Episode: 5 Reasons Resolutions Fail

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Michael Hyatt: New Year’s resolutions are as old as time. Researchers at the Wharton School say people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks such as the start of a new year. They call it the fresh-start effect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long. Hashtags like #resolutionfail start trending on social media just days, even hours into the new year.

One person tweeted on January 1, “New Year’s resolution, get back on a normal sleep schedule…blown. Thanks X-Files on Netflix. #resolutionfail” Here’s another: “Got ready for the gym, packed my gear, and went for a burger instead. #resolutionfail.” “Don’t judge me,” joked another. “I’m just sitting here with my wine and box of chocolates trying to fill the void like everyone else. #resolutionfail.”

Megan Hyatt Miller: According to the University of Scranton, millions of Americans admit to usually or sometimes making New Year’s resolutions. Their research shows most of us can stick it out a few weeks, but fewer than half are still going after six months. Only 8 percent are ultimately successful. The truth is change is hard, ridiculously hard.

Even after a heart attack, only 14 percent of patients make any lasting changes around exercise or eating. The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution something like 10 separate times without success. In fact, many of us just stop making resolutions because we failed at them in the past.

Michael: Welcome to the club. We’re like hatchling turtles, bursting with determination to make it over the dunes to the ocean beyond. Then the seagulls swoop in and start picking us off one by one. Mona Chalabi, writing for FiveThirtyEight, says like clockwork each January well-intentioned people type the word diet or gym into Google. By December the numbers doing so have fallen by a third. Not everyone loses. A couple of weeks into the new year, one woman who regularly exercises tweeted, “There are finally open parking spots at the gym. This is a good sign. #twoweeksisallittook”

Megan: Fitness clubs actually bank on our failure. NPR reported on one chain that has about 6,500 members per location and only room for 300 at a time. It’s like airline overbooking on a mass scale. But they don’t need armed escorts to take us off the plane. Gyms purposefully oversell their capacity with year-long contracts, knowing most of us will get distracted or lose interest. How does it feel to realize other people score because our resolutions fail?

Michael: The tweets are funny and the statistics depressing, but this is really about something far deeper. Most of the resolutions we set are about what matters most in life, health, relationships, finances, or personal development, and yet we can’t move the needle. But I have good news. It’s not your fault; it’s the fault of a faulty system.

Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode we’re going to explore why your resolutions probably won’t stick and what you can do to finally gain ground in the upcoming year.

Megan: Well, Dad, that’s all pretty grim, but the good news is we’ve identified five reasons that resolutions commonly fail, and if you know why they fail then you can figure out how to succeed.

Michael: Exactly. So let’s take them apart.

Megan: Yeah, let’s get into it.

Michael: The first reason your resolutions fail is that they’re usually vague. People want to get in better health. They want to improve their marriage. They want to make more money this next year, but they’re vague.

Megan: Desires alone aren’t going to change your life. You have to translate aspirations, those dreams or hopes you have, into something that’s actionable.

Michael: Exactly. The hardest step in achievement is always the first step. If you set a vague resolution, you don’t have a clue on how to start. It’s a little bit like trying to cross the Grand Canyon. You need a bridge, and an action from a specific resolution is going to help you do that. Here, by the way, is a list of some of the most common resolutions people set, and I pulled these from NBC News, FiveThirtyEight, and Christianity Today. “Lose weight. Eat healthier. Be a better person.”

Megan: That’s my personal favorite.

Michael: Yeah, I love that. “Be a better person.” How do you do that? “Spend less. Save more. Deepen my relationship with God. Spend more time with family and friends. Exercise more often. Learn something new.” (That’s a good one too.) “Do more good deeds for others. Find a better job.” There’s just not enough there, there.

Megan: Right. The bottom line is that goals have to be specific. For example, maybe you’re thinking about a goal around revenue. You may be tempted to set a goal like “Make more money,” but where do you begin and how do you know if you’re successful?

Michael: Exactly. It’s not specific enough.

