The REAL Secret to Achieving Any Goal in 2020

You did, you made it to 2020 in one piece — congrats!! I hope you’ve taken some time out to celebrate everything you achieved (and survived) in 2019 as well as having a think about the biggest lessons and takeaways the year gifted you with.

This is now the time of year when we all get super pumped to achieve HUGE things, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, there can also be some danger of setting yourself up for disappointment because of the way you approach your goals.

As someone who used to set new years resolutions and then promptly dropped them within weeks but now approaches her year in a totally different way, I really wanted to record this episode for you before you got too carried away with your own goal-setting.

Specifically on how important it is to have a clear focus and to choose one big thing at a time as opposed to writing out 20 big goals and wondering why at the end of the year, you’re still so far from achieving them all.

So if you’re ready to break some old patterns and actually make 2020 your best year yet – a year where you take bold action and make consistent progress – then get this in your ears, pronto!

Resources mentioned:

The One Thing
by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan
Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff
Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Keep learning:

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The REAL Secret to Achieving Any Goal in 2020


You’re listening to episode 11: the REAL secret to achieving any goal in 2020. So yes, it is time to talk about goal setting and the new year because I’m sorry, it’s just that time of year and I’m sure that you are already in the planning stage. You’re already setting the bar really high for yourself and you’ve got a million things that you want to achieve this year, but I beg of you: before you go setting any new goals and new year’s resolutions, can you just listen to this episode because I’ve got something really important to share with you.

Welcome to The Personal Branding Project. I’m your host, Kat Elizabeth, an actor and personal branding coach who is obsessed with helping creative entrepreneurs like you build personal brands that change your life for good, from attracting bigger opportunities, more joy and freedom in your life and the ability to get paid to do the things that you love most. Each week. I’m bringing you inspiration, practical advice, and the occasional dose of tough love so you can stop dreaming and start doing what it takes to make those dreams a reality.

Welcome back and thank you for being here. Thanks for letting me into your ears! I wanted to, as I said, create this episode because if you are anything like me — you know, overachiever, occasional perfectionist, multi-passionate, trying to do all the things — then there’s a really good chance you’re in a really dangerous time of the year where you start to put a lot of pressure on yourself. You are setting new years resolutions, you’re setting health and fitness goals, business goals, career goals, personal goals. You’ve got goals coming out your wazoo and I want to ask you this: in the past, how has that gone for you starting the new year with a huge number of goals? Has it excited you? Has it motivated you? Have you stuck with them? Have you seen them through, if you didn’t see them through, how did you feel about that? I want you to really take stock because I mean we talk about that whole thing of like the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I don’t think that’s actually the definition of insanity, but that’s what we say it is. And I have definitely been there. I have gone through the year after year cycle of setting these goals and then never seeing them through. And it took me a really long time to start to realize the number one problem. I want to do a lot of things and I’m betting you want to do a lot of things, but here’s a really hard pill to swallow: we can’t do all the things at once. Now, one day, I’m sure you will have checked off all the things from your list and even more, there’s a fantastic quote that I’ve heard Tony Robbins say that says we overestimate how much we can do in a year and we underestimate how much we can achieve in a decade. And I think that is so true because I often find myself coming up short at the end of the year and going, Oh, I didn’t do this and I didn’t do this…

But then if I zoom out and I look at what I’ve done in the last 10 years, wow. Like I actually want to give myself a high five because it was a lot. Where I’m at right now is a very interesting time in my life in business where yes, I’m doing a lot of things, but what might not be obvious on the outside is that I’ve actually had to get laser focused and I had to create a priority hierarchy. Now here’s a fun fact. This isn’t in my script. I’m going off book right now. The word priority where it came from, apparently it came from Latin and originally it meant one thing, a single priority and then what happened in this day and age, there was a time where we started talking about priorities and how we can have so many of them, but the actual purpose of the word was to basically talk about just how important it is to have one focus because when you have one priority, it’s this incredible compass…

It helps you make decisions. You have all this clarity and you don’t have all of the stress and the overwhelm and the anxiety about juggling all the things and dropping the balls. So I just wanted to flag that with you now because essentially that is what we’re talking about today — is that I want you to ask yourself this question: If you could only achieve one thing next year, what would it be? Isn’t it a funny one to think about? Because I feel like when we’re asked to write down our goals and our dreams for the next year, no one says, Oh, you can only choose one. We just start filling up pages and pages and pages. And while I think it is so good to be that driven and motivated and excited about your life and your career and your business, here’s the thing, we have a very finite amount of energy that we can dedicate to the things in our life.

