Your Best Year Ever
By Michael Hyatt
Author Michael Hyatt knows all too well that many of us make big plans and set ourselves goals for the year, only to find them getting pushed aside and often forgotten as the demands of day-to-day life take over. In this book, his message is that it doesn’t need to stay this way, and he shares the research-driven system that he believes can help all of us to take great strides toward turning dreams into realities this year. We all want to be the best we can be in life, and the author sets out powerful, tried and tested wisdom that’s designed to guide readers through the minefield of procrastination, setbacks, and limiting beliefs that can only ever hold them back. In short, it’s everything we need to make this year the best year ever.
My Top 3 Takes from the Summary
Our habits of thinking tend to produce consistent results no matter what’s going on in our work, our relationships or the world around us.
Our beliefs play a massive part in how we approach life.
It’s impossible to discount the influence of our social circle.
A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals
It’s fair to say that most readers picking up this book will do so because they’ve been struggling to achieve an important goal. Perhaps a New Year resolution keeps repeating, only to remain unfulfilled as each year comes to an end. Perhaps there’s an overall sense of life lacking meaning in some way, and goals that once seemed important no longer feel inspiring or motivational. To demonstrate his understanding of the way most readers may be feeling, the author tells the story of Heather Kampf. He writes: Heather Kampf is a highly decorated runner with an impressive string of accomplishments, including three USA championships for the road mile. But what’s most impressive was the time she won first place in the 600-meter final at the 2008 Big 10 Indoor Track Championship after falling flat on her face.
For the 600-meter dash, runners make three laps around a 200-meter course. As the third and final lap approached, Kampf was in second place and ready to take first. Then in a split second everything changed. “I was making a move to pass . . . and probably just didn’t account for enough space for my long stride,” she recalled. “I felt my heel get clipped once, and then on the second time I knew I was going down.”
More than going down, Kampf went sprawling. She skidded along the ground, her face bouncing on the red track as her momentum tossed her legs up behind her. Spectators gasped. It was a hard fall that instantly knocked her to the rear of the pack with virtually no hope of catching up.
When it comes to achieving our goals, a lot of us feel like that. We start out strong and make huge strides, gathering momentum as we go. Then we get derailed or fall short of our hopes, not always — but often enough that most of us can point to a handful of setbacks or failures with disappointment and regret. When Heather Kampf hit the ground, she could have stayed down. She could have easily become discouraged and admitted what everyone was already thinking — that her race was over. But she didn’t. She leapt up as fast as she fell down and began closing the distance. The crowd responded. “As I started to gain momentum, it was like a crescendo of noise and excitement,” she remembered. To the amazement of the announcers and spectators, she passed one runner, then another, then finally her own teammate to take first place!
Kampf’s story provides a powerful picture of what can happen when we stay in the game and keep pushing. Maybe you feel a few steps behind. Maybe you’re at the rear of the pack and can’t see how you might regain lost ground and reach your goals.
The 5 steps set out in detail by the author are:
Believe the possibility
Complete the past
Design your future
Find your why
Make it happen
Anything is Possible
To help the reader understand that anything is possible if they believe it to be possible, the author writes: The circumstances of our lives change week by week, year by year. But we’re still us. And our habits of thinking tend to produce consistent results no matter what’s going on in our work, our relationships or the world around us. If our habits of thinking are beneficial, we tend to experience positive results, such as happiness, personal satisfaction, and even material success. If our habits of thinking are counterproductive, however, we often experience the opposite: unhappiness, dissatisfaction and the nagging feeling that the deck is somehow stacked against us.
Even if your habits of thinking are already serving you well, you can experience transformative personal improvement in all areas of your life by upgrading your beliefs. When we focus on belief improvement, often our circumstances follow suit. Our beliefs play a massive part in how we approach life. We tend to experience what we expect. Because our expectations shape what we believe is possible, they shape our perceptions and actions. That means they also shape the outcomes. And that means they shape our reality. To accomplish anything, we have to believe we’re up to the challenge. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that we even know how we’re going to accomplish it. Usually, we don’t know. It just means we believe we’re capable; we have what it takes to prevail.
You don’t have to be hemmed in by limiting beliefs. You can exchange them for liberating truths. Here is a simple six-step process to help you do that.
First, recognize the limiting belief. Whatever the content of the belief, no matter how true it seems, it’s important to recognize that it’s just an opinion about reality — and there’s a good shot it’s wrong.
Second, record the belief. By writing it down, you externalize it. Now you’re free to evaluate it.
Third, review the belief. Start by evaluating whether the belief is empowering. Try to look at it objectively. Is it enabling you to accomplish the outcomes you want, or is it preventing you from doing so? Be honest.
Fourth, reject or reframe the belief. If a limiting belief is false, you can simply reject it. Reframing is a bit more involved. Many limiting beliefs have a kernel of truth in them. That’s what makes them so convincing. But they’re not the whole truth. If a limiting belief is true or partly true, you don’t have to settle for it. You can always recast the story.
Fifth, revise the belief. If, for instance, you think, “I’m too old to be considered for that job opportunity,” you might say, “I have more experience than other candidates.”