Megan: You need to try something like “Line up five new clients” or “Increase revenue by 30 percent” or “Launch a new product in the second quarter.” The thing is that you really need specificity to make your goal actionable. You have to have something clear in mind so you’re able to start putting together a plan of what your next steps are going to be. Otherwise, you just end up paralyzed. The problem is that if you have an aspiration, like “Be a better person” or something else, it can be challenging to get the kind of clarity you need to come up with a specific goal. So what do you do if that’s the case for you?

Michael: Well, one of the most important things is to write down your goals. In other words, turn your resolution into a goal by writing it down. Now this seems obvious, and when I was out speaking to corporations, talking to business owners, business leaders, I’d always ask the question, “How many of you believe in the power of written goals?” As you can imagine, every hand in the audience goes up. Literally every hand.

Then I would ask the question, “Okay, be honest. How many of you have a set of written goals professionally and personally for this year?” Most of the hands would go down. I’ve counted this over and over again, and it’s usually about 5 percent of the audience. Here’s the deal. Research shows that written goals are far more likely to be achieved.

Dr. Gail Matthews, who’s a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted a study involving 267 participants, and among other things she discovered…get this…that you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. That’s astonishing. That’s not working them out, figuring out the next steps, coming up with an action plan, all that other stuff. It’s the mere act of writing them down. I covered this research in my new book Your Best Year Ever, along with research when it’s best to share your goals.

Megan: Okay, I have a question for you that I just thought of while you were talking. This might seem like an obvious question, but I have a feeling that some people are wondering about this. What is the difference between a resolution and a goal? We’re almost using those interchangeably, but I know in our philosophy we think of them as being pretty different.

Michael: I think a resolution is all of these attributes we’re talking about. It’s vague. People make a commitment with no thought for how they’re actually going to pull it off, and it really doesn’t go any further than the statement of an aspiration. A goal is a carefully crafted statement that gives you clarity about what it is you want in one of the domains of life. It could be your marriage, it could be your vocation or your business, it could be your health, but it’s very specific, it’s measurable, and it meets some other criteria we’ll get into as we go through this.

Megan: So it’s something you can really get behind and do something about, not just something you say and kind of have warm fuzzy thoughts at a New Year’s Eve party.

Michael: You have to be able to measure or know when you’ve accomplished it. “Become a better person…” How do I know when I get there? I hope I’m a better person than I was yesterday, but I’m not as good as I want to be tomorrow or next year. There has to be some specificity to it. Okay, the second reason resolutions usually fail is that they’re boring. Hello. Boring.

Megan: Yeah, no fun. Goals have to be exciting. If they’re boring it doesn’t qualify as a goal.

Michael: I have to tell you, in our Best Year Ever private Facebook group, where we have people sharing feedback with each other and their wins and their challenges and all the rest, we had one of our members who said, “Man, I’m having a really hard time getting moving on this one goal. I just feel like I’m stuck.” So I asked her, “What’s the goal?” She said, “Well, I want to reconcile all my accounting and get my bookkeeping cleaned up.” I said, “Okay…”

Megan: That sounds about like doing your own surgery.

Michael: I know. I can see why you’re stuck on that. But I asked her… Some people actually like doing accounting. So I said, “Are you excited about that goal?” She said, “Heck, no. It bores me to death to even think about it.” I said, “That’s your problem.” Every goal is a project, but not every project is a goal. In other words, there are going to be things you’re going to do in this next year that are projects. Just a lot of stuff that has to get done.

Megan: Just life stuff.

Michael: Yeah, just life stuff. It’s in your business, it’s in your home, or whatever. It has to be done. But that doesn’t make it a goal, because for a goal to actually work it has to be exciting.

Megan: You really need intrinsic motivation.

Michael: Yes, important word.

Megan: Listen to what a group of scholars said in the June 2014 Journal of Personality. “When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely.”

Michael: That has been my experience.

