Smart Goal Setting in The New Year (And Beyond)

Concentration is the secret of strength.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few years back I read a book by Robert Allen called Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth! It was a paradigm shifting book for me, and set me on the road to looking at ways to diversify the ways I earn money.

However, getting involved in multiple ventures met with mixed results. On the one hand, I spent the first year or two reading a ton of information, starting off in multiple directions, and getting some traction in a few areas. However, after floundering for a while, I realized that, in order to really make some progress, I was going to have to narrow down my pursuits. Once I narrowed my focus, I found that I had a lot more focus, direction, and results.

goal setting with a main focus
Focus by Ankakay on Flickr

And this is one of the secrets to for 2011: FOCUS!

If you read my article regarding balanced success for 2011, you have identified the roles you play in your life. Now that you have done that, it’s time to FOCUS: this means that you will pick one main role to focus on in the
(This article represents Step 7 in planning your Best Year Yet for 2011.  I’ll list the first five steps below so that you can catch up, if this is your first time here:

Step 1: Who Else Is Ready for 2011?
Step 2:  Get Rid of Your Baggage Once and For All
Step 3:  The Lazy Man’s Way to the Best Year Yet
Step 4:  Get Out of Jail NOW!
Step 5:  What Everybody Ought to Know About True North
Step 6: HOW TO Balance Your Success in 2011


The Whole Life Review

The first step in getting focused in 2011 is to conduct a Whole Life Review.  Here’s how to go about this.

Envision a bike tire.  Your life is at the center.  Your life roles are each spokes emanating from the center of the wheel.
For each of the spokes, representing the life roles, divide the spoke into units from 1-10.  The more effective you were in carrying out that role, the higher the number you will assign to that spoke of the wheel.  Do this for each role, and you will have a number for each spoke.

I did this exercise, and came up with the following ratings of satisfaction with my own performance:

  1. Steve’s Coach (self-care): 6
  2. Husband: 6
  3. Father: 5
  4. Friend: 3.5
  5. Clinical Specialist: 7
  6. Therapist: 7
  7. Blogger: 8

Questions for Reflection:

These questions from Jinny S. Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet!: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever can help you make sense of your self assessment.

  • What do these results mean to me?
  • What do I see in this overview of my life?
  • In which role am I performing the worst?  The best?
  • What do I need or want to change first?

Listen to your intuition to help you consider both the pros and cons of your assessments for each role.  Work on being a neutral observer, rather than a critical judge.  As you do so, consider which of your roles needs your major focus over the next year.

Benefits of Focus: Why Choose One Role Only?


Our lives, especially in the United States, can move at a frenetic pace.  When you combine all of your commitments with the barrage of information that comes to you through the internet, radio waves, TV, and other media, it’s easy to lose track of what is most important in your life.  By having one main focus in your life, you will have increased awareness and energy to make the changes that matter most to you.  Yes, it’s okay to keep your other roles in mind, and you will be doing that as part of the continued smart goal setting process we will be going through.  However, keep this one focus at the top of the list, and you’ll thank me at the end of 2011 :)


Once you have chosen the most important role to focus on, you will gain satisfaction from steady progress in that role over the next year.  In fact, the energy you gain from progress in that area will spill over into your other roles, enabling you to progress even further in those roles.  For example, I found that I had focused too much on some of my work related goals a couple of years ago.  As a result, my relationship with my wife was much lower than I was satisfied with.  Moving my role as husband to the top of the list this last year has been an incredible blessing in my life.  (We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary yesterday!)  And as our relational satisfaction has increased, it has given me energy to perform better in other roles.  I find that I am paying better attention to details at work; that I am more proactive and present with my children and in my other friendships.

Questions to Help You Choose

Ms. Ditzler has provided these questions to help you select your major focus:

  • If I could put one problem behind me, once and for all, what would it be?
  • In which role do I want to have a breakthrough?
  • If I were able to put a big check beside on of my roles at the end of the year, signifying that I felt a sense of mastery in that role, which would it be?
  • What’s the biggest barrier to my success and happiness right now?
  • Which aspect of my life is the biggest drain on my energy and willingness to go for it in life?

Listening to my ‘gut’ and going through these questions helped me realize that “Steve’s Coach” is the key for my success over the next year.  The biggest subset under “Steve’s coach” is my ability to connect with God through prayer , Bible Study, and other spiritual disciplines.  Because integrity, wisdom, and health are at the top of my 5 top values.
If I can make sure that I am continuously prioritizing my physical, spiritual, and emotional health, I will ensure that I am making better choices in terms of my commitment to my other roles.

Now it’s your turn!  I hope you’ll print this article out, reflect on it, and take time to sort out your major focus for 2011.  Please share your comments below!


  1. says


    So glad I found you and found this specific blog post. I’ll be reading it several times to soak up the quality content. Focus is my main challenge. Refreshing to read it is a challenge in others lives as well.
    Know that your motivation and your leadership are having a positive effect on my life and my business. Your knowledge helps me grow.
    Congratulations on your wedding anniversary and on recognizing this step makes you a better parent and husband.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Tonya Heathco
    Tonya Heathco recently posted…Types of SeizuresMy Profile

    • says

      Tonya, thank you so much for your encouraging words. Your encouragement has a positive effect on my life and business as well. Even as I reflect on your comment, I realize how ironic it is that I often prioritize tasks above relationships. If I suddenly had two weeks left to live, I don’t think tasks would be the first thing on my mind: I’d want to make sure that I was spending quality time with my loved ones. Thank you for stopping by :)

  2. says

    Hey Stephen ~ What a great post and reminder that we really need to focus our energies on one major goal at a time. All too often as you have pointed out here we get distracted by a myriad of other things that enter our lives. Having a tool such as you present here is invaluable in getting to that place where we can identify that one area where we want to see more success and then actually making that happen.

    I can certainly see by using this method that I will be able to look back at the end of the year and know that I have been successful at my one goal because I was able to find and maintain that laser focus.
    Jim Talbott recently posted…Where is San MarinoMy Profile

  3. says

    Jim, thank you very much for stopping by :) It’s true that without this reflection, we can often pursue our goals and not notice that we are drifting in other areas of our life. I’m very interested to know about your travels, so I look forward to following you around the globe :)

  4. says

    For the question “In which role do I want to have a breakthrough?” Honestly, as of now, still it is not clear to me whether which role I want to have a breakthrough. I don’t know the exact reason why. I guess I need to go back and refocus what I want to be. By the way, thank you so much for this wonderful insight. This is an enlightenment for me.
    Candice Michelle recently posted…mortgage singaporeMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge