Why you can achieve more with only one goal

Last year, I made a big deal about buying a fancy glass whiteboard to keep all of my 2017 goals directly in front of me in my home office. The picture above shows a nice mind map, some major goals that I circled, and lots of ways to support those goals.

I failed miserably.

I didn’t write a book, although I started one, and I didn’t start a networking group, although I discussed it with some interested colleagues. And I didn’t do this, although I did do that.

I’m the shoemaker. I help companies simplify their strategic plans into achievable components, yet I made overly complex goals. It’s the conundrum of running your own business. Too much time with my head down rather than stepping back and looking at my own big picture.

This year, I decided to publicly proclaim one goal.

Read more books.

This one goal has changed how I tackle my entire day. After waking up and walking Copper, I prepare my breakfast and eat at our kitchen table with the goal of reading one chapter. I used to take my breakfast into my office and pretend to work while “quickly” scanning email, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Everyone knows there is almost zero productivity in that.

Now, every morning, I learn something.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve finished four books. They happen to be business-related:

  • Originals– How Nonconformists Move The World – Adam Grant
  • Hit Refresh – Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone – Satya Nadella
  • The Go-Giver – Bob Burg and John David Mann
  • Blue Ocean Shift – Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Each day, I feel as if I did one thing that improves how I think or approach my business and clients. Mentally, I am debating the relevance of a specific idea, or determining if there is a way for me to incorporate the idea into improving my company. Most importantly, I feel as if I did something. It completely changes my mindset.

Data exists suggesting successful executives read more. This article from Inc. magazine says most read 4-5 books per month, or one book per week. That may seem like a lot, but once broken down into the average number of words in a book, it equates to 45 minutes per day. I’m averaging about half of that because I’ve framed my goal as one chapter per day, or ~2 books/month. Given that I previously read about 3-5 books/year, that’s a leap.

How has this one goal helped in terms of improving myself and my business?

I’ve begun to compare concepts and ideas and cherry-pick the pieces that make sense for me. I feel more disciplined as I work through my day. For whatever reason, my motivation is greater. I’m not sure I can completely explain that, other than the fact that I don’t have all of these other goals hanging over my head. I do have a task list, and completing those tasks helps to achieve other goals. Somehow, they are getting accomplished despite the fact I haven’t put them in front of me on my whiteboard.

Is this the best method? I don’t know. It’s working for me.

GoalEvery newsletter is supposed to have a “Call to Action.” I’m calling for you to simplify your objectives if you or your team feels overwhelmed. Figure out what is manageable and achievable. You will be surprised how lightening your mental load, or erasing the whiteboard in front of you, will help you become more productive and attain your goals.


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Discussion (Comments below):

  1. What did you fail at in the last year and what did you learn from it?
  2. Do you have a book to recommend?



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