Episode: The Four Horsemen of Goal Failure

Michael Hyatt: Within 74 days of taking office, President John F. Kennedy faced his first major challenge. In April 1961, fifteen hundred Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs aiming to overthrow the government led by Fidel Castro. The exiles had American arms and air support, but they were outnumbered more than fifteen to one. After just three days they surrendered.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Although Kennedy didn’t create the plan, he approved it. When it failed, the whole country demanded answers. So the very next day he held a televised press conference. While some government officials ducked for cover, Kennedy didn’t. He said, “I’m the responsible officer of the government.” He also said this, a version of an old proverb that has been around for centuries:

There’s an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.

Megan: When you achieve something big, everybody celebrates with you. When you don’t…[crickets].

Michael: Any failure, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or a new product launch, isn’t just disappointing; it could also be lonely and embarrassing. Maybe you’ve felt that. You set a big goal and announced it to the world, but then life got in the way. Nothing went the way you thought it would, and by the end of the year you felt ashamed, maybe embarrassed, and you just wanted to forget about it. When you miss a big goal it’s tempting to do just that: pretend it never happened and then just move on. When we ignore failure we miss a great opportunity for growth. You can learn a lot from defeat.

Megan: We really have two choices when it comes to missed goals. We can bury them in the backyard and forget about them or we can look straight at them, analyze them, and find out what went wrong and why. To achieve our goals we must become excellent students of our own failures.

Michael: 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.

Megan: I love this topic, because we love to coach people on setting and achieving big goals, but let’s be honest: we’ve all missed some or all of some important goals on our list. Right?

Michael: We do. I miss goals almost every year.

Megan: Me too.

Michael: This year is no exception, but I want to go back to a goal I missed that was really consequential because it was expensive and it was painful. Back in 2004, we bought the house we’re currently living in. It’s an old Victorian home, and it was a disaster when we bought it. It was going to cost a lot of money to renovate it, and it was going to take a lot of time. The problem was I had a goal to finish that within a given year at a specific budget, and as it turned out, it cost twice as much and took twice as long as I anticipated.

I can remember calling up the bank a month before the house was supposed to be finished, and I told them the final estimate. The thing had gone so out of control. I said, “Okay, here’s the final estimate. I got this from my builder. Everything is going to be cool. This is what it’s going to cost.” They said, “Fine.” Then two days before we were supposed to finish up the construction, my builder called and told me it was going to be 2x of what he had told me the 30 days prior to that.

So I had to make another embarrassing call to my banker and say, “I am so sorry.” I felt so incompetent and like such a failure myself, and, of course, I was super angry at the builder. I was scrambling at the end, trying to figure out how I was going to pay for this, how I was going to do it. Now, I’m glad we made the investment, and I’m thrilled with the house. I love living here, but it was an expensive lesson, and it was absolutely a goal failure.

Megan: I think construction could just be a metaphor for life in so many ways. I know this because we also just finished a construction project of our office and had a similar experience as part of a historic restoration. It likewise took probably three times as long and definitely cost twice as much as I anticipated it would, and there were a lot of lessons to be learned in that. What were some of the lessons you learned in your original situation with the house?

Michael: Well, to be honest, at first I was reticent to set a big goal like that, because I thought there’s so much at stake, so much at risk, and this felt so painful, and it was so embarrassing to me that I was reticent to take out a goal. I kind of worked through that.

Megan: You mean after it didn’t go like you planned you were hesitant.

Michael: Yeah, after it didn’t go like I wanted I was reticent to set a big goal like that, but after I worked through it and thought about it, I thought, “You know, I could have totally done a different kind of job on this.” I could have worked with my contractor in a different way. I could have set the thing up so I had more probability of success.

In fact, when I built the carriage house behind my current house, which was a big project, I was much smarter about it, because I said, “I don’t like touching that stove and getting burned again, so this time I’m going to try to take the risk out of it some.” So we came up with a very solid bid on the front end where we made a lot of decisions on the front end, which made the planning longer but also reduced the likelihood of cost overruns.

