Forget the New Year’s Resolution..

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on January 3, 2016 · 6 comments

6 years ago, I wrote this post Forget the New Year’s Resolutions. As many of you are busy preparing your goals for 2016, or setting New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to share this for your consideration along with a few additional thoughts.

My key additional thought is that as you develop either goals or resolutions, that you must develop a corresponding system. Systems of work are more effective than goals. Goals are just intentions.

As I look at my goals for 2015, one was to read more books. I won’t get into the specifics of how many, but I didn’t achieve the goal. One of the reasons is that one of the books I selected was a 1,000 page biography which takes a little while to get through. But more importantly, I didn’t build a system. I only intended to read more, and then measured whether or not I achieved it. That’s not a system, yet that is how most of our work is designed. Make sure you establish a system – how will it happen, when will it happen? If there are barriers, solve the barriers. Goals just aren’t enough.

I don’t carry the Levenger notebook anymore, but I still do use the goals worksheet I mention below.

Here is the original post…

Forget the New Year’s Resolution..set a real goal instead. Resolutions are just about your intentions. But goals, when done correctly, are about your actions. Don’t resolve. Resolve is like hope. Only planning and action will move you forward.


Yes, it’s the goal setting time of year. But don’t set goals just because your company says you have to. And don’t do it just because the calendar is flipping over. Set goals because they help you focus your actions, your intentions, and help you manage and remove the barriers. There is no magic here. It’s just the hard process of sitting down the plan. This is the Plan of Plan Do Check Act (PDCA).

Free download

I’m offering a free download of a GOAL SETTING TEMPLATE. It is not rocket science, but I do find that many people have no such template. I find that they don’t think through all the steps necessary to make these goals a reality. I use this template for helping me set my goals and turn them into actions. I should be reviewing my own document monthly. I probably only do it every 3-4 months but do carry it around in my Levenger Circa notebook. I will be setting an action to do it monthly with calendar reminders.

I describe the template in the following video.

In the video, I also describe why you should set MT goals instead of SMART goals, as many don’t get SMART goals right; even Chris Brogan didn’t get quite right in his video.

I also talk about the importance of identifying and understanding the gaps and barriers to achieving your goals. Hope is not a method, and barriers are real. Unless addressed, you will not succeed. Before setting your goals, you might want to also read the advice of Penelope Trunk and don’t also forget to include what you’re going to stop doing, per Danielle LaPorte’s advice .

So download the template, start your planning process, and share your experiences and lessons here in the comments.

Continue to get free lessons, videos, and tools such as this template by entering your email in the right-hand column of this page.

1 Ankit Patel December 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Great points. Resolutions DO NOT equal results and I think that its more important to get into action more than spending time planning.

A great way to plan is get a mentor, as Jamie had mentioned, and get them to help you plan. Once you have the plan in place just course correct with a mentor as needed. I emphasis getting off the ground and getting into action over sitting and planning. Jamie has been a fantastic mentor to me and his advice and guidance has been invaluable. Mentors save lots of time and money.


2 Bruce Baker December 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

This is a good idea. Does anybody use the ‘bowling chart’ to keep track of goals like these? I like it because you can stagger your goals. If you think it will take the next 4 months to achieve a goal you can put intermediate monthly goals in and then in April you can schedule that goal to be all the way fulfilled. Other goals can be planned with a ‘schedule’ for goal grow in. Each month you can check your progress against your goals and make the ones where you are screwing up red. I hang mine on my door to my cube to make my performance visual. My boss doesn’t like it yet because some are usually red (make problems visual).
Bruce Baker

3 Jamie Flinchbaugh December 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bruce. I think you do need a mechanism to manage your progress throughout the year. I decided I had already treaded on enough points in this post so far. I connect them to my ongoing project plan (think of to-do list on steroids).

I also found another post on new year’s resolutions and goals here:’s-resolution-success.html

4 Jon Miller December 31, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Hi Jamie

I wasn’t always a fan of SMART goals either but I’ve found that many people are helped by having the specific, attainable and realistic / relevant parts to it. We should use the simplest effective solution, I agree so MT or SMART, either way.

The points you made in your video about setting specific dates for the goal rather than “by December 31” is an example of the need for S. “Lose 100 lbs next year” could be a MT goal. A SMART goal would force you to detail how much of it by when, and by what means (diet, exercise) and even whether that level of weight loss is realistic (is it healthy?). The A for attainable forces you to question whether you have the time for exercise, the budget, or other barriers as you pointed out in your video and listed on your Goal-Setting Template.

I may be using the SMART goal differently from how it was originally intended.

5 Jamie Flinchbaugh January 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

thanks for the comments Jon.

I think it if is helping you set good goals and is working, then that’s good enough. That’s really all that matters.

After writing this post I thought I would scan the internet to see what others were saying about SMART goals. I was appalled. Tons of people are using both Attainable and Realistic. How is that possible? They aren’t even asking themselves if those mean the same thing or not. It seemed clear evidence to me that many people were saying SMART goals but weren’t actually using SMART goals.

6 Scott McDuffee January 2, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Wonderful stuff!
I have downloaded (thanks) and am starting the sales process (little yeses) with my fifteen year old to co-consprire on actions (MT) for this coming year.
All the best in Twenty-Ten!

Previous post:

Next post: