Episode 213 – How to Make This Your Best Year Ever

Steve Shallenberger: To all of our Becoming Your Best listeners and those that are getting ready to just crush it this year and into the new decade, it’s always nice to have some really great tools to help lead you through that, and the Becoming Your Best planner is ready to go, if you don’t have one already. It’ll help lead you through with your vision, setting clearly actionable goals in the different areas of your life, which will help bring balance. And then a process that helps you stay focused, day in and day out, on the things that matter most, while still bringing balance and vitality. So, if you don’t have one yet, you can just go to To get 25% off on your planner, just put in the promo code “20planner25”. And here is to a fabulous new year!

Rob Shallenberger: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening to all of our podcast listeners and Becoming Your Best family. This is Rob Shallenberger, and thank you for taking a few minutes today, to listen to this podcast.

Now, by the time you listen to this podcast, 90% of all New Year’s resolutions will have been broken. The majority of people listening to this will probably hear this around the end of January(ish) in 2020. So, what makes the other 10% different? What makes them different than the 90%? You can probably relate to this – if you go to the gym right now, you can see the gyms are packed in early January, and then, that just seems to slowly trickle away. So, what is different about the other 10%? How do you stay focused, rather than setting a new year’s resolution that just trickles away after a few weeks? How do we make this your best year ever? That’s the hope of this short podcast that we’re doing here, today.

For those who have attended one of our keynotes or seminars, you know that there are three keys to being productive, to being highly successful, both in your personal lives and professionally. Now, some of these may sound repetitive and that’s good. That’s a great thing because, for most humans, we need to hear something 20 to 25 times before we decide to take action on it. So, if this is not the first time you’ve heard this, great! It’ll be a repetition and maybe there’ll be a new thought that comes to your mind, a new burst of inspiration. When it comes to focus and productivity, there are three things that I invite all of us to review and focus on, right now, to have our best years ever. And this will either, like I said, be a review, or maybe it’ll be something that’s completely new. But either way, this is what will help you be among the top 10% who stay consistently focused throughout the year and don’t get sidetracked. Less than a month into the year, the majority have said, “All right, can that New Year’s resolution! That’s already out the window!” And so, the idea here is, how do you truly make this your best year ever in your relationships, in your finances, your health? Because in the end, what we’re talking about here is our lives.

Anyone who would like a free template or a planner – I’ll just call it a tool – these are tools that can help us actually implement these principles. There’s a couple of things you can do: visit or write us an email to and we’ll send you a free template with the things that we’re talking about on this podcast. Either of those are great tools to help you get started.

So, what are the three things that can truly help you have your best year ever? Number one is to develop a written personal vision. This is something that has often been talked about, and still, it’s rarely been done. Only 1 – 3% of people have a personal written vision. And this is your why, this is your passion for getting up in the morning. Why get up today? How much better would it be to have a personal vision that is meaningful and provides direction, so that when we get up in the morning, our heart has a reason to beat? And I’ll share a couple of examples with you of what this might look like, but the point is to have that vision. And why a vision? Because it is so easy to focus on our problems, and we all have them. What the vision does is it shifts the energy away from the problem and back to the vision, which is a place of hope and excitement, and when the vision is strong enough, we will do whatever it takes to accomplish that vision.

And the truth is we all have challenges. In a seminar, we’ll ask people to look on their left and on their right, and I follow that up with, “Don’t you think it’d be a true statement that every single one of us has a challenge that the other people in the room know nothing about?” And everyone nods, because if you pull back the curtain, everybody has something going on their life, that is a challenge of some sort, and part of being here on earth is to work through those, whether it’s in a marriage, maybe it’s a relationship with a particular son or daughter, maybe it’s health, whether it’s diet, or weight, or whatever it might be – there’s a lot of things in the health arena that can cause challenges – depression, finances, whatever! There’s just so many things. The point is, instead of focusing on the problem, shift it to the context of what’s your vision. So, if a relationship, let’s say, that it’s not going so well, in a marriage, that can be all-consuming. Anybody who’s dealing with that knows that that can be all-consuming. So, rather than just focusing on the negative aspect of it, how about shift it to the vision of what can be? And that doesn’t mean it’s going to solve it 100% of the time, but it sure puts you in a great starting point.