It took a little bit longer than I anticipated, for sure, but I was happy for that because it came in right on budget, so I avoided the pain of the additional cash. I think in every goal, when you miss it you can learn from it and get smarter and better at setting goals in the future, which is, of course, what we want to talk about today.

Megan: You can achieve your goals this year by avoiding the four horsemen of goal failure. Now, part of my job is to represent the audience here, so I have to ask…again, for the audience…what are the four horsemen?

Michael: Because, of course, you know what the four horsemen are.

Megan: I mean, our audience might not be familiar with that metaphor.

Michael: Asking for a friend.

Megan: Asking for a friend.

Michael: The four horsemen are an allusion or a metaphor in the book of Revelation that symbolize war, pestilence, death, and famine.

Megan: Got it.

Michael: So these are like the last judgment. These things are unleashed on the world. It may be a little bit too strong of a metaphor for what we’re talking about here with goal setting.

Megan: Or maybe not. It depends on your goal.

Michael: Or maybe not. These are four bad things that can happen when it comes to goal setting, and they’re the bad things that happen when we go through a goal failure. We thought we’d use a metaphor people could remember.

Megan: I feel like we need some really “dun, dun, dun” kind of music here.

Michael: Yeah, exactly. Well, maybe Nick, our producer, can insert those.

Megan: Maybe he can work that out. So, for those of you listening today, I want you to pull into your mind a goal you have missed that has been particularly painful for you in the last year, because that’s going to inform what you get out of this episode. So get that in your mind, and with that, Dad, what is the first horseman?

Michael: The first horseman is the goal lacks clarity.

Megan: This is a big one.

Michael: Why this is important is that clarity accelerates progress. Whenever you have clarity about something it accelerates your progress toward the goal. When you lack clarity you’re not going to have progress. I was thinking about a time when I got lost in the mountains of Colorado. I didn’t know where I was. My GPS didn’t work. I took a wrong turn, and I was lost.

I had a destination, which was to get back to the cabin where I was staying, but I was wandering around in the woods because I didn’t have clarity about where I was going and how I was going to get there. I was just going for a walk, but I got lost. It was a couple of hours before I wandered into an area where my GPS worked and I could get a map and say, “Oh! Okay. If I follow this trail, then I’m going to eventually get back to the house.”

When you have that confusion, you’re going to wander around. You have to have clarity when it comes to what you want. A lot of people have these vague aspirations of what they want, like they want to get in shape or they want to save some money or they want to increase the amount of revenue they’re producing in their business or, more importantly, the profit they’re doing in their business.

The problem is those goals lack clarity. Those are more like New Year’s resolutions, and there’s a reason 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions are never accomplished. Why? They’re too broad. They’re too ambiguous. They lack clarity.

Megan: That’s why we advocate for a SMARTER approach to goal setting, which is an acronym that means specific (“Write a book” versus “Finish writing Free to Focus”)…

Michael: Which is my next book.

Megan: …measurable (“Earn more money” versus “Drive commissions up 30 percent), actionable (“Be more health conscious” versus “Walk for 30 minutes five times a week”), risky (“Boost revenue by 3 percent” versus “Boost revenue by 15 percent”)…

Michael: I have to stop you on that one, though. Why is that more risky?

Megan: Well, because it’s bigger. You don’t quite know how to get there.

Michael: We’re not going to go into this in depth, but the whole point about that is if the goal is not in your discomfort zone you’re not going to be compelled to stick with it, because it’s not going to matter that much to you. A trivial goal that’s in your comfort zone, you’re kind of like, “Eh.” You hit a little turbulence and give up on the goal. You want something that’s in the discomfort zone.

Megan: That’s right. Next, time-keyed (“Acquire five new design clients” versus “Acquire them by December 31”)…

Michael: So, a deadline.

