Episode: Setting Goals for A Well-Rounded Future

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Hey, Megan. How are you doing?

Megan: Hey, Dad. I’m glad to be here. I’m great. How are you?

Michael: I’m doing great. We have the holidays coming up, including New Year’s, and that’s always an opportunity to start fresh and look forward to the future, but the holidays also remind us that we have other priorities besides just work. So, today, we want to talk about goal setting, but we want to do it in the context of setting goals for a well-rounded future. You can’t just set goals in one area. You need to tackle goals in many areas of your life.

Megan: Yeah. I think this is really important, because if we’re not careful, when we think about goal setting, we think about that as something that is just for the professional part of our lives or maybe the financial part of our lives. I’ve been guilty of that for sure. We don’t really think about the other domains of our lives and what it’s going to take to design a life that’s great from a holistic perspective.

If we look at all of the different domains of our lives, what is it going to take to create an awesome life? That’s what we’re going to talk about today, and I think when we’re done, people are going to have a really clear idea of how to think about goal setting beyond just their business. Certainly, that’s an obvious place to apply these things, but there’s a lot more to talk about.

Michael: Absolutely. Well, Stephen Covey is one of my heroes, and Stephen Covey, of course, wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but he also wrote another book on priorities called First Things First. The whole idea is that we should assess what we believe to be the most important priorities in our lives and then align our lives around those priorities. The same is true when it comes to goal setting. If you’ve pursued only work…

I’ve certainly done that, where I was lopsided in my goal pursuit. I only had goals at work. I spent most of my time at work. Most of my focus was at work. Most of my creativity was at work. Even if you’re successful in that area (and I was), your life gets very hollow and very empty very quickly, because it’s not the totality of your life. What we want to do in this episode is help people to have a full, rich, balanced life where all of these different domains of life are considered.

Megan: You talk a lot about this idea of designing your life, that life is not something that just happens or that we have to drift into, which is what most people are doing. They’re just kind of drifting into the next thing and the next thing after that, and the results they’re getting in their life are just the result of where life takes them. You’re saying, no, you can really design your life.

I think that’s a familiar concept for a lot of us professionally. We think about strategic planning in our businesses or at work we think about setting some goals, but not everybody has thought about how to apply those things in the rest of their life. As it turns out, there’s a lot of life to consider that’s outside of work. So, I’m excited to dig into this, because I think if we only apply that concept of design professionally, then what happens to the rest of our lives is there’s no real vision for it. We find ourselves drifting, and we don’t ultimately like where we end up.

Michael: This may be some of our listeners as they’re listening to this. The objection may be, “Well, I don’t really find goal setting that helpful because I can’t control everything.” But here’s the thing. Just because you can’t control everything doesn’t mean you can’t control or influence some things. Usually, you can control enough things to determine the outcome or at least to impact the outcome. So, don’t fall into that trap that just because you can’t control everything… By the way, you can’t control everything, but just because you can’t control everything doesn’t mean you can’t shape or influence the future, and that’s what we’re advocating for here.

Megan: You know, one of the things I’ve thought a lot about this year in 2020 (probably a lot of you have too) is all of the things we can’t control. I mean, there have been so many things kind of thrown in our faces that we can’t control, including sometimes where we go and what we do and who we see. That has been dramatically impacted in the last year by the COVID-19 crisis. Not to mention the election and just so many other things that have happened that we feel like happened to us that we can’t control.

But I don’t know about you guys. I’ve also had a renewed sense, particularly in the last several months, about the need to control the things I can control. I don’t need to be able to control the outcome of the election or when COVID-19 ends and we get back to normal. That’s actually not necessary for me to have a great life.

I can have an amazing 2021, for example, even without control over any of those things, even if I don’t like those things in some ways, but I do need to remember my own agency and take control of the things I need to, particularly those areas that, for a lot of people, have been neglected over the last 6 to 12 months with COVID. I think that’s an important thing to remember.

Michael: To go back to Stephen Covey and to borrow from him again… He has this great model in the 7 Habits book where he talks about your circle of concern, the things you hear about that you can’t really affect. You could put most news and most social media stuff in that category. You hear about it. It takes a lot of energy from you, a lot of focus from you. It may get you upset, but you really can’t do anything about it. Then inside that big circle is another circle that’s your circle of influence. These are the things you can influence the outcome of.

