"Are you interested in living a life by default or a life by design?"
This is the definitive episode where we break down, step by step, how to achieve your goals. I was going to do it solo and give my best advice on goal setting, but I realized that there are people who are better at this than I am.
Geoff Woods is my guest today. He is the vice president of The ONE Thing, where he works alongside billionaire Gary Keller and his NY Times bestselling co-author, Jay Papasan, teaching people how to live a life of focus so they can have more and do less.
Geoff and I first met when I appeared as a guest on his podcast, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally host him in today’s episode. He offers brilliant strategies and insights for people of all kinds – and if you’re looking to transform your routine, ask bigger questions, and seek bigger answers, this is a must-listen.
- How billionaires set goals by “time travel” — and how to position yourself to achieve long-term goals, even decades out, in the short term.
- Find out how Geoff started his relationship with Jay Papasan and ended up leading a company with him and Gary Keller just eight months later.
- What you can do to avoid the big mistakes that so many people make when they set goals, stop setting ceilings over your achievements, and achieve results beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished.
- The #1 lie of productivity — and how to use Geoff’s 4-1-1 to set your priorities straight.
- What to do when you hit a ceiling — and why we all need coaches and mentors to reach the next level of achievement.
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Hal: All right, all right. Goal achievers, you listen to this podcast because it’s the Achieve Your Goals Podcast, and it helps you to achieve your goals, right? Well, this is the episode like the definitive episode on, okay, let’s break down step-by-step how do you achieve your goals and I was going to record this episode solo. Going into the new year, I thought I’m going to record an episode giving my best advice on goal setting and then I realize that there is someone that is better, probably many people that are better at teaching this than I am and our guest today is that man. In fact, I was listening to Geoff Woods on the Front Row Dads Podcast probably a week or two ago and listening to Geoff talk about goal setting for couples and it was just some of the most brilliant insights and strategies on goal setting. Take out the couple’s part like it was applicable to every human being whether you have a spouse or you’re solo, it doesn’t matter. And I thought, “Wait a minute. Rather than me do the solo episode on goal setting for the new year, I want to bring in the man, the myth, the legend, Geoff Woods to do it because he does it better than anyone I’ve heard.”
And if you don’t know who Geoff is, I’ll give you a formal intro here. Geoff is the Vice President of The ONE Thing and after hearing Jim Rohn quote that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, Geoff set out on a mission to surround himself with high-level CEOs and successful entrepreneurs and even billionaires. And fast forward just 10 months, Geoff went from employee to entrepreneur launching a company with co-authors of the best-selling book, The ONE Thing, which if you’re not familiar, it’s one of my favorite books, one of the highest-rated and best-selling books in the world of all time, and he turned the book into a training and education company. Geoff also hosts The ONE Thing Podcast. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur.com and he’s on a mission to teach people how to live a life of focus so they can have more by doing less and Geoff and I both happen to live in Austin so we’ve actually gotten become friends. We break bread together, we go to the movies together, our wives hang out together. So, I’ve gotten to go beyond just being impressed by Geoff strictly in a professional capacity and really gotten to know him personally. He got two kids and the whole family, they’re like-minded individuals that are all really looking to serve humanity.
Hal: So, it is my pleasure to introduce to all of you, goal achievers, the one and only Geoff Woods. Geoff, how you doing, buddy?
Geoff: I am doing excellent. Thank you for having me.
Hal: It is a pleasure and like I said, listening to that podcast the other day with you and Jon Vroman, I was like, “Ah, Geoff is so good at explaining goals.” In fact, you don’t know this but I reached out to my business partner, Jon Berghoff, and I said, “Hey, we should ask Geoff if he would speak next year at the Best Year Ever Blueprint at the live event,” and Jon is like, “Yeah. I’ve heard Geoff. He’s great.”
Hal: Yeah. We talk about you behind your back but all like in a good way that you’d be…
Geoff: The best kind of back talking there is.
Hal: Exactly. If you’re going to gossip about somebody, you’d talk about all the good things. So, you work with billionaire, Gary Keller, and his partner New York Times bestselling author, Jay Papasan. Tell the story of how you – I’ve heard it before. I love the story. How do you establish that relationship because you were so proactive in meeting those folks?
Geoff: So, I think everybody who’s listening to this, I just know so much about you since you listen to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast, I always had this goal of one day waking up where I could own a massive business that made a massive impact in the world and would deliver real security for my family. I always knew that’s what I wanted and at the time I was in medical device sales which was a lot of fun. I ran through hospitals, I wore scrubs, got to sell a device that actually saves lives. Hal, I actually listen to your podcast back then. You were one of the people that I followed.