Like think of it as a petrol tank and every day we start the day, hopefully with a full petrol tank. Although if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not looking after yourself, it’s probably not even starting full and by the end of the day it’s going to be empty. So you have to decide where you’re going to use that fuel. And if you think about it this way, it’s like, okay, so if you have five different things that you are trying to achieve in a day, then you’re going to have to divvy up that petrol between five different tasks. And another really great visual that helped me was thinking about, okay, you have five bridges that you want to build and you have enough resources to build one complete bridge. So what do you think is going to be the best thing to do? Basically use 20% of each of those resources — and I mean not just physical resources but also time and do you build 20% of each bridge or do you pick a bridge and you build the entire thing so that people can start using it and then you go and get the resources for the next bridge?

Essentially what I want you to start thinking about is that there are dreams and there are goals and dreams are incredible and we need them. And I don’t ever want you to stop dreaming because that little bank of dreams, eventually you’re going to pull from it and you’re going to grab your next goal. But when you make something, a goal, it’s when you start working towards something that’s achievable. So you’re actually putting out the plan and you’ve got action steps and you’re going to follow them and you’re going to see them through. And it’s when you have an actual goal and a plan and that you’ve dedicated all of the resources that you need, the time, the focus, the consistent effort, that’s when you start to see things through.

And so if you start the new year with this giant list of things that you’re going to try and achieve, just keep in mind that if you add too many things to that list, sure you might make some progress on all of them, but you’re not going to see the same kind of progress as if you were to choose one thing and pour almost everything of yourself into that. Now, as I mentioned, I’m definitely not preaching from the soapbox here. I have spent year after year after year running around in circles, setting these crazy goals for myself. And not only was I getting frustrated because they weren’t happening fast enough, I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted, but I also had this constant sense of failure and not being able to keep up. And there was always this exhaustion and anxiety and all this negative stuff, all just because I wasn’t practical in the goals that I set.

So I really think that if you want to set yourself up to make the next year different to all the other years, I want you to first zoom out, look back at your past years and the goals that you set for yourself, the ones that you didn’t achieve versus the ones that you did achieve and start to look at what was different about them. You know, what were the factors that helped you achieve the goals that you did achieve and where you had these, you know, resolutions and things that you set for yourself that never happened. Why was it? The fact is no matter what it is you’re trying to achieve, whether it is a health and fitness goal, whether it’s to grow a following on YouTube, whether it’s to attract speaking opportunities, to build a website, to build a business. All of these things, a big jobs, they don’t happen overnight.

There’s lots of moving pieces. You’re going to need all sorts of resources. Sometimes you’re going to have them all yourself, but sometimes you’re going to need to bring in other people. They require accountability. They require a certain amount of time every week, you know, dedicated to it, and sometimes they’re going to require money as well. And again, if you’ve got a certain amount of money and you’re trying to pour it into multiple things will then the money is suddenly going to seem like not enough. Whereas if you can choose your one thing that you pour the money into, then it’s like, Oh great, I had everything I needed for this. So now before you start feeling really defeated about this whole one thing concept, I want you to remember that there is actually a lot of time in a year and not everything we try and achieve is going to require an entire year.

So I’m not saying that you need to pick one thing for next year and that is the only thing that you are going to do that you’re going to think about. Focus on, spend your time doing. But what I am saying is I really want you to dig deep and have a think about the thing that lights you up the most, the thing that’s going to make the biggest difference in your life if you achieve it. And I want you to do something scary and commit to giving it all you’ve got until it’s done… And see what happens. Because you know you might achieve it in a few weeks and in a few months, like it might be halfway through the year and then you can be like, yes, done, next. Have you ever noticed that if you have to do list with a whole bunch of things written on it, you keep kind of glancing over and you see all the things and your brain starts processing stuff that’s down the list that you’re not even at yet.

