Use Thanksgiving to Set 2017 Goals

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | 21,117

For about the past 25 years, Thanksgiving weekend has been the four most important days of my year. Not only do I love everything about Thanksgiving (the food, the family and friends, the pervasive feeling of gratitude regardless of circumstances), but for me it's the most natural time to take stock of where I'm at relative to my goals and to get a jump on the coming year.

If you have a four-day weekend this weekend, make the most of it by sketching out what you'd like to see in your life in the coming year. For me, this weekend has always been a good time for reflection, and I always come out of this weekend energized to hit my goals.

I prefer this weekend to later in December for a number of reasons. If you wait until the week between Christmas and New Years, I find that the goals you produce will be more resolution-oriented than actual goals (and we all know how most resolutions work out). Trying to sit down and reflect on this stuff during the pre-holiday madness that is December also isn't conducive to thoughtful planning, at least from what I've found. Using the four days around Thanksgiving enables you to take the necessary time to think everything through, and also gives you the jump on your new goals so you're not facing January 1st from a standing start.

The Tools I Use

Most of the people I've known in finance are pretty goal oriented. I thought I'd share with you guys today the current framework I use to set my goals and measure my success against them. I've used many different things over the years, from pen and ink in a notebook to different goal setting apps, but these are the tools I currently use:

LifeScore Assessment

There are lots of ways to measure progress year over year (or throughout the year). This is the one I currently use. It's free, and is provided by Michael Hyatt (of whom some of you may already be aware). Yes, it's a pain in the ass to sign up for his newsletter to get the download link, but the tool is definitely worth it and you can immediately unsubscribe if you want:

LifeScore Assessment

It's hard to figure out where you're going if you don't know where you're starting from, so that's why you should start with this tool. You assign a score to the various aspects of your life that you want to measure, and it spits out an aggregate score which is nice to keep track of throughout the year (I do it quarterly). It's best to be brutally honest with yourself on this one to establish a baseline. From there it's just a matter of implementing strategies to improve your scores.

Annual Review

This is the tool I use to plan the upcoming year. It's provided by Chris Guillebeau (of whom some of you may already be aware). This one you can download without signing up for anything, so that's cool. Here is the link:

Annual Review Template

Generally, I'll structure my goals around the areas measured in the LifeScore Assessment, and what I think will improve the scores. This probably goes without saying, but it's important to assign completion dates to your goals (or to the measurable stages within your goals). It's cliche, but true: a goal is just a dream with a deadline. Without the deadline, it's too nebulous.

Side Hustle Goals

If you don't have a side hustle, now is the time to plan one for 2017. The economy is way too uncertain to derive all your income from a single source. I probably sound like a broken record because I've been saying this on WSO for over eight years now, but you'll never be independent until you diversify your income - no matter how well paid you are.

Make your goals SMART

SMART goals are en vogue right now, though it's more or less the same way successful goal setting has always been done. In order to be a SMART goal, the goal needs to be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-bound

In other words, don't just say, "I want to make more money." Make it specific. "I want to make $150,000 in 2017." Make it measurable. "I need to make $3,000 a week." Make it actionable. "I need to make $2,500 a week at work, and another $500 a week on my side hustle." Is this realistic? Yes or no. If not, make it realistic. Make it time-bound. "I need to measure my progress at the end of each month."

That's just an example, and a boring one at that. I find my financial goals are usually the least interesting, but then I'll admit that I don't stretch much anymore. 25 years ago they were pretty much my only goals.

Have a great Thanksgiving

That should be enough to get you started if you're so inclined. I can say with complete confidence that my annual goal setting weekend has had the biggest impact on the successes I've enjoyed over the years. If you don't already have a goal setting habit, I'd encourage you to give it a try this weekend.

Have a fantastic turkey day. If you're outside the US, then I apologize for the Amero-centric holiday timing of this post, but use this week to set your 2017 goals even if you don't celebrate the holiday.

I'd love to hear some of the goals you guys have in mind for the coming year. I think I'm due for some pretty major changes, so I'm looking forward to mapping it all out when I come out of my turkey coma.

