Now, the good news is that this post is a lot more hopeful than the title implies. If you consider the whole thing, you are infinitely more likely to succeed.

Think about it. Why, for you, have the resolutions and goals of yesteryear failed to come to fruition?

I’m willing to bet, barring some major accident or life changing event beyond your control, the answers are one of a few:

  • Lost focus

  • No time

  • Distractions

  • Too busy

  • The goals were too hard

  • The goals were too big

  • Aaaaand you didn’t really want it anyway.

Am I close?

The adage says start with the end in mind. Great! Many do that; by the end of ‘22 I will have 30 new clients, lose 30 old lbs., write 30 creative blogs, go on 30 dates with my wife/husband…


….How, exactly?

For some of those we simply say “by just doing it.”

Yeah, right, like that’ll work.

For others we say, I’m going to network! Or join a gym!

Awesome — it sounds specific and clear.

The problem is, it’s not at all.

What is generally missing is the devil — that is, the details where the devil resides.

In some cases, the details might be how often you go to the gym, the length of workout, and the types of exercises –and that would be a fantastic start.

Or perhaps its which days you will write, the amount of time you will write, the format you will use (computer, ReMarkable, or pen & teller paper), number of words per day…

Nice!  It feels specific. And it is. Kind of.

But what about the rest of it?

I think the reason most of us miss the mark is we don’t go into the goal knowing how to fail. And that encompasses so many aspects:

  • How will you combat being tired?

  • What will you do with negative self-talk?

  • You know how you always judge your writing harshly? What are you going to do about that?

  • How do you want to feel when you wake up and think about the gym, or writing, or coming up with a new and creative date after 3 movies and the same restaurant (I’m looking at you, McMenamins!).

  • How do you eliminate the distractions?

  • What’s the best way to set up the environment for success?

  • What does self love and self forgiveness look like?

  • Writing every day doesn’t mean you write well every day, what do you need to enjoy the process even when the results suck?

  • What about time? It’s a finite resource. You can’t fit 10 lbs of potatoes in a 5 lbs bag, and you can’t schedule 28 hours of tasks in a 24 hr day. Are you clear on what you are willing to leave undone?

  • Where do you begin? In my experience, with both myself and clients, we all too often start in the middle and wonder why it’s not working. You can’t paint a house before you build the house; everyone gets that. But trying to embark on the actual goal without the prepwork is just the same. And like a house, the prepwork includes extensive study of what the builder/client/you wants and why, the precise drawing of plans, the scoping out of materials, options and impacts of choices on the final product and budget… long before building begins. Where do you begin?

It doesn’t matter how big or how small your goal is. It doesn’t matter if it’s brand spanking new or the next step in a current plan. It will fail without detailed clarity.

The old saying goes: “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s difficult to remember the original intention was to drain the swamp.” The alligators in the swamp of our goals are the list above: negative self talk, tiredness, time, distractions… how will you address them? Figuring that out on the fly rarely — if ever — works. It needs to be designed from the beginning.