Or you start opening up too many tabs ’cause you’re like, how do I want to forget this and I don’t want to forget this. And soon your attention is split and you start slowing down because your brain is all over the shop. So I’m talking like this can happen big picture and small picture. Now I read a book called the one thing, I wouldn’t say it’s a book for everybody I found it the tiniest bit dry, but it was very helpful. And if you’re someone that does tend to struggle with being always distracted, procrastinating a lot, you know, shiny object syndrome, I do think you should check it out. I didn’t mean to like downplay it by saying it was dry. I just mean maybe for someone who loves all of the excitement of doing lots of things, it’s probably going to be like, Oh right… ;ike I have to slow down, which can feel yuck, it can feel uncomfortable.

But I have been making some major progress after some really – like it’s not easy to do this – but in the last couple of months I decided to get hyper-focused on my business and the way it looks right now, it wasn’t an easy thing for me to do because if you know me, you know that I’m also an actor and I am in Vancouver right now trying to work on building my acting career and it could feel like I am making massive sacrifices and I could be compromising my acting career by working on my business. But the way I was able to make that decision. Well, I mean there was a few factors going into it, but ultimately I saw that by having both an acting career and a business that were both kind of in baby phases, like in you know, very early stages that still required a huge amount of energy to get moving…

Like they didn’t have any self sustaining momentum, if that makes sense. I saw that both sides of my life were actually struggling, but I saw that there was an opportunity with my business to take it to a point quicker than my acting career could to where it was sustaining me financially. It was also fulfilling me, you know, my purpose, it was allowing me a lot of creative outlet and I thought, okay, well if I do this first and I build these great foundations for this thing, it’s going to mean that it can support my acting career in a way that it never could before in the new year. So I basically sucked it up. I decided, okay, I’ve got a limited amount of time. If I am going to acting classes every day, that is precious time that’s taking away from my business. I have a limited amount of funds.

I could either put it into acting training right now or I could put it back into professional development for my business and none of these were decisions that I’ve made lightly and I don’t believe there is a right or wrong here. Like I could have gone all in with the acting, but I saw that sometimes we need a financial foundation for ourselves to support our creative endeavors, support those side hustles. And as someone who – and you might relate to this – if you’re someone that is trying to build up a side hustle, whether that looks like a business or a YouTube channel, something that is like a passion project that you’re hoping eventually makes money, you’ll know the frustration of having a limited amount of time to work on it and watching the growth happens so slowly. But trust me when I say that the alternate, the alternative, which I have done myself, where you give up your day job and go all in with that side thing before it is actually ready for you can also come at a major cost as well.

So this is where this whole prioritization comes from is that I really want you to see that there is probably a key element that needs to get locked in place in your life that’s going to provide you with the stability that you need and the freedom. And when I say freedom, I mean mental and emotional and creative freedom because we can have that even if we are in a day job, you know, if you are really disciplined, you can build in time around your day job to do the things you want to do and you’re going to be more focused on those things if you know that the bills are being paid. But as soon as you just throw in the towel and you’re like, ah, who cares? Like, Oh, I’ll figure it out! Very soon that panic and anxiety kicks in. So I’m going off on a tangent right now, but I’m just hoping, I’m just trying to give you a little bit of context and kind of bring it back to that original question that I asked you.

If you sit down and take a really like a long hard look at your life and what’s getting in the way of you achieving the things that you want to achieve, making you feel the way you want to feel. Like what are the obstacles? What do you think is the one thing that you could do in the new year that would quickest remove those obstacles and get you closer to being the person that you want to be? Whether that’s carefree, more creative, able to travel, with more time, having more of an education like upskilling, like there are all these things that we want to do to improve ourselves, but there’s usually something in particular that we know is going to move the needle. So I want you to try and this year not, not focus on what you’re not able to achieve – ’cause remember you’re going to get to that eventually.

But start the year with a different attitude and go, what is my one big thing that I am going to go all in on? And just commit to doing whatever it takes. And sometimes as I said, you’re going to need to get some people on to help you. You might want to build a support network. You might need to make some changes to your schedule, to your diet, to your education. Like you need to list absolutely everything that is going to be involved that you know about at least for you to do this thing and just be ready, ready to know that week to week there are going to be so many things thrown at you that are going to risk getting you off the path. You are going to see all these opportunities come up and you’re going to have to deal with them on a case by case basis.