I can’t remember if this is something I’ve added to the model or if this is actually in 7 Habits. I haven’t looked for a while. But then there’s also the circle of control. The one thing I can pretty much control 100 percent is me…the stories I’m telling myself, the actions I’m taking, the words I’m using, my thinking. That’s inside the circle of control, and the circle of influence is bigger than that. The circle of concern is, I think, where we’re tempted to focus, but it really doesn’t do any good.

Megan: It doesn’t do any good. All right. Let’s shift gears for a second and let’s talk about why it’s important to lead a well-rounded life. Why is it important to set goals and have a vision for your life beyond just your professional life?

Michael: I kind of think of it like a wheel with many spokes. Maybe a bicycle would be a better metaphor. If several of the spokes are broken and you have a lopsided wheel, it’s just not going to run as well as it would otherwise. In fact, you might end up in the ditch. So, to think of an example… I kind of gave my example of being lopsided in the work domain and not giving attention to the other areas. I went through a health crisis. I went through some relationship crises with my daughters. I had some things that could have been avoidable if I had focused on the totality of my life.

I think of one example where your mom, my wife, Gail, was pretty much focused entirely on things around the home, because she was a stay-at-home mom. That was just the model we had. You know, pretty traditional. She was really focused on that. I can remember before she got involved in our course Your Best Year Ever and actually decided to do it for the first time, she was heavily focused on things at home, primarily parenting.

But I can tell you, for a couple of years after the last of our daughters, Marissa, moved out of the house, she kind of felt (and she would say this if she were here) a little bit lost, trying to find herself, because she had not developed those other areas of her life. Those had become sort of atrophied. That’s natural. I think all of us, left to our own devices, will do that, will gravitate toward the urgent or toward the thing we enjoy the most.

It’s not a sustainable long-term strategy. It has to be all of these domains. That would involve your spiritual life, your intellectual life, your emotional life, your relational life, your financial life, your vocational life, even your avocational life, which is a big fancy word for your hobbies or the things you do that aren’t part of your vocation or part of your calling. All of those, as it turns out, are important if you’re going to be healthy and if you’re not going to crash and burn at some point.

Megan: This is something you talk about in detail with Daniel Harkavy in your book Living Forward, which came out several years ago. The idea of creating a life plan is something that, for most people, they haven’t done, but it can be a really good way to start thinking about this more deeply and really asking that question of “What is my vision for all of these different domains of my life? When I’m looking 25 years down the road, where do I want to be?” That can help to inform your goal setting as you think about that. Do you have any additional thoughts on that?

Michael: So, 20 years ago, I was first made aware of the concept of a life plan. Daniel Harkavy, who at the time was my executive coach (he ended up being my coauthor on the book Living Forward, which is all about how to create a life plan), was the first person to introduce me to this concept, and my head exploded. It’s a profoundly simple concept. We all understand the importance of planning when it comes to business, but have we intentionally used that process and applied it to the rest of our lives?

It’s shocking to admit this now, but it was the first time I ever thought about, “Oh. You mean my health could be different or my relationships could be different, and if I had an aspiration and set an intention and then broke it down into goal setting, I could actually change my reality and I could make it better than it is today?” I even smile as I’m saying this, because that whole concept is still, for me, pregnant with possibility. As I’m thinking about 2021, I think about all of these different domains. Frankly, and I’m not trying to brag on this, but I feel fairly accomplished in many of those domains, yet there is so much more where I can grow.

All we need is a process. We need to think about all of these domains, what it is we want, and that’s where it really starts: with that aspirational look at the future. So, forget for a minute goal setting. Forget for a minute even life planning. I would encourage people to take the major domains of their life… I give those in my book Your Best Year Ever and the course Your Best Year Ever and in the life planning book. They’re basically the same.

If you think about each of those domains, just ask yourself the question, “What do I want?” “What do I want for my marriage?” If you have kids, what do you want for your kids? If you have a career (hopefully you do), what do you want there? What do you want for your health? What do you want for your intellectual development? Give yourself permission to dream again.

