How to Create Goals for the Year — Even if You’re Not the Goal-Setting Type

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It’s just about that time of year when people start to sober up and think about reneging on all of their New Year’s resolutions or changes that they were planning to make in the upcoming year.

For most, the resolutions are probably not that life-changing, and many of the masses want everything to change without really changing anything themselves. But as one of my favorite philosophers on personal development, Jim Rohn, always says, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

He also says, “Success is something we attract by the person we become.”

For some, success is a number, like money or assets. Maybe it’s happiness, financial freedom, or just not having too much responsibility. Let’s face it: Success means different things to different people.

But we can all agree that this is the time to reflect on the year that has gone by and to think about the future. It’s a great time to think about making adjustments. Maybe it’s time to join a new group and change our network. Maybe it’s time for some new habits, whatever those may be. Perhaps you want to start a new diet or a new exercise regimen.


Related: 7 Tips to Help You (Actually) Achieve Your Entrepreneurial Goals This Year

Creating Personal Goals

When I work on my personal goals, I like to utilize the goal sheet from Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, as he provides these seven categories:

  1. Financial
  2. Career
  3. Recreation and Free Time
  4. Physical fitness and Health
  5. Relationships
  6. Personal
  7. Community Service, Contribution, and Legacy

These categories give me a good place to start, and I’ve been using this format for many years. It’s great for those of us who sometimes don’t know what we want to start thinking about in the upcoming year.

Over the last several years, when it comes to planning for business, I’ve been fortunate to have a coach who’s helped me and my partners with our corporate forecasting. Also, a great book that helps with this is Verne Harnish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Not only does the book encourage the old Jim Collins theory of having a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), but it insists on doing what John Rockefeller did.

He made it a point to know the top five things to achieve not only for a three-year plan, but also as far as one-year and quarterly goals, as well as having some critical numbers and key performance indicators (KPIs), in order to evaluate and measure himself and his business as he headed down the path towards success. This may sound easy, but once you complete this type of strategic plan, you are going to be much more laser focused on where you and your organization are going.


Related: How to Reduce Your Financial “Burn Rate” to Achieve Your Investing Goals

Thinking Larger

After having a three-year plan, maybe you can then look out as far as 10 years, and then maybe you can even start to think about retirement and how you plan to replace your earned income. If you can do this type of detailed planning, it becomes much easier to be grateful for the things that you have while on your way to getting the things that you want. I like to think that it’s worthwhile to be ambitious but content along the way, as opposed to being ambitious and greedy.

So, as you think about how much money you want to make this year, how many deals you want to do or buy, or how to make your real estate investing easier, maybe it’s time to think about what you plan to do to be more successful in 2016. Feel free to share!

Have you created goals for the year? How would you fill out the seven categories above?

Leave a comment below!

About Author

Dave Van Horn

Since 2007, Dave Van Horn has served as president and CEO of PPR The Note Co., a holding company that manages several funds that buy, sell, and hold residential mortgages nationwide. Dave’s expertise is derived from over 30 years of residential and commercial real estate experience as a licensed Realtor, a real estate investor, and a fundraiser. As the latter, Dave has raised over $100 million in both notes and commercial real estate. In addition to his investments and role as CEO, Dave’s biggest passion is to teach others how to share, build, and preserve wealth. He authored Real Estate Note Investing, an introduction to the note investing business, helping investors enter the “other side” of the real estate business.


  1. Douglas Skipworth

    Dave, you’re on a roll with your recent posts!

    I’m a big fan of Jim Rohn and huge fan of Verne Harnish and Scaling Up (which is Rockefeller Habits 2.0).

    The ONE Thing by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller is great book that’s easy to read but harder to implement. Our office is reading it together right now and it’s helping all of us to set our long-term goals and develop detailed plans to reach them in the future. Specifically, it forces us to boils things down so we know what we need to focus on today to achieve our dreams tomorrow. Like you, we’re looking at all areas of our life (e.g., financial, spiritual, personal, professional, etc.).

    I highly encourage everyone to check out The ONE Thing to help set and achieve their goals!

  2. Dave Van Horn

    Hi Douglas,

    Appreciate the comment and thanks for the recommendation! Haven’t read The ONE Thing yet, but I really did enjoy Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, so I’ll definitely have to check it out.


  3. Patrick Snoke

    Great post. The guys at NoteMBA posted a nice 2016 Goal list on their site with the same/similar categories above. It’s a good guide to get started. I’ve made a 3+ year goal list last year that I’ve been working on, and more specific 2016 list . My hurdle right now is finding an accountability partner and not putting too many or the wrong goals on my list.

    One point that I want to focus on more than goals is changing habits. It’s similar to the quote above “Success is something we attract by the person we become”. Changes in some habits will make achieving some goals automatic. Regular exercise and eating better will make weight loss automatically happen.

    • Chase Thompson

      Hey Patrick,

      Thanks for the shout out, and thanks for listening to the podcast. Yea, the goals episodes are always our most popular. And to speak to your point on habits, that’s why I said on the show, I need to work on setting habits, not goals.

      I have goals – no question. However, in looking back at the past two years, it was the goals that I consciously, or subconsciously, established habits around that I achieved.

      • Dave Van Horn

        Hi Patrick,

        Chase is absolutely right! Especially when it comes to big goals, changing habits can be extremely helpful in doing so in little steps along the way. For example, I have a yearly goal to read at least 20 books a year. It may not sound like a lot, and of course depends on what I’m reading, but I find if I get into the habit of a half hour of reading a day I almost always reach (or even surpass) my goal. Sometimes the little things help achieve the big ones!


  4. Douglas Skipworth

    BP Blogger Michael Blank just posted a great article titled “7 Highly Actionable Tips to Help Your Productivity Soar This Year” that is the perfect compliment to Dave’s original post above about “How to Create Goals for the Year — Even if You’re Not the Goal-Setting Type.” It’s definitely worth a 3-minute read.

  5. Jim Arnett

    I am 72 years old this year. Many years ago I read the book “Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey and it made me realize the things I can accomplish if I just take the time to put them down on paper. The Bible gives the same instructions in James 1:23; It is like looking in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. Simple, but effective analogy.

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