Megan:exciting (“Research new recipes” versus “Join a cooking club”)… This is really the difference between projects and goals. If it’s not exciting, it may be an important project you need to accomplish, like finish your taxes for this year. Then, finally, relevant (“Read four books per month” versus “Read two books per month”).

Michael: Why is that relevant?

Megan: This is all about the season of life you’re in. For example, we are in very different seasons of life. You may be able to easily read four books a month because you have more discretionary time since you no longer have kids at home. I, on the other hand, would be stretching to read two books a month, because my time outside of work is pretty full. You just have to keep that in mind so you’re not in a delusional zone of goal setting where there’s no way you can accomplish it.

Michael: Think of a way to make your current or your next goal clearer. The more concrete it is, the clearer it is, the more likely you’re going to achieve it. Again, I just want to emphasize that clarity accelerates progress and increases the probability that you’re going to actually achieve the goal. So, Meg, what’s the second horseman?

Megan: The second horseman is your goal lacks motivation. One word all parents regret teaching their children is the word why.

Michael: No kidding. I was told as a child, “Stop asking why.”

Megan: I know. If you have a 2-year-old you may relate to this right now. It’s the right word, though, when you’re having a hard time with motivation, because why is critical to accomplishing a goal. If you’re not connected to your why, it’s very difficult to have the kind of sustained motivation you need to make lasting impact. Last year, one of my professional goals was to create a compensation entitling schematic for our company.

Michael: Okay, I have to stop you there. That by its very nature doesn’t sound exciting, so explain to me how that was a goal. Was it because of the motivation?

Megan: It was because of the motivation. There were two primary motivations I had. First, we’re rapidly scaling, and every time we hired someone we were making up titles. We were trying to figure out compensation out of thin air.

Michael: And we tended to inflate them, just to be honest.

Megan: We tended to inflate them. I could kind of see into the future, and that was going to be a real problem we were going to have to backpedal from. It was just taking up a ton of my time. The decision-making every time we would hire someone was so cumbersome it was driving me crazy.

I also knew that in order to effectively build our business and recruit top talent, which we’re passionate about doing, we had to know for sure that we were very competitive in the market with the salaries and compensation packages we were offering. So we needed to do an analysis of that, which I did not do myself but ended up hiring a consultant who did that for us. Anyway, it was a really important project, but you’re right. On its face it was kind of boring.

Michael: But I get what you did there. I get that it was basically a means to an end, which was more freedom for you and would allow you to do more high-level things.

Megan: And better talent for us as a company. About three to five months into it, though, we were in the weeds. A lot of decisions to be made, a lot of analysis I had to go through with a consultant. My eyes were kind of starting to glaze over. It was really tempting for me to just punt it and say, “Eh, we’ll get to that next year.” I just didn’t have the heart to follow through.

However, what I realized was I was going to be tied up (in other words, not free in my time) if I didn’t have a model for this, and it was going to become increasingly hard to know if we were competitive in the market as we were trying to recruit top talent. So I was able to reconnect with that why and get back on board with my motivation and finished it, and now we have this neat and tidy little model that takes me out of the decision-making process regarding those two things, largely, and it’s so helpful. I’m so glad I stuck with it, but if I had disconnected from that why I would have given up for sure.

Michael: That’s powerful, but I want us to talk also about the difference between internal or intrinsic motivations and external motivations, because there was an article I read in the Journal of Psychology that basically said if you’re motivated by external things versus internal things the likelihood of achieving them is far, far less.

I can remember back… I guess we’d been married maybe about 20 years. We didn’t have a budget as a family, and my wife (your mom) said, “I think it would be good that we got on a budget,” because we were in debt and were struggling to get out of debt and were spending more money than we had every month. So she set up a meeting… I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this story.

Megan: I don’t think so.

