My readers told me their #1 goal. Then I followed up.

Ramit Sethi

One thing that almost nobody does is hold us accountable. So today, I thought I’d do it.

See, about a month ago, I wrote one of my favorite posts, where I shared how delusional I was when I was younger: I thought the world should listen to me because of my “great ideas,” and when they didn’t, I got frustrated. It turns out, it’s SUPPOSED to be hard to be the best.

Here’s the full post: “Uh, it’s SUPPOSED to Be Hard

Basically, I now get to rant to 500,000+ people any time I want. This has become a very rewarding life.

So as you know, I’m fascinated between what people SAY and what they DO. So to test this, I decided to see how many of you would actually follow through. I asked what your #1 goal of the year was…

…and then, like the Surrogate Asian Father than I am, I actually followed up.

If you’re curious how many people actually did what they claimed was important — remember, they said this was their NUMBER ONE priority — read on.

You’ll learn how to study the language of people who take action…and the rationalizations of people who don’t.

RESULTS of people’s goals


CLAUDIA’S RESULTS (I reached out):


Impressive. This warms my heart like no puppy could ever do (I hate pets). She set a goal, she knew how long it would take, and she accomplished it. Just think how this sense of accomplishment will “flow” into other parts of her life. Awesome job, Claudia.





Good job. I love that she set specific goals (5-10lbs, eating healthy 5x/week, etc) and is tracking progress. I would have liked to see specific weight results, but as a general rule, process > immediate results. And she has the right process down. Good job, Shauna.

But what about those who haven’t been able to make any significant progress towards their objective, even when they claimed it was their “#1 goal for the year”?

Why do we claim something is important, then often do nothing to actually make that thing a priority in our lives?

I want you to pay specific attention to how easily we can reframe and rationalize not making progress.





Picking a goal is an art, and I would throw this art in my trash can. Saying “I want to learn Spanish” is a HUGE goal. Then saying you’re going to use it to “get a raise or a better job” is yet another huge goal. Huge X huge = kill me. And when you come home from work tired, are you really inspired by a vague goal?  Instead, I would have rather Lynzie said, “I’m going to practice Spanish 3x/week — MWF at 5:30pm for one hour each. By December, I want to be able to order in a restaurant.”

I would RATHER you shoot for 5 and accomplish it, then shoot for 10 and accomplish 0.

This isn’t meant to insult Lynzie. We’ve ALL done the same thing. She was courageous enough to write it down and admit that it wasn’t working. Let’s all learn how to improve from her example.

What did you notice about people who DO things…vs. people who just TALK?

What are the main differences between people that were able to follow through and those who weren’t?

Look at the patterns in from the first couple readers who were successful in taking action. Do you see any of these?

  • Cognitive misers. They made it as easy on themselves as possible by limiting the scope and creating habits
  • Identified the highest-value uses of their time
  • Got an accountability partner

Does this mean that those who didn’t take action are BAD people? Of course not.

But after a while, you can spot the language differences in less than 5 seconds. For example, Lynzie, the woman who wanted to learn Spanish, wrote:

“Part of it is not wanting to give up my lunches, which isn’t the greatest excuse”

This is for the item she claimed as her NUMBER ONE priority of the year!

We all do this. How many of us want to travel more, learn a language, earn more — but we don’t?

It’s easy to point fun at people, but actually, they took the initiative to respond and track their progress. How many of us do that? How many of us look down at other people…but we aren’t excelling at OUR #1 goal of the year?

The truth?

We’re not “Special Snowflakes”. We rationalize our inaction by

  • Justification (e.g., lunches)
  • Spending our time the wrong way (80/20) and focusing on minutiae, including endless research
  • Waiting until we “some day” (when we have enough information, more time, more money…)

Any of this sound familiar?

At IWT, I insist that we’re all honest with ourselves. If you’re weak in an area, AND you want to fix it, great! I’ll show you how. If it’s just not important enough…that’s also cool — if you’re conscious about it.


Think about a goal that you were “serious” about in the past — but you couldn’t seem to take action on.

1. What was the goal?
2. What have you learned from THIS POST alone that will help you achieve the goal?

Leave your comment below.


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  1. Zach

    Like Lynzie, I’ve always thought about learning Spanish. I never really made any progress. Then, recently, I had similar realizations to the ones laid out in this post. I started a structured program that requires 30 minutes a day (Pimsleur tapes) and set up a weekly call with a Spanish speaking friend of mine.

    In a couple weeks, I will be moving to Chile to really immerse myself in the language. Then there’s no turning back! Thanks for the great advice, Ramit.

  2. Roni

    My goal for a while now has been to start a personal travel blog. I have the domain, the concept, and a running list of dozens of topics to cover. The problem? Not making time to write. I am going to set a concrete goal to make the blog live by the end of November. That gives me a reasonable time frame to get mostly through my busiest work season and several travel commitments in the next couple of months, but also enough pressure to set time aside each week between now and then to work on the design and make an editorial calendar for my blog post topics to which I can consistently and realistically commit.