Sixth and finally, reorient yourself to the new belief. Start living from the perspective of this new, liberating truth. You might not fully buy into it. That’s fine. Try it on. It may feel awkward at first, like putting on a coat that’s too big. But if you keep telling yourself the truth, it will eventually fit, and you’ll get more comfortable with it. Every time the old belief crops up, reject or reframe it and restate the liberating truth. The trick is to start living as if it’s true.
After limiting beliefs, the next most common barrier we encounter is the past. We tow it around like a trailer full of broken furniture. We can’t fully consider the future because we’re too tied up in what’s already happened. If this happens to you, it’ll prevent you from experiencing your best year ever.
The U.S. Army has a helpful backward-thinking method. It’s called the After-Action Review. America’s armed forces have been using it since 1981 to improve performance and get better at what they do. After an event, the goal is to understand what happened, why it happened and how they can improve.
Stage 1: State what you wanted to happen. This could be your list of goals from the prior year. What were your plans, your dreams, and your concrete goals if you had any?
Stage 2: Acknowledge what actually happened. Some of your goals, perhaps many of them, remain unfulfilled. So ask yourself, “What disappointments or regrets did I experience this past year?”
Stage 3: Learn from the experience. What were the major life lessons you learned this past year? Distil the lessons from your experiences so you don’t lose them and so they can serve as tools moving forward.
Stage 4: Adjust your behaviour. If something in your beliefs and behaviours contributed to the gap between what you wanted to happen and what actually happened, something has to change. It’s not enough to acknowledge the gap. It’s not even enough to learn from the experience. If you don’t change your beliefs and how you act on them, you’re actually worse than when you started.
Great results don’t just happen. You don’t usually drift to a destination you would have chosen. Instead, you have to be intentional, force yourself to get clear on what you want and why it’s important, and then pursue a plan of action that accomplishes your objective. We can transform our resolutions, aspirations and dreams into powerful, compelling, written goals that check seven key boxes. Let’s dive into the seven attributes of the SMARTER system:
Specific: The first attribute of SMARTER goals is that they’re specific. Focus is power. Specific goals create a channel for our problem-solving skills, effort and more.
Measurable: When the goal is measurable, we know the criteria for success.
Actionable: Goals are fundamentally about what you’re going to do. It’s essential to get clear on the primary action when formulating your goals.
Risky: By focusing on what’s supposedly realistic, we can inadvertently trigger our natural impulse to avoid loss and end up accomplishing less than we otherwise might have. We should set goals that stretch and challenge us.
Time-keyed: This could be a deadline, frequency or a time trigger.
Exciting: Only an exciting goal can access the internal motivation you need to stay the course and achieve your goal.
Relevant: Limit yourself to seven to 10 goals that align with your life, your values and your ambitions.
The author points out that no one ever makes it to the top of their game on their own. He writes: It’s part of every big dream, every goal, every attempt to improve. Sometimes we think if we just plan better, we can avoid the pain and breeze through to the finish. But it almost never happens that way. The answer is leveraging your motivations. It will give you the drive and stamina to finish when the going gets tough and you want to quit.
We have a very powerful myth in our culture, the myth of the self-made man or woman. But let’s be honest: There’s no such thing. Success requires help — and usually lots of it. It’s impossible to discount the influence of our social circle. Choose your circle wisely. The right peers serve as a support structure for our liberating truths. They help us retain our belief and commitment when we hit the messy middle. The main issue is the composition of the community and the beliefs it holds in common. If you surround yourself with scarcity thinkers, you’ll struggle to stay motivated in pursuit of your goals. If, on the other hand, you surround yourself with abundance thinkers, you’ll gain access to encouragement, emotional and material support, solutions, insights and more.
Commit to Act
Setting the goal is only half the job. The other half is taking definitive action. Any goal is manageable one action at a time. But when we let the task grow and become daunting in our minds, it can leave us feeling indecisive, discouraged and even paralyzed with panic. What’s the alternative?
Do the easiest task first. The first step on any project is usually the toughest. But when you start with the easy steps, you lower the threshold for taking action. This is how you trick your brain into starting. Second, getting some quick wins boosts your mood. Third, getting started and feeling good about your progress means it’s easy to build momentum.
Seek outside help. For almost every goal we want to accomplish, someone else knows how to get there — or at least has a better hunch than you. It may be a friend, an accountability partner or a professional. You don’t have to start from scratch.
Commit to act. You next need to schedule it and commit to act. If it doesn’t get on your calendar or task list, it’s probably not going to happen. You’re never going to find time in the leftover hours of the day to accomplish your goals. You have to make it a priority and keep it like an appointment you would keep with anyone else.
The detail provided in each of the five steps gives the reader knowledge, understanding, and motivation. It’s a powerful combination that inspires not only big ideas but most importantly, a desire to act on those ideas to turn dreams into realities.
Alongside research findings, the author uses real-world examples of his ideas in practice. This not only helps to clearly illustrate his points, it also adds an extra layer of inspiration and motivation, or as he puts it: This is your year; this is your moment. Don’t defer your dreams. Once you’ve determined your next step, take it.
Bio of the Author
Michael Hyatt is an American author, blogger, speaker, podcaster, and founder of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership development firm helping successful, but overwhelmed leaders get the focus they need to win at work and succeed at life.