Michael: She set up a meeting with Dave Ramsey and me. This was back when he was small potatoes. He was willing to meet with us. I had met him because he wanted me to consider being his literary agent. She said, “I want you to come to this meeting. I’m not going to tell you what it is,” because she knew I wouldn’t come.

Megan: Oh my gosh.

Michael: So I went to this meeting, and there was Dave Ramsey. This is the pre-glory day Ramsey. Gail laid out everything about our finances. I was mortified. I was embarrassed. I’m the kind of guy… My image is important to me. I’m an Enneagram 3, for those of you who know what that means. I’m the kind of guy who before I go to the dentist I want to floss for six months just to make sure I don’t have any problems. If the house cleaners are going to come over, I want to straighten up before they come over. That’s my natural tendency.

So the thought of me opening up my finances to Dave Ramsey? Oh my gosh! But the crazy thing about it was it actually didn’t motivate me, and it didn’t motivate me, even though I was embarrassed, because I felt coerced. There was something about it that made me just want to rebel, like, “I’m not going to clean up my act on this, because I feel like I’m put in a situation where I’m coerced.”

When I finally got my financial act together and started accomplishing financial goals was when I dug deep and found my own reasons. My own reasons were things like I didn’t want the stress of debt. I wanted to have financial margin. I wanted to make sure my family was taken care of when I passed on. Those were all of the internal motivations that really worked, but even a meeting with Dave Ramsey, where he saw the nakedness of my financial situation, wasn’t enough to motivate me, and it was because it was external. So for those of you listening, you have to find your own reasons.

Megan: That is an amazing story about Dave Ramsey.

Michael: You never heard it before?

Megan: No. I think some people might say you were a little hardheaded.

Michael: Oh my gosh. No kidding.

Megan: I mean, if not even Dave Ramsey can get through to you, I don’t know. That might be a personal problem.

Michael: Yeah, exactly. Well, I’ve worked through it. There has been therapy involved, I’ll just say.

Megan: That’s good. I do think it illustrates how critically important it is to have an intrinsic motivation, that there’s no extrinsic motivation that’s powerful enough to move you if you don’t want to be moved. That’s important to remember both about ourselves and other people who are in our lives, because if we impose our own goals on them it can be problematic. However, there’s one caveat to that, which is a tricky one. That is, what if you’re in a professional setting where your boss has a very important goal but it’s not something that’s important particularly to you or you’re not motivated or passionate about it? Then what do you do?

Michael: Then you have to dig a little bit deeper to find your own reasons. Maybe one reason, if you can’t find any others, is you want to keep your job. That’s important because you’ve developed this habit of eating and so has your family. But I think it’s more important than that. I think you have to dig deep and figure out, “Why is this important to me? How can I win in this situation?” Maybe it’s professional development. Maybe it’s that I’m going to learn something I haven’t learned before. Maybe it’s an opportunity to develop a new skill.

Whatever it is, you have to find your own reasons, and you have to kind of excavate that inside of your own heart and come up with something. I really believe in this too: literally writing down the why. “Why am I motivated?” You’re going to get to a point when you’re in the messy middle when you’re not so motivated. The initial shine of that goal you want to achieve has worn off, and now it’s just this thing that’s looming out there that’s hanging over your head that you’ve committed to and you’re wondering, “Why in the world did I commit to that thing?”

That’s the value of writing down these intrinsic or internal motivations, connecting you to a bigger story, a bigger why, what that’s going to enable, because you want to be able to review that when you get in the messy middle so that you’ll finish.

Megan: It’s kind of back to my story of the compensation model goal I had. That was sort of self-imposed. I was kind of being my own boss in that moment of saying, “This is important to do,” but it certainly wasn’t exciting. You could have handed me that goal just as easily, and I probably would have groaned and sighed for a minute, just as I did when I said it for myself. I really had to find that intrinsic motivation to accomplish something that on its face was kind of boring.