Hal: Nice. I’m honored.
Geoff: Yeah. I know. So, it’s kind of cool being on the other side now and I think a lot of people can relate to even though life is good, something is missing and for me, it was a true sense of fulfillment and impact. Yet, I did not have enough pain in my life at the time to compel me to make a change. I’ve got a really solid income, great work-life balance, great lifestyle, very comfy golden handcuffs, just didn’t have a reason to make a change. Well, two things happened in my life that forced that change. First, a colleague of mine had a stroke and he was 35 at the time and I remember my wife and I just bought a house in Orange County, we just had a child, my wife is a stay-at-home mom and I am the sole provider realizing that if that was me, what would happen to my family? That was very concerning. And then the next week, my company needed to make a change to our commission structure in order to remain competitive in the market and as a result, 40% of my income evaporated overnight.
Hal: Oh, wow.
Geoff: And I told myself it’ll get better next month. Then next month came. Oh, it’ll get better next month. And before you know it, Q1 passes, Q2, Q3, and I find myself looking at my bank account and it’s almost at zero. I’m wondering how am I going to pay the mortgage? How am I going to put food on the table for my family? And as somebody who being a provider as part of my identity kind of rocked me to my core and it was at that time that I heard you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and I remember, Hal, I’m sitting in my kitchen, I’m looking down at my scrubs going, “Who are the five people I spend the most time with?” And I consciously named each one of them and then I asked the question, “How many of them are waking up every day owning a massive impact that makes a massive impact in the world and delivers real security for the family?” The answer is zero. And to be clear, I love these people and they’re still in my life today. I just realized I had no business seeking counsel from them on how to start a business when they weren’t qualified to give it. So, I set out on a mission just to upgrade my five and I tap into some really powerful mentors. I started my first podcast called The Mentee just to record those private conversations.
Hal: That’s right. That’s how we met. I forgot about that. You interviewed me on the show. That just brought back a memory. All right. Go ahead.
Geoff: Yeah. So, two weeks after I launched the show, it was our national sales meeting and I remember I walked in this room, over a thousand chairs because our company was huge and on every chair was a copy of The ONE Thing. I’ve never heard it before, but Jay walked out on stage as the co-author and he was our keynote speaker for our sales meeting and for the full hour he is blowing my mind and I remember I’m sitting in the back row thinking, “How do I get in a relationship with this guy? What could I possibly say to him that would make it worth his time? Or what can I give him that would be of value?” And I corner him when he came on stage. I asked to interview him for the show and at the end of the interview, I just said, “Where are you guys focused and how can I help?” and he said, “You know, we’re looking for more exposure for the book.” So, I got him booked on all these other shows because I had formed relationships with so many other podcast hosts. And then I circle back, “How can I help?” They said they were looking for more exposure. I wrote an article on Entrepreneur and start blasting it. I saw them sharing all my posts and so I replied, “What are you focusing on? How can I help?” And that’s when he said that he and Gary were looking for a CEO for a publishing company. And I said, “I know three people that would be a great fit,” offered to make an intro and we got on the phone so that I can learn the job description and he didn’t describe those three people, Hal. He described me. And so, after trying to be the person who came from value consistently, a door was opened to quit my medical job and start a company with Gary and Jay.
Hal: I love that story, Geoff, and I always say that that quote from Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and just that general advice that we hear like you need to upgrade your circle of influence. If you want to be a millionaire, for example, you’ve got to be around millionaires and everything else. If you want to be happy, you got to be around happy people, right? If you want to be a great parent, you should be around other great parents and so on and so forth. It’s universal. I think it’s one of the most important principles in the world if you want to be successful, and I think it’s one of the most dismissed principles in the world. People hear it and they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” and they just hang out with the exact same people they’ve always hung out with for the rest of their life and nothing changes and you are one of, I mean, one of the best real life examples of someone who took the principal and you were so proactively, and you did it the right way, right? You looked, “How can I add value? How can I add value? How can I add value? How can I add value?” And then they’re like, “Shit. This guy adds a lot of value. We should talk to him and bring him in, man.” How long ago was that, that you met Jay? And was it 10 months from when he spoke at your event where you were then working with him moving to Austin?
Geoff: It was 10 months from the date I launched the first episode of The Mentee to me hopping on a plane and moving my family to Austin.