Megan: That’s a nice way of saying when someone pressures you to do something you’re probably not going to stick with it for very long.

Michael: That’s right. That would be an extrinsic motivation, something external, but it has to be intrinsic. It has to be something internal. The reason we use extrinsic and intrinsic is because they’re fancy words and they sound better.

Megan: Exactly.

Michael: As my wife Gail says, people lose their way when they lose their why. I’ve found that compelling goals are compelling or exciting when they’re one of these four characteristics. They’re either spiritually meaningful, intellectually stimulating, emotionally energizing, or physically challenging.

Isn’t it amazing, especially on that last one, how many people do crazy things that you think, “There’s no way I would do that,” like running a 100-mile endurance run. Just to get my head around a half-marathon is enough, but there’s something about these things being physically challenging for a lot of people that gives them the energy and excitement to do the training to actually accomplish it.

Megan: One of the questions we’ve found helpful, if you’re wondering whether your goal is exciting enough or not, is “Why does it matter to me?” To really persevere, you have to pursue goals you care about. You have to ask yourself, for example, what’s at stake. What do you gain if you achieve the goal or what will you lose if you don’t?

Michael: Connecting with your personal motivation can make a radical difference in your results. Listen to what one of our alumni, Kelly Gore, from our Best Year Ever goal-setting course had to say.

Kelly Gore: Last year when I attended Best Year Ever I remember sitting in the live event and having this bit of an epiphany. I came to Best Year Ever as a very successful woman. I have an amazing marriage. I have great kids. I have a thriving business that’s growing, and I thought I was coming to set some bigger business goals.

However, when I sat in that event and the question was asked, “What is my key motivation for each of my goals?” it became really apparent that my key motivation was actually time. I wanted more time to invest in me, more time to work out, more time to get my steps in, more time to prepare healthy meals, more time to invest in my spouse and my kids, more time to make our home a haven for our family and to create memories together, more time to serve in my church.

The reality was the bigger my business got, the more of my time it took, the more financial resources it took in hiring more staff, and I really came to this catalyst moment of deciding I didn’t want to continue to make my business bigger and bigger. I still wanted the financial freedom I had, but I wanted to restructure things in my business and in my life that it would allow me to have more time and financial freedom to invest in the things that are most important to me.

So as I’ve spent the last year restructuring my business and my life, I have found more time. I found time during the day to work out and get my steps in. I found time to invest in my husband and take quarterly retreats together and have weekly date nights. I’m setting myself up so that this next year it’s all about being able to invest in the things that are most important for me. I’ve closed certain aspects of my business that were really profitable but took up a lot of time and a lot of financial resources, and I focused on things that create that time and financial freedom I so longed for.

Michael: Okay. Ready for the third reason your resolutions usually fail? They’re too easy. Now I know that sounds crazy, but it’s a myth that goals should be realistic. In fact, most people have heard of the SMART acronym. That’s how most of us were taught goal setting. Right? It happened for you. It happened for me too. The R in the traditional SMART acronym stands for…what?

Megan: Realistic.

Michael: Realistic is way overrated. In fact, I believe it’s a huge mistake and it’s a fault in that system, and the achievement research backs me up.

Megan: And let’s be honest. Realistic is boring. It’s hard to get excited about realistic.

Michael: I know. Exactly.

Megan: The truth is that challenging goals improve performance. This is kind of intuitive. I feel like we know this. We’ve all experienced it before. You get excited about something that’s tough, and the research backs that up. According to goal researchers Steve Kerr and Douglas LePelley, when goals are set too low people often achieve them, but subsequent motivation and energy levels typically flag and the goals are usually not exceeded by very much.

They went on to say that difficult goals are far more likely to generate sustained enthusiasm and higher levels of performance. That kind of makes sense. Realistic goals are not going to get you fired up, and conversely, challenging goals absolutely will. I think you spend more than a chapter on this in your new book Your Best Year Ever. Right?