And so, we can either be compelled to develop a vision and get it strong enough – our why – or we can do it proactively and lead a life by design. Now, what do I mean by that? We can either be compelled to develop a vision, or we can proactively develop a vision and lead a life by design. Well, let me use that same health example. There is a 42-year-old who just had a major heart attack. 42 years old. That’s pretty young to be going through that. He was told by his doctor that he had to make some major lifestyle changes. This was a huge wake-up call for him because he has several children at home, still – some young kids. And so, the question is, did he really have to wait until the heart attack to get a strong-enough why? In his particular case, he was compelled by the heart attack to now really start to focus on his health. What would have happened had he started applying some of the principles that we’ll discuss on this particular podcast, when he was 25 or 28 years old? Potentially, a totally different outcome. He likely would have never had the heart attack in the first place. So, what I’m trying to suggest here is that when our why is strong enough, when we have a clear vision that we can preempt and lead a life by design, it shifts the playing field to a place of hope and excitement.

So, here are three questions to get you started before you develop your vision. Number one, we invite you to think about your roles, your most important roles – for some, if you have kids, it might be a parent; if you’re in a relationship, it might be a spouse or partner; whatever your current job title is, those would be your roles – and develop a vision within each of those roles. So that’s a starting point on how to develop the vision. Now, before you even get to that point, there are three questions that will help you start thinking about the right things. I’ve done this and it was an incredible experience for me. I mean, I spent an entire flight from Seattle to Salt Lake, writing my answers to these three questions. It took an hour and a half. And man, I’ll tell you, when I landed in Salt Lake, I was fired up! I was so excited because of these three questions and the thoughts that had come to mind during that flight.

So number one, ask yourself this question and spend at least 20 minutes on it to really give it the time it deserves because, in the end, we’re talking about your life here. This is the thing that matters most to you. So number one is, in five to 15 years from now, where do you want to be and what are some things that you want to have accomplished? That’s a pretty thought-provoking question. Question number two is, who are some influencers or mentors in your life who have had a big influence, and what are the characteristics or attributes about those people that stand out to you? And why that’s so important is because once you see those characteristics of the influencers in your life, we can then start to say, “Well, if it’s important to them, why wouldn’t those characteristics be important to me, especially in these different roles?” And so, it really causes you to start to think about what are we being, what are we becoming in our behavior and in our actions? Question number three is, in 50 years from today, whether you’re alive or not, how do you hope others will look back and describe you? Again, that’s a very introspective question there. So, these are three questions I invite you to spend at least 20 minutes on each question.

After you thought about the answers, go and develop your vision by role. The vision becomes our guide. Now, if we’re going to set roles and goals and do all of these other things, we need to have a destination in mind first, and our lives will either be in line with our vision, or they will be out of alignment with our vision. I think anyone listening to this podcast, intuitively, we have these ideas on our mind of what we want to do, become, and accomplish and we know when our lives are in harmony with that and when they’re not. So this is about taking the next step and actually writing these out. So let me give you an example – and for those who listen to our podcast every week, you’ve heard this before: in my role of husband, my vision – which is totally different than the goals – is the very best version of myself that I could see as a husband. This is what I’m striving for. It’s this: “I’m a kind and caring husband, who always helps Tanya feel like a 10. I am totally faithful in thought and action, and I constantly strive to serve her, compliment her, and be the husband of her dreams.” Now, is that how it always goes? No! And when it’s out of alignment with that vision I know it, she knows it. And so, I take the ownership to get it back in line with the vision. The point is, now we have a destination or an end state of what I think I should be like as a husband, and now we can develop goals that will help me be that type of husband.

