How to set goals and accomplish them in 2015

It has been proven over and over again than when we write down our goals, we are significantly more likely to accomplish them.

Then why is it that so many people today refuse to take the time to sit down and set out goals?

For the past several years of my life, I have been diligent in setting aside time for goal setting each year. 

Each year, I have grown as a person, my income has increased, and my life has progressed forward.

My goal with this post is to share the method that I use for goal setting as well as show you concrete examples of my goals for the upcoming year.


Why set goals?

When you set goals, you are giving yourself something to work toward. You are creating a vision of the future.

The simple act of setting goals and writing them down can completely change your life. 

But how do you actually go about setting goals, how do you make something that is more than just a cheesy new years resolution?

Goal setting lessons from the masters.

A few years ago I dove into studying goal setting intensively. I read books by Steven Covey, Todd Henry, Chris Guillebeau, David Allen, Scott Belsky, Verne Harnish and many others which influenced my methods on goal setting.

After reading these books, I combined the goal setting and productivity strategies that I found most useful and created the method described below.

I highly recommend each of these authors for further reading on the topics of goal setting, productivity and getting things done. 


How to set goals and actually accomplish them

Setting goals and actually accomplishing them can be challenging. 

My goal with this post is to walk you through the primary steps of setting your goals and building an action plan to achieve them.

Step 1: Analyze your commitments

Step 2: Set your annual goals and avoid the top 4 goal setting mistakes

Step 3: Build a plan of attack

After that, I will share with you my 2014 goals with the realistic outcomes of them and also my goals for 2015. 

Step 1 : Analyze your current commitments

Before setting any goals for the year, I always take a step back and review my current commitments. 

What ongoing commitments do you have right now in your life?

Sit down and write down every single commitment you can think of. Think about your personal commitments, family commitments, professional, community, etc. Think about the different areas of your life that require your attention. 

Write out each of them and then take some time to reflect on the following questions.

  • Are there any that aren't aligned with my values?
  • Are there any that are taking up too much time and energy?
  • Are there any that I need to cut and get rid of?

I consider this my annual commitment cleanse. I take a look at everything I am working on and involved in and I choose which ones to drop.

The mental space that frees up from dropping some of these commitments can clear your mind to focus on newer and bigger things. 

If you start your upcoming year overcommitted, then you don't leave yourself any room to take new opportunities. This means that when new opportunities present themselves, you are forced to either turn them down or fall short on your existing commitments to take them on. 

It is better to do a few select things right this year, than to do a lot of things half-ass. 

Cut some commitments, you will be happy you did. 

Step 2 : Setting your annual goals and avoiding the top 4 goal setting mistakes

Once you have analyzed and cut any commitments, it is time to sit down and set your goals.

I recommend grabbing a notebook and doing this over the course of a week or two. It is often that more goals and ambitions will pop into your head the longer you think about it. 

Don't judge your goals to much at this point, just write down any ambitions that you have and you can come back to them later and decide which ones to pursue.

Write down each of your goals in categories such as:

  • Professional
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Creating
  • Financial
  • Learning

Each person may have slightly different categories. Choose the categories that are important to you and arrange your goals accordingly. 

Don't judge yourself on setting goals at first, just write them down and collect them over the coming week or tow.

Avoid the top 4 goal setting mistakes

Having a list of potential goals is nice, but not all goals are created equally.

Often we fail at goals for a handful of reasons. I have listed these top 4 below and explain them in much further detail.

  1. Our goals are vague and not quantifiable
  2. Our goals are unrealistic
  3. We have no consequences if we fail
  4. We have no plan of attack

Mistake #1 : Vauge goals

The first mistake people make when setting goals is setting vague goals.

A goal like "Be healthier this year" or "Draw more" does little to invoke change.

Instead, get quantifiable with your goals.

What does be healthier this year look like?

Does that mean exercising 3 times per week? Does that mean losing 10 pounds?

What does 'draw more' look like this year?

Does that mean 5 drawings this year, 10 drawings, 50, 100? Get specific. 

When you set quantifiable metrics, it holds you accountable. It gives you a way to check in on yourself and track your progress. 


Mistake #2 : Our goals are unrealistic

The next reason people fail at goals is setting completely unrealistic or overly ambitions goals.

Your goals need to sit somewhere in the middle of ambition and reality. 

Losing 60 pounds in the year, yeah its possible but it may be a bit overly ambitious.

Losing 20 pounds in a year, its much more realistic and if you have been on a track of weight gain, that will still be a step in the right direction/ 

Try to be ambitious with your goals, but try to reflect and think of your goals are actually achievable. 

If you aren't sure about the reality of your goals, then read on to mistake number 4. 


Mistake #3: No consequences

Another reason we often fail at our goals is a lack of consequences if we fail. 

Think about writing a paper back when you were in school. In many ways, writing that paper was a goal.

It was a long process that you had to power through, and you had to do a good job along the way.

Why did you do a good job on the paper?

There were consequences if you failed. 

If you didn't finish the goal, you got a zero and might fail the class. If you did a poor job on the goal, your grades would suffer.

