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I love New Year’s Day. Sure, the day off from work, the chips and dip, and the endless hours of football play a role. But I sincerely enjoy the fact that after 365 days, the world gives us a new beginning. Despite my great affection for it, I took this “new beginning” haphazardly for the first 31 years of my life. I’d get excited about all the goals I wanted to accomplish in the coming year, only to see them fade away in week one.

But in 2012, something changed.

I got tired of settling for average. I wanted to pursue greatness. But where do I begin? How do I get there? After learning from some of the great leaders of our day, I began implementing these 5 steps. And they have transformed my life.

  1. Set measurable goals. This past year I set a goal to write a minimum of 2 posts per month on this blog starting in June. And guess what? I did just that, writing 15 posts total. In the past, I would have set a more general goal to “write more for my blog.” And at the end of the year, I’d be lucky if I wrote one. That’s a difference of 14 posts this year all because I made my goal measurable.
  1. Give yourself a concrete deadline. My wife and I wanted to start college funds for our kids. But because they’re so young (ages 4 and 1) it never felt urgent. So what did we do? We made it urgent by setting a goal to start a college fund for our oldest son by the end of the year. That deadline made us set an appointment with our financial planner. Now, our oldest son has a college fund. But without a concrete deadline, we may still be putting it off.
  1. Write down your goals. A few years ago, I had a dream to run a marathon, but instead of leaving it in fantasyland, I wrote it down. Waking up at 5 a.m. to train was difficult. Some days I was excited. Other days, I dreaded it. But on those days, I would pick up my notebook where I kept my goals, and there, staring me in the face, it said, “Run a marathon.” In January 2012, I completed my first marathon. Had I not written it down, I’d still be wondering if I have what it takes.
  1. Share your goals with someone else. I’ve always wanted to apply to be on the TV show Survivor. After years of talking about it, this year I wrote it down. And more importantly…I told my wife. When the spring season ended in May she asked, “When are we going to shoot your video?” Two weeks later, my video was complete, and I officially applied. Will I ever get on the show? Probably not. But had my wife not held me accountable, I wouldn’t even have a shot.
  1. Track and evaluate regularly. My wife and I live busy lives. I have a full-time job, and she stays at home with our 2 boys.  It can be easy to sacrifice our relationship for the sake of everything else we have going on. Not wanting to do that, we set a goal to go on at least one date per month. But we didn’t stop there. Every time we go, we write down the date, what we did, and where we went. Not only does this hold us accountable, but it will be fun to look back on one day.

Greatness doesn’t happen by chance. And I still have a long way to go. Has the process been perfect? No. I’ve still failed to achieve plenty of goals (more on that in a future post). But I have been able to achieve more goals in the last 5 years than I did in the previous 31 years of my life. And that counts for something.

I’m not sure what your dreams are. I’m not sure what goals you want to accomplish in this lifetime. But I do know one thing. Every January 1, we’re given a very clear opportunity for a new beginning. 2017 can be your year. The time is now. You were made to be great.

Question:  What are your goals for 2017? (Share below.)

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