Megan: This is so appropriate for this time of year. Not just this time of year in any year, but this time of year, the end of a tough year, before we head into a new year. If you’re going to design something different, if you feel like you drifted somewhat through 2020 and you want to not do that in 2021…you want to design 2021 and control the things you can in all areas of your life…going through this exercise (just get your yellow legal pad out and start writing) is such a great way to reconnect with that part of you that knows deep down inside the future is hopeful and that there’s a lot to be excited about. So, I love that. I think that’s a powerful suggestion.

Michael: Okay. I want to share a tool we have. We developed this probably five years ago. I still use it to this day. We use it with our clients to this day. It’s called the LifeScore Assessment. The premise is what gets measured can improve. The problem is we don’t usually have metrics around our non-work life. The LifeScore Assessment is designed for you (I’m talking about the people listening to this) to assess all of the major domains of your life. We have 10 domains, and you get to assess where you are and give yourself a score. The language is pretty explicit so that you can find yourself in the test, and you come out with this LifeScore.

Now, it’s going to tell you two things when you do this. By the way, you can find this at If you’re driving, don’t try to remember it. Don’t write it down. It’ll be in the show notes. And did I mention it’s free? This doesn’t cost you anything to do this. I take this assessment on a quarterly basis, and the reason I do that is because I’m often unaware of where I’m experiencing slippage or where I’m drifting. You know, if you knew you were drifting, you would stop and not drift, but you’re usually not aware of it. The LifeScore Assessment helps you become aware of it.

It’s going to tell you a couple of things. It’s going to tell you, first of all, where to focus in 2021. Here’s reality: you can do anything you want; you can’t do everything you want. I think it was David Allen who said that in his book Getting Things Done, but he’s exactly right. You can do anything you want; you can’t do everything you want. In fact, if you try to tackle every domain all at once (and you might be tempted to), that’s a recipe for not really finishing anything. But it’s going to tell you where to focus, and it’s going to give you a number in that area so you can see what the next level is and give you some ideas for how you can improve and go to the next level.

Megan: Once you’ve done the LifeScore Assessment and maybe you’ve identified where you’re really killing it, where it’s awesome, and where not so much… You know, it’s not going as well. Your score is not what you would hope it would be. As you shift from that big picture to, “Okay. Now it’s time to set goals,” how do you decide where to focus and which domains to pick? Do you pick something from every single one? Do you pick only the ones that are under-functioning or the one that’s the worst and set all of your goals in that domain? How do you think about that?

Michael: Well, I can tell you what I do. Some people use the LifeScore Assessment in different ways. For me, I focus on the underperforming areas, because, again, I don’t want to have a lopsided wheel. We actually give you a report when you get done with the LifeScore Assessment that shows you this. I can’t remember what we call this, but it’s a graphic that looks like a wheel, and it shows you where you’re strong and where you’re weak.

I focus on those areas that need the improvement. Consistently, for me, that tends to be in the area of personal relationships outside of family and work. Those friendships are the easiest thing to drift in. I’ve really tried to be more intentional over the last several years, and I still have a lot of room for improvement, but that would be one I focus on.

But in different seasons, I may drift out on my health. I might get complacent or I might get lazy, and I go, “Man! I’ve got to get focused back on my health.” Here’s the thing. If you don’t focus on it and if you don’t improve, this is a moving target. There’s a trajectory. It’s not like it’s a static state. Your health, for example, is either improving or it’s going downhill. It’s not just static. That’s why it’s important to assess periodically and see where you are.

Megan: The one for me that I feel like I’m constantly needing to prioritize (and, frankly, this is going to be something I’ll focus on significantly in 2021) is the avocational area. With five kids and the business and all the things, it’s really easy for me to put that on the bottom of the list. I think that’s tough. I think that has some negative consequences that, fortunately, I haven’t had too many of, but I could certainly, over time, see that build.

So, I’m trying to decide what hobby I want to pursue. Obviously, it has to be relevant to the season of my life. It’s not going to be playing 18 holes of golf on a Saturday, or something like that, while Joel keeps the kids. It’s important to think of something that’s relevant, but I know I need that, and I need to have that place to rejuvenate mentally and emotionally outside of work.

Michael: I think it’s important for us to say that all of life is interconnected. That’s why this is important. Somebody might think, “Well, a hobby is kind of optional. It’s not something that’s that important, so why does that even need to be in the mix?” What would your argument be for that, Megan?