Your grades acted as consequences which kept you motivated to get the work done.

So how do we set consequences when we have no external institutions holding us accountable?

It's simple, create a way to keep yourself accountable.

Recently, I was introduced by Tim Ferris to the wonderful website

Stickk is a goal setting website that hold you accountable.

Heres how it works. 

  1. Signup and set a goal that you want to accomplish. - In my case, I set goals for exercising 3 times per week and losing 5 pounds per quarter.
  2. Choose an anti-charity - An anti-charity is a charity that you would absolutely HATE to donate money to.

    For example, you can set your anti-charity as the Republican or Democratic party. You can set your anti-charity as the pro-life or pro-choice movement. There are a handful of potential causes to choose from, but surely some of them will be opposite of your political and social beliefs. 
  3. Put money on the line - Every week I fail at exercising 3 times per week, I donate $10 to my anti-charity. If I fail at losing 5 pounds in a quarter. I donate $100 to my anti-charity/ I won't go into detail about what charities I have chosen, but lets just say they sure provide some solid motivation.
  4. Get a referee - While choosing an anti-charity is nice, I sure as hell would never in my life hit the button which donates money to these organizations. That is why you get a referee, an external party who will check in to hold you accountable. If you fail, they have the power to hit the failure button and the money gets donated anyway. 

This method works wonders on goals that you may not be as easily motivated to work towards.

Personally,  my income goals and publishing goals are pretty easy to motivate myself for.

Exercising and getting in shape… well that one takes a bit more motivation and that is where Stickk comes into play. 


Mistake #4 : We have no plan of achieving our goals

A goal of lose ten pounds is useless unless there is a plan of attack associated with it. 

A goal of writing a book is useless unless you have a route to get there. 

Setting goals is just part of the battle. The next step is building a plan of action to achieve them

Try this exercise:

Get out a blank piece of paper.

At the bottom, write down your goal. (Ex. Self-publish my first book) 

At the top, write the current situation pertaining to your goal. (Ex. I haven't even started, just an idea)

In between, start writing out every step and milestone in between.

A loose example of this exercise for writing a book would look something like:

  • Decide on a topic and audience
  • Start writing the content
  • Finish one chapter
  • Finish the rough draft
  • Edit the rough draft
  • Get feedback from others
  • Revise based on feedback
  • Edit the revisions
  • Hire a copyeditor
  • Design the book cover
  • Handle the book formatting
  • Self-Publish the book
  • Promote the book

These are big picture milestones and they could even be broken down smaller. 

The important part is that you have created a plan of attack. You now have an action plan of what you need to do to move forward.

A goal without of a plan of action is just wishful thinking. 

In step 3, I cover even more details on how I break down these goals and keep myself accountable. 

Step 3: Build a plan of attack

One of the most common problems with annual goal setting and "new years resolutions" is that they fade out after the first few weeks and they are forgotten about.

If you want to achieve your goals, then you need to build a plan of attack. 

To do this, you need to stop looking at your goals in only the annual mindset. 

The problem with the annual goal

Often, we will set a goal like "Lost 10 pounds this year" or "Make $100,000 this year"

While those are great goals to have, when we just look at them in the annual mindset, it becomes easy to put them off. A year is a long time. 

We can always lose that ten pounds later. 

We can always increase our income in the second half of the year.

It's easy to set annual goals, and then forget about them.

So what is the remedy?

    Break those annual goals down into Quarterly goals. 

Set a Quarter 1 goal of losing 2.5 pounds. Then set a calendar reminder to check in on it. 

Set a Quarter 1 goal of making $25,000 this quarter. Then check in at the end of quarter one and see how you are doing.

These quarterly check-ins on your goals keep you accountable and keep you on track. 

If you want to get serious, then break those goals down even more.

    Break those quarterly goals down into monthly goals

Set a January Goal of losing 1 pound. 

Set a January goal of making $8,333.

Break your goals down at the monthly level and set calendar reminders to check in on them

The more often you check in, the easier it is to stay on track.

How I manage my goals daily

For those that want to take this a step further, you can even break goals down to a weekly level. 

I use a method that I call 'The Focus Sheet'.

This method allows me to keep my quarterly goals at top of mind, while also looking at my monthly objectives, my weekly targets and my daily tasks.

You can see the focus sheet below, and you can learn more about it in my free eBook The Focused Creator 'Learn the art of follow through and achieve your goals'.

My 2014 goals and the actual results

Now that I have shown you the method that I use for goal setting, I figured it would be worth showing you some tangible results of what goal setting can actually do.

Below are my 2014 goals with the actual outcomes and comments on what was accomplished.



