A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals
Life gets busy. Has Your Best Year Ever been sitting on your reading list for a while? Instead, learn the key insights now.
DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial summary, analysis, and critique of the book.
Michael Hyatt’s Perspective
Michael Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Co, a leadership development firm specializing in live events, workshops, and digital and physical planning tools. Hyatt was previously chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He is also a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of several books. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Businessweek, and Entrepreneur. He currently runs a popular blog and podcast alongside his leadership training activities.
Hyatt’s perspective comes from decades as a leadership consultant and trainer. He distilled the book’s content from individual coaching sessions, webinars, and workshops.
Your Best Year Ever is a self-help book that examines goal-setting across different areas of your life. The book includes Hyatt’s process to help high achievers become more productive, improve their work-life balance, enhance their relationships, and optimize their happiness and health. He believes your best year will only take five hours and five steps to plan. This plan will triple your chances of achieving your goals.
Who Is This Book For?
Your Best Year Ever is for those who struggle with motivation (e.g., while keeping new year resolutions). It will also serve people who want to make changes in their lives but aren’t sure how to go about them and those who let their negative thoughts hold them back from taking action.
StoryShot #1: The First Step Is To Believe the Possibility
The first fundamental difference between an unfulfilled goal and achieving success is believing that it is possible. If you focus on improving your beliefs, your circumstances will also improve unknowingly. Our expectations determine our perception and how we act. In turn, these perceptions and actions influence our outcomes. For example, Hyatt’s family used an electronic collar on their dog to warn it not to stray too far. Whenever the dog walked too far from Hyatt’s household, the collar would lightly vibrate. The dog quickly learned not to cross the exact barrier Hyatt’s family had linked with the collar, even after the family removed the collar. This is an example of a thought-based barrier becoming a reality.
Doubt and Failed Imagination
Doubt is one of the most influential factors preventing us from achieving our goals. Although we use doubt to shield ourselves from future disappointment, this same doubt will leave us disappointed in the long term. Taken together, we don’t achieve our goals when we do not believe we can achieve these goals. This is a failure of imagination. Alternatively, we can harness our imagination and rekindle our sense of possibility.
Doubt often results from past failures. However, the past does not determine the future. Instead, circumstances only prevent us from reaching our goals if we have the wrong framework of assumptions. If we base our framework on previous failures, we will fail again. Going forward, establish a different frame around the same circumstances.
Become an Abundant Thinker
Every goal will have obstacles to overcome. The difference between scarcity and abundant thinkers is that the former consider their abilities set in stone. When encountering obstacles, scarcity thinkers will think about the skills they lack, while abundant thinkers will seek alternative solutions.
You should start implementing more abundant thinking into your life. Hyatt used to frame his world around barely earning enough money to meet his family’s needs. He decided against adopting this framework of scarcity. Instead, he started thinking about how he could earn enough money to support his family and donate to charity. This change in mindset was enough to help him move forward and start gaining access to more resources.
There are three types of limiting beliefs:
- Assumptions about the world
- Your perception of others
- Your perception of yourself
There is an association between repeated setbacks and these three limiting beliefs. When you consume an overabundance of depressing news and compare yourself to others on social media, you can compound your setbacks. Our beliefs are the lens through which we perceive the world. Therefore, if you adopt limiting beliefs, you will limit your potential. Limiting beliefs do not reflect reality. They are a misunderstanding of the present that shortchanges your future.
How to Tackle Powerlessness
Albert Bandura – a psychology professor at Stanford University, defines power in four properties:
- Intention: Imagining a better reality will help you collaborate with others and improve your circumstances.
- Forethought: Visualizing the future will give you purpose and alter your behavior.
- Action: Acting on your plans keeps you motivated.
- Self-reflection: As well as acting, you must also look back on your actions, evaluate them, and improve.
StoryShot #2: The Second Step is To Complete the Past
Completing the past is integral to creating a better future. Ignoring or wishing away the past will not allow you to move on. Previous negative experiences and thoughts will influence your future goals and actions. The US Army uses backward-thinking methods to prevent the past from affecting the future. The most prominent method is the After-Action Review.
The After-Action Review
This method aims to connect experiences with future action via a four-stage process:
- State what you wanted to happen: Establish a list of goals at this stage.
- Acknowledge what actually happened: Ask yourself which of these goals remain unfulfilled. Instead of changing the past, this stage aims to shed light on your present. On top of this, consider the goals you accomplished that you are most proud of from last year. Identifying these goals will allow you to identify where you have succeeded but have not appreciated how impressive your accomplishments have been. Finally, consider the themes that kept resurfacing over the last year.
- Learn from the experience: Look back on your year and identify key lessons you have learned or could still learn. One of Hyatt’s clients fired him when he was on the verge of their most significant deal. Hyatt describes this experience as humbling. Instead of pushing this experience to the back of his head, he learned three lessons. Hyatt learned that clients can be erratic. He learned that people will not always remember our success in the future. He also learned he needed to secure alignment from all relevant parties upfront. Based on these lessons, Hyatt has become far more successful.
- Adjust your behavior: If you do not change your beliefs based on the past, you will be worse off than when you started.
Society likes to suggest we live life with no regrets. But regret has fantastic value for improving our lives. Regret is a form of information that can help guide effective after-action review processes. It can encourage reflection on mistakes, and if we use the information appropriately, we may prevent future mistakes. In addition, regret may offer you motivation. Genuine feelings of regret can push us to change our outcomes. Finally, regret may increase your integrity. Regret is a moral compass that helps us understand, through emotions, when we have made a mistake.
Researchers associate regret with the opportunity principle. Regret is a powerful indicator of future opportunities. If you consistently experience regret, then you have what it takes to make a positive change in all situations. You have a natural tendency to expect more from yourself, which is a positive trait. The people with no hope of being successful are those who do not display this regret.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published in Dec 2020 but was updated on 29 January 2022.
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