  3. Mitch

    Why worry about a past goal when I have one that’s still relevant? The #1 most important goal for me is to ace all of my classes and to be able to fund all of my tuition without unsubsidized loans (I don’t want to be accumulating/paying interest until I’m in a situation where I can pay much more than the minimum payment).

    What I’ve learned: Well, that’s not really a goal, more like a wish. Instead, my new goal is to set aside 2-4 hours at 5pm each afternoon to work on the homework for the week. I’ll start with the simplest/quickest assignments first (like the Dave Ramsey/snowball method), and tackle more challenging assignments in order. I also asked for time off from 1 of my jobs on Fridays and once that kicks in I plant to still get up as if I were going to work, and spend that time studying.
    The funding thing is going to be taken care of w/ my jobs, assuming I can keep up the pace. If I do end up having to get a private loan? Well, I’ll just have to get extra hours in July and pay it all back over that month & the next, because the grades come first

  4. Annika S

    Hez Ramit,
    Mz number one priority this time last year was to achieve full self-employment. Like mitch said, that was not really a goal, more like a wish. Only in recent month (as I marked the 1 year anniversary of my current job) that I have really kicked into gear and started making progress on this goal. I have an accountability system I borrowed from one of my coaches where I post a Facebook photo of a Post-it with my major to-do’s for each week on them. I’ve committed in front of a supportive crew to posting 52 of these posti-its, so one for each week of the year. If I don’t do it, they have permission to harrass me endlessly until i do (and I get to do the same for them).

    My projected timeline to achieving self-employment is now 3 months or less (I didn’t slack off all year, it’s just now that everything is snowballing into success!.)

    I am a Dream Life Consultant by the way, I help people gain clarity on what they really want out of life and then make sure they achieve it)

  5. Jakub

    I’ve done well. Year ago my net worth was in red $25,000, now almost $30,000 in black. I’ve been working two jobs while full-time studying a college in English speaking country while I’m from non-English speaking European country. At my free time I’ve been also working on my online business that starts to generate me nice income.

    Was it hard? Yes. Worth it? Hell yes.

    Actually I told my boss just today that I want to quit by the next month. Work more on my lifestyle business, enjoy life again, and soon travel for indefinitely

  6. Matt

    Don’t try to boil the ocean.

  7. Anil Kuppa

    I have been thinking about doing my MBA since 2010 and that goal is still alive.
    I had written my GMAT in 2010 (710) and have not yet applied to any B-schools. I stay in India and i wanted to apply to 2-3 US B-schools and ISB. Every year I shortlist the schools and then form word files for each essay and leave as it is. I know that I put off things anything related to writing as I’m not good at writing.
    My number one priority is to do apply for MBA this year as I’ve realized this is the last year I can apply because of my personal reasons. This year too, I have shortlisted the schools which I plan to apply . I even started a blog, joined Toastmasters to improve my writing and reading skills, but I still couldn’t find the courage/time/etc to write essay.

    The only difference between this year and the previous years is I now have a mentor/someone accountable. He keeps me motivated enough to write though he might not help me in forming a fantastic essay.

    Thanks Ramit.. Your blog posts have helped me to:
    – Form SMART goals
    – Have someone accountable.
    – Focus on relevant things.

    Though I’m from India and can’t afford most of your courses considering the exchange rate , I’m reaping the benefits of your FREE blog posts.

  8. Kim

    My goal: save money for a freaking downpayment on a house.
    I didn’t really learn from this post, but I’m reading IWTYTBR (about in the middle of it now). I decided to quit screwing around and stop talking about how nice it would be to have a high-interest savings account, and to put money aside each month, and I actually took the steps to open a savings account. Turns out ING got bought out, so I didn’t go with them (I don’t like Cap One) and went with Emigrant. Then I posted about it on Facebook, where a friend of mine said she got even more from ally. I gave them a quick look and now I have an automatic deposit going to ally on the first of each month. Then this morning I texted my husband and asked if I could open a joint account with an auto-deposit on the 15th, until his military service is over. He said yes, and now that’s happening. My plan is to build up a good amount and then roll it over into a higher-interest CD. By the time that CD matures, we will both be out of school and in the job we are currently working toward. Then we will be in a position to buy, and the money in the CD will go towards the downpayment on a house. FINALLY.

    An accountability partner would be a good thing though. I will have to talk to my friend about it; she seems to have her shit together more than I do. I believe she’s already doing the stuff recommended here. In fact I will text her right now.

    • Kim

      OK, texted her. Now I’m going to go work out, since that’s the other big goal I have. I’m doing well on that note too. It’s weird how this program is translating well for other parts of my life too, not just monetarily. I’ve already lost about 5 pounds. If you look up weighandwin, it’s a program (just in CO I believe) that pays you to lose weight. That way I get the weight goal handled, and the money is going towards my house downpayment. Win-win!

