People who set goals are more successful in life than those who don’t. Research proves it time and time again.

But here’s the thing: People who enjoy moderate success set LOTS of goals. And while they may achieve several of those goals, they struggle to define the ones the matter MOST to them. The end result? They don’t have a system in place of prioritizing their BIGGEST, life-changing goals.

That’s why nine out of 10 people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.

If that sounds a little bit like you, don’t worry.

I’m going to teach you the solution to this too-many-goal problem. And together, we’re going to turn your moderate success into an amazing year.

How, you ask? With my 1-2-3 Goal-Setting Routine.

Here’s how it works (and I’ll start with resolutions, since 2018 is already upon us):

For some people, “resolutions” is a dirty word. But when you stick to them, they can change the trajectory of your life forever.

Resolutions (goals) have always been a big part of my work and personal growth, and they’ve helped inform my professional endeavors. For 20 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 30s. That’s when my mentor, Mark Ford, taught me to replace my “shotgun-scattered” approach with 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 four big areas in life—health, wealth, social self, and personal enrichment.

His advice was incredibly impactful. It freed me to write my book, start a business in a new industry, and, when I paid it forward, allowed my coaching clients to achieve 12-month goals in only 90 days.

Using the wisdom of Mark Ford as the foundation, I created the 1-2-3 Goal-Setting System. It starts by picking a 90-day deadline alongside one outcome goal for each of two areas of your life (one personal, one professional), and outlining three major actions steps for each outcome goal.

I’ll bet you’re asking, “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. Your dream won’t come true.

The 1-2-3 Goal-Setting Formula fixes that.

I’ve received many questions over the years about this formula, so I’ll beat you to the punch and answer them now:

Why a 90-day deadline?

In my book, “The Perfect Day Formula,” I outline five pillars of success that take you from planning to measurable results. The fifth pillar is what the 1-2-3 Goal-Setting Formula really takes advantage of: the BIG deadline.

Deadlines turn the abstract into the concrete, spur us to action, keep us going through tough times, and move faster toward the finish line. 

That’s why we use a 90-day deadline in the 1-2-3 Goal Setting Routine. It’s not actually dissimilar to quarterly planning sessions for business sales—and many entrepreneurs and CEOs have enjoyed financial success setting up internal deadlines for their own growth and development.

You should enjoy the same kind of success.

What exactly is an outcome goal? And why is there only one of them?

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

I limit it to just one outcome goal because I want you to be singularly focused on the goal that has the most significant impact on your life. Think of the outcome goal as the bullseye on the target. If you hit the bullseye, it’s worth more than hitting the outside ring 10 times.

Ok, but why should I focus on just two major areas of my 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 muddy.

For the next 90 days, you are just going to focus on two major goals—one personal, one professional. That’s it. That’s extreme focus, and a clear path to success.

The great thing is, when you achieve major goals, pretty much every other area of your life improves. Plus, you open up more time and energy for other goals in your next 90-day sprint.

And process goals? What are those, and why three of them?

We need to use process goals because there is a serious FLAW in only setting outcome goals.

Let me explain. 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 nine pounds instead of 10, or we might make $900K instead of an extra million. The final outcome is never fully within our control.

However, Alwyn added, what you DO control are the action steps that move you in the direction of your outcome goal. We control our weight loss efforts—our diet, our exercise, our sleep, and our water intake. We control our revenue-generating activities—setting up lead-generation systems, practicing our sales scripts, doing follow-up, and asking for referrals. If we do our best with our action steps (process goals), we’ll get as close as possible to our outcome goals.

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So there you have it—a concrete, effective alternative to failure-assured resolutions. One outcome goal for each of two areas of your life—one professional and one personal—and three action steps for each outcome goal.

And let me allay your fears; this isn’t some fly-by-night methodology I cooked up to get clicks, either. My coaching clients have been using the 1-2-3 Goal-Setting System for years. Some have doubled their income, others have achieved massive fitness goals, and still others have landed in happy, longterm relationships that they were seeking for years.

So I urge you to start 2018 on the right foot and build out your own 1-2-3 Goal-Setting System. You can do anything for 90 days—and you may just change your life.

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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 craigballantyne.com