Hal: Dude, it’s amazing. So, to follow up on that, other than your story being a huge lesson that if you want to upgrade your life, your success, your income, whatever that is, you got to get around people that are doing what you want to do, there’s that lesson right there in your story, the lesson of you got to be proactive, you’ve got to reach out to those people, and look at how you can add value. Is there any other tip you would have? Anything you would add to that? Or does that pretty much sum it up? You identify who you want to be around, you find ways to add value to them, and look for opportunities. Anything else to add there?
Geoff: Yeah. I mean, we could talk about this for hours but I think from a high level, just ask yourself, what do I actually want my life to look like? This is the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. What are your goals, your big goals, not just for this year, but for your life? And then ask the question, “Are you surrounding yourself? Are you currently in relationship with people who share those goals or who have already achieved those goals?” And if the answer is no, which it is for most people, you can ask the focusing question on The ONE Thing, what’s the one thing I can do? Such that by doing it would make everything else easier or necessary, in this case as it pertains to getting a relationship with those people, and just go to take action.
Hal: I love it. I love it. So, I want to go a few different places today. I want to ask you here in a few minutes what the biggest mistakes are that people make when it comes to setting goals. I want to ask you your advice on how to set goals and I want to ask advice on how to actually achieve the goals that we set because goal setting is fun and they’re cute and we put it on the wall and we’re not doing anything about them and then next year we’re like, “Oh yeah, those are the goals I didn’t hit again this year, but I’m going to do the fun exercise of goal setting again,” and it’s like this delusional activity that you’re like, “Well, I’m in a dream and imagine of something like a fantasy but I’m not actually going to do it but it’s fun and I feel accomplished to set those goals.” So, anyway, so I want to get your advice here on how to set them, but how to hit them.
But first I want to check in on something. So, last weekend Jon Berghoff and I hosted our annual event, The Best Year Ever Blueprint, which we may be getting you to next year and one of our speakers, Sean Stephenson, the 3-Foot-Tall Giant, said something that I thought was really profound and often when you hear something profound, it’s like you already know it, but someone says it in a way where crystal you’re like, “Oh God, that’s beautiful. That’s brilliant, right?” And he said this, Sean said, “It’s more important to have a goal, than to achieve it. Because achievements are about the past, but goals are about having something to work towards.” So, I wanted to hear your take on that, the idea that it’s more important to have a goal because it gives you direction to work towards than actually to achieve a goal, because I think most people think the only reason to set a goal is to achieve it and I’ve heard you talk about a different take so I’d love to hear you expand on that.
Geoff: Sure. I was in a mastermind with my partner, Gary Keller, which if you don’t know who he is, you probably heard of his company, Keller Williams. It’s the largest real estate company in the world, in the history of the world. So, that’s Gary and Gary were standing in front of the room and he asked a very simple question, “What’s the purpose of a goal?” and most people who raise their hand said something along the lines of, “To achieve a result.” And he said, “Actually, the purpose of a goal is not to achieve a result. It’s to be appropriate in the moment.” This is very aligned with what you just said, with what Sean shared. The purpose of a goal if it’s to be appropriate in the moment, that means your goals should be a dictator of your actions. They should inform the person you can become so you can earn the right to achieve those types of results. And this goes hand-in-hand with what you said about that the biggest mistakes. So many people because they believe the purpose of a goal is to achieve a result, they only set goals based on what they think is doable. So, they look at their skill set, they look at their comfort zone, and they set a goal that they think is doable. The challenge is when you only live in a realm of what’s doable, you never explore what could be possible. And people are so much more capable of achieving things that blow their mind over a certain period of time but because we only look forward like a year which we put a ceiling over our achievement.
Hal: So, for me, I think that one of the hardest things for people to do is to see themselves or even see their lives as better than they’ve ever been or it’s ever been before. In The Miracle Morning, I call this rearview mirror syndrome. Whenever we’re faced with the challenge or an opportunity, we check the rearview mirror in our subconscious and we go, “Well, how have I responded in the past, or what have I accomplished in the past?” If we haven’t accomplished that thing that we have an idea for, we go, “Oh, well, I have no evidence that I can accomplish that,” and then to your point, we go for the goals that are achievable like, “Well, we have accomplished this so I can increase it by 10%.” Here’s my question for you. How does someone do that? Is it stepping out on faith? Is it like how does someone go after a goal that is possible but is beyond the realm of anything they’ve ever accomplished before?