Michael: I do. In fact, I talk in the book about the fact that your goals should be in the discomfort zone. In fact, I talk about three zones. The first zone is your comfort zone, and that’s where realistic goals are. We dial it up incrementally just maybe a click so we can say we’re seeing an improvement, but the truth is it doesn’t compel us, it doesn’t excite us, it doesn’t motivate us, so we usually fail to achieve even those low-rung goals.

Megan: You’re pretty sure on those kinds of goals that you can accomplish it. There’s really no risk. You’re like, “I got it. I know I can make the shot.”

Michael: It’s just a little bit different than I did previously, but it’s not that big a deal. It’s just incremental. Then there are goals in the discomfort zone, and this is where you’re going to begin to feel some fear, uncertainty, and doubt because you’ve never done it before. You’re not sure you have what it takes. There may be something scary about it that inhibits you setting it, but that’s exactly where your goals should be: in the discomfort zone. In fact, those negative emotions are really positive indicators.

Then there’s the delusional zone, and this is absolutely where you don’t want to be. All of us have flirted with this. We think this grandiose plan is in the realm of possibility; maybe I could actually accomplish it, but after a while that sets in, and then we get very cynical about goal setting, because it’s just too far out of reach. So, again, you want to dial it back from the delusional zone, dial it up from the comfort zone, and you want to be smack dab in the middle of the discomfort zone.

Megan: When we’re talking about the delusional zone, we’re really talking about things that are literally impossible, that defy the laws of physics or age or resources in some way that there’s no way you can possibly overcome even with extraordinary effort or serendipity.

Michael: So you’re saying it wouldn’t be possible for me to play center for the Lakers.

Megan: Well, not unless you grow at least a foot.

Michael: Probably more than that. Maybe like two feet.

Megan: That’s right. It reminds me of archery. This past summer we got our boys an archery set for one of their birthdays, and it was really fun. They love archery. They’re always asking to go out and do archery with Dad after school now that it’s a school year. When you’re on an archery range, or in our case the backyard, you’re trying to hit the bull’s-eye. It’s natural to aim for the center of the target, but that’s a mistake because it doesn’t account for the resistance you experience when you’re trying to shoot. You have to actually aim a little high to get your best shot. Who knew?

Michael: Because that overcomes the resistance. Whether it’s gravity or just the distance itself, that’s what overcomes it and enables you to put it in the bull’s-eye. Well, the same is true for your goals. You have to be able to dial it up past the comfort zone, shoot a little bit high…not too high but a little bit high…in order to ensure that you’re going to hit the bull’s-eye.

Megan: One of the things I was just thinking about is this idea of sandbagging your goals. This is something we’ve done ourselves in the past and certainly something we’ve seen our teams do or teams we’ve led in the past. It’s kind of a natural human inclination to sandbag on a goal. So I’m wondering if you can talk about why you think people do that and what’s going on psychologically in that phenomenon.

Michael: Well, let me start by explaining that idiom, because it may be an American idiom, and I’m not sure it translates cross-culturally. When we say sandbagging, we’re talking about the process of protecting yourself against some unforeseen thing that’s undesirable. For example, if there’s a storm coming in, a hurricane or a flood or something, you fill up bags with sand, literally, and then stack them up as a wall that acts as a protection against that undesirable thing that’s coming to you. We do that when it comes to goals too.

Sandbagging with goals means we create a wall of protection, a way to keep ourselves from getting hurt or humiliated in the event that we don’t accomplish the goal, but usually that humiliation is far less. The consequences of not setting a goal that’s risky are far greater, because if the goal is not a little risky it’s not going to excite our imagination. It’s not going to compel our effort. It’s not going to make us want to accomplish it. We have to set it out there where it’s risky. Otherwise, we’re not going to accomplish it at all. It’s going to be forgettable.

Megan: As a leader, how do you guard against this inclination people have to lowball a goal or to sandbag so that you get people to get out of their comfort zone? What can you do to create a culture where that’s not something people avoid like the plague?

