It’s the 1st of January. You’re full of excitement and motivation… you’re ready for a new beginning.
You open a blank page in your notebook and proudly write: “Goals I’m Going to Accomplish This Year!”
But despite the excitement, there’s a nasty feeling creeping in the background.
A feeling of uncertainty and insecurity.
You’re thinking, “Am I bullshitting myself again? After all, I’ve done this for the past several years, and nothing much has changed. Why would it be any different this year?”
I’ve had the same feeling when I write my new year’s resolution.
For the past 10 years, I’ve set all kinds of goals but rarely managed to make significant progress on most of them. Here are some examples:
- Get in better shape
- Improve my social circle
- Explore more romantic relationships
- Learn to dance
- Travel more
- Read more books
I bet you’ve also set similar goals before and not done much about it.
But don’t feel bad — we’ve all been there.
I was there at the beginning of 2018 myself. But something changed and I managed to knock all these goals out in just 6 months — goals that I’ve been “working on” for the past 10 years.
And I’ll show you how you can do the same.
You can learn from my mistakes, save yourself years of wasted time, and make your new year’s resolution a reality.
The #1 Reason You Fail to Accomplish Most of Your Goals
There’s something that I always failed to account for in my goal-setting.
Instead of making these goals a priority, I just put them off as something that I was going to do on top of everything else. I thought of them as “side quests”.
In a video game, you have a main quest — a prime objective that you have to accomplish to win. But there are also side quests — goals that are not essential to the main story, but bring a lot of flavor and fun to the game.
The problem was that I didn’t account for the amount of time needed to finish the side quests.
Sure, I wanted to get in better shape and I created a plan — workout more, improve my diet. A few workouts every week, a bit more protein, a bit less sugar — that should do it. But I never really took the time to study how to exercise. I never did much in-depth research about food. I didn’t experiment with different exercises and diets to see what really works for my body.
Getting in shape was just a side quest for me — I couldn’t devote that much time to it.
Are you treating your goals as side quests too? Do you set a goal and jot down a quick and dirty plan to how you’re supposed to (hopefully) get there?
If so, no wonder you’re not getting any results.
For most of us, our main quest is work. That’s where we spend the majority of our “on time” — trying to get better at our job, get a promotion, earn more money, build a business, etc.
Then we spend the other part of our day relaxing, having friends/family time and sleep. The little time that is left we devote to our secondary goals like exercise, building new habits, and learning.
But to accomplish any significant goal you can’t treat it as something you do on the side. You have to devote time to it.
How to Really Knock Out Your Goals This Year
This year, I decided to do something drastically different.
I changed my main quest from work to my secondary goals.
My idea was to do the bare minimum work necessary just to get by. To keep my business running as is, but not put any extra effort in improving my skills or earning more money.
I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical and treat it as an experiment. Take that extra time and effort and use it to work on all my side quests.
The result was mind-blowing.
Looking back at 2018, it has been not only one of my most productive years in terms of achieving goals but the happiest year I’ve had so far.
What I Changed in The Last 6 Months
Because I failed so many times before I knew that I couldn’t approach these goals in the same way anymore. I had to make major changes, not just little tweaks. The difference this year was that I had devoted the time to do it.
Here are all the strategies I used to make these goals a reality.
In the past 10 years, I exercised regularly and had a relatively good diet. I thought that I had plenty of experience in both but I never took the time to learn in-depth. Here are all the extra changes that I made to get the results:
- Read 10+ books on fitness and dieting.
- Watched 200+ YouTube videos on fitness and dieting.
- Joined a paid online fitness program.
- Hired a personal trainer.
- Experimented with paleo, keto, and raw foods.
- Took extra time to plan and optimize my meal preparation.
- Got a restaurant deal to prepare my lunch every day.
- Ate 3000+ healthy calories every day.
- Cut off sugar and processed carbs completely.
All these changes needed extra effort which I couldn’t spare as long as I was treating this goal as secondary.
My mobility sucked too and I had chronic pain in my shoulders. I knew if I didn’t do anything serious about it the problem was only going to get worse so I…
- Read 3 books on posture and stretching.
- Watched 50+ videos online on physiotherapy.
- Joined a paid online physio rehab program.
- Signed up for a mobility class at my gym.
- Went to a yoga retreat for 7 days.
While I was focused on work as my main quest I only kept in contact with a few close friends. I didn’t go to many social events. Didn’t meet many new people, and if I did they rarely turned into true friendships. Most of my interactions were dull and predictable. That was a big part of not wanting to be social in the first place. It just wasn’t all that exciting.
Here are all the changes that I made in that area:
- Cut off a few toxic friendships that were going nowhere.
- Went to late night parties 2–3 times every week.
- Took 3 long road trips with friends to the beach.
- Went to visit my family in my hometown for 2 weeks.
I didn’t have much experience in the dating scene either. My first long-term relationship started when I was 24.
And looking back, it wasn’t a good one.
It lasted about 2 years, and it should have ended sooner. It was the same story with my second long-term relationship.
A big part of it was that I didn’t really have much experience with relationships. I hadn’t taken the time to meet many potential partners and get to know them before jumping into something serious.
I didn’t know what I wanted in a partner.
Conveniently, the last bad relationship ended a few months before this experiment. It was perfect timing to explore more in this area too…
- I created a dating profile on a few platforms like Tinder.
- I met a ton of potential partners on late night parties.
- I went on a few dates every month.
I haven’t had any true hobbies in my life. Hobbies that I can do with passion and that will recharge me.
Since I didn’t have anything fun to do in my downtime, I wasn’t really looking forward to it and ended up working too much.
