Don’t Stumble at the Starting Line


Have you made New Year’s resolutions or set goals before and failed?

Have you entered a new year beating your chest and proclaiming your magnificent transformation from every mountaintop only to have it dwindle to a whimper by the time January gets torn off the calendar?

What went wrong?

In my experience, there are about a half a dozen ways you can trip yourself up right at the start. Let me help you avoid these common trip-ups:

1. Too Many, Too Much

You try to tackle too many goals, change too many ingrained behaviors and attempt too much too quickly. Look, you have probably been building, developing and reinforcing a poor habit for 10, 20, 30, maybe even 40-plus years. Breaking one poor habit and trying to install a single new success habit is tough enough (and worth it). If you try to do too many, you won’t do any.

2. Too Tough, Too Soon

Remember Richard from The Compound Effect? He had never worked out in his life, but then started working out 2.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I told him to back it down to 45 minutes, 3 days a week—something he could maintain for the next 50 years. He swore up and down he could maintain this and was committed to his new plan. By the time the book went to press, he had just started this program. Guess how long he works out, and how many days a week today? Zero and zero. He set himself up to fail and he did. Don’t be a Richard. (Suggestion: refer to “Ease In” section, page 80 of TCE).

3. Too Hardcore

Is there such thing as too much discipline? Yes and yes. Yes, if you want to have any levity, fun and joy in life. And yes, particularly in the beginning of a transformation. Too much discipline too quickly will send your emotional and psychic system into a state of shock, then meltdown. Willpower fails, eventually, every time. Can you hold your breath indefinitely? Neither can you hold your willpower indefinitely.

4. Too Rigid

Give yourself some room for error. You will be off course 80% of time. Life will happen. You will fall. Just don’t stay down. Get up and get back on. Over and over and over again.

5. Too Vague

Your goal and the changed behavior/actions necessary are not specific or quantified enough. Need help? See below.

6. No Measurement

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. A consistent monthly, weekly and daily measurement system is essential. Need help? See below.

Let’s start with this, and next week I will offer

you half a dozen key strategies to staying on track and succeeding with your resolutions and goals.

LYBYE_Book and CDs_webGet the goal achieving system I have used to accomplish my big, hairy and audacious goals!

Order Living Your Best Year Ever  TODAY! Have you ordered yours? Do you have a copy for each essential member of your team? I promise you it’s the best investment you can make in you and your team’s success for 2011. Order Here

What has been the cause of some of your failed resolutions and goals in the past? If you don’t want to repeat, it is good to know what tripped you up before. Share in the comments below.




54 responses to “Don’t Stumble at the Starting Line”

  1. Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Many thanks

  2. I have been religiously following your goals guideline,but seems what i thought was correct for everyone could have eluded me somehow. Is it possible that individually we could fine tweek so to speak the guide lines to suit the conditions and enviroment we are in? If so could it be possible to get the desired results. I am trying to have the end in mind in this case.

  3. Darren,

    I was really getting into your message in the Success e-mail: (see below)

    1. Big 3
    If you are using Living Your Best Year Ever, it guides you through making several goals in all 8 key areas of life. It then helps you reduce your plethora of goals down to your Big 3. I know you will want to accomplish ALL your goals, but it is critical you reduce it down to just 3 to supremely focus on.

    Pick the 3 goals that are most important to you and would have the most dramatic impact on your life and lifestyle. Resist the urge to chase after other shiny objects that come into your field of vision.

    2. One Thing
    As Curly in City Slickers said, “Find your ‘One Thing’.” In this case, it is the one key behavior that is most important to…

    But when I follow the link here, it didn’t continue, but began with a new topic? Is it possible to get the rest of this particular message?

    I want to apply it to my goal setting strategy immediately, as I’ve been guilty of trying to change too much too fast with too much discipline required all at once, so I like this approach better.

    Thanks in advance, and I look forward to hearing the rest!

  4. Darren,

    I was really enjoying your article but when I followed the link, it didn’t continue? (see below)

    1. Big 3
    If you are using Living Your Best Year Ever, it guides you through making several goals in all 8 key areas of life. It then helps you reduce your plethora of goals down to your Big 3. I know you will want to accomplish ALL your goals, but it is critical you reduce it down to just 3 to supremely focus on.

