How to Make Your Goals Stick

Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Made to Stick wrote an interesting article about how to make goals “stick”.

They explained the difference between goals and resolutions.

I was reminded of the fact that our goals have much more weight, impact, and resolve when we add a level of accountability to them.

Making a clear goal and personally committing to it is good. But making a clear goal, personally committing to it…and sharing it with others takes it to a whole new level.

The Heaths observed, “At Microsoft, for instance, employees set ambitious goals for themselves each year, called ‘commitments,’ that are created in consultation with their peers and supervisors and later made public. Peer pressure, or even just peer awareness, is a powerful motivating factor.”

I’m writing this post today for a reason. It’s already April. Somehow, more than three months have already passed since the dawn of our new year when millions of people set new, ambitious goals for themselves. By now unfortunately, millions of people have already lost their resolve and those great, daring, worthy goals are being dropped faster than they were conceived.

Are you one of them? Have you already bailed out on New Years Goals?

I’d challenge you to stick it out and establish a new level of resolve by creating more accountability for the great goals you’ve set.

You can do that by telling peers, friends, and family what you’ve decided to accomplish, and what your goals are. It’s interesting how much harder it is to quit a goal that others are excited to see you accomplish.

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

Small GiantsWhen you think of a business, the image that typically comes to mind is an enterprise existing for the purpose of profit – and the more profit the better.

That’s what capitalism is all about, right? The entrepreneurial dream of starting from nothing and making it big – like Ray Kroc did with McDonald’s, or Michael Dell with Dell Computers.

That image makes a 180-degree turn in Bo Burlingham’s book, Small GiantsHe’s identified and analyzed 14 businesses that “Choose to be Great Instead of Big.”

Burlingham has delivered a great read that takes us deep inside fourteen remarkable companies that have chosen to march to their own drummer. They include Anchor Brewing, the original microbrewer; CitiStorage Inc., the premier independent records-storage business; Clif Bar & Co., maker of organic energy bars and other nutrition foods; Righteous Babe Records, the record company founded by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco; Union Square Hospitality Group, the company of restaurateur Danny Meyer; and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, including the world-famous Zingerman’s Deli of Ann Arbor.

While doing research within these companies, Burlingham outlined The 7 Qualities of Small Giants that ran through all of the profiled companies:

  1. They consciously questioned the usual definitions of success and imagined different possibilities than the usual ones. This concept had surfaced in the world of professional businesses, such as CPAs, physicians, and architects, where people talk about having a profession rather than a job.
  2. The leaders had to overcome enormous pressures to take traditional paths to success. Often this meant rejecting outside capital and growth opportunities outside their usual geography.
  3. Each company has an extraordinarily intimate relationship with its local community in which it does business.
  4. Each company cultivated exceptionally intimate relationships with customers and suppliers based on personal contact, one-to-one interaction, and mutual commitment on delivering on promises.
  5. They had unusually intimate work places, which were in effect functional little communities that strove to address a broad range of their employee’s needs as human beings, creating an emotional, spiritual, and social, as well as the economic ones.
  6. This sample represents a broad variety of corporate structures and modes of governance that they have come up with to help them achieve their driving force.
  7. The passion that the leaders brought to what the company did—they loved the subject matter, whether it was music, safety, food, lighting, special effects, or constant torque hinges. They had deep emotional attachments to their business, and this deep emotional attachment extended, as mentioned earlier, to employees, vendors, customers, and their community.

Burlingham shows how the leaders of these small giants recognized the full range of choices they had about the type of company they could create. And he shows how we can all benefit by questioning the usual definitions of business success.

Rapido es Happy!

Rapido HappyLet me introduce you to David. He’s one of the janitors who worked in our office.

This guy is amazing, really.

I met him a couple years ago. I couldn’t help but notice him! That’s because one evening I was startled when our front door burst open and I heard a rapidly moving “something” and keys jingling loudly, rushing toward my office. Adrenaline kicked me into the state of fight or flight and before I could get out of my chair to defend myself, David-the-Janitor ran by my office pushing his trash-bin-on-wheels. He literally ran through our entire office, from cubicle to cubicle, emptying our trash bins!

For the next week I watched him run around the office, doing his job as if the world depended on him to get it done. Honestly, I was inspired.

How often do we drag through our daily responsibilities or trudge through life without passion and energy?

Finally, one evening I invited him into my office to take a break. I proceeded to utterly confuse him with my terribly broken Spanish. But we managed a basic conversation.

After we got acquainted, I asked him if he ran like this through the entire building and he said, “Si!”

I asked him if his boss was the devil or something and he said, “No!” So I said, “Then why do you run, David?” He replied, “Rapido es Happy y slow es Sleepy!”

Wow. Here’s a guy who does something basic, something a lot of us would probably complain about…and he’s found one of the great keys to happiness.

Work hard, work rapidly, and take pride in whatever it is you do–and most of all, be happy.

Thank you, David!

Youthful Entrepreneurship

LukeLogan1My son Luke (11) and his cousin Logan (10) have the entrepreneurial bug.

This weekend they raked-in $60 in car wash sales. Going door-to-door, no less.

At one house there were two cars in the driveway. While in negotiations Luke said, “…we’ll probably get some spray on the other car, so you might as well have us wash both.” The customer agreed. (Nice up-sell!)

At another house they were abruptly told to come back another time. Before the door closed on them Logan stepped up, “…when, exactly, should we come back?” (Nice follow-up!)


These little guys have the next two days of door-to-door routes all lined up. They’re setting goals. And Luke even wrote out the key points of their formula:






Youthful entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing. And these are the summer’s our kids will remember and reflect on…when it all got started.

I’m thankful to witness these days….

Big Goals Take Time

Over the last several years my company has received thousands of applications from entrepreneurs seeking guidance for their start-up.

Here’s a summary of one of those applications:

Current Occupation: School Teacher

Current Income: $37,000 per year

Business Experience: None

Business Idea: I want to sell something online

Financial Goals: I want to make $500,000 in the next year

I guess with all of the infomercial and sales letter hype that’s out there promising immediate financial rewards, it’s hard to blame him for his unrealistic expectations.

Look, the great thing about entrepreneurship is that, in fact, a school teacher making $37,000 a year can go out there and start their own company and make $500,000 a year. It absolutely can happen. It happens all the time, actually.

But it won’t happen in a few months. It will probably take many years. And that’s ok, because the journey can and should be invigorating and enjoyable.

In regard to the time required for success, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing summed this up recently. He said, “I know you need the quick fix, you want the result now, you need the hot new thing. Ask yourself this question–How long do you plan to be in business? If it’s more than a year…start planting seeds for your long-term growth by investing in foundational marketing practices that may take time to bear fruit, but ultimately produce the greatest returns.”

I think you should definitely go for those big, daring goals that excite you. But if those goals include making large amounts of money and being in business for the long-term; then expect a 3 to 5 year investment of sweat and discovery.

Just decide in the beginning to enjoy every day of the journey. It’s well worth it.