Geoff: Sure. Great question. Well, part of this is you have to acknowledge that if you want to achieve extraordinary results, this is not the language of good results, mediocre results, great results. This is the language of extraordinary results. It’s why The ONE Thing is the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. It requires that you ask bigger questions and you search for bigger answers. You just asked a much bigger question, Hal, and most people if they ask themselves that question like, “How do I push myself beyond my comfort zone and explore what could even be possible?” they very quickly come up with a common answer called, “I don’t know.” And what most people do is when they get the, “I don’t know,” they stop searching. This is the opportunity for you to realize, “Okay. I’m now hitting where, mentally, I normally stop and it’s an opportunity to push.” If we forced every single one of you who’s listening to this, if they ask a question like, “What’s one thing you could do that would allow you to push to what’s possible when you normally only go for what’s doable?” And we challenge you to come up with ten answers. You literally had to sit with a pen and paper and come up with ten answers and you didn’t earn the right to do anything else until those ten answers were down on paper. Do you think you could come up with ten answers?
Geoff: Every single one of you should say yes. So, we start by asking bigger questions and for us, I think you have to understand what the goal setting framework is. Can we talk about that real quick, Hal?
Hal: Please, yes.
Geoff: So, another mistake people make when they set goals is they set them looking forward. Imagine that you were to hop on a plane in Los Angeles and you were going to fly to New York and your plane was a few degrees off course and it did not correct. Where would you end up?
Hal: Between Florida and New York somewhere.
Geoff: Yes, somewhere else, somewhere not where you wanted to go. This is the challenge. Most people when they set their goals, they look forward for the year and they ask, “What are my goals for the year?” and they look at what’s doable, what’s comfortable, what their skill set currently allows, and they set a goal that’s doable. The challenge with this is that they do not understand the priority from a distraction because if you extrapolate that line out five years, 10 years, 20 years, all the things that you could do, it leads to a vastly different life. So, the opportunity and this is what we call how billionaires set goals is they time travel. They go way out someday from now. For you, that could be 10 years, 20 years, 50 years depending on how far out you want to think, and you imagine what your life could look like someday from now, and you ask questions like, “What would extraordinary spirituality look like for me someday from now? What would extraordinary physical health look like, extraordinary finances, and extraordinary business, extraordinary relationships?” You can look at any area of your life and just ask, “What does extraordinary look like someday from now?”
Very quickly you’re going to hit the “I don’t know”. Good. Okay. Now, let’s push and actually identify some answers. Once you gain a sense of what that looks like, you get to turn around and ask the question, “Well, where would I need to be five years from now to feel like I’m on track for that someday vision?” And again, this is still a bigger question. It’s not super comfortable but you search for the answer, you will find answers, and then you get to ask, “Well, where would I need to be by the end of this year to feel like I’m on track for my five?” Everybody can find those answers. You have now gained a sense of clarity what your goals could look like for the upcoming year and then you go smaller. Well, what would I have to accomplish over the next month to feel like I’m on track for my year? Once you get that, what do I need to accomplish this week to be on track for the month? It works all the way back so that you goal set to the now and that’s what we call it. It’s called goal setting to the now.
Hal: Yeah. We just stole that with Jay’s permission and we taught that at the Best Year Ever Blueprint. We decided why reinvent the wheel? Like you said, your polls on goal setting, your fundamental understanding of how to do it in a way that is extremely effective, we thought, “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We’re just going to borrow it from Jay and Gary and Geoff.”
Geoff: Well, let me give you a real example and I haven’t shared this with you yet, Hal. One of the things when Amy and I did our couple’s goal setting retreat, when we look out someday from now and ask what really matters to us, what do extraordinary relationships look like? We realize we want to have deep meaningful relationships with other families where one of the spouses is an entrepreneur or the other is more of a support person because that describes Amy and me where our kids are of similar age and where they’re not business owners with families. They’re families who own businesses. The priorities are in that order. So, when we look out someday from now and say, “Wow. We have all these deep meaningful relationships with all these people and we boil it back to who are we hanging out with this month?” There’s a lot of people that we could ask what are you doing for the holidays or what vacations are you taking this year, yet it really narrows the focus, how many people are we in relationship who match those? It’s you guys, it’s the Vromans, it’s the Donalds, it’s the Nikolais. Like, it suddenly narrows all the people we could invest in and narrows it down to a handful. Priority from a distraction.
Hal: So, you’ve been plotting to hang out with me for longer than I realized. Just kidding.
Geoff: So non-creepy too.
Hal: Is that, Geoff, are you in the bushes? Are you outside right now my window?
Geoff: There you go.