The little recreation time that was left I spent playing a game or watching a movie — things that didn’t really bring me much joy or fulfillment.
When I took the sabbatical though, I had the time to focus on something that I truly loved and wanted to learn for years — salsa dancing.
It has been a passion of mine for many years, but I never really had the chance to fully dive in. I went to a few lessons occasionally but it wasn’t enough to learn the dance and enjoy it.
Taking the time off work allowed me to:
- Sign up to 4 salsa dance schools.
- Hire a personal salsa dance teacher.
- Go to 2–3 dance parties every week.
- Go to 3 big dance festivals out of town.
Reading books was always a big part of my life. But over the years I had built up a huge reading list, and it was only getting bigger.
There were so many topics and genres that I was interested in but I couldn’t find the time to read more. In those six months I…
- Signed up for Blinkist.com for summaries before reading the books.
- Prioritized my reading list and picked the top books that I want to read next.
- Set aside an hour every day for reading.
- Dedicated a few weekends to reading, diving in for 3–4 hours at a time.
The changes above were big — and they required a lot of time and effort to implement. But given the results that I got, it was more than worth it.
For the past 6 months, I got more progress in each of these areas than I had in the last 10 years.
Here’s what happened…
Fitness & Mobility
I’ve always been a super skinny dude, and the fact that I’m 6.1 feet tall (186 cm) doesn’t help. Gaining muscle has always been difficult for me. On top of that, I had plenty of body fat, despite exercising regularly.
Here are the results I got:
- I gained 13 pounds of muscle.
- My body fat dropped by 6%.
- Fixed a hunched back caused by working on a computer for years.
- Fixed a rotator cuff imbalance that led to chronic pain in my shoulders every day.
This has been by far the most socially abundant year I’ve had so far. Here are the results:
- I have at least 5 solid friends that I can rely on.
- The friendships that I have now are much deeper and enjoyable.
- I can go out and have fun any day of the week if I want to.
- I got rid of my social anxiety and fear of meeting new people.
I’m in a great and satisfying relationship right now, but here are the other results from the past 6 months:
- Experienced 3 new romantic relationships.
- I’m more confident on the dating scene.
- I have a much better sense of what I want in a romantic partner.
I’m not a professional dancer or anything, but that wasn’t the goal in the first place:
- I learned enough of salsa to be confident and enjoy myself every time at a dance party.
- I have a regular dance partner that I can practice with every week.
I still have a huge reading list but I’m super grateful that I got to dive into some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books:
- Read 20+ fiction books (like Song of Ice and Fire, Dresden Files, Kingkiller Chronicles, etc.)
- Read 50+non-fiction books (topics like health, spirituality, sex, relationships, marketing, etc.)
I’m not sharing these results to prove that I’m better than anyone — in fact, quite the opposite. It’s just an example of what you can achieve if you dedicate enough time and effort to your goals.
How Could You Afford to Take 6 Months Off?
I’ve heard many people talking about the benefits of taking a long break to work on yourself. I wanted to do it but it never seemed feasible. How was I supposed to pay for that lifestyle?
Money, however, wasn’t the only issue.
Most of the time I had too much work to catch up on. There were opportunities that I didn’t want to miss. My current projects felt too important.
The timing never seemed right.
All these were just excuses. In the end, it came down to priorities. It was all about accepting that work doesn’t have to be my top priority all the time.
Once I decided to do it, everything else seemed simple — create a budget, save some money, cut back on my expenses, and go for it.
And now, the obvious question — what will happen to your work if you take so much time off?
What Happens to Work in The Meantime?
What about my business in those 6 months?
Well naturally I didn’t make any progress on my projects, and my coaching business slowed down.
But I don’t regret any of it.
On the contrary, it gave me a new perspective on life and it’s going to make my work going forward more meaningful and more productive.
Looking back, slowing down my work progress was well worth it to achieve all these other goals.
Are You Ready to Make the Change for Real This Year?
If the results above are not evidence enough, think about your own results so far. When have you achieved a big goal in your life?
How did you do it?
Did you just write down a quick plan and hope for the best?
Or did you have to set aside the time to study, experiment, and learn from your mistakes? That’s how you actually achieve big goals — dive in deep and devote enough time to it.
So if you really want to be serious about achieving your goals this year, it’s time to change something.
It’s time to do it more realistically.
Go All-In and Commit (Or Go Home)
Alright, 6 months might be too much for most people. But if that’s not feasible for you — how much time could you realistically devote to your secondary goals?
Could you set aside a month or two? Could you fully focus on only one goal in that time and make it happen? If you were to do it, which goal would you pick? Which goal has been on your bucket list for years and you haven’t done anything about it yet?
If you’re serious about this, decide when you’re going to do it. No wishy-washy “I’ll do it in the summer.”
Make a real plan.
Book the exact months in your calendar. Ask for a leave from work in those months. Notify your clients/colleagues that you’re going to be on a “vacation.”
Think about how your income will be affected. Think about the amount of money you’ll need in that period. Create a budget and start saving now, so when that time comes you’re prepared.
What Will Your Life Look Like After a Year?
You just learned a new strategy to achieve your goals faster — use it. Don’t let this be another article that you read for just entertainment. Take action and really make it happen this time.
Imagine the results you could have when you reach your goal.
How would your life be better in the years to come? How would your relationships change? How would your body feel? What new hobbies or skills could you learn?
And the trade back?
Just a month or two away from work. Would you give up that progress in your job/business/income to get those results? Would it be worth it for you?
It certainly was for me.