Let me know if you give the tools a try and how they worked out for you.

Obligatory:

Comments (27)

Best Response
Nov 23, 2016

+1 Eddie, love the SMART goals reference. will reply later in more detail because this is an excellent time of year to do so, especially when your parents/aunts/uncles inevitably start talking about politics/marriage/children/millenials/anything you want to get away from.

edit: have some time to think about this, last client call of the week now over.

I think everyone knows the importance of goal setting, but not everyone knows the importance of self-reflection and deep thinking. some of the most important things I've ever done in my life were not just goal setting, but also self reflection in advance of goal setting.

on goals, in college the best thing I ever did was to write out what I wanted my resume to look like in 5 & 10 years. I actually made a resume for future self. it forces you to think chronologically, to put some specifics around what you actually want, and also forces you to step back and be a little more patient, because when you look at a resume, you realize things take time.

applying the same principles now, I write a narrative for my 3, 5, and 10 year self. where I want to be not just in my career, but also in life. it forces you to think: do I want to be married? where do I want to live? do I want a family? what type of lifestyle do I want? what type of assets should I have accumulated by then? you can then do the derivative of this and make specific plans to detail how you will get there. for example, if my goal is to have a family by 40, I need to have purchased a home, and to purchase a home, I need to think about what type of home, in what neighborhood, around which schools, etc., lots of things to do with this.

once I have the big picture figured out, I break out a yellow pad & pencil and figure out how I'm going to get there. let's say for example, I want my income to be $X00k, a Y% increase over today requiring Zmm in new assets at a 1% fee. well I can then back into what my current run rate on new money has been and figure out how much harder or different I need to work to get there.

if I was trying to get a different job or get my first job, perhaps I'd map out everyone I knew in the field and see where there are gaps, then figure out how many more networking meetings you need to have in order to get some meetings. or let's say you want to get into a certain b-school by getting a certain gmat score, map out where your weak areas are, how long it will take you to study for certain parts, how often you will do practice tests along the way, etc.

the principle I'm trying to convey is start with the big picture. dream big, dream long term, but then distill those big ideas into actionable ideas. a dream without a plan is a wish, you need to do something different in order to change your circumstances.

on self reflection, a couple of things have really helped me out.

  1. steven covey says you should write your eulogy, DO IT. do it from the perspective of your best friend, from a sibling, from your spouse, from your future children. it will make you sad & happy at the same time, and force you to think about the kinds of relationships you've built with those you care about. this was a fun exercise, not because I like to think about death, but because it forces you to really be sure you're making a positive impact on the lives of others, and not just focused on bettering yourself.
  2. write out your purpose. why do you exist? why are you here? take this any way you want.
  3. write out your bucket list. as long as you want, it can be simple things like learning to juggle or complicated things like getting a book published. do not self-censor, write it all down, you want free flowing thought here.
  4. finally, get your priorities straight. what's important to you, in order? is money more important than power? is family more important than health? is faith more important than success? whatever your priorities are, list them out, in order, and why you listed them this way. there's no right or wrong answers, but whenever you're presented with a difficult decision, this will be a good decider. if the decision in question would violate any of the priorities ahead of the one it satisfies, DONT DO IT. for example, if I made a decision for power that was to the detriment of my health (something I deem more important than power), I would've been foolish. others may feel differently, and again there's no wrong answer.
  5. are you a total person? this is something I stole from paul j meyer, basically saying like spokes in a wheel, if one aspect of your life is out of whack, the whole thing falls apart. the 6 areas are: family/home, financial/career, physical/health, spiritual/ethical, mental/educational, social/cultural. when I think about my goals, I make sure that none of them violate one of the "spokes" of being a total person.

TLDR: think big, then think small, then act, and keep your priorities straight.