Megan: Well, I think you have a lot more to bring to the table professionally and to the people you love the most when you’re mentally rejuvenated, when you have time for yourself. Not that you necessarily have to do all of your hobbies alone. But when you kind of refill the well a little bit there, you’re able to contribute more. If all you do is think about work… You work and you think about work. That’s true for a lot of people.

When they’re not at work, they’re thinking about work. They’re reading about work. They’re doing email, or whatever. You’re kind of in this self-reinforcing cycle. You don’t have anything new to bring to it. You don’t have a fresh perspective. What is great about hobbies and doing things recreationally is that you get to experience life in a totally different way. It’s pretty frequent that the lessons you learn there or the insights you have show up in your work or show up in your life with your family or your friends.

For me, that’s why it’s compelling. I don’t want to be a one-dimensional person. I don’t want to have the experience of when I’m not at work, I’m not that interesting or I’m just kind of restless or bored or when my kids finally all move out… Fortunately, for me, that’s a long time, because we have a baby. It’s going to be a long time before we’re truly empty nesters, but, you know, where I feel like I don’t really have an identity outside of being a mom and a professional. I want to be a well-rounded person.

Michael: So, we need to set goals in many of the domains, but (it’s important for you to hear us saying this) not in all domains. We don’t want you to be overwhelmed. Again, in our last episode, we talked about the power of incremental change over time. We don’t want you to be overwhelmed. We don’t want you to procrastinate, but we want you to set meaningful goals for 2021 in various domains of life, and the LifeScore Assessment is a great place to start to help you identify some of those domains that need attention. By the way, I should ask, Megan, do you do the same thing I do, and that is kind of highlight the ones where you’re maybe a little bit weaker and need more improvement and focus on those?

Megan: Yeah. I wouldn’t say that’s exclusively what’s happening. One of the things I have to be careful of is… The sort of orientation of my personality is I can get focused on what’s not working and double down and obsess on what’s not working. Where that’s problematic for me is that it can get overwhelming. It’s like I’m going to try to fix all of the problems all at once, and I sort of tell myself the story that everything is broken, and that’s not really true. Actually, a lot of things are going really well. So I like to have a mix.

I like to have things where I feel like I’m already doing well, and I want to optimize those areas, I want to figure out how to take it to the next level, or areas where I feel like, “You know what? This is not where I want it to be,” like the hobby area for me. So, I’m going to have a mix of both, and I try to not have too many things I’m overhauling all at the same time. If I feel like one area of my life really needs a lot of attention, then that needs my focus. I don’t want to have three or four areas of my life that simultaneously I’m trying to overhaul. That’s too much to metabolize.

Michael: Well, think of it this way. We recommend in our course Your Best Year Ever… And it’s built into the Full Focus Planner the place for 12 annual goals. You don’t have to have 12. There have been years when I’ve had probably as few as 9, maybe even 8, but never more than 12, because, again, if you try to attack everything, you’re not going to achieve anything.

That works out to about three per quarter. So, in any given quarter, three goals I’m pursuing. The law of threes is something we practice in the Full Focus System: three quarterly goals, three weekly objectives, three daily tasks, the Big 3. When it comes to those Big 3 goals, typically, I’m going to have one or two, sometimes three… Many of those are going to be related to my work.

That is a big part of my life. We can’t deny that. And I want to make progress in that area because that makes possible everything else, or at least it has a big influence on everything else. But I try to have at least one goal I’m focused on that quarter that’s a non-work-related goal. Now sometimes in the summer, when I’m taking a sabbatical, I might have two goals that are personal and non-work related. Do you do the same thing?

Megan: Yeah. I do the same thing. I would say, in a given year, I have four to five professional goals or something related either to the business or to my own professional development, you know, somewhere in there are those goals. Then the other ones fit around that. I kind of like that mix. I feel like that’s a good way of reflecting how my time is spent. I spend a big chunk of my time at work, and then I have less time that I divide up between family and all of those other things.

That has worked really well for me, and I think the Full Focus System you just described, that cadence of threes, is really helpful and kind of the antidote to getting overwhelmed. What we find with newbie goal setters, a lot of times, is that they will set 10 to 12 goals, but they’ll set like 6 habit goals. These are new habits they’re going to adopt, and they want to start them all in the first quarter. They’re so excited.