Michael: I think one thing is just cover these three zones and talk about why the science says your best chance of accomplishing goals is to put them in the discomfort zone. Then I think as leaders we particularly have to make it safe for people to fail. In other words, if you attempt something big and don’t accomplish it there’s not going to be a consequence. At least in our company, I love for people to try things, and we fail at a considerable number of things. In fact, I would say if you’re not failing enough, you’re not trying enough hard things that really matter.

Megan: That’s a big idea.

Michael: You have to create a culture that’s safe for that.

Megan: Yeah, I agree. All right. Before we continue our conversation on the reasons that resolutions fail I want to pause for just a minute to talk about something really exciting that’s happening.

Michael: I am super excited about this, because my brand new book Your Best Year Ever releases today. Here’s the deal. We all want to live a life that matters and reach our full potential, but do you find yourself overwhelmed by the day-to-day? Yes or yes? Do your biggest goals get pushed back to the back burner and forgotten? I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can focus on your goals and reach your potential even in the midst of a very busy life, and that’s why I want to tell you a little bit about my new book, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. The system is powerful. We’ve been using this now for five years, or teaching it for five years. It’s totally research-driven. In fact, more than 32,000 people have already used it to accomplish their goals and design the lives they’ve dreamed of.

So if you’re ready to make progress professionally, grow financially, improve your health, invest in relationships, whatever your goals are for this coming year, Your Best Year Ever teaches the framework you need for success. The best part is if you order the book before the end of January you get hundreds of dollars worth of bonuses for free. You can find out more at So don’t wait. Claim your copy, and make 2018 your best year ever.

Megan: Love it. I hope all of you will go check that out. Now let’s dive into our discussion on the reasons resolutions fail.

Michael: We’ve covered three so far. The fourth reason resolutions usually fail is that they’re overwhelming. In other words, your focus is too broad. You set too many goals. I’ve seen this time and time again. Or maybe if you don’t set too many goals you try to cheat the system (you people know who you are) by listing one goal with a bunch of subgoals.

For example, you might have this goal: “I’m going to get healthy,” which, by the way, is really a resolution or an aspiration because it’s too vague. But maybe you set a goal to get healthy, and then you come up with all of these subgoals, like, “I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to drink more water. I’m going to get more sleep, work out four times a week, eat better, sit less, cut out fast food.” Blah, blah, blah. That’s a recipe for overwhelm. It’s just too much.

Megan: The other thing is that sometimes your goals aren’t relevant. One of the things we have seen over and over and over again with our Best Year Ever students is that they have aspirations for things that are not dialed in to the reality of their season of life. For example, somebody with very young children who don’t sleep well might say they want to get eight hours of sleep night after night without fail for the next 300-something days. Well, if you have children who wake up all night, you have a brand new baby… I mean, sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s just not going to happen.

Michael: Yeah, you’re going to be overwhelmed if you set too many goals.

Megan: You’re going to be so overwhelmed, and you’re going to be overwhelmed if you set goals that aren’t relevant and considerate of your season of life. It reminds me of a goal I set and failed to achieve for a few years, which was around starting a morning routine. One of the things you talk about a lot is the importance of a morning routine. This was when my kids were younger. They were not sleeping well, and I had this grand vision of this hour-and-a-half long time of personal reflection and spiritual connection and exercise and all of these things. Well, I was doing well if I got a shower that day. Let’s be honest.

What I realized when I was finally successful with this goal is that I needed a five-minute morning routine that I could execute regardless of how I slept the night before, regardless of what was going on with my kids or work or anything else, and that’s when it finally was successful, because I was considerate of the fact that that was my season of life. It could be that your professional life dictates some of what you can do or your family or whatever it may be, but you have to take that into account when you’re setting goals if you want to be successful.

Michael: Yeah, you absolutely do. I experienced the same thing with my morning routine. Somebody wisely said to me early on when you girls were young, and there are five of you, so the house was chaos and morning routines were pretty much nonexistent… This person challenged me just to spend seven minutes in a morning routine.