    Pick the 3 goals that are most important to you and would have the most dramatic impact on your life and lifestyle. Resist the urge to chase after other shiny objects that come into your field of vision.

    2. One Thing
    As Curly in City Slickers said, “Find your ‘One Thing’.” In this case, it is the one key behavior that is most important to…

    It began at #1: Don’t Stumble…I would like to hear the rest if that’s possible?

    Also, thank you for sharing; it is a very powerful and helpful message, and I’ve been victim of setting big life changing goals but with too much discipline required too quickly and not focusing on just 3 at a time, but I will put this into action immediately!

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Well Darren I am 50+ years old. I have found what I want to do the rest of my life & I am so excited.I have made a dream board with all my goals on them with pics & I also have them written down. I watch the training videos, I attend all the trainings but I believe my challenge is the action part. Focus? What is that? I am having trouble. Now I am chasing my tail to accomplish it all. Where do I go from here? I am very capable, confident & I can see the end result. It’s just breaking that great big elephant down into tiny morsels I can handle & not go nuts or end up in the hospital in the process. I am just getting started but I want it to be my best year ever. I greatly accept & appreciate all your help in this process. Thank you so much!

  6. Thank you Darren! I’m loving my Living your best life journal and I started writing 2 hours ago! Love it!

    What caused me to not achieve my goals? Lack of clarity what is the purpose of my goals. I learned that its important for me to define and write what excites me so I know what to
    Do with the money and freedom I will have more when earning the active and passive
    incomes. Also, too many goals at the same time. Now I focus on top 3-4 goals per quarter or per year that are game changer and that excites me! One of my top 4 goals this year: weigh 130 pounds, be a good swimmer and surf in Hawaii, speak
    Italian and drink wines in Italy, celebrate my wedding anniv with whole family in gorgeous Sonoma wine country, make $30,000 per month in passive income.

    My enemy is lack of freedom and boredom. I will do whatever it takes for my family. I will walk on fire for my life and my families lives and our freedom.

    Thank you Darren!

    Thank you Darren!

  7. Thanks Darren I read the post. I definitely laughed out loud a couple of times- that’s me to a “T”. From now on I’m going to ask myself am I working or responding. Now I just have to kill one of my two blackberries.

  8. Hi Darren,
    I love your blog (and your magazine). Not only do I love reading your post but the comments to go with it. I agree with a lot of the comments of others that trying to stay focused is key. Iit is not that I’m too lazy but I’m choosing to conquer too much at once. Often times I’m so overwhelmed that my mind is jumping from task to task that I end up getting nothing done. And there’s so much great personal development material out there but reading all of it leaves little time to implement any of their ideas. It’s working backwards. What I’m working on now is scheduling a day a week to focus on one thing. Although I haven’t read TCE yet (I apologize but I will soon) I love the idea that small steps will add up to big results- that’s what I’m focusing on.

  9. Darren, you raise an extremely important idea (BTW: Thank you for expounding on this in the discussion you referred to in your link). I think sometimes we neglect the critical element of ensuring that we have the right people in our corner.

    I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who has thought someone was “on my team” in my past, only to discover that there was some sort of subtle sense of insincerety in their affiliation with me (or my goals, etc…).

    It’s not that they CONSCIOUSLY want you to fail or fall short of your goals – but with misery loving company, it’s easier for some people to commiserate with others a lower level of achievement that is settled in their SUBCONSCIOUS (i.e. that they may not be truly aware of) than squirm out of their comfort zone to sit in the company of those who are reaching above that next ladder rung.

    Again, I don’t think it’s necessarily a concsious thing… We just need to take care in choosing our “success team.” :) Thank you, Darren.

    :) Kath

  10. Too Much, Too Many was my trip up. When you mentioned that you wind up doing none of them, that’s correct. For many years I did that and that was the end result, most of them started but never achieved. Lucky I found the plan that worked well for me and got me focused

  11. You’re right on, Webly! One of the greatest challenges to success is learning how to stay focused on your goals while remaining flexible enough to adapt to needed change. As long as you keep yourself open and flexible, the possibilities for your future are endless. And NEVER give up when you fail!

