Keep that resolution; create your best year ever


More than 200 million Americans made New Year’s resolutions this month and, yet, only 8 percent will keep them.

Most people make the same resolution 10 times without success.

That used to be me — but not anymore. I recently attended a two-day conference on goal setting in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted by my favorite author/podcaster/blogger/online mentor Michael Hyatt. Hyatt was the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers for many years and has the ability to break down complex problems into easily understandable and actionable activities.

Hyatt’s “Best Year Ever” conference was intense, giving me 24 hours to dive into what I wanted to accomplish in 2017 and why I wanted to accomplish it. His goal-setting framework was incredibly simple, yet effective and powerful.

I wanted to share what I learned from his course because in my years as the director of the Family Business Alliance, I have been amazed at how many presidents and CEOs don’t write down their goals. Or have a budget. Or do any formal strategic planning.

If this is you, you are not alone.

Write down your goals, make them SMARTER

Hyatt revised the SMART acronym into a “SMARTER” goal framework. It stands for: Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Risky, Time-keyed, Exciting and Relevant to your “season of life.” When creating goals, make sure you check each of these boxes.

Also, be sure to put them in writing. According to a study by a Dominican University of California professor, people who wrote down their goals were 42 percent more likely to achieve them.

It’s not too late to (re)start

These are YOUR goals — you can set the timeframe and timeline as you see fit. You can start, update your goals, achieve them and then add more goals. They are YOURS to do with as you wish.

For instance, one of my goals for 2017 is to read 12 business books with my husband, Chad. I am a voracious reader — one friend told me I “gallop through books” — but they tend to be fiction. I really struggle reading nonfiction.

I am pleased to announce I am almost done with the book quota I set for this quarter. So, I am going to change my goal and add additional nonfiction books. Because I can. Because it’s my goal.

Which leads me to another point.

Cut down your goals into bite-sized chunks

As the old adage goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Same things with big goals — cut them down into bite-size pieces.

For me, 2017 is all about optimal health and losing weight. They are big goals. So, I am chunking it down into many small habits: eating veggies at every meal, walking my dog daily to get more steps into my day, tracking my progress on a fitness app, creating a “health team” that keeps me healthy and accountable, etc. All of these new smaller habits will ultimately help me reach my big health goal.

Make each goal exciting

One of my favorite exercises in Hyatt’s course was to envision what my life would look like if I accomplished that particular goal. This simple exercise gave me permission to dream, see the possibilities and understand my motivations. If ultimately, my motivations were not very compelling, I either strengthened my goal or discarded it altogether. 

Similarly, keep goals exciting. This is important as you slug it out through the ups and downs of changing habits to achieve what you set out to accomplish. Because if your goal is boring, when the going gets tough, you aren’t going to care if you achieve it or not.

Express your gratitude

In goal setting, it’s important to realize you have more resources around you than you think. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life. Review the list and be delighted at all of the amazing resources you have at your disposal.

Whatever your exciting goals are for 2017, write them down, add a timeline, chunk them into doable pieces and keep them top of mind. If you can swing it financially, take Hyatt’s BYE online course and prepare to be amazed at what you will do this year.

I know that I fully expect to have reached most of my goals by the end of the year and for 2017 to be my best year ever.

Ellie Frey Zagel is the director of the Family Business Alliance and third-generation trustee of the Frey Foundation. She can be reached at 

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