  9. Laurel

    I do not “set goals” – I make detailed plans with specific target dates, then track/monitor on those. I know I want to own my own B&B by 2015, so I started with buying a HUD repo fixer (closed in 2013) which I am remodeling. It will be on the market in Spring 2015 (already set up with realtor on that), where I will use the $35k-$40k profit for the downpayment on the B&B location. On the remodeling, I have specific goals every weekend (finishing flooring at [insert location], etc.) and I have all targets on a piece of paper with target date and finish date blanks that I fill in. Feels great seeing progress WEEKLY! I am also monitoring the housing markets in both locations (sale and purchase property) so make sure I don’t get hit with anything unexpected in 2015. =) Victory shall be mine!!

  10. Bill

    My previous goals have all be ambitious and vague. Often times, the action plans were unrealistic. (Dedicating 2 hours per night to study a language with 4 young children is NOT realistic.)

    I’ve learned that my goals need to include the action plan to achieve them. I am learning technical stock analysis, so my goal is as follows: I will learn to read and profitably trade 3-4 stocks by spending 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week reviewing the stock charts. I will spend 30 minutes analyzing a losing trade to understand the reasons for the loss and document those reasons. I will know that I have successfully learned when I can trade profitably 75% of the time.

  11. jean

    I am older than most of your regular readers (53) but still manager to learn so much. I learned that I can take my HUGE goals ie. creating a thriving online business and break steps down to committing to time each week to work on it. I have purchased programs before that will help me get there but like my kids going back to school will devote two hour three times a week this week to implementing the steps. That is a start that I will be proud of.

  12. Wouter

    1. Start a side business
    2. The combination of a goal, a system/process, time commitment and external accountability will push you in the right direction to take action, not just the wish or motivation.

  13. Heidi Lauren

    1) I had the goal to write every day
    2) I have to put tasks in my todo list that I actually believe I can do. Like if I had a typical lunch hour like Lynzie, I would say – I’m going to spend 10 min a lunch on live mocha learning Spanish”. I know I can do that. But I don’t set tasks like this. I set vague tasks that I would LIKE to do but I don’t really believe I can do, so I don’t do them. And then I put invisible barriers in my way. Even when I have the time to do them, I just get in procrastination freeze-fear mode.

    So this week I am going to try writing just a little before I go to bed each night. I can visualize myself doing it. there is nothing in my way. I believe I can do it.

  14. elle

    To be concise and specific.

  15. Ben

    1. Separate my day into five 1.5 hour sections (with tons of break in between)
    2. Select 3-5 things to work on each day (coding, marketing, online courses, dream job, etc)
    3. Do them.

    This was inspired by the idea of planning my breaks and the Ferris/Strauss creativeLIVE talk about setting small goals each day. Since this is relatively easy to accomplish, I’ll do them and on most days I’ll surpass these goals. It’s been working well so far.

  16. Celeste

    I own a 4 level townhouse/homebusiness and am seriously dreaming of retiring by 2017 and moving from the East coast to the West coast. I will chose one area (closet, a box, a drawer) and set aside one hour every month to determine what is going with me, being donated or sold. I will then have my oldest daughter come over in the spring and she can help pare it down even more in her true older daughter way for her annual yard sale.

  17. Marina

    My big goal recently has been applying to jobs, and I’ve made almost no progress. I’ve been puzzled and frustrated trying to figure out what on earth is stopping me, and I think the main reason is something you didn’t mention in this post but I know you’ve mentioned elsewhere–fear of success. Somewhere deep inside I don’t feel like I DESERVE a good job, or that if I get one I’ll only fail at it. I’ve been pretty good at setting aside a certain amount of time every day and setting specific goals for that time, but I spend the whole time paralyzed by emotion. Perhaps I need to break it down into even smaller steps. Instead of “apply to one job” maybe my daily goal needs to be something like “write first sentence of cover letter”. It’s frustrating to move so slow, but you’re right that it’s better to aim for 5 and hit 5 than aim for 10 and hit 0.

  18. Jennifer

    “Cognitive miser” YES. “Goals” have been a difficult thing in the past. This idea of breaking them WAY down into actual, actionable items is GREAT. I have two people I am visiting today to learn from them.

  19. Annette Lowery

    I have two goals that are number one. Being debt free and losing 50 lbs. The morning I ordered some natural supplements to assist me on this journey. I am making a list of my debt and now my goal is to tackle it by seeing which item can be paid first. It’s action time!

  20. Nora

    A goal I´ve been serious about in the past was leave my job and move to another county where I want to live. I have not seemed to take action on it for many reasons including a) fear, b) overwhelm and c) procrastination. Most of this can be summed up in Matt´s comment “Don´t try to boil the ocean”, got a good laugh on that one.

    My problem is that while I have been able to break down the big goal into steps, I still kept the boil an ocean mentality, so got frustrated because I was not celebrating small wins. Indeed, I saw these as insignificant because I was so fixated on the big win.