  12. Being too rigid has caused me to fail before. I realized that the all or nothing attitude wasn’t helping at all. Instead now I focus first on the progress I make and compare with the last progress to see if I’ve improved.
    It was kind of an aha! moment. Consistency can be getting it right 80% of the time and being kind to yourself and not give up when you fail.

  13. Hi Darren,
    Thank you for including the importance of ensuring that our goals/resolutions are measureable. I really think that this is an area many people forget to include in their goal plan.

    Along with making sure we have a WAY to measure our success is to also include an actual date – written on a calendar or whatever reminder system people use – where we actually TAKE that measurement, assess our progress and make adjustments as necessary at that time.

    One thing that I mention to my own readers is to include an “accountability partner” as a way to be sure we do take that measurement of progress. For example, it can be as simple as asking for the the help of a trusted friend or family member and saying – “Hey, would you mind calling my on Friday the 28th to remind me to measure my success on my (whatever) goal?”

    Then, you have built in a bit of accountability, since you know someone is going to nudge you on “progress report day.”

    Just another thought.
    :) Kath

  14. I agree w/ you Mike – A lot of people make goals that, sure, they may be GOOD for them, but what’s the point if you despise the activity? Right away, there would be a negative “vibe” or frequency that is planted in the subconscious that paves the way for self-sabotage.

    Well said!

  15. Pam, you are exactly correct in your description. Living Your Best Year Ever is a completely overhauled, updated and greatly enhanced improvement over Design Your Best Year Ever. Not only is all the copy, instructional guidance system and Achievement Management System greatly improved and packaged into a leather bound journal format, but it also includes a 4-CD set to take you through the entire process and offer you the personal improvement instruction you will need to carry you through the entire year of motivation, consistency and achievement.

    Thanks for your advocacy Pam!

    And appreciate everyone on here helping other people out – a rich community this is becoming!

  16. Darren,

    Its so refreshing to read this after seeing all the new year hype land in my inbox the past 13 days. Simple steps everyday win the race every time. Thanks again for your view on success.

  17. Hello Darren, (may I call you Darren?) :)

    Just wanted to say that I just received the Living Your Best Year ever items and I am very excited to get started, well actually I have already started a week ago when informed that the shipment would be delayed but that was no reason to let that stop me. I took the pdf versions that were sent to me and got started right away with them while waiting for the book version. The past two years or so have been life altering for me…downwards unfortunately, but after coming across such reads as Tony R., Collette Carlson and Jim Rohn, etc., and finally hitting that bottom where I realized I had enough and had to do something about it…starting with me of course and imagine that, things started changing for me. I followed through with your 10 year plan you had posted for everyone awhile back and that was very difficult in many ways but I am proud of everything I have accomplished so far including more education at a technical college, picking up again my passion for the film world, self confidence, socializing, healthier, and moving on with my life from negative relationships and situations, etc…things are looking up and I am determined to keep going up, so many years have gone by and I refuse to repeat. Obviously there will always be more challenges but I am ready to face them as they come without fear. (okay maybe a little)
    One day, One step at a time….


    Thank you.


  18. One other thing – based on the description, Living Your Best Year Ever sounds like a more complete or enhanced system than the original, DYBE. DYBE was what I had on hand, but if I were buying one today and didn’t have DYBE, I would opt for Living Your Best Life Ever as it looks like the tracking tools and similar are new or as I mentioned, enhanced. Though, as a reward for finishing DYBE, I do plan on purchasing Living Your Best Year Ever. Either way, love yourself and love the process for where you are going. Enjoy!

  19. Hi Julia,

    For years I’ve been struggling with this same issue and of course, getting the same results. NOT MANY! But this year I said, what is the one thing I can do differently and indeed, it was write my goals and plan down. Since I had already purchased Darren’s book, Design Your Best Year Ever when it first came out (but never read or used it – duh), I decided that would be the one big thing I could do differently towards getting my goals and plan written down. And guess what? Once I got started I found it became a big priority and I didn’t want to stop. I was actually excited about doing a bit more and more and now I’m nearly done. I’m also self-employed and sometimes client projects will get a little unruly, especially at the beginning of the year as new budgets open up. I started DYBE about a week ago and am nearly done, despite some client craziness. All that is to say, maybe you just need some help to get started and Darren’s book provides a system for getting your goals in place – based on your values and strengths – and a process for staying on track with your goals throughout the year. And maybe like me, you will actually find yourself excited and motivated to pull a plan together.