So number one, to make this your best year ever – I’m trying to get fairly passionate so I’m not just inviting you – I’m pleading with you to make the time to answer those questions and sit down, look at your roles, and develop a written vision by role. And once you do that, memorize them and let that become your guide. I don’t have my role as a husband written anywhere here. That’s something I think about daily. Number two, once you have your vision developed by role – and again, we will send you the template, if you would like a template, write us at and then you have the free template that you can use so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.

So number two: Roles and Goals. These are specific goals within each role that you can focus on this year, to help you move towards achieving or becoming what you have written in your vision. Michael Phelps, as an example, said what makes him so different than everyone else, and the reason he’s so successful is because he’s laser-focused on his goals. And that is exactly it! For those who listen to this podcast, you know that we’ve spent decades researching the top 10% of high performers, and we wanted to find out what set them apart and made them different, because then, you can take these and apply them to all of our lives and to teams throughout organizations. It is clear that those who have specific goals will usually do and accomplish more than those who are just winging it day to day – hence, Michael Phelps. And a person is 90% more likely to accomplish something when they have a clearly written goal. And I get it, there’s a lot of emotions that go into this, like, there’s a fear of failure – we know that once we write it down, there’s accountability there. Part of this is to say, let’s acknowledge those emotions, but let’s get laser-focused on how to have our best year ever. And what do your specific targets look like within each role?

So, for example, one of the questions that is often asked is, how many goals should a person have for each role? And the answer is, it really depends on you. Typically, between one to four specific and measurable goals for each role. That’s a general answer. If this is the first time ever doing it, maybe just start with one or two goals with each role and focus on those. If you’ve been doing this now for two or three years, you can expand outside your comfort zone a little bit more. Maybe it’s three or four goals in each role this year. The point is that you want to have specific goals by role – the way we word our goals makes a huge difference in the target that we’re going after. So, in other words, there’s a big difference between saying, Exercise 30 minutes every day versus Run a 10K before September 20th. One of those sets us up for failure and one of those sets us up for success. The “Run a 10K before September 20th”, is a clear target. Now we can develop the plan on how to achieve that. If we’re saying, “Exercise 30 minutes every day”, that’s a form of a New Year’s resolution, and think about what happens if you miss one single day? Well, we’ve just broken that goal as written. Technically, we failed according to the way we wrote the goal. You want to give yourself some flexibility within the goals, so rather than saying, “Exercise 30 minutes every day”, or “Read 15 minutes every day”, maybe it’s, “Read 12 leadership and motivation books by December 30th.” See? That gives you flexibility. These are annual goals. I’ll explain why we don’t really have to use the daily term in just a couple of minutes, but the point is, what are your annual goals for this coming year that will help you be laser-focused on achieving the vision in each role?

And just one more thought on this: I rarely use absolutes like “never”. This is one case where I would use the word “never”. In your goals, never use the words more or better – for example, “be a better communicator”, “make more money”. Those aren’t goals. They’re not specific targets, you can’t measure that, hence, it doesn’t really drive the behavior. The goal should be a clear objective or target. So instead, “Read 12 leadership books by December 20th”, as an example. That gives you now a laser focus instead of “read more books”. So, let me just give you a couple of my actual goals for 2020 – maybe this will be helpful to you.

In the role of husband, you already heard my vision, so one of my annual goals with Tanya is average two dates a month without the children. This seems simple. In a seminar, I can’t count how many times people have come up afterward and said, “You know, I haven’t been on a date with my spouse in over a year or six months.” And I get it. I understand this. I mean, life is so busy as it is, that if we’re not very intentionally focused on leading a life by design, it’s so easy just to shift into the winging it mentality and just going day to day, and suddenly, before we know it, weeks are gone, months are gone, and even years are gone behind us. Time is one of those resources we just don’t get back. So, what’s the goal? “Average two dates a month without the children”, and that certainly will help us lead toward the type of marriage that I want to have. It doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but we’re making the time for what matters most.