    From this e-mail, I see proof that the snowball technique works, and the power of habit-making. So I see that I need to make the leap of faith that the habit-making will bring me success.

  21. Sean Mysel

    My specific goal is to make three new friends by the end of the month. I have pretty lame social skills in part because: a) I have a bad hearing loss and pick up half of what people say missing out on key conversation points and b) I have trouble starting conversations

    So what I learned from the email is to get specific about the goals, make them attainable and reasonable and track progress for reporting to someone who holds you accountable.

    Here’s the plan:

    1) get hearing aid test and fix that problem
    2) research methods (like on here) on starting conversations with people and asking smarter questions
    3) use tracking sheet to record attempts, how I attempted to start conversations, what the results were and take notes on body language and expressions
    4) stand up and present my findings to my wife who’s great at calling me out

  22. Lisa

    MY GOAL: To get a great new job using Ramit’s Dream Job program

    WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS POST: I’m sick of saying I’m looking for a new job and not really doing anything. Talking does not equal action! I need to create a process and stick with it. Just like Shauna (one of the examples Ramit used above) scheduled 4 work-outs a week and had an accountability partner, I need to schedule a set number of hours of working on changing careers each week, and I need to have an accountability partner.

    WHAT I’M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT: I am going to schedule 2 hours on Monday nights and 2 hours on Saturday mornings to work on getting a new job. I will tell my accountability friend my plan, and ask that she check in with me to confirm that I’m following through. I know that 4 hours a week isn’t a lot – but what’s important is that I START TAKING ACTION. Once I get into the habit of doing it, I can scale it up as necessary. Like Ramit said, it’s better to aim for 5 and achieve it than aim for 10 and achieve nothing.

    I’m putting it in my calendar right now! Thanks, Ramit, for spurring me to action. I needed a kick to get me going!

  23. Christopher

    As a science communicator, my goal for the past…well, a while now…has been to write a feature article for a major science publication (e.g, Sky and Telescope, Scientific American, Discover). Has it happened? No. Why? Because, while it seems specific, there are too many “chance” elements in the way. Also, it’s too big a goal for someone new to the field. Editors like to see successful smaller pieces before committing to a major article.
    I need to break my goal down into smaller chunks.
    a) Spend 30-60 minutes a day perusing science journals, university press releases, etc looking for ideas and trends.
    b) From these notes, send out 1-3 pitches per month to a specific magazine for articles that are < 1000 words. Do this for the next three months.
    c) At the end of three months, evaluate progress. If pitches haven't been successful, why not? If pitches have been successful, brainstorm ideas for 2000-word (or more) features.

  24. Paul

    My #1 goal was to become fluent in Russian since I have been stuck at an advanced level for a while now. Haven’t been dedicating the time it really requires and I do have the free time, but instead I play video games.

    Instead of making “become fluent” my vague goal, it should be something like:
    – Learn 500 new words (10 per week!)
    – Read 1 Russian news article per week
    – Watch 1 Russian movie/TV show per week
    – Have 1 Skype conversation with the in-laws per week

    Thanks for kicking us in the ass Ramit.

  25. Mary

    What I got out of this email is that I have too many vague goals and need to focus on defining my #1 *most important* goal for the year/month/moment and reduce distractions to get closer to where I want to be (developing my career and also my side Earn1K business(es) to not have all my financial eggs in one basket).

    One thing I will be making time to do by the end of the week is get through the productivity package that I have purchased from Ramit to improve completion of other short term goals including Ramit material I’ve paid for but not completed going forward.

  26. Nicole

    Goal: Finish my certification

    Learned from this post: “finish my certification” is to general- I’ve already lost. I have now broken this unmanageable goal down to: 1) finish study materials by October 31, and 2) based on peace-of-mind after finishing said study materials, set test date on October 31.

  27. Alison

    My goal has been to “get published,” yet somehow I’d never send out stuff. I’d get overwhelmed by the whole process of reading all the different submission guidelines, tracking which editors wanted mail vs. email, reading each journal to see if my work would fit, and so on and so on…I’d get lost in “research.”

    Based on this post, I’d do better to say, “I’m going to research five journals this week and find a match for one (or more) of my pieces. Next Tuesday, I will email my piece(s) to the journal(s).” Rinse. Repeat. “Get published” is a HUGE goal that can take years. No wonder I felt crushed! Having tiny action steps feels doable AND exciting.

