Forward This to Yourself — A Great 2009


It’s not only a new day and a new week, but also a new year. I’m guessing that about 50% of my readers already have written goals for 2009. And of those, I would guess that 80% of those goals are oriented around work – often prompted by someone else’s expectations if not demands on them. So, perhaps only 10% have written, personal goals – related to but not exclusively driven by business goals.


Imagine though if you had a central focal point for the year, a north star to guide you, all the time. One goal that mattered to you deeply. Maybe you build a whole plan around it. Or maybe you just keep it in mind, like a mantra, repeating it, maybe praying about it: “a happier marriage,” or “an agent for my book,” “the promotion I feel I have earned.” Or maybe you look at that goal once a week and chip away, for instance, towards: “twenty pounds lighter in body and mind,” “making the career move I’ve dreamed about a reality by 1/1/10.” Maybe you could have a single picture of success that you also entrust with a friend or significant other, “to give myself two full weeks vacation to recreate,” to “get the credential that will give me credibility and open doors,” to “rehab that injury in order to become active again,” or “to simplify our life, spending less, saving more, and replacing nagging worry with a sense of building security.” What would be your one goal?


As you have probably read, I am offering large group retreats in Southfield this month and more intimate, small group retreats in Las Vegas in February to give people a chance to “Align for ‘09” and consciously strive to make 2009 the best year of their life. In those retreats I’ll help guide you to think out five years, create a clear picture of what you want, and actually build workable plans to get there. I invite you to consider those retreats. But in the simplest – which is often the best – way possible . ..


I offer this invitation: Hit “forward” for this message, address it back to yourself. When you get it, spend no more than 5 minutes answering these two questions:

1. In the last three years, the single most important thing that has driven my sense of fulfillment (or caused my lack of fulfillment) has been


2. If there was one goal I could offer myself that would have real merit in making 2009 a great year it’s this: I deeply want to have . . .

Let me know if you write it and what happens – right away or during the year. Or go to the comments page if you want to share stories or processes that tell how you have developed goals and achieved them.


Goals help make you an everyday leader – to


Lead with your best self,




  • Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the great reminder as we start the New Year. One of my goals (though not my primary one) will be to better integrate and align my work goals with my family and life goals in 2009. Like many other readers, I’m sure mine have come out of balance in 2008.

    There are certain scenes from certain movies that we can take messages from, and from your post this week, I can’t help but think about the movie City Slickers. As you may know, Bill Crystal’s character and his friends are in a midlife crisis, and they visit a dude ranch to get away from things. Jack Palance’s character, Curly, keeps raising his index finger during the film, and imploring visitors to remember what that means. Toward the end of the movie, Billy Crystal’s character figures it out. It means to pick one thing, one thing that is more important than everything else, on which we should focus our efforts.

    For many of us, that one thing is our family. But each of us needs to figure out what it means in our own life.

    Keep on leading, and Happy New Year.

    • You are correct that writing goals down helps you achieve them. I began doing this two years ago, and although I didn’t consciously think about them, when I checked on them in December of 2006, I found that I had accomplished over 50% of them. In 2007 I accomplished 70% of my goals. Needless to say, I now carry my written list with me, and refer to it weekly. My goal for 2008 is to achieve 90% or better of my goals.

  • Every year, we gain a clearer understanding that without positive change, decline is inevitable. The challenge is to recognize that what we are now doing can be reinvented by paying attention to our intentions. Yet, it is very hard to bring about significant change without changes in behavior. That is why New Year Resolutions are so difficult to achieve.

    Changing people’s behavior is the most important challenge for business leaders competing in unpredictable environments.

    “The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems,” asserts Dr. John P. Kotter, a retired Harvard Business School professor who specializes in leadership. “The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.”

    In summary, changing minds is not easy, but there are clear methods for increasing the probability of effecting real behavioral change. Provision of coaching services is highly recommended to support change initiatives.

  • I made 9 resolutions for ’09, which include giving more of my time and talent, giving blood at least four times, and making myself and others better citizens and leaders. Many of these are what are called SMART goals (SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely), but some aren’t.

    • Nice goals, Scott. I think these would be good goals for anyone. I need to start giving blood again, too.

  • My goal for 2009 is to write to as many Democrats I can and state that the USA needs to become part of the Internatinal Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands. We must enter to be with the family of nations.

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