Hal: All right. So, if people are listening to this, anybody listening, our listeners are obviously goal achievers. They’re listening to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. So, many people listening to this may have already set their goals for the new year. I’m sure some haven’t. Some might be brand-new listeners and they’re just now driving into this world of goal setting. I know you when I heard you talk before, you said you would have always been a goal setter. You’ve been goal setting since you were young. Well, let’s talk about another mistake. I want to know being that your entire fundamental concept based on the book, The ONE Thing, is to get down to the single most important goal, activity, action, how does that play into setting goals for the year? Meaning should you set 10 goals, 20 goals, one goal, few goals, right? Is it one goal in every area? Is it one goal in every area, but then you go, “Okay. Of all the goals in all those areas, this is the one that is the most important this year,” and, I mean, I have a take on that which if it makes sense, I’ll share but, yeah, I’d love to hear yours.
Geoff: Yeah. Sure. So, everything that we create is not a prescription. It’s not a hard and fast you should do this. We provide timeless proven principles that you get to choose how you will adapt them. Now, with that, the number one lie of productivity is the lie that everything matters equally. I mean, when you set all your goals, they do not matter equally so you can look at any area of your life and set a bunch of goals around them but then we would push for you to ask, “Okay. You just made a list of all the things you could do.” Now, let’s identify what you really should do. Is spirituality something that really matters to you right now? Is physical health something that really matters to you? Your personal life, your relationships, your job, your business, your finances, what are the ones that you really want to bring focus to that you want to bring accountability to? Meaning that when you fall behind, you don’t just tell yourself, “I’ll do better next year.” You track the metrics and you change your activities so you make up the gap. When you put that filter over it, people very quickly start to go, “Okay. Yeah. I’d love to give up my washer and dryer so I can just do laundry on my washboard abs,” but that’s actually not that important, right? And so, I don’t care how many goals you have but ask the question and be honest with yourself, how many can you really focus on? How many can you really bring accountability to so that you actually move the needle?
Because here’s what we know. Gary says you can be anywhere you want in the next five years. Everything you could possibly want out of life can be yours in the next five years. The unspoken truth of that is that it requires that you have clarity on what your priorities are and that you act in order of priority, meaning you focus on the one thing that matters most before you check email, before you sit in that meeting. So, how many are you really going to focus on?
Hal: Yeah. So, I called it before I read The ONE Thing, I would take all my goals and every year decide, “Okay. These are all really important to me but what is my mission? Meaning of all the goals, what is the one that matters most?” And for me, it’s a difference in language. When you say goals are like I said that lots of people we all set goals. We don’t hit goals, we set new goals, we don’t hit goals, we set new goals. It’s this vicious cycle. But I thought a mission carries a different weight like humanitarian organizations carry out missions. The military carries out missions and it’s life or death. The consequence of that mission weighs a lot more than a goal. It’s not their goal to not die. It’s like a mission. You know, what that did is when I would wake in the morning to prioritize my time where I would go, “Okay. I’m not allowed to work on these other nine goals until I followed through with the one thing that I’ve identified will put me on track for the one goal a.k.a. my mission that matters more than all of these other goals.” And so, that was my take on that. I don’t know if you have anything to add to that or any thoughts or any…
Hal: If you’re going to pat me on the back and just say, “Wow. That’s really good.”
Geoff: I’m patting you on the back and saying we’re very aligned. On page 134 of The ONE Thing, there’s this image of the iceberg and think about close your eyes and imagine what an iceberg looks like and the only part you really imagine is the part above the surface. It’s just the tip and that’s what most people focus on when it comes to productivity. It’s the productivity. The actions we take are the results we get but beneath that surface, you can’t truly be productive if you don’t know what your priorities are and you can’t ultimately know what your priorities are if you don’t have a sense of purpose. And so, you’re talking about mission. Ultimately, the extraordinary results come when activities are driven by a bigger cause and that’s what you’re sharing.
Hal: Say that again. Say that sentence again.
Geoff: Activities. I don’t remember what I said.
Hal: Neither do I. It was awesome though. Well, the beauty is this thing can be rewound so if anybody listening and they’re like…
Geoff: It just came out so naturally.
Hal: That’s amazing. I thought it was like you had said that line a thousand times.
Geoff: No. I just get into it, man.
