At the moment I'm knee-deep picking and polishing goals for this coming year. I look forward to the process every year and end up spending a good deal of time imagining, exploring, and ensuring my goals are really what I want to achieve- that they're authentic to who I'm striving to be.

We're all blessed and cursed with a lot of input- both invited and the other stuff that just comes our way. Goal-setting is an important time for me to check in with myself and confirm that I'm working towards what is most important to me and that other people's wishes for me don't take over.

There is so much packed in just beneath the surface to what seems like a pretty straightforward process. What you believe about your strengths, weaknesses, immediate environment, past track record for getting things done, and other people's reactions all factor in whether you consciously intend them to or not. They're there, all impatiently looking over your shoulder, always with an opinion that boils down to something like, "Who does she think she is to want that?"

With all of this swirling, I was interested in finding out more about the processes other people use. After reading this, and this, and even this, I felt overwhelmed, so I turned to Evan Zislis--a friend and personal organization consultant for advice.

Evan wrote ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World, which has been a top-rated Amazon bestseller since its launch in April 2015. More than just a book about tidying up, it's a tough-love pep talk for American families, helping to connect the dots between our cluttered spaces and the impact our stuff has on a global scale. He also published a second guide, Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last. Currently just an ebook (PDF) it has been downloaded from his website more than 1k times since Thanksgiving. (www.myintentionalsolutions.com)

Evan is one seriously goal-driven guy. He wants nothing less than to change people's lives by helping them clear out their clutter, be more conscious consumers, and free themselves to achieve their wildest dreams, untethered by all their stuff. He's one of my "go to" resources when my business seems like it's too much to handle. Here's what Evan had to say about setting goals and managing fear in our interview:

First, he ditched New Year's resolutions for one very big, audacious annual goal. Like all things very big and audacious, there are seriously tangible risks and abundant opportunities for setbacks, embarrassment, and failure. John Wayne said it best, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." Ask anyone who's done anything truly extraordinary and they'll be happy to tell you that committing to yourself is prerequisite to ownership, accountability and decisive achievement.

Evan went on to say, "To those ready to bump life up a notch, I say abandon your superficial New Year's resolutions. Sit with yourself and get real honest about what you'd like to accomplish THIS YEAR. Aligning your actions with intention starts with achieving clarity about your end game. Your ideal vision for the future is where we start. Reread Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #2: Start with the end in mind."

Rarely do reliable go-getters stumble into exceptional circumstance. Goal mapping is a strategic process of plotting incremental benchmarks that progressively advance towards an intended destination. Yes, life is what happens along this journey but, universally, Evan identifies seven proven-effective steps prolific achievers leverage...

  1. Achieve supreme clarity on a specific ideal vision. For example, you might set your sights on writing and publishing a book, then launching as an Amazon bestseller in 2015.
  2. Conduct comprehensive immersion of the content. Building on the book example, you would plan to do exhaustive research on the subject matter of the book, including my proven-effective method for achieving some desired result. In my case, helping clients get organized.
  3. Plot a reasonable course of action. Sign up for author's coaching, study the publishing industry, hire assistance where needed, set deadline goals, follow through with integrity.
  4. Anticipate contingencies. When Evan hit a publishing snag, he switched courses and chose to self-publish before launching in print. Again, only after exhaustive research on precisely how to do that.
  5. Leverage assets and resources. Using Guy Kawasaki's book, APE, Evan leveraged a wide variety of guerrilla marketing strategies (including things that he already had access to -- network, social media, new friends in publishing, etc.
  6. Take consistent, deliberate action. Evan worked a lot of late nights, and spent a small fortune in order to get publish his book, and have it launch as an Amazon bestseller. That required a lot of intentional scheduling and follow-through.
  7. Repeat. Using this example, he now achieved this goal and will set his sights on launching an expanded program of his book in the year 2016 by drawing on previous experience, learned mistakes, and renewed determination based on recent success. That's called maintaining momentum!

I'd love to hear from you in a private message via Twitter about what you're planning for this year and, if you're willing to share, what stumbling blocks you've encountered during the process of setting that goal.

Published on: Jan 8, 2016
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