  28. Ntathu Allen

    Bless you Ramit and thx for posting this post. Excellent timing. Couple of my 2013 goals were “to blog more regularly” (how vague and demotivating is that…lol) clear my debts and save more money…9 months on…ummm…still financially stretched, save on an ad hoc basis and blog not “as consistently” as I would like. Ok…laying it on the line time:) From tomorrow, 10th Sept. I will write and post two blogs a week on my site ( posting days will be tuesday and fridays, I will write 3 guest blogs a month(need to work on this) havent a proper plan yet to clear debts and to start of saving I will open up saving acct by friday and to start of save £10 a week. I always say i cant afford to save …so this will be a good starting place. Yay! Journey of a 1000 miles… Mega thanks Ramit. Peace and hugs

  29. The Dynamic Divorcee

    As some other posters have said: Thank you for this message and its excellent timing. A chance for all of us to check in on our new year goals while there’s still time to get back on track and make significant gains. I was one of those persons with the “Spanish fluency” goal — worked consistently hard on it (3 90-minute Skype tutoring sessions per week for more than a year), and got discouraged during the last couple of months when progress continued to be slow and I saw that I’d have to carry on the large tutoring expense for at least another year in order to reach the goal. Time for a reset, and for creating smaller, more achievable goals that can motivate me on the way to fluency. Let’s be honest: At this point, after having worked hard to get from a low-intermediate conversation level (a year ago) to the modest gains I’ve made since then, it’s possible that I’ll never reach fluency without experiencing total immersion in the language. Reading Ramit’s post showed me that I need a more realistic goal in order to keep my motivation : )

    • Shauna

      Hi Dynamic D, one of my goals is to learn to speaks Spanish fluently or at least enough to carry on a decent conversation. I set a goal of working on it for at least 10 minutes a day 3 times per week. What I have found helpful is YouTube. I also found a Meetup group in Plano TX. People meet and have conversations in English and Spanish to improve their English or Spanish skills. This cost nada!

  30. Claudia Telles

    Hello All,

    Wow! I’m so flattered I was chosen By Ramit. It was a lot of hard work to pay my debt off in a year (12k in debt) especially on a Part-Time income but it was well worth it, and it wasn’t impossible.

    Thank You Ramit for everything and you have inspired a new habit within me, always prepare and plan for your actions.

    Now to answer your question:

    Think about a goal that you were “serious” about in the past — but you couldn’t seem to take action on.

    1. What was the goal?
    Mostly everyone has a goal to lose weight, as do I. I’ve always wanted to lose weight.

    2. What have you learned from THIS POST alone that will help you achieve the goal?

    Vocabulary is everything! I will no longer want or wish to lose weight but instead WILL and PLAN to lose weight. After reading the post and reflecting on my own actions, I have prepared an action plan.

    I currently make my meals for the week which consists of Vegetarian salads. I change up the vegetables and the homemade dressing to spice it up every week. I have also signed myself up for Bootcamp classes, 4x’s a week with my friend which I have been going consistently for the past 3 weeks. I also just got the 10 min Trainer which I do the workouts on the 2 other days I’m not at Bootcamp. Lastly, I make my healthy dinners every night. At 6 pm M-F I schedule my workout appointments. I do not cancel or overbook. I already have incorporated my workouts into my schedule as a MUST. No excuses! So far I have lost 5 lbs in the 3 weeks and will set a goal to lose 1lb a week. It’s manageable, I have a plan, and I have a workout buddy as well as an accountability partner which I met through Ramit’s Brain Trust group.

    Goal: Have a Fit & Lean body by May so I look GREAT for my Graduation and for the travelling that will follow it. (Losing weight is for aesthetic reasons, health will follow 🙂

    Ramit and his community are an inspiration to move forward with proactive action! Look forward to hearing everyone’s goal and action plan.

  31. Jeff Vietri

    1.) Taking my GMAT.

    2.) I’m weak in the management of my time. I’m going to be honest with myself, and find ways to improve. I’m not a bad person, but can use some improvement in this area.

  32. Reg

    My goal this year was to lose at least 7 kg. I started of great in January, but the result right now: I now need to lose 8 kg.
    So that clearly wasn’t working. Thanks to your post I’m now going to set up a plan on how I’m actually going to achieve that goal: planning my workouts (so no more excuses to not do them) and keeping track of what I eat (instead of not really knowing). I guess I can make even smaller steps to keep it more manageable and a bigger chance of achieving something.

    Thanks 🙂

  33. Carol

    Hey Ramit,

    Thanks for all the great advice. As a 48 year old woman who spent many years raising and educating my four children I was pretty sure I was completely limited in my choices in life. I felt completely stuck in my administrator role. Your info and perspective have helped me change that. I’ve been thinking and looking outside the box. This summer I made around £1000 dog sitting and hosting home stay students. So far I’ve been paying off debts and have saved £350. I’ve never had that much money in the bank before. I’ve automated my savings and should have an emergency fund soon and money for a great Christmas. I also asked for a rise and received it!

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with type two diabetes so my goal now is to lose weight -8 pounds so far -and exercise more. I check my blood sugar first thing in the morning and a few times during the day. My goal is to build muscle any time my blood sugar is high. Here come the squats and sit-ups. I’m on a 1200 calorie diet which I keep track of through an app. Everyone in my family and office knows of my diagnosis so I’m using them as my accountability partners. Thanks so much for everything.


