This year, we are going to promise ourselves that we will accomplish something important in each area of our lives. And we’re going to make every one of those accomplishments significant. Something that will make us happy. Something we can be proud of. Something so ambitious that right now it may seem improbable. Be brave and be confident. We can make it happen.

Take a few minutes right now to identify one specific goal for each of the following four areas. I’ll do the same.

1. something to make you healthier

2. something to make you wealthier

3. something to make you wiser, and

4. something to make you happier

My top health goal for 2003 is going to be getting my average body weight down from 193 to 185, putting me in the 9% or 10% body-fat level. Does that seem incredibly shallow? Well, it is. But it does have a few deeper benefits. Having less weight on my bones and less fat on my belly will make me less prone to adult-onset diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a host of other physical maladies. Achieving this goal will require discipline, and that discipline will be a noetic benefit that can be applied to other goals — my desire to finish a novel, for instance. (I could have said “mental” benefit instead of “noetic” benefit, but I thought you’d like a new word — stretched as it is.

To lose that weight, I will have to set and accomplish other goals — like cutting out desserts almost entirely, exercising at least twice a day, taking a full regimen of natural supplements, and getting plenty of sleep. If I do all those things and lose the weight, I expect to be not only healthier but also stronger, leaner, more athletic, and ultimately happier with myself. In the wealth-building category, I’m going to commit to making 50% LESS than I did this year. I’m not going to penalize myself if I make more than that, but I want to set my target lower so I’ll have time to focus on my personal development. I want to be more fluent in Spanish and become a better writer.

To make the kind of progress I know I need to make in those areas, I’m going to have to find the time to practice — and that means I’ll have less time to make deals. Finally, I’m going to become happier by spending more time with (and attention to) others. I have at least a dozen ideas about how to do that. So what are your top four goals? In what way do you plan to be wealthier? Healthier? Wiser and happier? Write them down and then make a list of what you need to do to achieve them. Let’s say you have a goal to make $10,000 in extra income.

List that as a “category A” goal and then list all the things you’ll have to do to accomplish that:

* finish the AWAI copywriting course

* send out solicitation letters to 1,000 prospects

* make 100 follow-up phone calls

* write 10 packages on spec

* get paid $2,500 for four packages

Those would be your “category B” objectives. Each one would be attached to a deadline. Then you might need “category C” objectives to get you to category B. You might, for example, give yourself the task of finishing a chapter of the AWAI course each week for a given period of time. This is all pretty basic stuff. But it’s amazing how many people never get to it. Making the broad resolution — “I’m going to make an extra 10 grand” — is about as far as they will go. And that’s why most people never succeed.

According to polls, almost all Americans — about 88% of us — plan to make New Year’s resolutions this year. But statistics show that more than 50% of those objectives will be abandoned the day after they are made, another 10% will be forgotten the next day, and up to 90% will be ancient history by the end of March. But this isn’t going to happen to you. The year 2003 is going to be the best and most productive one of your life. You will make more money, you will enjoy better health, you will fulfill one lifelong ambition, and you will be happier and more relaxed …and it’s all going to start today. Yes, today. Not tomorrow.

You’ve already made a good start by making your list of four specific goals for the year — and by breaking each goal into the category-B and category-C objectives that you will have to achieve first. Now what? Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now when you look at that list. Sure, some people seem to achieve great things without every breaking a sweat … but maybe you have already taken on so many jobs and obligations that you are practically drowning in responsibilities.

I know what it’s like. I understand how it feels to get to work early, plunge into the morass, and emerge nine or 10 hours later with a cramped stomach, a throbbing headache, and what seems to be three days of work still left undone. I know what it’s like to have to worry about what you might have forgotten, to whom you promised a phone call, and what meeting you promised to attend.

It’s OK to admit to yourself that you might need a little help. And that’s what ETR is here for. My job is to be waiting for you when you crank up your computer every day and to have some words of encouragement and advice that will boost you up and spark some positive action.

It’s not going to work perfectly every day of the year. But if you put in the five or 10 minutes it takes to read ETR and think about what I say each day, the result will be — and this I am absolutely sure of — a healthier, wealthier, wiser, and happier you. So making that commitment to be better is the first and most important thing.

But the next thing — and this is critical too — is that you use a proven daily productivity system to accomplish your goals. I’ve had a long and very successful career. But it wasn’t always that way. I spent my halcyon days goofing off and being told I’d end up a failure. I explored, studied, and wandered for about 10 years after college, still undecided about what to do.

When I finally got my act together, I was almost 30 years old. I made some progress then, but it was jerky and unpredictable. It wasn’t until I started setting goals and making lists (and I know that sounds trite) that my life really changed. I’ve been improving my “system” for getting things done for about 25 years, and each year it seems to get better. Twenty-five years ago, my yearly income was about $30,000. Now it is much, much higher than that. Twenty-five years ago, I had a net worth of about $4,000.

Today … well, let’s just say that I’m substantially wealthier than most of the guys who sell get-rich programs. Twenty-five years ago, I wanted to speak several languages, publish a bunch of books, achieve great health, and much more. I’ve done all those things, and I’ve done them to a greater degree and at a faster pace than I’d planned. My success is 90% due to the system I developed for being productive. In fact, the only difference between the person I have become and the bartender I was 25 years ago is that I found a way to put my dreams into motion one day at a time. You can do the same.

All you have to do is follow the program that I developed for myself. My program isn’t original — it’s a patchwork of great ideas I got from other people — but it is unique. You won’t find a system anywhere that will get you further faster. Today — the first day of 2003 — is the right day to make a commitment to make your dreams come true. You can do that by doing something specific and concrete to achieve your goals. The best thing I can recommend is to follow the ETR goal-setting program and daily-task-list system. And do it precisely.

To help you succeed, the folks at ETR have created a self-teaching program that will help you evaluate just how good you are at goal setting and productivity. You’ll find out what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. You’ll get specific advice on how to achieve more by working less and becoming more focused. It’s a very good program — one I strongly recommend — and it’s very reasonably priced when you consider all the personal work that went into developing it and all the benefit you’ll get from using it.

If you think this program could help you and you want to learn more about it, you’ll want to read a little promotion I wrote for it, click on: http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/700SDDGC/Goals. Meanwhile, spend a little time refining your list of four Big Goals for this year — one to make you healthier, one to make you wealthier, one to make you wiser, and one to make you happier. We’ll be dealing with each one of these areas in more detail over the next nine days. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to become wealthier by substantially increasing your income.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.