Your First and Most Important New Year’s Resolution

“There is no achievement without goals.”Robert J. Mckain

Every year, we make 10 New Year’s resolutions — one each weekday for two weeks. The idea is that by spreading out our promises over two weeks, instead of making them all on New Year’s Day (the way most people do), we will take the time to really think about what we want to accomplish over the next 12 months.

This year, like last year, your first and most important step is to identify one significant goal in each of the four most important areas of your life:

1. Your health (without which most of the others don’t matter)

2. Your wealth (which is undeniably important — so treat it as such)

3. Your personal self (your hobbies and interests)

4. Your social self (your friends, family, and community)

Make each of your four goals significant yet specific. To do so may require setting several subordinate objectives. For example, “Being in better shape” is a significant goal, but it is not specific. “Being able to run a seven-minute mile” is specific, yet it may not seem significant to you.

Here’s my goal for health: To free myself from my chronic pains and the restrictions they cause. Specifically, to repair my back surgically (so I can walk without pain) and my shoulders therapeutically (so I can do pushups again), and to gain 100% flexion in my knee.

Your health goal might be fitness oriented, such as: To become measurably stronger, leaner, more flexible, and to have greater endurance. Specifically, that would mean adding three pounds of muscle to your body, taking off four pounds of fat, being able to do a proper Sun Salutation in yoga, and running a mile in seven minutes.

You see how it works?

For the financial part of your life, your goals will probably be more ambitious than mine. My goal is to “stick with my five-year financial independence plan.” That plan was set three years ago. All I have to do this year is get, overall, a 7% return on my investments and earn enough to live on. I’m probably going to do better than that. But I’m not going to think about it too much. For now, for me, health and personal goals are more important than my financial goals. For you, it might be different.

Your job today is to set these four big goals. To set them and commit to them.

You can use the ETR goal-setting system to convert each of your four major goals into monthly, weekly, and, eventually, daily objectives. By taking the time now to write down your goals and think about them — what it will take to accomplish them — the likelihood that you will accomplish them will increase dramatically.

Studies show it: People who make formal goals and write them down accomplish more. If you follow the ETR goal-setting system and stick to it, this will be the most prolific year of your life. I am 100% sure of that.

If you are feeling up for another goal today, I’ve got one for you: Promise yourself that you will spend at least five minutes a day looking over ETR. I recognize that there are times when you don’t feel you have a spare second to read another e-mail message. And I know too that some days my main message won’t say anything that’s helpful to you. But every day I try to put something in ETR that will be helpful to everyone. That’s why, in addition to the main message, I include briefs on personal productivity, leadership, diet, fitness, business management, sales, and marketing. And if neither the briefs nor the main message give you a good idea or inspire you, there’s always “It’s Good to Know” or “Word to the Wise” for a little bit of extra education. Five minutes a day. It will pay you back many times over.

The year 2004 can be the healthiest, wealthiest, and wisest year of your life. It starts today. Set your goals.