Three Keys to Setting Better Goals, Ahieve More and Unlock Our Full Potential

As 2017 quickly comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on where this year has taken me and anticipating what adventures await me in the new year. In anticipation, I’ve set resolutions for the changes or achievements I want to see come to fruition in the coming months, and I’d be willing to bet that you are as well! However, as I set new goals and resolutions, I can’t overlook years where I’ve fallen short of my goals and expectations and given up. I’m sure you’ve experienced something like this:

New Year’s Resolution: I want to read more to aid my personal development! In January, you read one or two books, then February comes, and you’re starting a new project that consumes your evenings and weekends. You end up forgetting your goal until December 15th and instantly are discouraged.

Yes, this is an example from my life, but you can substitute reading more for dieting, exercising, saving money, and spending more time with the ones you love. The reality is that we all have experienced this in one form or another. The question is, how do we make better resolutions and improve our followthrough? Here are three keys to help us set better goals, achieve more and unlock our full potential.

Change your mindset

I recently read a quote from Henry Ford, who said, “Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.” The bottom line is that our belief in ourselves dramatically impacts our ability to reach the goals we set. Do you believe that you are capable of achieving your goals? If not, do you believe that you’re capable of stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to reach your goals? We must have some level of faith in our ability to pursue the goals we set. If we are setting good goals for ourselves, there needs to be some risk involved. Risk requires us to escape our comfort zone, which fosters true growth.

Before we move to the next key, one more fundamental aspect of gaining a mindset that propels us towards our achievement, what will our reaction be when we take a misstep? What do I do when I realize it’s been two weeks since I picked up a book? Do I label myself a failure and give up, or do I look for adjustments that need to be made so I can continue my quest for personal development? It’s essential to cultivate an attitude of falling rather than one of failure. For a deeper look into failing vs. falling, check out chapter 3 in my book, Breaking Chains, or read my article on The Mighty by clicking here.

The ability to look for adjustments and have an attitude of falling requires us to install resilient systems. In The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stanier defines resilient systems as a built-in fail-safe that allows us to identify an obvious next step to get us back on track. Here’s an example: when I realize that I haven’t read my book this week, I will review my goal sheet and schedule a new time to read my book.

Write it down

The second key to setting our resolutions and keeping them is to write them down. This may sound simple and silly, or maybe it seems like common sense, but few people put to practice this discipline that’s supported by science. In a study performed at Dominican University, Dr. Gail Matthews found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down regularly. This action not only gives you an increased probability of pursuing your goal, it organically creates resilient systems. It gives you something tangible to review when you have missteps and want to give up.

Writing down our goals helps us set SMARTER goals. Leadership expert, Michael Hyatt defines SMARTER goals as specific, measurable, actionable, risky, time-keyed, exciting, and relevant. SMARTER goals allow us to set a course of action much easier. Here’s an example:

I will read each weeknight for a total of 3 books per month to facilitate my personal, professional, and spiritual development.

Bullet Journaling has been proven to facilitate this type of goal-setting and accountability. While I frequently journal using my 6 Links, one of my personal goals for 2018 is to regularly use a bullet journal to stay better organized and learn other techniques that can improve the 6 Links Self-Reflection System.

Take little steps

The final key is to take little steps toward your goals. Whether you’re trying to read more or training for a marathon, it begins with a little step, the decision to do it. Keeping with the book example, I wouldn’t say I like reading anything longer than an article. I’m not sure why but I don’t like it, even with an audiobook. However, I know that when I choose to sit down and read, I learn things that make me a better human being, speaker, and coach. By identifying little steps, I ease into my new habit. For example, my first step could be to create a list of 36 books that sound exciting and relevant to my goal. Step two could be turning off the computer and television from 10 pm to 11 pm to minimize my distractions.


What are the first steps that you need to take? Write them down under your resolution! I have confidence that if you adopt these three keys, as I have, 2018 will be the best year yet! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are our habits and successes. This new year won’t you join me in making better resolutions and reaching our full potential?

I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!

Blake B. Shelley is a motivational speaker, coach, and author of the Breaking Chains series. Blake is available to speak at your event or coach teams and individuals. Please send inquiries to [email protected].

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