    I will say the greatest benefit so far is the feeling of empowerment, purpose and awareness/focus this has created. Really amazing, actually.

    Good luck to you Julia. If you can figure out what’s holding you back from getting your goals rockin’ and rollin’ (that was my starting point… figuring that out), maybe you can make this year the year you do things differently and change your course for where you truly want to go.



  20. Hey y’all:

    I am thankful for each of your posts. I was able to extrapolate what I have termed a Nugget of Success from each of you. I have realized that I am not crazy and not the only one whooften gets burned out pursuing goals and wanting to see big huge changes instantly. You din’t get in it overnight you are not going to change overnight.. I have committed myself to being the Turtle in 2011 and so each day I write just one Nugget of Success on a note card I can carry with me and reflect on as I begin this JOURNEY (which is what it truly is) of Transformation. Thank you to each of you for sharing your stories and being so transparent. Let’s enjoy and encourage one another this year.

    Peace and Blessings,

  21. Right on Darren,
    Being a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist as well as a personal development devotee, I can certainly attest to the fact of doing too much too soon.

  22. Good Evening Mr Hardy,
    I have found that the overwhelming majority of my successes and failures have been the result of 2 factors: How well I talk to myself, and how well I visualize a positive outcome. I have discovered that it is vitally important that our self talk must be 100% positive, and our visualization must be crystal clear if we are to live up to our full potential. The miracle is in the realization that anyone can use both positive self talk and visualization to achieve their best life ever!
    Have a magical week and thanks for your insights!

  23. Oh man.

    I am going to jump in here on the weight loss issue. As a person who was once 360lbs, went down to 210lbs, went up just a bit and now back down and aiming to get to under 200lbs….I can tell you for a fact, unless you are on The Biggest Loser’s campus where you are totally immerse with nothing but healthy options and working out all day long, setting yourself up for more than an hour a day or even more than 3 times a week…you will drop out.

    I remember first starting out to run…all I did was ONE block and that is all. And then I worked myself up to 30 minutes and then a half marathon and so on…

    The key, in my mind, for weight loss is just do a little bit. That is all. Just a bit and work from there.

    I have a friend who wanted to get muscles and abs and all that (something I will admit, is not likely for me as I had 360lbs on me for a long time and the only option is surgery to be able to get the abs…there goes my modeling career :) so he went to a trainer and the trainer gave him this whole work out of an hour and a half a day and must do this and that and so on.

    Guess what? He quit after a week. He found another trainer, same story quit again. Then he found this trainer that told him that all he has to do is come to the gym and do whatever he wants. It can 5 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or whatever it is, just come and do.

    And my friend has abs and the work just for starting off a bit and working his way up (and the trainer…well…he still has my friend as a client).

    The same holds true, for me, in work related stuff. In internet marketing, people talk about setting up 4-5 sites a day and this and that and you go WHOA. You lose interest. Then comes a guy and tells you “Today, we are just going to buy a domain name”. OK. I can handle that. And then the next day he says “OK, today we will install wordpress”….OK I can do that too. Though the process may be longer but by chunking it down…I think you do more.

    Of course, then you have the people where something is an ABSOLUTELY MUST…and they end up doing crazy things in short amount of time and even then, it comes with breaking things down, and working it up.

    OK. Enough babbling from me. Great post!

  24. Dear Darren,

    I discovered your blog accidentally and I am really happy to read all your posts so finding step by step answers at the questions I have about my life, my personal development, my family, my improvement and sure about the planning of my future.
    Can I find your books in Italy, so as I living there? I really want to read them so as I have a lot of points I need to clear, and I think its may help me to undestand How? Can I find the t Success Magazine in Italy too?

    Thanks a lot for everything you are doing for each of us!

  25. Hi Darren, Took your challenge to fail more. I made more that 370 calls but only one had called in and it looks big. I am going again for the broke. I am increasing the rate of my failure by making more than 370 calls this time around. Will be making more consistent and regular calls. The power of the compound effect I believe will reflect on my consistency and the momentum I am generating.