Hal: I love it. You mentioned something a couple of times and that is accountability. My business partner, Jon Berghoff and I, we always talk about how there are two ways to skin a cat, and we approach everything differently which is we kind of conflict on things and then now we realize, “Wait. Let me share my way, you show your way, and then people listening can decide what works for them or combining the two or whatever.” So, he has a different take on accountability than I do. I think it’s crucial. I think accountability to me is what closes the gap between where all of us are and where we could be meaning even the highest achievers because every human being on the planet, we all have a next level. We all want to achieve that next level. And to me, accountability is what is standing between us and that next level because even somebody really like a super achiever that is like physically fit, I’m doing my money like I work really hard, I’m really disciplined, I’m really focused. Okay. Well, what are the things because all of us have them that you’re not doing? And if you had accountability, that would close that gap. Yes, you’re a super achiever. You’re achieving all these things but the things you’re not achieving, what you’re missing is accountability to do the things that will make sure that you achieve those things. So, I want to hear your take on accountability and how important it is and where do you find this? If anybody’s listening, where do they find someone or something to hold them accountable?
Geoff: Well, I’ve heard Gary say so many times any time in your life you are hitting up against the ceiling of achievement, you’re missing a person either in the form of leverage so someone who can take the 80% off your plate and make it their 20%, or in the form of the mentor coach. One of the three commitments in The ONE Thing is the idea of living the accountability cycle and here’s why. It’s easy to tell other people what you should do or to paint a picture of, “Oh, this is the perfect way to act or operate throughout the day. This is how you set your goals. But walking the talk is very different and every single one of us hides someplace. There’s a place that we do not want a light shone, and we naturally hide. And we also want to look and feel good. We tell ourselves stories so that we look good and feel good. The challenge is if you don’t have someone on the front lines of your business or your profession with you, you will never be able to explore what could be possible for you. So, Gary has coaches. Jay has always had a coach. I started getting coaches the moment that I started this company with them because I just realized there was no way I could reach anywhere close to my potential if I didn’t have someone fighting for my greatness when I was fighting for my limitations.
Hal: Yeah. And it’s so true when nobody is looking and nobody’s watching, it’s very easy to be like, “I’ll leave this. Eh, I’ll hit the snooze button.” But if you got a drill sergeant standing over the bed and he’s like, “Get out of bed!” You’re okay, you’re out of bed now. Hitting the snooze button is not an option.
Geoff: That’s right.
Hal: I love that what you just shared from Gary Keller. Very brilliant, which is anytime you’re missing the next level of achievement, I think that’s how you put it, you’re missing a person either in the form accountability or leverage. When I realized that recently that that’s for me to grow my impact, my mission, my business, you know, I realized, “Oh, we need another person.” Like that’s what I’m missing. Right now, everybody’s maxed out in their roles in my company and I realized, “Oh, I need another person.” I need someone to help take some stuff off my plate so that I can do more and so on and so forth. So, I love that.
Hal: All right. So, some of what you said I want to kind of review and just bring this to kind of a plan of action for people. So, in order to set goals from understanding the process that you teach is start with kind of the long-term vision and it could be five years out, 10 years out, 20 years out, 50 years out. Do you have a recommendation? If you had to pick one timeframe, would you say, “Hey, start ten years out or start…” I mean, if you had to pick one?
Geoff: No. I mean because, again, we don’t get prescriptive like that but I would ask you, how far out do you want to think? I’ll share with you. I go 20 years. I go out 20 years. I know some people that go out even further and I know some people who we had a husband and wife couple who were in the 60s who attend our couples goal setting retreat and when they looked and they said, “Someday vision? No, we’re going to wait for someday from now. Our someday is actually five years.” So, for them, like they needed their someday to be happening in the next five years and they brought incredible urgency to the table.
Hal: Wow. That’s really interesting. So, 20 years out is where you go. And let me ask you this. Now, I think some people, well, like for me, I used to never set long-term goals because I go, well, I don’t know what I want my life to look like in 20 years, meaning like I think as I got older actually I started setting less long-term goals so I almost want you to sell me on why I should be setting the long-term because I would go as I got older I went, “Wait a minute, like where I am now in my life five years ago, 10 years ago, I didn’t even know that I wanted this or that it was possible so I wouldn’t have set it as a goal.” So, for instance, I’m kind of like I’m just going to keep moving in a positive direction and being surprised at what unfolds. Yes. So, of someone of my mindset, what would you say about the importance of having that vision for what the future would look like ideally?
Geoff: I would ask the question, are you interested in living a life by default or a life by design?
Hal: Damn, Geoff.