  • Earn $80k in personal income 
    • 2014 income : $69,554 + $6,375 in accounts receivables. I didn't quite hit my goal but it is still a large increase from an income of $48,461 in 2013. 
  • Put away $6k in financial reserves
    • My cash reserve has been up and down ranging from $3-7k. My current move to Colorado put a pretty big dent in the reserve, but that is what it is there for. 
  • Deposit $2,400 into Roth IRA
    • Deposited roughly $1,000. Not quite my goal. I was a bit frivolous in spending this year while traveling the world


Publishing, Writing, Speaking:

  • Release a blog post every sunday at 6:15pm - I wrote 50 blog posts this year out of my goal of 52. 
  • Release one large project per month (Video, eBook, etc.)
    • Released The Focused Creator
    • Released A Beginners Guide to Squarespace Design
    • Launched a photography project 'PicBuggy' - Killed that one after a month
    • Created 'GO+DO Start a Creative Project that Matters' - Launching January 6th
  • Have 200 people reach out who have been inspired to create positive change in their life as a result of my publishing & speaking 
    • I lost count but I would estimate around 150
  • 1,500 subscribers (Sign up for e-mail list here)
    • 536 Subscribers 
  • 5,000 unique website visitors per month
    • I have averaged over 5,000 unique visitors per month for the past four months
  • Generate $1k of passive monthly income via blog
    • Made roughly $300 of passive income from my blog
    • Generated several thousand dollars of consulting and coaching work as a result of my blog
  • Create a personal press kit for public speaking
    • I failed at this, although I have gathered some video footage of me speaking
  • Book 5 public speaking events
    • I booked 3 speaking events
  • Launch a podcast


  • Publish a weekly art project every Thursday by midnight
    • I would estimate that I published roughly 20-25 art pieces this year. Not quite weekly 
  • Have artwork featured in a gallery or on a reputable website
    • Failed
  • Sell a piece of artwork or complete a custom commissioned work
    • I was commissioned for a piece, but chose not to accept


  • Generate a steady $5k in monthly personal income from web design consulting work
    • Average income grew to $7-8k per month by the end of the year
  • Get paid for a public speaking engagement
    • Failed


  • Seek out mentors in areas of motivational speakers, bloggers, podcasters, authors and youtube influencers
    • Found a speaker mentor
    • Joined a mastermind group of other bloggers and authors
  • Learn Adobe Illustrator & create an art project with it
    • Failed


  • Run a half marathon
    • Ran a half marathon in Stockholme Sweden : Finished with a time of roughly 2:40
  • Weigh 195 at end of year
    • Failed. I gained 5 pounds instead. (This is why I am doing the Stickk goal this year)


Bucket List:

  • Get certified and go scuba diving for the first time
    • Failed
  • Set up an avocado based food stand in a foreign country
    • Failed
  • Live in another country for approximately six months (Currently in progress. I am writing this from a beach in Mexico.)
    • Success. 347 days abroad and visited 13 different countries this year. 
  • Run a half marathon
    • Success
  • Hike a 14,000ft mountain
    • Failed
  • Build an online audience of at least 1,000 people that I can inspire
    • 536 subscribers. Not quite my goal but I am pretty happy with the results for year one. 

As you will see, I didn't achieve all of my goals but I have to say I am pretty happy with the results. There are some areas for improvement, but overall I am happy with my performance in 2014. 

2015 Goals

Now that you see the effects of goal setting on last year, here are my goals for 2015. 

Financial Goal:

  • $120k of personal income

    • $105k of consulting work

    • $10k from product sales

    • $5k from speaking

    • Be automatically investing $200 per week by the end of the year

    • Give .5% of revenue to Kiva micro loans 

Consulting Goals: 

  •     Be working with clients that I enjoy
  •     20 hours per week on client work
  •     $7,500k per month of income



  •     25 blog posts 
  •     52 podcasts
  •     Better Quality - Reduce output if needed 
  •     2,500 subscribers 
  •     Launch Youtube Channel


  •     Exercise 3 times per week (Utilizing Stickk for accountability )
  •     Weigh 185 by the end of the year : Current Weight 205 : Using Stickk for accountability with quarterly milestones
    •         Q1 200
    •         Q2 195
    •         Q3 190
    •         Q4 185


  • Play with Sophie daily 
  • Take my Grandma to Nevada


  • Email 5 contacts per week
  • Create a wine and cheese event series - Host 20 events this year 
  • Get involved in Denver Creative Community. At least one event weekly 

Bucket List:

  • Hike a 14,000 ft mountain
  • Crash a wedding
  • Publish a book
  • JAPAN! 
  • Go Skiing in Colorado


  • Produce 12 short videos 
  • Create 12 larger art pieces


  • Learn Business of Fine Art
  • Join Toastmasters and set goals once involved 
  • Learn Adobe Lightroom
  • Learn Illustrator
  • Cook 2 meals per week
  • Attend an in person conference

Boom. There you have it. Those are my 2015 goals. 


Setting goals is a skill

Setting goals is a learned skill just like baseball, public speaking or art. 

At first, you may set the wrong goals, or unrealistic goals. Don't be discouraged and keep at it. Over time you will eventually get into a rhythm.

As you set goals and achieve them you will begin to feel the power and positive change that goal setting can bring to your life.

Share your 2015 goals in the comments below.

If you do, I will even send you an e-mail or a message at the end of March to check in and see how you are doing. 

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