Michael: Right. It was kind of linked to a bigger aspiration, not the goal but a context for the goal. Like I’m thinking of right now… Believe it or not, we’re about to embark upon another renovation. We’re going to enlarge the den and do all this stuff in the back. I have almost this post-traumatic response when I’m thinking about this goal. It’s literally a goal for 2019 to finish this renovation, but I know that doing the renovation doesn’t motivate me. That’s not exciting to me.

The only thing that makes it exciting is when I dig into the motivation and think, “Oh, this is going to allow us to entertain,” which is something that’s really important to us in this stage of our lives. One of the things we do with our church is host this young adult ministry, and we want a place for them to come and for all of us to convene and be able to talk. So that’s very motivational to me. When I think about our family getting together, that motivates me, because we’re not going to be all crammed into the smaller quarters now, but we’ll have more room to spread out and really enjoy one another.

So I’ve had to do the work to connect myself to that bigger aspiration that’s internally important to me. Gail has her own reasons for why she wants to do the renovation. Honestly, she wasn’t too motivated at the beginning either, so she had to dig deep and find her own motivations. Ours are a little bit different, but it’s important work we do if we’re going to accomplish our goals and avoid this horseman.

Megan: So, as a reminder, the first horseman was that the goal lacks clarity. Second is that the goal lacks motivation. What’s the third?

Michael: The third horseman is the goal lacks activation. Failure to launch is a thing. I think when most of us look at a goal that meets all the SMARTER criteria and is something that’s really meaningful to us and something we really want to achieve, probably one of the first things we face is a sense of feeling overwhelmed, and it’s really easy, if we’re not careful, to start procrastinating. This is something I face every year on every big goal. I just procrastinate.

This is one of the reasons people often put deadlines on the goal at the end of the year. They have all of these goals, but they’re all due at the end of the year, which means I don’t really have to start on it right now because I have a lot of time to get started on it. That’s one of the reasons we advocate less time rather than more time, because the less time creates a constraint that can sometimes get us activated faster and get us into the game faster than otherwise.

So, it can lack activation. Here’s a good example. Whenever I take on a writing project… I’ve written, I think, nine books now. There’s always a tendency to procrastinate. Right now I’m working on my book that’s going to be coming out in 2020. The publisher has the book that’s coming out in 2019. It’s all finished. The typesetting is done. That’s going to be coming out in April. I relaxed for about a minute, enjoyed the fact that I accomplished that goal, at least my part of it, but then I realized I have a contract to do a book in 2020. I don’t yet have the clarity on what that needs to be, and I keep procrastinating.

That’s what a lot of people do: they procrastinate. It’s not the achievement of the goal (I know I’ll write the book); it’s getting started. That’s how it is for most people: getting started, getting in the game. One little hack I use is I schedule an appointment. I have two sessions scheduled with Joel, your husband, our chief content officer, so we can begin to tease this out and get the clarity we need to get started. I know once I get in the game and we have that meeting everything else is going to become much easier, but it’s the getting started part that’s hard. Do you experience that?

Megan: Totally. I also find that if I start writing things down it becomes so much less overwhelming. I think that’s what you’re saying too. When you keep it in your head you can get so stuck and paralyzed. You have to get it out in some way so you can get moving, especially if it’s a creative project or a new initiative you want to do. You have to talk to somebody about it, write about it, something, so you can get some activation and get going on the next steps.

Michael: Another example of this or a way to hack this and make sure you don’t fall victim to this horseman, the lack of activation, is to start with the next easiest step.

Megan: Yes. I love this.

Michael: There’s this advice that’s going around that comes up in various forms like, “Eat the frog,” which means take the biggest, ugliest part of the project and achieve that first. I personally think that’s stupid advice, because that’s like walking into the gym, which I did this morning, and let’s just say I hadn’t worked out in month, and I go, “You know what? I’m going to walk over to the free weights, I’m going to grab 200 pounds, and I’m going to bench-press that.”