  34. Heather

    One of my key goals for the year was to make a wearable art piece for a competition. I thought my goal was not too big because I just aimed to finish it, not to win or even get into the show.
    I started but got stuck. I didn’t have the technical knowledge to make it happen. I’m not sure whether the lesson was to start smaller, or to find someone who I could ask advice from.

    • Chavi

      Heather, if it’s technical knowledge, do some googling. The online crafty community is incredibly generous and helpful. I’ve also learned a lot (in other fields) from LinkedIn groups.

  35. Tyler F

    What I learned from this post? There’s no shame in starting small. I know this, but it’s easy to think that “easy” goals are lame and it’s not worth trying unless it’s grand. But it seems that behavioral change is the opposite. To reach the grand goal, I need to set small, realistic, “boring-sounding” goals. Hard to brag about in the short-term, but the payoff is in the long-term.

    As you used to say, “would you rather be sexy or rich?”

  36. Mick

    My goal was to finish my studies. Last year it didn’t work out because i didn’t have the mindset/willpower/urge to accomplish that. And keep telling myself that it’ll work out while honestly I knew that it wouldn’t..
    Now things are different: I fixed a better mindset, am truly motivated and I am creating the (side)conditions to efficiently work towards the goal, keep track of them AND keep evaluating them. Try to learn from “mistakes” and improve where i can. I also try to get better feedback on my habits, plans and actions to improve my way of working towards my goal.

  37. Archana Patel

    I learnt thru my own experience that focus is everything. If I make a goal I will keep a short duration to achieve so I don’t lose track of it if its achievable in short term likelosing weight in 4 weeks or3 months period.

    for more big changes that I have in mindI have given myself time until the year gets over. so I know .

    yes talk iseasy but doing it is a reward in itself . Focus and determination. Distraction is persons worst enemy. I have become inwards when I need to.

    Thanks Ramit I like your articles and I do have weakness in small talks but getting better. Just bcos I am not talkative person all he time I lose energy and excitement easily in doing so.

  38. Manuel

    I try to boil the ocean, thats a really bad habit I have and also like Nora said I dont celebrate small wins, since those are small I dont pay attention to them, I just care about the big ones and now I realize that this is dragging me down. Another problem is that I usually do too much stuff in one day, my energy gets dissipated.

    Starting from now, I will grab just one job, one task or one commitment and will start working on it on a regular basis, I will commit to it on a daily basis and create a habit from it. Hope to get a habit of doing something everyday

  39. Emily

    In the past I have always had the goal to pay off my debt and I can never seem to do it. And of course its because the task seems monumental to me. I justify by saying well life is short let me spend this $20 instead of using it wisely or saving it. And then I always say when I make more money I can pay it off easily. Well I’m not getting any younger and despite increasing my salary over the past few years I still have debt and still live paycheck to paycheck. I need to set specific monthly goals to pay things off and I should have someone check on me every payday.

  40. Melissa

    I was “serious” about learning spanish in January. I order cd’s, I listened to them in the car on the way to work, listened to the cd’s at work, but let’s just say I still only know what i knew BEFORE i listened to the cd’s. 🙁 It’s my fault and the fear of not sounding authentic. I have half mexican and wasn’t raised around my father’s side of the family.
    I feel from other stories I should have got someone to hold me accountable. I should set aside a certain time each day to devote to learning. Possibly call some friends that speak spanish and just make a time to go hang out. While hanging out I could mix in some of what i’ve learned. Test it out.. just my thoughts now

    • Chavi

      Melissa, if you drive to work, how about get some Spanish songs and sing along in the car. You don’t need to sound authentic, just have fun. When you know a couple of songs by heart you can continue to build on that vocabulary.

    • Melissa

      That sounds like a good idea. Geesh why didn’t I think of that! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  41. Aaron

    Hello Ramit.

    Here are my answers to your questions:

    1. What was the goal?

    My goal this year was to bring my $2000 credit card balance down to zero by the end of this year.

    2. What have you learned from THIS POST alone that will help you achieve the goal?

    The two things I’ve learned from reading this post are: 1) I need to make my goal more manageable. Paying the minimum amount due every month just isn’t going to cut it, nor do I have the extra money to pay approximately $500 a month over the next four months to zero my balance. I plan to budget $200 a month over the next ten months and control my credit card spending until I zero the credit card balance by the summer of next year; 2) I need an accountability partner. My girfriend saw me read this post and offered to help me stay on track until I’ve reached my new goal of being debt free from my credit card by June 2014.

    There you have it, and thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to your response.