Geoff: Are you interested in living a life by default or a life by design? I’m going to immediately take everybody off the hook. This was not taught in school so it’s not your fault but when we, the research we have done, and we will get the thousands of people that have gone through this process that we provide, that most people wake up, check their email, go to work, sit in meetings, get out, check their email, start focusing on one thing but then get distracted by somebody asking if they’ve got a minute and they get home and they tell themselves that they’re being present with their family but they’re really just sitting in the room, checking email. And day after day goes by turns into years and you end up living a life by default and it’s because they only set goals looking forward, and they don’t make their goals dictators of their actions. This is an opportunity for you. Just take out all the limiting beliefs, suspend disbelief, and just dream.
What do you want your life to look like? Imagine I’m your fairy godmother. I just appeared in front of you, poof, pink tutu, magic wand. Everything you want can become yours. All you have to do is declare it. What do you want out of your life? And go out someday from now because remember, it’s not about achieving the results. It’s about informing the person you can become being appropriate in the moment. And once you go out someday from now, you then ask, “Where do I need to be five years from now to be on track for my someday?” And then once you get your five year, yes, what do I need to accomplish this year to be on track for my five? Now, you’ve got your one-year goals. We then do what’s called a one-page business plan. We call it the GPS because it’s really tough to have everybody in your life on the same page when your plan doesn’t actually fit on the same page.
Hal: When it’s 20 pages? Sure.
Geoff: Right. So, we literally our business plans are a single page and that shows you exactly what your priorities and strategies are for the year and based on the ones that you are going to own, we put them on a form that we call a 411. It’s a tool that gives you absolute clarity on your priorities for the year, the month, and the week. And based on what shows up on your priorities for the week on your 411, guess what that drives, Hal.
Hal: Your behavior?
Geoff: Your calendar or your planner. Most people wake up at the beginning of the week, open their calendars, see all the stuff that is already scheduled, and then try to fit everything else in the time that remains and what they don’t realize is that they are falling traps at the number one lie of productivity, treating everything like it matters equally. Instead, when you do a 411 and you have clarity on your priorities, you open your planner or your calendar and you view it like a blank slate. You place your big rocks in there first and everything else has to interview to keep its spot. Your goals become dictators of your actions. That’s what this looks like.
Hal: And so, speaking of the actions so let’s say we’ve got our goals set, we’re excited, we’ve gone through the process, we followed your advice, we’ve got the 20-year vision, we’ve got the five. Okay. What do I need to accomplish or where do I need to be in five years to be on track for the 20? What do I need to do in the next year? Where do I need to be, to be on track for the five? And now, okay, got my annual goals for this new year and then you’re breaking it down what do I need to do in the next month and the next week? What do I need to do today or daily? So, we’ve got that. And then we wake up on January 1 and we don’t feel like it. We’ve got our goals. We know what we need to do, we got the actions figured out, but we don’t feel like it. What are your best strategies and tactics for someone listening to be in the minority of people that actually achieve those extraordinary goals this year?
Geoff: The answer is going to be surprisingly simple. People think big and then they try to act big. They think big about their goals, but then they imagine they have to take this massive action and it’s overwhelming and they don’t feel like it. The opportunity is to think big and go really small, kind of like when you line up dominoes. If you lined up 100 dominoes, did you have to knock down each one individually, Hal?
Hal: No, just the first one.
Geoff: Just the first one. We call this identifying your lead domino. So, instead of saying, I see this with salespeople all the time, “I want to close 100 deals.” Okay. Well, let’s really work it backwards. If you want to close that many deals, how many contracts do you have to have? Okay. If you have that many contracts, how many appointments? If you have that many appointments, how many people did you talk to? If you have that many people to talk to, how many calls did you make? So, how many calls you need to make on a daily basis? “I want to make 100 calls a day.” That’s overwhelming. So, let’s go really small. What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it would make making those 100 calls easier or unnecessary? I’d make one phone call before I check my email. There’s the lead domino. Can you be the type of person who makes a phone call before you check your email? For me, it came down to can I be the type of person, can I form the habit of checking my 411 before I check my email? Can I check my priorities before I open the inbox to see everyone else’s? Right? And isn’t that the truth? So, I would simply say think big and go small. Make your activity something that is so doable that you’re like, “I could trip over that and get that done,” because it’s less about eating the entire elephant and more about taking the first bite.
Hal: I love it. Geoff, do you have a mic that you could drop right now and do the mic drop?
Geoff: Hold on.
Hal: Yeah. I can’t drop mine. Mine is on this big crane that goes over my desk so I can’t drop it.
Geoff: Let me drop it for you.