That’s a recipe for injury or stress at least, and it’s going to keep me out of the gym probably for weeks, if not months. The smart thing to do would be to warm up, which I still do to this day. I’m working out three times a week in the gym doing strength training. I still start on the treadmill just to warm myself up. This is how it is for achieving your goals. Start with an easy thing. It’s easy to get on the treadmill and walk for five minutes as a warm-up. Then I gradually get into the workout.

The same thing has to happen… When I’m writing a book, it has to be something simple. It has to be in my comfort zone. What I wouldn’t do is take the biggest, ugliest, gnarly chapter and start with that. A lot of people would advise you to do that, start with that big chapter. Here’s the problem: if you start there, you’re likely never going to finish the book, because you’re going to be defeated. You’re going to lose in that contest against that big next step. Instead, chunk it down and ask yourself, “What’s the smallest next step I can take? What’s a baby step that’ll move me forward and give me some confidence and a sense of momentum?”

Megan: This is kind of back to the whole Dave Ramsey idea. Full circle to your story earlier. He teaches the baby steps, which is that you do these incremental, small, and increasingly large actions. You have the big goal of get out of debt, but you get there one baby step at a time. I think your first baby step is to save $1,000 for your emergency fund, just little tiny bit by little tiny bit. That’s very doable. Joel and I worked through that whole system when we got married. We got out of debt.

Michael: We have too.

Megan: When we went through that process, we didn’t start with our biggest debt, which I think was a car loan at the time. We started with some dinky little like $200 credit on an old credit card or something. We paid that off, and we’re like, “Yeah, okay. Now let’s snowball it.” It started to feel like it was picking up steam, and we got more confidence and more momentum. Then all of a sudden we kind of fell over the finish line over time, because we kept moving in that direction. That’s what we want to have happen for people’s goals.

Michael: This is where I think with Dave’s system… Financial advisers and other people say, “No, no, no. You should pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.” That makes sense financially, but it doesn’t make sense psychologically, and that’s why Dave says, “No, forget that. Start with the easiest one, the smallest one first, because you want a sense of momentum.” That’s really what we’re talking about here.

So, the first horseman is the goal lacks clarity. The second horseman is the goal lacks motivation. The third horseman is the goal lacks activation. What is the fourth horseman, Meg?

Megan: The fourth horseman is the goal lacks visibility. This is a huge one.

Michael: What does that mean?

Megan: It means you set goals at the beginning of the year and, presumably, you’ve set them according to our SMARTER framework…

Michael: And you’ve written them.

Megan: And you’ve written them down so they’re stored somewhere on your computer or in your planner, or whatever, but then you never look at them again. This happens for so many people. It feels so good to set the goals, and then you go back to your life and they fall out of your mind and your memory. You just get back into the daily rhythm, and you never start making any progress. There are no next actions because they’re just not on your radar anymore.

Michael: This is where we have to be really careful, because there’s something so satisfying about designing this next year, planning. It almost feels like if we’ve planned it we’ve done it, but nothing is further from the truth. When you’ve planned it, maybe you’re about 30 or 40 percent done, but it’s the execution of that thing that has to take place. The only way that’s going to happen is if those goals stay visible. If you lose sight of them, if you shove them in a desk drawer or leave them to gather dust on your hard drive, that’s not going to make the goal come to pass.

Megan: Also, when people lose visibility on their goals they lose the opportunity to revise them or remove them or recommit to them (which are three options we talk about if you’re facing some challenges, if you’re not making the progress you want on your goals), and then they just end up giving up altogether. They throw the whole thing out, and by June or maybe earlier they’re not even thinking about it anymore, when in reality they could have made some adjustments along the way if they had a regular practice of visibility that would have enabled them to keep making progress.

Michael: This visibility thing is so important. Businesspeople know this intuitively. If you don’t keep visibility on your key performance indices or indicators, you’re not going to be able to manage the business. The same thing is true with your goals. So what are some really practical ways we can dive into visibility?

