Reverse Engineer Your Goals


Reverse Engineering Your Goals

Ok, Let’s talk about New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting. How many of you set them each year? Do you even remember what you set out to do last year? Most of us try to do too much, too hard and too fast to succeed. We set goals that maybe don’t really mean that much to us and we rarely set out a plan to accomplish them. Intentions are not enough. You need to have a plan. I start with dreaming, then I strategize and then I schedule.

I am a big goal setter. But there was a time that I would get so overwhelmed by my goals that I actually felt decision paralysis. I truly didn’t know how to get those big goals done. Over the years, I have been mastering reverse engineering my goals. Think of Reverse Engineering as taking your goals apart and putting them into super small steps. I can show you how to do it!


First, what are some goals that you have? Come on, play along and write them down.

My suggestion is that you choose 3 MIT areas of your life that you want to make change in. Mine are typically: My health, My Family and My Business.

Out of all of those goals, what would be the most impactful on your list? What would make the biggest difference in your life? Are your goals in alignment with what’s most important to you? Once you have picked the goals that you want to move forward on, we need to dissect them.

Let’s take one goal at a time.

As you probably know, goals should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. But they should also be passionate. This might be more important than setting specific goals. If it’s not that important to you, you just won’t do it.  I can easily set a smart goal to lose ten pounds but if I’m not passionate about the reason for it, I probably won’t follow through. I would rather you choose fewer goals and really make them happen then come up with a lengthy list that doesn’t get traction. Human beings are drawn to what gives them pleasure and avoid things that give them pain. Tap into your goal in this way.

-How will it give you pleasure?

- How will it cause you pain if you don’t achieve it?

Here’s an example. Let’s say that your health goal is to run a marathon. The goal should be something like “I will run a marathon by December 2019.” Why are you passionate about it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s on your bucket list. It was on mine 8 years ago. Write it in first person and write it as a commitment. Notice I wrote “I will” rather than just “run a marathon”. In one year, is your goal something you can measure? For instance, if a client tells me she wants to lose weight, that won’t work. Is 1 pound enough? And, by when? One week or one month or by next year?


Now we need to break it down. This is the reverse engineering part.  We can’t just run the marathon. I break my goals down into smallest most achievable chunks. Let’s say that you were only running a few miles at this point. I would break down the miles that I need to hit each month, then each week, then each day.  Or, Let’s say that you want to start a business. Your next step might be as simple as doing a google search to see what else is out there. That step moves you towards your goal. Knowing next steps are so important to making progress.

- What do you need to know in order to accomplish this goal?

- What resources do you need?

- What is every step you need to take to accomplish this goal?

But maybe your goal isn’t as concrete as a marathon. I know many people who say they don’t set New Year’s resolutions but plan to just be healthier or more loving in their relationships. Well that’s a goal. And it still needs a plan or you won’t make progress. Let’s say your health goal is just to have more energy or to be healthier than you were the year before. What most of us do is change everything on January 1. We start eating more veggies, drinking more water, reducing portion size, etc. All at once. How’s that working out for you? It’s too much change. It won’t become a habit. Instead list 12 things you could change to feel healthier. For example:

  • Drink 64 oz water day

  • Get 8 hours sleep

  • Reduce sugar in ½

  • Exercise 5 days per week

What are the metrics? We love to check stuff off? What are you checking off along the way to accomplishing the goal? How will you know you are on track?

When you reverse engineer your goal, you want to look at the deadline date for when you want to accomplish your goal and then work the steps backwards for what you need to do to get there.


This might seem obvious but it is actually one of the most missed parts of goal setting. You create the goal and maybe think of a plan but you don’t figure out how it fits on your schedule. Not everything has to start in January. Look at the whole year. Look at the year in quarters instead of 12 months. What goals are getting done in what quarter? How long will it take you to work on that goal? How and where will those steps fit into your schedule?

Once you figure it out, schedule it. Put it on your calendar. Create a goal tracker where you are checking in on the goal regularly to make sure you are on track. Check off the boxes! It feels good!

It won’t be a perfect journey. Be prepared now that you will fall of the horse as they say. An airplane is off course 90% of the journey but still makes it to the destination. Know that some days you’ll be off, and then you come right back on track without sabotaging yourself. There is no benefit of judgment of beating yourself up. Just keep coming back on track. At the end of the year, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being better than you were the year before. We are growing, evolving. Hopefully getting wiser.

There are a couple more things I want to say about goal setting. First off, be careful about getting too excited once those goals are written. There is a psychological phenomenon about feeling so good about your goal that you already let yourself off the hook. It’s a daily process that you need to reconnect to. Every day that you make progress brings you closer to the goal.

Do you have too many things you want to do? You have your whole life. Write them all down and get them out of your head. Put them in a safe place like a journal or computer document. But then do triage. Figure out what is most important to you this year! Choose just a few in each important area of your life. I bet you would be happy right now if you had chosen a few and really made them happen!

I know lots of people who don’t do resolutions or any goal setting. If you are happy and have accomplished all that you want to, that’s great. But if you feel like there is more you want to do in life or want to continue to grow, then I highly suggest you set aside some time to make a plan. For me, there is more that I want to do, then there is time to do it, no matter how long my life is. When I do triage and set goals, it helps me feel on track. I hope I get to be a part of your New Year and can give you a little inspiration and motivation along the way.