In the role of father, I have four kids: one son, three daughters. One of my four goals is to take each kid on at least one trip together. So, whether it’s Hawaii, whether it’s South America, at least one trip together. Oftentimes, what I’m really striving for is two, but the wording is take each kid on at least one trip together. One more: At least two horse rides in the mountains with Bella. That’s pretty simple and straightforward, but now that it’s a goal, I can almost guarantee that as long as our horses are still alive, we’re going to go on two horse rides, because of the goal that’s there. One last goal in the role of father: Finish the vision boards with each family member by January 30th. Two weeks left, and our kids are almost there, and it’s been a great experience for them. Well, why did that happen? Because of the goal. In the role of brother/son, Family Disney trip before November 1st. Everything is already in the works to make that happen.

So, the point is, having those focal points or objectives in the form of roles and goals will really create in our life what is the equivalent of a laser: we’re focused, we’re aligned with what matters most in our lives, and it doesn’t mean things will be perfect, but at least we have targets of what we want to accomplish and we’re thinking about how to get there – and the mind will go to work to help us make it happen once we can identify those focal points. So, that’s number two.

Number one: develop a written personal vision that’s long term. Number two: develop your written goals in the form of roles and goals for this year. And number three, the last and final thing to make this your best year ever, is to commit to the habit of pre-week planning. Now, again, I know some people listening to this, you’ve heard about pre-planning many times. For some people, it may be the first time you’ve heard about it. Let me just, very briefly, introduce pre-week planning. In my experience, this principle and habit that I’m about to take just a few minutes on, is the greatest predictor of someone’s focus and productivity. It’s why we don’t need to set those daily goals that we just talked about: read 30 minutes every day, exercise 30 minutes every day. Pre-week planning takes our weeks, our days, and this is where the rubber meets the road. And that’s why pre-week planning is so dynamic because it shifts week to week based upon our schedules, and it really comes around the idea of pre-flight planning. Imagine a pilot going out to their jet. He or she would never walk out to their jet and just jump in without doing some form of pre-flight planning, right? Because, obviously, the chances of them getting hurt or hurting someone else go up significantly. Well, how many times do we go into our weeks without a plan and expect a different result than what a pilot would have if they didn’t do their pre-flight planning? And so, that’s why we coined this term, “Pre-week Planning”. It’s just as important to us, in leading our lives by design, to do pre-week planning as it would be for a pilot to do their pre-flight planning.

Now, here’s the thing about pre-week planning: it typically takes about 20 – 40 minutes to do. It usually works best if it’s done between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, because as most of us know, once Monday morning hits, we’re in the thick of the fire. The real promise of pre-week planning is that it will help a person schedule their priorities rather than prioritize their schedule. Now, there’s a big difference in that. So, maybe you have these little yellow sticky notes or to-do lists and all of that is good. In the spirit of good, better, best, what I would invite you to consider is doing pre-week planning and see how that can enhance whatever you’re already doing.

The process is really simple, and this is why it’s so helpful to have a Becoming Your Best planner because the tool is there for you. All you need to do is simply sit down for a few minutes and actually do it. You’re looking, first of all, at your goals and your vision and asking what can you do this week to achieve the goal? And in certain goals, the answer will be nothing. In other goals, for example, averaging two dates a month, if we’re on week number three, I’d better make time to go on a date. So, that’s where you’re connecting your goals down to your weekly actions. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

The next step is, just like you’ve done with your vision and goals, ask what are your roles, and then, what matters most this week in each of those roles. That’s all there is to it. We have a coaching client, he may very well listen to this. He’s a great, great friend, an amazing person, an orthopedic surgeon, and I’ve taken the phrase that he used and now I use this because he said it so well. He said, “Rob, pre-week planning is simple, but it’s not easy.” And that is the exact truth. The process of pre-week planning is so simple. Look at my goals. What are the roles? What matters most in each role? And when will we do it? Pretty simple. But there’s a discipline and a mindset that come by committing to do this every week, and it’s that discipline or mindset, where the habit is made. And it’s been said it takes 21 to 28 days to make a habit. Well, the truth is, it’s not so much a function of days as it is repetitions. So to truly make a habit, it takes between 60 to 65 repetitions. We used to invite people to do pre-week planning for a month. I’m inviting everyone on this podcast to commit to do pre-week planning for the entire year. Get an entire year’s worth of repetitions. And if you miss a week, jump back on the horse and recommit the next week. Do not let life dictate our terms and come back and lead us – let’s lead a life by Design, and that starts with, of course, the vision and goals, but then really culminates with pre-week planning.