And the beauty of having your one thing is it’s going to make it easier for you to decide whether to go ahead with that or not because you’re going to ask that question: Is this serving my ultimate goal? And the toughest thing is to say no because again, if you’re multi-passionate like me and then there’s a really good chance if you’re listening to this, you are, you’re going to want to do all the things and some of these opportunities seem like they once in a lifetime opportunities. But just trust me when I say that you don’t even know all the opportunities that are gonna come to you yet and feeling like you have to say yes to everything actually comes from a scarcity mindset. It comes from believing that there are limited number of opportunities for you. There’s a limited amount of money to be earned and if you are not in the right place at the right time, your life and career is not going to take off and that is a total lie.

There are always going to be more opportunities and sometimes they’re even bigger and better than the ones that were in front of you in the first place. And when you get laser focused and you make that commitment to seeing through that one goal, that is when the really juicy opportunities start to come up. And you’re like, Oh my goodness, if I’d taken that other thing, I never would have ended up here with this opportunity in my lap. And again, I’m speaking from experience here. Okay, so I’ve given you, I’ve given you all of the, the high level stuff here and I really hope that the questions I’ve gotten you to ask have helped provide a little bit of clarity or at least a jumping off point for maybe some journaling and things. But I also just wanted to recommend some extra resources as well.

Stuff that’s really proven helpful for me in getting clear on everything and actually getting stuff done. Now I’ll link to all of these resources in the show notes as well as on the website. So if you go to personal branding, project.com/01 you’ll be able to find them. And I’ll also let you know what they are now. So the first one is a book called finish. Give yourself the gift of done by Jon Acuff. I hope I’m pronouncing his name right and I loved this books so much. It was so practical. And if you’re someone who starts a lot of things and doesn’t finish them, it is a must read, so please check that one out. Another fantastic resource is the book Atomic habits by James Clear. And the reason this one is really important is because as I’ve mentioned before, and I’m going to mention it again, success is actually just about a series of habits that we develop and that we repeat over time.

It’s not about the really big milestones and those like one crazy moment when you do something out of the ordinary, it’s just about showing up and doing the thing every day. Like as you know, like if you’re trying to lose weight, you know that it’s the meal prep, it’s eating the same kind of foods every day. It’s waking up, putting on your gym gear and going for that run or doing that yoga session. It’s not about signing up for some crazy bootcamp that nearly breaks you and then you never go back to the gym again. And it’s the same for building a business. Like you don’t just make the announcement that you’ve got this business and people start rolling in — they start rolling in very, very slowly over time by showing up again and again and again. So this book really teaches you how to actually build those habits and all of these very practical techniques for starting to trigger the memory of making the habit happen and then layering those habits on top of each other so they just keep getting better and better and better. So definitely check that one out.

And finally I want to give a shout out to Marie Forleo and her recent book, Everything Is Figureoutable because I was just so impressed with how practical it was. The book is so easy to read. It’s very fun and fresh and inspiring. And as someone, she is a very multi-passionate person and she’s managed to build an incredible empire all around the things that she loves doing, the things that she’s obsessed with. So if you, as someone is multi-passionate and you’re wondering if you’ll ever make money doing the thing that you love doing, then you have to read this. But even more importantly, every single chapter has proper homework for you to do. And essentially she’s mapping out the course for you to figure out how to get something done. So you, you know, she is going to make you pick your one thing and she’s going to walk you through what it takes to actually achieve it.

And then you can go back and you can choose another thing. So those are my three picks that I highly recommend checking out. And as I mentioned, The One Thing book as well, which is for someone who is very easily distracted and procrastinates and just just struggles to sit down and do the important work as well. So I hope you find those helpful. I’d love to know if you have any of your own tips for goal setting and for getting things done. So please find me over on Instagram @iamkatelizabeth — screenshot this episode and just let me know your biggest takeaway, give me some tips and I’ll reshare it and I would love it if you could leave the podcast a review. It makes such a huge difference. Not only is it encouraging, but it’s going to help get the word out about these baby of a podcast. So I would be so grateful if you’d do that.

And of course, make sure you’re subscribed because I’m sharing episodes every single week, and I’m really just trying to give you all of the resources, the advice, the guidance, the tough love, the inspiration, the motivation that it takes for you to really make the next year the best year of your life so far, because obviously they’re only going to get better and better and better. So anyways, that’s enough for me. Thank you so much for allowing me into your ear drums and I will chat to you on the next one. Bye for now.


Kat is a copywriter, brand & messaging strategist personal branding coach and the founder of The Personal Branding Project whose mission is to help you go from best-kept secret to in-demand brand.


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