While that sounds great, if you haven’t done it before, you’ll quickly discover it’s not great and that it’s really overwhelming. Focusing on only three goals at a time is so helpful to avoid that overwhelm and, like you said, Dad, to make sure you’re getting a good mix of professional goals and personal goals.

Michael: Yeah. Sometimes we have people come to us, and they say, “Oh, okay. Well, I’ll set 12 goals professionally, and then I’m going to set 12 goals personally.” Here’s the problem with that. First of all, your life is not that easily compartmentalized. This is why we have to set goals in all of the areas.

What we’re saying (you don’t have to do this, but this is what we’re saying, what we advocate based on the latest goal-achievement research) is no more than 12 goals total, so, vocational and personal, total, in your life, because life is a seamless whole. The physical activities I do in the morning before I go to work impact my work. How stressed or unstressed I am at work impacts my family. All this is interconnected and interrelated. So, no more than 12 goals, but in multiple domains.

Megan: Again, you were talking about the Full Focus Planner. One of the things I love about the Full Focus Planner is that it gives you a way to keep those goals in all domains of your life, or all of the ones you’re focused on, front and center, visible. The reason we created the Full Focus Planner to begin with is we wanted to help our clients and customers connect their annual goals with their daily actions. That’s where we saw people getting stuck.

People didn’t have a natural connection. They set all of these goals at the end of the year or the beginning of the year, but they didn’t really have a way to operationalize that and wrap their daily priorities around it and make that incremental progress we were talking about last week on the podcast. The Full Focus System is all about doing that.

This is Christmastime, by the way, and it’s the first of the year, and there are probably a lot of people in your life who are thinking about these things too. The Full Focus Planner is an ideal gift to give this time of year. We have so many different options and colors and all of the things. That could be a real gift to the people in your life who you care about, helping them find a way to prioritize the things that matter most, not just professionally but in all areas of their lives.

Michael: It’s really a way to give people the gift of transformation in a very practical way so that people can actually connect their dreams, as you said, to their daily actions and see progress this next year, and to give people hope that 2021 can be different than 2020. I hope it is for me, and I’ve had a great 2020, but I want 2021 to be even better. That’s up to me to define it.

The Full Focus Planner gives me a way to capture my goals, to actually write them down. There’s power in writing them down, there’s power in focusing on them every day, and there’s especially power in translating those into my weekly objectives and my Daily Big 3 so that, as we said last week, we can make incremental progress all through the quarter and actually make that future we envisioned a reality.

Megan: So, Dad, how do you think your life is different than it might have been because you pay attention to all of these domains in your life? You know, you’re not only focused on the professional one.

Michael: Well, I’d like to think I would be successful regardless if I focused on just the vocational. I don’t even think that’s true. I think I could have had a health crisis sufficient that would have killed me or would have impaired me in a way that didn’t leave me able to really serve people in my profession. I think I could have my relationships completely burnt up, maybe be divorced, maybe have my kids not talking to me.

If I hadn’t gotten focused on this 20 years ago… I was on a trajectory that wasn’t good. And it wasn’t like I just decided at one point, “Hey, I think I’m going to ignore my health. I think I’m going to ignore my family. I’m just going to focus on work.” No. It’s much more subtle and insidious. It just kind of happened. But thankfully, I woke up, and I hope some of you listening to this… Maybe you’re waking up for the first time or maybe you’re being reminded of something you already know. But to take control of what you can control and begin to shape that future.

I can’t remember who it was who said it, but the best way to predict the future is to create it. That’s what you have the opportunity to do this season as we enter into the holidays, as we think about our most important priorities, as we begin to focus on 2021 in a real way. This is an opportunity to do that.

Megan: This is the perfect time of year to think about creating the future, to think about what you really want, what matters to you in all areas of your life, and, as we mentioned, it’s also the perfect time of year to give the gift of transformation to the people you love and care about in your life. If you want to find out more about the Full Focus Planner and how you can give that as a gift, you can go to

Guys, thank you so much for joining us today. It has been great to be with you and to talk about how we can prioritize all areas of our lives that matter to us. We look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, lead to win.