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Close, Closer, Closest

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and fallingshort; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
~ Michelangelo

Goals are always touted as powerful ways to motivate yourself and implement your plan. The problem with goals is that most people never achieve the ones they set out to accomplish. At the beginning of every year, millions of people around the world make New Year’s Resolutions. Decades ago, this was a big deal in communities—people talked about their New Year’s Resolutions with others and worked toward them systematically. Over time, the writing slowed, as did the conversation. Now, people merely make internal goals and then wonder why the goal never came to fruition. The University of Scranton conducted a study on New Year’s Resolutions to determine their efficacy. They found that an astounding 92 percent of goal-setters failed to reach them. Why? There are many reasons, most of which I plan to cover in this chapter. The first is more about focus than activity.

Goal setting is not merely a question of what:

  • Lose weight

  • Get a new job

  • Stop smoking

  • Drink less

  • Retire to Florida

These are noble goals. But they only address a third of the question: the what. True and effective goal setting is as much a function of how and why as it is what. The goal is merely the marker by which you will measure your activities. What is the roadmap that gets you to your ultimate destination? Without a plan, your goals are destined to fail.

Step one is to change your wish list into actual goals—missions if you will—that are specific. They should be easily measurable and also noticeable once they have been accomplished. For example, here is how the wish list converts to goals:

Lose weight

Weigh 45 pounds less than current weight of 235

​Get a new job

Secure a position in the IT industry, earning the same or more as my current position.

Stop smoking

Smoke zero cigarettes.

Drink less

Restrict drinking to special occasions, limited to parties and weddings. Bring no alcohol into the house.

Retire to Florida

Purchase a villa in Florida, Tampa, or Orlando, with at least two bedrooms.

Within each goal, there are multiple levels. No goal is just a single accomplishment. It has many moving parts. It might help to identify now what most (if not all) of those parts are:For example, I set goals to be more fit, start my business, spend more time with family, and give more philanthropy. But simply stating these goals was not enough. In fact, they had not reached the status of “goal” until I determined my Lines of Effort (LOEs). These LOEs might be specific actions or mindsets or details about the goal that I want to specify later.





Wife/ daughter


FMC Consulting

Save 30% toward retirement


​Annual checkups

Develop budget management

Save 5% toward disability income

Nieces/ nephews

Regular dentist visits

Offer life coaching

Big job – 55%

Host thanksgiving for the family.

Attention to growing my mind

Offer a mentorship program.

Investments – 10%

Mental health

Build a social network.

PT 4 to 5 days per week

Encourage the family to join.

BONUS TIP: A lot of people focus their financial health on one facet of their finances: their job. But, as you can see, I didn’t want my job to be my only source of income.

Next, the goals must each have a time frame. As you set the time frame, remember that some goals are short-term, others are near-term, and others are long-term. Let’s look at our list:

​Lose weight

Weigh 45 pounds less than current weight of 235

Weigh 190 pounds by November 15, 2023.

Get a new job

Secure a position in the IT industry, earning, the same or more as my current position.

Secure a position in Pennsylvania in the IT industry earning at least $65,000.

Stop smoking

Smoke zero cigarettes.

Reduce cigarette smoking to zero cigarettes by my birthday.

Consume less alcohol

Restrict drinking to special occasions, limited to parties and weddings. Bring no alcohol into the house.

​Drink one glass of wine at special occasions only.

Retire to Florida

Purchase a villain Florida in Tampa or Orlando withat least two bedrooms.

Retire and move to Florida by December 2040.

Writing down your short-, near-, and long-term goals is the next step in preparing your goals. You must identify what can be done now, what must be done soon, and what may take some time to accomplish. Clarifying where goals belong on the timeline makes them more achievable. This is a critical step because it allows you to outline the process at the beginning rather than allowing yourself to get stressed or bogged down in the process of working toward the goal. Consider the three levels outlined under the “get a new job” goal.




Revise resume

Research companies to determine requirements

Log onto 10 job seeker sites

Practice interviewing skills

Subscribe to the top three IT blogs, newsletters, and other publications in the field.

Submit 100 applications

Save 6 months of expenses.

Identify Training opportunities

Connect with headhunters

Buy new suit

Get certification

Network with IT professionals

You may begin any (or all) of these steps tomorrow. But some will take longer to accomplish the ultimate goal. This maps out the stages so that you know where you are in the process and can easily track your progress. Next, you will delineate what you will be doing toward achieving each goal using the line of effort technique. They show my actual planned activity in one handy chart so that I stay focused and consistent. Goals are not goals until you have:

  • Specify what the definition of each goal is.

  • Isolated details about what the endgame would look like.

  • Clarify what you would do to get there.

  • Put it all in writing where you can see it daily without trying.

Both Amazon and the military have very clearly defined strategies for ensuring their goals are met. Amazon calls them objectives and key results (OKRs), and the military simply calls them objectives.

OKRs refer to a company’s highest goals for the year and the results they expect to see at the end.

Start planning for the future. The only things that existed in the past were the things you left behind, right? Think about it. Your past is comprised of your failed relationships, the job you got fired from, or the loved one you lost. They are all memories from which you derive great joy or immense pain. What is left from the past is the hope of a loving relationship, the desire for a fulfilling business or career, and the dreams the person you loved and lost had for you.

What you hold firmly in your hand is the future. People often tell you to live in the moment and stay in the now. It’s good advice, and under most circumstances, I would agree. But when you are in the midst of a transition, the future requires your attention and focus, not the past or present.

You have the gift of promise and potential. Seize that and allow yourself to believe that it is the most exciting, though frightening, time of your life.

Your goals push you outside of the comfort zones you have set for yourself.

“The more things you can do to get outside of that zone that makes you feel good, the stronger your mind is going to get... It’s not fun, but now my mind is used to it… Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight! And never forget that all emotional and physical anguish is finite!... Mental toughness is a lifestyle. You build calluses on your feet to endure the road… You may lose the battle of the morning but don’t lose the war of the day.”
~ David Goggins, Iraq war veteran, retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member, public speaker, American ultramarathon runner, triathlete, distance cyclist, and author.

I have always thought that comfort is overrated. That’s good because the magic of Amazon takes place at the edges of your comfort zone. It’s even more appropriate considering that the company’s mantra is that it’s always Day 1. The butterflies I get when I walk into the facility rival my first day at school nerves, deployment day jitters, and the sight of Aces in the big blind. Excuse the deep poker reference, but if you play and know what I am talking about, that feeling is the addictive adrenaline rush working in this company gives me.


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