Now I spend like two hours, but I have to be careful when I teach on this publicly to give that disclaimer, because if I hold myself up as the ideal it’s going to be a discouragement and is going to overwhelm a lot of people, because people like you, people who have small kids, are not going to be able to dedicate that much time. And that’s okay.

Megan: It has just been evolving over time. The antidote to feeling overwhelmed, either because you have too many goals or because you weren’t thinking about the season of life you’re in and, therefore, your goals aren’t relevant, is to narrow your focus. Back to that archery example. If you think about a goal you want to set, you want to ask yourself, “What’s the likelihood of hitting the bull’s-eye with that goal?”

When you think about your stage of life and the relevance of it, when you think about how many other goals you have and what they are, do you have a shot at it? Can you do it? It’s kind of like if you had five arrows and were trying to shoot them at five different targets simultaneously. Chances are your accuracy is going to go down. You really have to be thoughtful about how many goals you’re setting and if they’re relevant to your season of life when you’re thinking about what’s going to make it to the list and the final cut.

Michael: Well, the fewer targets you have and the more arrows you can shoot at each of those targets, the more likelihood you’re going to accomplish them. This is just an argument basically for fewer goals, more relevant goals. This is a way to keep from being overwhelmed. One of my favorite books on this topic is The ONE Thing by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller. Listen to what Jay had to say about narrowing your focus.

Jay Papasan: Well, narrowing the focus is the big challenge. The reality is most of us run around acting like we can know it all, have it all, and do it all, and only in retrospect do we look back and realize there were things that were clearly more important that we could have done. So we need to figure out how to flip this equation around so we can have clarity on the front end about what’s truly most important and don’t have regrets on the back side about having neglected those things that were clearly the priorities at any given moment.

I’ll give you an example of how the “know it all, have it all, and do it all” showed up in my life. I was preparing with Gary, my coauthor, to go on spring break. My wife and I had just been through a lot that year, and we were going to have a little staycation. My kids at that time were 5 and 4 or 6 and 5, somewhere right around there, and I remember Gary asking, “Where are y’all going?” and I had this wonderful justification for staying at home in Austin and doing nothing.

I remember him looking at me and going, “You realize, Jay, that you only have about 10 left?” It absolutely shook me. I was like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Do you realize in 10 years this idea of Jay, Wendy, Gus, and Veronica going on spring break could be all over? Gus will be 16. He may want to bring his girlfriend. He may want to go on spring break with his girlfriend. You have 10 left. How are you going to use them?”

So I went home that night, told my wife, “We’re horrible parents,” and we immediately changed our attitude, because we realized before we had regrets that we might look back on a limited opportunity and not have made the right thing the priority. So here’s a quick exercise we talk about in The ONE Thing. We call it extreme Pareto. It’s on the 80/20 principle that just says we’ll get the majority of what we want from the minority of what we do.

So take your to-do list, whether it’s for the week, the month, or the day, and do this simple exercise. Looking at all of the things you could do, go ahead and take five minutes and ask, “What are the real things on here that I must do? Of all of the things I could do, what are the ones I should do?” And create a separate list. Then there’s one additional step. Maybe you took 25 things down to 5. That would be 80/20 right there. If you could only do one of those things this week or this month or whatever your time frame is, what would the clear winner be?

Well, guess what? That’s your number one. If, by chance, you nailed your number one and you had time for number two, what would be number two? You proceed through the list, and what you went from is a general list of all the stuff you could do written in the order you remembered them to a priority list, and we call that a success list. That’s just a simple exercise. It takes about five minutes, and we found that if you just stop you already know what your one thing is; you just need to identify the clear one thing so you can give it all the resources it needs.

Michael: The fifth reason your resolutions fail is that they’re easily forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. Life is busy, and forgetfulness, especially as we get older (don’t ask me how I know this)…

Megan: We’re just busy with families or whatever.