  42. Catherine

    Hi Ramit, My goal was to budget my side business and figure out how much im spending and taking in on my rentals and Manx cat sales per month. Ugh huge task no focus…Goal since January…no progress…
    today. Goals. SMART specific, measurable, achievable, repeatable, trackable
    Sept 10 Side business 1 spend 15 minutes and write down all rent recieved to date, Side business 2 all Manx kittens sold and price (2013)
    Sept 12 all rental deposits paid and owed.
    Sept 20-30: all expenses for remodel of Unit B itemized 2013.
    Sept15, 2012 taxes to Accountant
    Oct 1 2012 Taxes review with accountant
    Oct 15 2012 Taxes signed and delivered to IRS on deadline

  43. Steve Sullivan

    My goal is to make my business a success (too vague) so I can eventually transition to it full-time. And my biggest problem is keeping myself on task and working. Sounds like a more concrete goal to work x number of ours a day on it with a specific end goal and timeline might work much better. Now, if I could just figure out how to keep my depression from interfering too… I keep pressing forward. Thanks for the insight.

  44. Anthony

    Hi Ramit,

    This is a bit embarrassing but one of my goals this year was the get a solid girlfriend. I haven’t accomplished it this year, and a lot has to do with the reasons I mentioned earlier. The goal is too huge, and I get stuck before I even start. I need to start small like:

    “Go to one networking event every fortnight”
    “Do something I would’ve never done before like create an online dating profile” (which goes into your invisible script of “online dating is for weirdos”)

  45. Rich B

    Hi Ramit,
    This is by far the most explicit email I’ve read explaining how to accomplish GOALS, the value of stating measurable steps, and having someone to be accountable to. I am going to set my number one goall with confidence.

    I will send it to you by this Friday.

    Rich B. .

  46. Chandu

    I had a goal to start a business. We started it (contracting for a govt agency). Our business is yet to commence operations because we are in the process of getting tax ids, insurance and other regulatory stuff needed. While I have spent some time on this, yet to see the results of the venture.

  47. Shobir

    My ultimate goal is to become financially independent, I know that I will need an income of $2000. I am now using my blogging skills and learning more and more about SEO to create several sites that will help me accomplish my goal. Once I get to my desired level I will try to liquidate the assets so I have enough money in my savings to retire. I really want to do this and it’s great sites like these that will help me achieve my goals. Thanks so much Ramit.

  48. Chavi

    Goal: Lose weight. And get outdoors more. (I’m home with my babies and working from home.) How vague is that. Hint: it’s never lasted past September.

    This school year, my goal is: take the babies out for a walk every school day, as soon as possible after 10am.

    In the past, outings have been foiled by the (stupid!) barrier of getting them dressed. This year I will make sure that they have plenty of clothes, and well-organized wardrobes. (Right now this is the case.) If they need more clothes/shoes I will gladly spend the extra money. (If it costs less, no problem, but don’t count it as a win. Frugality is fine but this is about value, not dollars.)

    Even before the school-bus leaves, I promise my toddler that we’re going by-by today. Ha, nothing like it for accountability! And now that it’s a habit, he’ll continue to hold me to it.

    I’ve been starting my mornings with protein, which is great. I recently picked up a ridiculously easy salad recipe, makes a great snack, or lunch if paired with a tuna sandwich. TODAY I will set a reminder on my computer to find a new healthy recipe on the 9th of each month. (Old favorites get old sometimes.) … Actually, I’ve now set that reminder.

  49. Khaled

    My goal is to double my (meager) income by the end of the year, from $1600/mo to $3000/mo. I brainstormed a variety of ways to do that, based on what has worked in the past and what I’m currently doing. I measured all the variables that affect my income and figured out ways to tweak them in order to increase money flow. Now, I just need to actually take steps on those things.

  50. Karen Rilstone

    The goal I was trying to reach was to setup my website. I failed. Having read your article, I am going to devote one hour – Monday to Friday – on this task. I am writing a list of the specifics that have to be completed each day such as installing Genesis and my child theme, importing posts from previous site, etc. I will report my daily success to a colleague.

    Things learned from your article: be specific and time-dedicated. Set up an accountability person.

    Thanks for your timely post.


  51. Ohana

    I loved the e-mail, I am actually a very disciplined person when it comes to work, studies, etc, I don

  52. Ohana

    (the comment was sent before I finish)

    I loved the e-mail, I am actually a very disciplined person when it comes to work, studies, etc… But when it comes to set a specific goal is complicated because I feel like I want to embrance the world… last year I tried to learn Spanish and Arabic at the SAME TIME, and it was terrible… I ended up giving up from both, and now going to start again soon, one by one. I will try to set a more specific goal, like: I will travel to São Paulo to learn Arabic 2 times a month, and my goal is to be able to communicate in Arabic when I arrive in Emirates. I also read a lot about the accountability partner, but this is also a barrier for me, because I really don’t feel comfortable in opening myself with other people about my goals. For superstitious issues too, I think I have to keep my desires to me, unless the person is sharing the same desire with me closely.

  53. Ohana

    oh, PS: I totally agree with Marie Forleo, please dance 🙂 Bollywood style!

  54. Dana Atkin

    We all need to be reminded of the fact that we’re human sometimes, thankyou.

    My number one goal was to complete some study that has been hanging around for far too long… While I have made progress, i’m mot quite where i want to be, yet. I’ve been focussing on helping other people (clients, friends, family) achieve their goals instead of even giving my priorities a look in.

