to do with goal setting? Well, you can imagine that Brian doesn’t mean actually eating a frog.

What he means is that you should start your workday focusing on the doing the hardest task of the day first.

Too many people avoid this and they end up in perverse forms of procrastination, like hours of meditation, gratitude journaling, yoga, and watching motivational videos on youtube, thinking they are having some type of amazing morning routine when most of it is unnecessary.

If you want to be successful, you really need to attack the hardest things first. I’ve been one of Brian Tracey’s faithful students on this idea. Every morning, seven days a week, my alarm goes off at 3:59 a.m. I get up without hitting snooze and get to work on my top priority project.

Eating that Frog is one of the important habits I’ll never lose in my life and one you should take up as well – if you aren’t already doing it.

When I work with clients, we don’t stop at setting 3 process goals for 90 days.

We dig deeper and go to the next level. I demand they come up with one big action step to take in the next 24 hours that will move them ahead to their 90-day outcome goal. So stop, and ask yourself that right now:

What is the #1 most important action you could take in the next 24 hours to move you ahead in life and help you accomplish your goal?

We still need to connect the dots moving forward so we hit that 90-day deadline.

My next question to my client is:

“What big action step can you take to get results and move ahead in the next 72 hours?”

We repeat this process for the next 7 days, 2nd week, 3rd week, and finally next 30 days.

Warning: It might get a little repetitive as you get to the 2nd and 3rd week of planning, but that’s okay. Some activities for success need to be on ‘rinse and repeat’. And having them on the calendar is a surefire way for making them happen.

Here are four REAL world examples of this

  1. The “Write-a-Book” Version
  2. The “Make More Sales” version
  3. The “Find the Love of Your Life” version
  4. The “Get Back In Shape” Version

Accountability that holds the entire cake of success together.

You can have all the greatest advice in the world, but if you don’t have accountability to stick to the advice, and to your plan, then you’ll fall off the wagon. After all, everything that we need to know is readily available on youtube. You can find out how to do computer programming, how to meet women, how to lose weight, how to write a book, whatever you want, it’s all there for free.

So why aren’t more people successful?

Because it’s free and we don’t regard that information as valuable. But when we pay, we pay attention. 

That’s why I invest in coaches every year. That’s why I get professional accountability and it’s allowed me to become a better coach, a better writer, a better salesperson, and build multiple seven figure businesses, employ dozens of people, and transform millions of lives in my career.

Accountability is key and I can never, ever abandon it. I’ve invested in three coaches for 2018: Joe Polish, Bedros Keuilian, and Zander Fryer.

But when I was a goal-setting maniac back in 2006, I was also a stubborn egomaniac, believing I knew everything and didn’t need help. Fortunately, my first coaches like Yanik Silver and Tom Venuto convinced me otherwise. If coaching is good enough for Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Usain Bolt, Venus Williams, and Sara Blakely, then it’s good enough for us, too.

We need coaches at every age and every stage.

“The fastest, easiest and most direct way to success is to model it. Don’t try to recreate the wheel. Instead, surround yourself with people who are already achieving what you want. Get coaching, buy into mastermind groups, and model success.” – Bedros Keuilian, Success Principle #71

Well, I made a bold claim at the start of this show, but as you can see, I backed it up. So listen, there’s no excuse to miss out on achieving your goals this year.

  • You have my 5 pillars of success
  • You have my 1-2-3 goal setting routine
  • You can have the secret ingredient to success – my accountability – too … Just send me an email at and we’ll show you how you can work with me.

So once again, Happy new year! I’d love to hear what you think about today’s show, and what you plan to achieve in the next 90 days. Keep me posted, and please email me at or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at