Megan: On a company-wide basis, besides KPIs, which could be very useful if they’re related to goals, one of the things we do is we have a weekly team huddle where we review the goals we’re working on for the whole year, but particularly the ones we’re working on for the quarter, so, two to three we’re working on for the quarter, and we review our progress on those goals once a month.

In other words, we’re just reviewing the goals themselves on a weekly basis, but then we’re reporting on the progress we’ve made on a monthly basis, because some of those larger goals it takes that long to really see the needle move. That’s so helpful for our team, because we know what we’re all working toward together. Otherwise, they could be in a binder somewhere, and maybe the executive team knows them and maybe not, but certainly the rest of the team is not aligned around them and working together toward them. So that’s a big deal.

Michael: What I hear you say when it comes to the company is you have to have a regular rhythm of review.

Megan: That’s right.

Michael: (I didn’t mean to alliterate that; it just came out.) A regular rhythm of review so these goals are being seen regularly, not just by the leadership but by the entire company, so you can create alignment. On a personal level, the same thing is true. For example, for me, I’m reviewing my goals daily. In the Full Focus Planner, I have my goals listed on one of the very first pages. There’s a goal summary there where I have all of my…

In this year, 2018, when we’re recording this, I have nine goals for the year, and I’m reviewing those on a daily basis. Then once a week I’m looking at them a little bit deeper in the motivation level, and then I’m looking at considering those. (We’ll go into this in depth in a later episode.) Then I go in more depth on a quarterly basis. I’m not losing sight of those because I’m reviewing them.

It doesn’t take that long. This is like a 60-second exercise every day to just scan and ask myself a very important question. “What can I do today that would move me in the direction of accomplishing one or more of these goals?” Now, not every one of my Big 3 every day has to be related to a goal, but I like to at least connect to something in one of my Big 3 tasks for today that connects to a goal. There are other ways to do it too. Have you found other ways to keep your goals visible?

Megan: Well, just as a reminder, if you’re a user of the Full Focus Planner, this is what the ribbons are for. One of the ribbons is intended to be put on your goal page. Most often, anyway. Some people do it differently, but that’s the intention of it.

Michael: That was our intention.

Megan: Then the other one is to be on your daily page, the day you’re on. So it’s very easy to just flip back during that process. We’ve also built it into the weekly preview process. There’s a prompt there to do it. We’re trying to make it super easy to remind you that this should be a part of your regular discipline.

Michael: Another idea is I’ve printed them out and hung them on the wall before.

Megan: Yeah, me too.

Michael: That creates visibility for me to walk in the room and see those. Another thing I’ve done… I didn’t do it this last year, but I’ve done it for a couple of years. I would create essentially screen savers.

Megan: I remember this.

Michael: I paid somebody to go out and find 10 images (I had 10 goals that year) that represented what I wanted to achieve that were inspirational to me that helped me visualize what I wanted to accomplish, and then they layered over that image the type with the goal. Macs have a cool feature where if you put those in a folder you can say use the images in this folder as your screen saver, and then it would just rotate through those, so whenever my computer would go to sleep I would be reminded of those. That was very, very effective.

Megan: As I think back on this year, once again I’m reminded that there is so much to learn from the successes and failures, probably even the failures more than the successes, honestly, because they can inform how we go forward. I am just really excited about activating my goals. We’ve actually already started the new year because our fiscal year starts on December 1, so we have a little jump on it, and it’s just so fun to turn the page.

Michael: For me too. I’m so excited about this next year. One of the things I would say, too, is that goal achievement is like any other skill. It’s something you can grow and get better at. Just because you haven’t accomplished goals in the past… This is an opportunity to learn, and hopefully these four horsemen will enable you to do that, to get the kind of clarity you need and get better at goal setting so 2019 can truly be your best year ever.

Megan: If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you can get the show notes, including a full transcript, at

Michael: Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next week when we’ll show you how being a generous leader pays huge dividends. Until then, lead to win.