So, I’m inviting all of us to commit to do pre-week planning every week for an entire year, and let’s make it a habit. I promise you, this will become so important in your life, that when you don’t do it, you’ll feel a huge difference in the weeks when you don’t do pre-week planning, which are hopefully far and in between. So, that’s our invitation: Commit to do pre-week planning for the entire year. If this is the one habit that you commit to developing this year, I promise it will change your life. It will transform your finances, relationships, and health for the rest of your life.

We’ve used this term in our seminars, we will either be transactional or transformational. Now, certainly, there are important things to do that are transactional. What these three habits will do, though, is help us shift our mindset by applying the skill set to be more transformational in our daily lives. So, rather than just being a parent who comes home and flips on the TV and disappears for the rest of the night – that would be, obviously, very transactional – what can we do that would be transformational? If you’re a student at a university, transactional may be jumping on the computer and playing video games. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but the question is, is that the best thing that a person could be doing? In other words, what does transformational look like to you, rather than transactional? These three high-performance habits will help shift our mindset to be more transformational, which will impact every area of our lives.

You’ve probably heard story after story, after story, on different TED talks in different places of a person who said, “You know, I was broke, I’ve been through a divorce – all of these different challenges – and then something changed.” These three habits, connected, can take anybody, from any spot in their life and give them hope, focus and a very clear purpose in how to get there. They are transformational habits. The onus, however, falls on each one of us to actually do them.

So, I started out this podcast by saying that 90% of New Year’s resolutions are already broken. There’s already a lot of discouraged people out there, two to three weeks into the year. This is a chance to be among the top 10% and commit to being productive throughout the entire year. And really, the skill set – fairly simple. The mindset requires a commitment from every one of us to say, “Yes, I will do this. Come rain or high water, I will commit to do this.” So the two things, if you don’t have them already: number one, go visit and get a planner, if you don’t have one. It’s a great tool to help you do pre-week planning, come up with your roles and goals, and your vision. If you would like to have a free template that I’ve mentioned now two different times on this podcast, just email us at and either Murphy or Jamie will get that free template to you. And that, again, is a great starting point for your roles and goals and your vision.

Coming down the road – and I don’t want to commit to a timeline on this – is an app, as well as a desktop version that will help with pre-week planning. But, in the meantime, it’s great to at least get started, so that we’re developing the habit. This is not something we want to delay or wait on because, you know, I love what someone said a few months ago, when I attended someone else’s conference. They said, “Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any one of us.” And isn’t that a true statement? How do we do the very best with the time that we have? Some of us listening to this will simply not be here next year. Kind of a bad thought to think about, but it’s the truth. So, how do we make this our best year ever knowing that that’s the case? How do we make the next three to four to five years, our best years ever? These three habits combined together will make a huge difference. And we have everything that we need, right now, to get started on this process.

If you still have questions about pre-week planning, or roles and goals, on that site – – there are specific how to’s with the vision, the goals and pre-week planning. We have everything we need to make this our best year ever! So, thank you for taking a few minutes for joining this podcast. I hope it was helpful. For some, it was a quick review; for others, it may be the first time that you’ve heard this, and I invite you to try what might be some new things in your life and feel how powerful they can become.

So, we honor you, we’re so thankful for you. This is a movement that goes around the world, and it’s every person committed to becoming their best. This is a process that doesn’t end as long as we’re breathing. Every day, every week, every month, and year can be better than the last, and it just takes us really being focused on becoming our very best! So, thank you! We hope you have a great day. Take care!

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