How to Make Your Goals Achievable

How are you doing with your new years resolutions? I’ve been meaning to blog my personal goals since the new years, but that post didn’t happen. Well, a month later the topic is still perfectly relevant.

I actually have a system for achieving my resolutions. If you read my post on the subject on, you’ll see that the key for me is to engage other people (partners or groups). Also, I approach my resolutions as projects rather than just abstract ideas or ambitions.

Here are 3 of the personal projects I embarked on since new years and a breakdown of each one:

1. Quit Drinking for a Month.

Ever since I moved back to Florida my alcohol intake increased in the range of 200-250%. No joke. Why? I have more old friends here, I adopted a new social circle, the nightlife is better than my previous burg, and when I go out with chicks we always drink. No, I don’t binge drink, throw back 12 packs, or even get wasted that often, but my intake was steady. I’d say it was an average of 2-3 drinks per day, 5 days per week. Obviously, this isn’t very healthy, so I decided to go dry for 1 full month starting January 9 and ending February 9, sort of as a detox process, but also to condition myself to lower my overall intake for the rest of the year.

Process: Process was pretty simple. I announced to all of my friends that I was dry for a month. Not drinking isn’t socially acceptable in my circles, unless you make a good reason for it, so I said a) it was a new years resolution, and b) I was trying to lose weight and “get jacked,” and thus was cutting booze out of the diet. Everyone supported me at that point. Interestingly, the hardest part was hanging with Megan and not drinking, as we usually meet for cocktails or wine 2-3 times per week. We had to find alternative activities in the evenings.

Results: Solid, although not perfect. I had exactly 1 glass of red wine during the first three weeks, and about 6 mixed drinks at a Superbowl party over the weekend. Still, that’s a drastic reduction from my previous rate, so I qualified it as a success. I may extend my no-drinking project for an additional week or two as a penalty.

I’ve lost 1-2 pounds during this stretch. I can’t directly attribute it to not drinking, but I’m sure it helped. That’s a lot of calories and lot of toxic crap I didn’t put in my body during that stretch.

Takeways: Also interesting, I have no urge to drink at this point. The urge died out in week 2. In fact, when I go out and I’m around alcohol, I get a slight revulsion feeling. I can’t drink beer at all, either. I’ve always been slightly allergic to beer, but if I condition myself (ie drink a lot) the allergic reaction disappears. Well, since I’ve been dry, I get a pronounced reaction.

2. Read 2-3 Books Per Month for the Entire Year.

I’m a big reader but in the second half of 2008 my personal reading fell off a cliff. Lots of reasons for that. Maybe I was doing too much drinking in the evenings? Anyway, for 2009 I installed a goal of 2-3 books per month. Could be any type of book, fiction or non-fiction.

Process: I embarked on a personal MBA program. If you haven’t heard of the pMBA, check out their site. It’s badass. Basically, it’s a do-it-yourself MBA program without the classes, teachers, and pesky tuition bills. Naturally, there’s no accreditation or degree whatsoever. The knowledge is awesome and that’s really what I’m after.

I was fortunate because two of my business-savvy friends were also interested in the program, so we started it together. We meet every Sunday night to eat dinner, talk about the books, and basically teach each other the material. We also joined a personal MBA Ning site and interact with other like-minded people.

Results: Great so far, I read two books in January. Having a structured program and two pals to share with can’t be beat. So far we’ve examined works by Seth Godin, Milton Friedman, and Jim Rohn. This project is going to evolve and pay much bigger rewards than I initially anticipated.

3. Get Super Fit and Train for A Race.

Being athletic and fit is always a goal of mine, but I wanted to renew the project and set a goal of racing at a high level race sometime during 2009. I picked a club-level national championship in July as my goal, mapped out the training, and started on it.

Process: For the training I had myself working out every day, with 1 day off every two weeks. Finding time to train is a huge challenge because I have two jobs, so what I did was join the gym across the street from my day job. I go to the gym on my lunch hour and work out for 45’, then shower and back to the office. This isn’t ideal because I would like to work out 1-1.5 hours on some days, but it’s the best I can do. Occasionally, I can squeeze in an extra workout either before work or after job #2. The gym membership costs $50. I’m also a member of a sports club and we meet to practice two mornings per week.

Results: Mediocre, although looking up. I battled a nasty cold for almost the entire month of January so I missed a lot of workouts. I got back on track and did everything last week and over the weekend. This is okay, since it’s still 5 months or so to the competition. If I didn’t have the convenience of the gym or the motivation of the club, this project would be almost impossible.

I’ve got probably 5-6 more personal projects of various sizes I have planned for 2009, but that gives you an idea of how I do a new years resolution. Having other people and approaching a goal as a project is critical to my success.

What are your goals, how are you doing with them, and what’s your process? I’d love to hear about it.

  • Nadine

    Hi Lance – well for one, I put myself on a diet again; got some experience in that area, so it’s easy, just got to start adding some working out to my daily life 😉
    But the second one is a big one: I have started noting everything I did wrong or right that day, trying to improve my character – i’ve got some issues in that area (I don’t need to share that further, basically it’s some insecurity stuff and problems with social contacts). Well, trying to write everything down, get it organised and get me focused on my problems – in case I will have made some progress during that year I might even try to turn it into a book (that will not be commercially sold, I am not THAT naive 😉 ).

  • The Virgin

    My goal is also fitness, getting into optimal/attractive shape. Unfortunately I haven’t been doing so well at that because I’ve been working on a side project (after work) to pay off some repair costs last month, but that’s nearly concluded so I will have my time back soon.

    Lunchtime is one of the best times to go to the gym, except that 45 minutes is about all you can do within the hour, and I no longer am close to my gym.

    The Virgin´s last blog post…V-Carded! – Toby

  • dadshouse

    Giving up alcohol clears the mind! It’s a key step in a candida yeast diet. I had a hottie dancer/model girlfriend from LA (no, not a pole dancer, a modern dancer) and she put me on a candida yeast-free diet. I dropped down to my marathon race weight, but I had tonse more energy and clarity.

    What kind of race are you training for? Running? Long distance? Cycling? Rowing? Curious..

    dadshouse´s last blog post…My Teen Daughter is Dating

  • lisaq

    Nicely done Lance! I didn’t really set anything in stone, but had a couple of things in mind. First, regaining my positive attitude which had been slipping as of late and, secondly, getting out more and meeting more people. Interestingly, since I started doing the second, the first has kind of taken care of itself.

    lisaq´s last blog post…Find Love In 90 Days

  • Lance

    DM, the club nationals rowing championship in July. I’ll be doing smaller races along the way to prep. First race is in March, and the real circuit starts in June. Thanks for asking.

    Lance´s last blog post…Where’s Honey Been, Anyway?