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Nov 22, 2016

i already threatened my uncle if he brings up politics at christmas we're taking it outside, was semi-serious

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Nov 22, 2016
Nov 23, 2016

Is he a trump fan? Lol

Nov 24, 2016
thebrofessor:

are you a total person? this is something I stole from paul j meyer, basically saying like spokes in a wheel, if one aspect of your life is out of whack, the whole thing falls apart. the 6 areas are: family/home, financial/career, physical/health, spiritual/ethical, mental/educational, social/cultural. when I think about my goals, I make sure that none of them violate one of the "spokes" of being a total person.

I like this, think I'll steal it as well

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Nov 22, 2016

Great point re resolutions vs goals. The same logical applies to habits by the way. If you want to form new habits, now is the time to start, by the time 2017 rolls around, they'll be fully ingrained already.

Nov 22, 2016

Another great post. I've played the new years resolution tango a few times so I'm going to give this a shot. I think it will help starting at a different point and not fizzling out because everyone else is too but instead just focusing on myself. +SB for the post and for linking those tools, I've never heard of them before.

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Nov 22, 2016

I think you'll find that having the month of December to ramp up will really give you momentum you've probably never experienced in January. I find it helps to have a few easy wins in there too, like reading goals for example. My 2016 reading goal was 18 books (I realize not everyone has the time or inclination for that), but just by setting an easily attainable but challenging goal you'll keep yourself motivated. I'm also big on learning-related goals, and I generally try to learn some new facet of computer programming every year.

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Nov 23, 2016

Appreciate the good advice! I think you're right about using December to ramp up. I'm going to sit down after work and go through some of the exercises you listed. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Nov 22, 2016

Being in a rotational program, I need to network for my future positions and a large goal of mine is to ensure I land the position I want to move into. I already have plans to speak to 3 different and very specific people in January. - Just one of my goals that I've plotted out.

...

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Nov 22, 2016

Ok, so 'tis the season I guess. I just got an email about a new download Michael Hyatt released in the past hour or so that is geared toward 2017. I can't vouch for it yet (haven't even downloaded it yet), but his stuff is generally pretty good. If you're interested, here it is:

https://bestyearever.me/achievers/

Nov 22, 2016

I'd like to gain 100 lbs of pure fat within the next 100 days.

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Nov 22, 2016

Nov 23, 2016
Pokemon Master:

I'd like to gain 100 lbs of pure fat within the next 100 days.

Fuck yes

Nov 23, 2016

As a college kid without that SA offer quite yet: I desperately wanted and needed this post. Thank you, Eddie.

"A modest man, with much to be modest about"

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Nov 26, 2016

Same here bro. I really needed this to help me snap out of it.

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Nov 23, 2016

I need a side hustle for sure. Something where I can make money instead of spending all of it

Nov 23, 2016

Eddie, did you move to Louisiana? What are you doing for a living these days? Retired?

Nov 23, 2016

+SB for the video. Greatness....

Nov 23, 2016

Re: "it's a pain in the ass to sign up for his newsletter to get the download link"

It works like a charm.

Edit: Although it doesn't seem to be working for LifeScore, which is the first time it's ever not worked for me. Anybody else not getting this email for the free assessment?

"A modest man, with much to be modest about"

Nov 23, 2016

Love the list @Eddie Braverman, +SB'd. I usually do my list a few days before the turn of the new year and start the year with my hair on fire. As a whole, I had a pretty damn good year this year but fell short on a few goals where I overestimated my bandwidth.

I think my issue is that I don't have a good barometer as to how much I should be accomplishing in a year's time-span. After the weekend, I'm going to piggy-back off your thread and post a 2017 goals thread for WSO which would not only provide that barometer of equally ambitious individuals, but it would also be interesting to see what goals are important to community members at all walks of life.

Thanks again Eddie!

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Nov 24, 2016

Anyone else having problems accessing the LIfescore Assessment?

Nov 24, 2016

I'm not sure what is significant about the Earth completing another orbit around the sun, ie a year. Seems a pretty arbitrary unit of time to sit down and make goals for

Personally, I'm frequently making and revising goals. Either as new things pop in my head or external circumstances change

Honestly, this thread sounds like people are giving themselves annual performance reviews for their life. I have no interest in having my own internal HR officer

Nov 27, 2016
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