Michael: Just ask yourself this question. How much do you remember from the last book you read? Do you even remember the last book you read or the last speech or sermon you heard, or when was the last time you had a bunch of free time and couldn’t think of anything to do with it? The problem is that when we lose visibility on our goals we’re not going to accomplish them.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve coached who go through the trouble, through the brain damage of creating their goals and then just file them away in a desk drawer or put them on a shelf and never look at them again. This even happens in big corporations where they come up with elaborate strategic plans, put them on a shelf, and never look at them again. It’s easy to forget our goals if we don’t have a process for remembering.

Megan: No doubt, which is why we have to have a review process. Not only does that keep our resolutions visible throughout the year, which is mission critical, but it also helps us spot the gaps in our progress and keep tabs on how we’re doing throughout the year while there’s still time to make adjustments.

As it turns out, the discrepancy we often feel when we realize there’s a gap, like we said we were going to do something by such-and-such a date and we haven’t, very often provides us with the impetus we need to take action. According to motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, when your brain detects a discrepancy it reacts by throwing resources at it in the form of attention, effort, deeper processing of information, and willpower.

Michael: The good thing about that is if you keep them visible you’re more aware of the gap and your brain goes to work figuring out how to bridge that gap. In other words, you need a tracking system. Around here at Michael Hyatt & Company we’re pretty tool agnostic. Use whatever works. If a digital system works, great. If an analogue system works, great. If a hybrid system (which is what I use and what you use) works, fantastic.

The important thing is you need to record all of your goals in one place. Critically important. We have a spot, by the way, in the Full Focus Planner to do that right at the very front of the planner. So record them in one place, and then set a weekly appointment, even a daily appointment… I review my goals at a high level every single day, and then I do a deeper dive once a week in my weekly review and preview. You want to be able to track your progress. By the way, I describe this process in depth in chapter 15 of Your Best Year Ever.

Megan: This can really be the difference maker for people in whether or not they accomplish their goals.

Michael: It can. I’m telling you, that “out of sight, out of mind” thing is huge. I can guarantee you if you set goals and don’t review them on some kind of regular basis you are not going to achieve them. Very unlikely.

Megan: Absolutely. Well, today we’ve covered five reasons that resolutions fail: they’re vague, they’re boring, they’re easy, they’re overwhelming, and they’re easily forgotten. Back to those #resolutionfail tweets we read earlier. Those tweets are funny, but the reality of not accomplishing your goals is no laughing matter. That’s serious business. I think by doing what we’ve done here today, which is spotting the common causes of goal failure, people are able to preempt them from the start and have a real chance for success.

Michael: Totally. This is not that difficult. If people are going to set resolutions, spend a little bit more time. Educate yourself. My book, did I mention, Your Best Year Ever (it just came out today) will help you to take those resolutions that are vague and aspirational and turn them into bona fide goals, goals you can actually accomplish.

The truth is your life one year from today could be substantially different in every way. Your marriage could be better. Your health could be better. Your relationship with your kids could be better. Your business could be better. Your career could be on a different track. All of it could be better with a little intention, and the book will give that to you. Resolutions will not give that to you. You need goals, and the book shows you how.

Megan: Absolutely. I want to thank our sponsor LeaderBox. It provides automated personal development in a box. Check it out at If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you can get the show notes and a full transcript online at

Michael: Thanks again for joining us on Lead to Win. If you like the show, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. Also please leave a review of the show (it’s not that hard; we would be so grateful) wherever you listen to podcasts.

Megan: This program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.

Michael: Our writers are Joel Miller, Mandi Rivieccio, and Jeremy Lott.

Megan: Our recording engineer is Matt Price.

Michael: Our production assistants are Mike Burns, Mike Boyer, and Aleshia Curry.

Megan: Our intern is Winston.

Michael: We invite you to join us for our next episode, where I’ll explain how you can set goals as a couple, engage in some of the most meaningful conversations of your life, and work as a team to create a better future. Until then, lead to win.