On Christmas Day, I was just like you. Overfed, a little overwhelmed with the non-stop visiting and eating, and already looking forward to making some changes in the New Year.

It was late that afternoon, while on an extra long dog walk that I sketched out my plan to join you in the Early To Rise Transformation Contest.

My Health goals were clear. I wanted to strictly adhere to a gluten-free nutrition program for the next ninety days. It would help me manage the Reynaud’s phenomenon that I was dealing with.

(Reynaud’s is an issue where two of my fingers swell up in the cold. Making some dietary eliminations, such as gluten and dairy, help to reduce the swelling and pain. The large bowl of chocolate covered almonds I consumed on Christmas Day didn’t help, so this change was important to me.)

My Wealth category goals were also easy to establish. I wanted to save, earn, and invest, as I had been doing all my life, thanks to my parent’s guidance on hard work and taking care of my money.

Where I struggled was setting goals outside of these two traditional areas. But in the Early To Rise contest, there was a third category called Wisdom. This was open to interpretation, but could include making changes in relationships (for example, we encouraged people to mend broken relationships), getting involved in charity, or taking on a new intellectual challenge.

I decided that my Wisdom goal would be to learn to play chess. It wasn’t a game that I played in my youth, but seemed worthy of my time. Chess was an intellectual endeavor that would be a good respite from my regular work and physical training, and an activity that I could enjoy with friends.

As I returned home from the dog walk I felt set for the next 90 days. My outcome goals were clear. The process goals that would get me there were easy to understand and I knew what I had to do. Like you, I felt that I was on the edge of success.

But then it all went wrong. I completely and utterly failed at my goal within a few short days.

How did this go haywire?

The answer is obvious. It’s the same reason why you don’t achieve the goals in your life. It’s why despite all your planning you continue to give up again and again.

There was no wavering on my gluten-free nutrition program, though. My diet was fantastic for ninety days. The Reynaud’s calmed down, my fingers returned to a near normal size, and there was no longer any pain in the joints.

I also experienced incredible breakthroughs in the wealth category. I earned, saved, and invested at a rate faster than almost any other time in my life. All my hard work even prepared me for a bigger financial breakthrough in the days after the contest ended.

I achieved my health and wealth goals for the same reason that I completely and utterly failed at the other. Do you see the reason yet? If not, it will be clear in a moment.

In my fitness business, we practically live by the motto, “Never, ever, EVER give up.” And we have Winston Churchill to thank for that quote.

But there’s something wrong with this mindset. I found this out the hard way.

You see, there are times when you should give up and it’s nothing to be ashamed of when you do. Here’s the reason why we fail at goals, and in particular, why I failed at learning to play chess.

The problem starts when the goal doesn’t matter to us.

I didn’t truly and deeply care about learning to play chess.

The goal was set simply for the sake of having a challenge. And with so many other more important daily trials and tribulations in my life, chess was tossed to the side.

The truth about achieving goals is that you’ll only follow through when they really and truly matter to you.

Even though I had a plan of watching Youtube videos each night that taught me the basic moves, and despite the plethora of websites where I could go and play simulated games of chess against a computer opponent, I lasted only four days on this quest.

I gave up because I simply didn’t care.

Thirty days later, having long given up on chess, I finally found something that mattered to me in the Wisdom category. After publishing article after article in Early To Rise about the benefits of meditation, all while being sick and tired of the constant rising anxiety in chest each day, I decided to commit to daily meditation.

Five minutes at first was all that mattered. Each day I’d sit cross-legged on the floor, close my eyes, and try and tune out the world while concentrating on my breathing. It was tough, but I wasn’t going to quit.

With the help of a few experienced mentors, I’ve settled into a new habit. Not a morning has gone by (I’m at over 100 days and counting) where I haven’t sat in meditation for at least twelve minutes of silence and controlled breathing. This new habit has had an incredible impact on reducing my daily anxiety and has improved my patience in all situations.

What was the difference?

Chess didn’t matter to me.

Changing my health through meditation did.

And so back to Churchill’s quote about never giving up. As he led the people of a bombed and blitzed London in the dark days of 1940, Churchill’s words spoke to the heart of an issue and truly mattered to the great citizens of England’s capital. Faced with bombardment by the Luftwaffe, their lives were at stake. Churchill urged them to never give up on fighting for something that was important to them.

That is the key to achieving success in your life. It all starts with setting goals in areas that truly matter to you.

If you set out on a weight loss plan only because it’s January 1st and everyone else is doing it, you have no hope of success. But if it really matters to you, because you want to regain the energy to play with your kids after a long day of work, only then will you find the will to carry on through the thick and thin.

If you don’t care, you’ll toss that goal out at the first sign of resistance, just as I did with chess.

In our lives, full of the very comfort and safety we take for granted, few goals are as urgent as the one that Britain fought for in the early days of World War II. And that is why we fail.

But if we modify Churchill’s legendary words, we’ll choose goals that matter to us, and when we do, we’ll see them through.

I still encourage my clients to never quit, but I’ve since added to old Winston’s wise words. Heed the full message and you’ll make the right choices when setting your goals, and experience more and faster success than you’ve made in the past. It worked for me when I got it right, and it will work for you too:

Never, ever, EVER give up on what is truly important to you.

That’s the key to success – planning and preparing to achieve goals that really matter. And that all starts at the beginning of your transformation. Choose wisely, and the results will come.

These great folks made the right choice. They chose goals that mattered. Please read their stories and vote for the winner of the Early To Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest here.

[Ed.Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly and Turbulence Training. He is also the co-creator of the Early to Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest. Though this round of the Transformation Contest has closed it’s not too late to get access to all the helpful tools and advice that has helped many people make a positive change in their lives. Get started on your major life transformations today.]

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