Hal: No, man. That’s it. I call that being committed to the process without being emotionally attached to the results which is that every result, every extraordinary result that you talk about is preceded by a process, that process of making 100 phone calls and then that first phone call is always the hardest one to make. And so, yeah, to your point, like I always say when it comes to, if you want to get your body in the best shape ever this year, go to the gym five days a week and it’s overwhelming if you’re sitting on the couch in the morning and you’re tired and you’re like, “I don’t want to go to the gym.” Going to the gym and imagining getting a workout and all that when you’re tired is overwhelming but it’s not hard to grab your gym bag that you packed the night before and start the car and just start driving like that takes very little effort and very little energy and very little discipline, very little willpower to get in the car with a gym bag and drive. But if you do that, the odds are you’re going to drive to the gym because you know that’s where you’re supposed to go and then once you walk in the door and the music’s pumping and all those hot rocking bodies are running on the treadmill, that weights are clanking, you’re like, “I’m going to put these gym clothes on. I’m going to work out.” And all of a sudden, a year goes by and you’re in the best shape of your life and it all started with just jump in your car with a pack of gym bag.
Geoff: What I heard you say, Hal, is you’re in the best shape of your life because you became the type of person who put on their gym clothes and got out of the door.
Geoff: Let’s make this really simple for people and this is the focusing question of The ONE Thing and Gary would say to you that developing the habit, being the type of person who asks this question is the success habit. The question is what’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else would be easier or unnecessary? And we’re going to break this down and explain why it’s so powerful. What’s the one thing? Not two things, not three things. It’s one. You have to narrow it down to one. One thing you can do. Not you’ll feel guilty if you don’t do it. You actually can do it such that by doing it, meaning you’re the type of person who takes action rather than just pausing the podcast episode and going, “Great. What should I do next time?” you actually take action, everything else will be easier or unnecessary meaning it is that powerful of a lead domino that it knocks every other one down. You aim that at any area of your life, at any goal and you ask it enough times until you get to a two-inch domino that you cannot go for your lead domino then it’s just about knocking it down day after day until it becomes a habit which we know is about 66 days.
Hal: Boom. Second mic drop. All right, Geoff. That’s it, man. You are brilliant. I’m so grateful that we got to chat today and I get to introduce your brilliance to the Achieve Your Goals goal achieving audience, man. Thank you so much for being here.
Geoff: Oh, it’s my pleasure and can I point to some of the resources we referenced here today?
Hal: Yes, that was my next question, my last question, but yes please do.
Geoff: If you guys go to The1Thing.com, that’s with the number 1 in the URL, there’s a tab that says, “Free Stuff”. There’s a few things there that we referenced. First, there’s a kickass guide to your couples goal setting retreat. Really good download, very well worth getting. There’s also copies of the GPS, the one-page business plan as well as the 411 so you have tools in clarity in your priority. If you click on “Training” you’ll see the types of trainings we do including our couples retreat as well as the course that would facilitate your retreat for you.
Hal: And that’s The and then the number 1 Thing dot com. Correct?
Geoff: Yeah. The book and the podcast are The ONE Thing all spelled out but the website has got the number 1.
Hal: And the one thing, if you haven’t read that by the way, that is one of, yeah, one of the, if not the one book that if you read it, all the books are unnecessary, but it really is. It’s one of the best books of all time. It’s one of the most profound, simple, I think if you’ve got value from Geoff today and you realize that wow this really gives some clarity on how to approach life and really simplify our over complex minds and our focus then it’s just all over the place on way too many things and really narrowing it down is the secret to success. So, yeah, Geoff, like I said, man, the way you explain goals and break it down is really, really useful and I really appreciate that, man. So, I will see you I’m sure the next time we break bread or get together with the wives or the kids or go to a movie so we’ll see each other soon, I’m sure.
Geoff: So many things we could do. We should identify the one we should…
Hal: The one that we should do. The others don’t matter.
Geoff: We’ll do that after the recording.
Hal: If we move in together then nothing else matters. That’s the one thing if we just live together, our families, then everything else is going to take care of itself.
Geoff: That’s how you achieve your goals.
Hal: All right, man. Well, thanks for joining us. Goal achievers, thank you for joining us. I love you, I appreciate you, and until next time. Go out there, set those goals, achieve those goals, clarify the one thing that for you matters more than anything else in the world and get clear on what you need to do to achieve that thing. Create that life. And I will talk to you next week.
"When you only live in a realm of what’s doable, you never explore what could be possible.”
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