    Time to walk my own talk!


  55. Dominic

    Goal: Become self employed.

    What I learned from this post: If it’s really your top priority, why aren’t you spending most of your time on it?

    I have been working on it ‘in my spare time’ which means that anything else comes first. I want it to be easy, and not to have to change my habits to achieve it. It doesn’t work that way. I have to rearrange my life around it rather than rearranging my goal around my life.

  56. alexa

    My goal is to double my (meager) income by the end of the year, from php3000/mo to php9000/mo. I brainstormed a variety of ways to do that, based on what has worked in the past and what I’m currently doing. I measured all the variables that affect my income and figured out ways to tweak them in order to increase money flow. Now, I just need to actually take steps on those things.

  57. Brad

    For over a year now I have had this goal in the back of my mind, without ever making serious progress: Create an iPhone app and release it for sale on the App Store under my own name.

    The crazy part is that I create iOS applications for my current employer, so I have technical skills to accomplish my goal. However, I definitely don’t have the habits or process needed to make consistent progress.

    One justification has been that I don’t have a good idea for what the app might be. But there are other more subversive justifications for not making progress. “Is this a good use of my time? Should I be working to find a new job instead? If the app were complete, would I have accomplished something useful?”

    I believe that first I must limit my scope. Determine which goal is the most important, because not everything can be achieved at once.

  58. Chris B

    I am one of those people who has a goal for pretty much everything imaginable. Heck, my entire to-do list seems to be full of goals – mostly short-term. I need to follow-up on some of these more often, ensuring that I am keeping track.

  59. Tara

    Honestly, my initial goal was just to get through the Dream Job curriculum. I’m still working on it. I could say that I haven’t had enough uninterrupted time (I have a baby), but the truth is that if I break things down into smaller bites than I was doing before I can figure out a way to get it done. That’s what I’m going to do.

  60. Michelle

    Goal: Pay of CC debt.
    Plan: Starting soon I’ll be making an extra $600 a week (Thank you No-Stress Negotiation!) so that extra will go towards debt. Should be gone in six weeks.

    This post has taught me to make achievable goals. 1st stop: CC debt, Next stop: student loans!

  61. stacey

    1. What was the goal? – selling all the crap under my parents house
    2. What have you learned from THIS POST alone that will help you achieve the goal? I have to break it into steps – choose time each week – so, this week, choose one category of item – inks, then tomorrow check out that second hand computer market as possible sales place.

    I could do this with being organised too- goal – to be clean and on time
    2. prepare all things for the next day at 5.45pm – 6pm as soon as I reach home, spend 15 mins preparing lunch, fruit, clothes, bag packed, petrol in car.

    Writing projects – be published, several on the go
    Choose 1 practice goal – my blog, three time per week and then one novel .
    Library on Sundays to work on it. Treat self to coffee or cafe on way to make it easier to leave the house, take laptop and go to library after cafe.

    One thing I already am doing is swimming on my lunch break – although the pool membership costs money, I don’t then have time to be tempted by shops and junk food. I write the letter S on my calendar when I have gone. I felt it was better to be consistent and build a habit and exercise 4-5 days a week for half an hour than 1 hour plus every day for a month then stop when I got busy. this way I don’t have to think too much about it now.

  62. Matthew

    Goal: Learning Conversational Korean.
    Progress: Although, I have been living in Korea for 6 months and have learned a lot of Korean, I have not reached my goal of having a conversation for 5 minutes with a native speaker.
    This post taught me that breaking my goals down to a week by week basis will make my goal more actionable and achievable.
    Here is to the next 6 months.
    Cheers Ramit.

  63. Becca

    My current #1 goal is to receive acceptance into and significant scholarships for grad school. Right now, I’m preparing to rock the GRE.

  64. Jessie Bhinder

    This is my first post on your blog. I just found it and I am in love.

    Goal in life : To figure out my goal in life which btw I have. Next thing is to spend 2 hours everyday on my goal to accomplish it. Also, going to gym, f/t work and p/t school is in picture along with that.

    What I have learnt from this thread: I love your blog and your strategies. I need to be realistic and set small and specific goals in order to succeed.

    Thank you !

  65. Jean Zhao

    Hey Ramit,

    My “Most Important Goals” at the beginning of the year would often be “Eat healthier!” and “Do more exercise!”. And then I would set some specific goals / methods aimed to achieve this – e.g. eat at least one “piece” of veg at least 3 nights a week, do 10min push ups + 20min other stretches every other day. Howe er despite this, I still have not been able to follow them! I think for a few reasons / my learnings: Essentially I haven’t been able to build it into a habit – perhaps the sub-goals was too ambitious / not a regular schedule in work & life balance, or maybe these were not THAT high on my priority list as I thought (prioritizing short-term desires over these more long-term gains…). However, I think what I can do next is – perhaps simplifying the goal (and not try too many at once as well?), and really try to build it into a habit. Also, finding a companion partner would help as well.