  26. Posting here is a GREAT start, Julia. LOVE your Step 1! 😉 Be sure to come back and keep us posted on your progress (and to keep yourself accountable) along the way.

  27. I wish I was more like all of the others who have posted their accomplishments here on your blog. I almost don’t feel quite right posting, since the challenge to get goals rockin’ and rollin’ seem to be one of the biggest challenges in my life. So, if I post step 1, then I think I will hold my self accountable, since so many others will see it in print – yikes that is a bit scary in itself.

    Step 1: Purchase The Compound Effect
    Step 2: Take one chapter at a time to absorb the messages that resonate with me
    Step 3: Write down these goals and let others know – one thing I’ve never shared are my goals.

    Sorry if this seems so simple to most of you since it seems like you are all a bunch of go-getters and my hat is off to each of you. Wish me luck!

  28. Darren,

    If I may, I would like to add a number 7 to your list:

    7. FUN! Yes, we must have self discipline and get up off of the floor every time we get knocked down. That’s a given. However, after 20 years of setting written goals, I had a great personal epiphany. I wasn’t having any FUN! Therefore, I have made it a goal to have fun in 3 areas this year: 1) Fun with my family, 2) Fun with others, and 3) Fun alone.

    And yes, I’ll be measuring and recording my results once I receive my “Living Your Best Year Ever” program!

    Carpe diem!


  29. Darren,
    May God keep blessing you more and more everyday. This reminds of the last few words you wrote on your book: The Compound Effect. Phenomenal book by the way. You have touch some many peoples life through you teaching and mentoring program. I inspire to be like you one day.
    I believe this posting is right to the point. In the past I have tried to change bad behavior for good dramatically. Over night. I won’t lie, I CAN STAY FOCUS, but as stated in the book, it take a lot of momentum to keep up the same pace. You can easily lose yourself in the process. After reading the Compound Effect, I have come to realize that everything is a process and it need balance. It take time for things to happen. One year is equivalent to 365 days or 12 months. Anything less than that is not consider a year. It’s better to start slow and keep the pace than get start fast and than quit. One day at the time. And like Darren, wrote we will makes mistakes, but as long as we acknowledge it and move forward with a good spirit thing will be ok. One of the most important thing I strongly agree is tracking your progress. I created a spreadsheet similar to the one subjected on the Compound Effect and it’s wonderful. Keeping track really work. I was so fired up about that I even share it with some of mine menbers in my business group and they love it. Much blessing Darren. I always believe that good things, happen to good people as long a you have a good spirit.

  30. Hello My name is Rich, and I am a Richard.

    A recovering Richard that is. I know that biting off more than I could chew and quitting when it got to be too much has been a pattern that I have displayed over and over again in my life.

    I firmly believe that baby steps are the quickest and surest path to success in almost anything we do in life. Number one, it’s much easier to stay on track and not quit. Number two, it’s in the baby steps that the fundamentals live, and mastery can only be achieved by mastering the fundamentals.

    This has been a hard lesson for me, a recovering Richard, but quite possibly the most valuable.

    Great post Darren, thanks.


  31. Thank you for the reminders, Darren! I bought TCE book and tape (including for 5 friends of mine), and have been through them several times already. They are so incredibly useful to me and I look forward to being one of your success stories in the years to come.

    My core lesson is to make small, everyday changes in my life. I’ve always been one to dive in head first (even into the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay), and while I have a track record of achieving my goals, I was just as quickly onto the next. (I’m an airplane pilot, have worked in the White House and for Charlie Rose, am an Ironman athlete, was a sponsored athlete, learned French and Italian fluently, am a published writer, and so on.)

    Said in another way, I’ve not experienced long-term momentum and the benefits that result from many and small incremental changes over time; I have not built on my successes … yet. (It’s amazing how childhood experiences will run your life if you let them.) I’ve been broke for years but more importantly I’ve felt dissatisfied with the “progress” my life has taken–largely because I have a habit of taking on too much!

    So again, thanks for the reminders and for your dedication to my success and to that of all of us who hear you loud and clear! I took up your gratitude journal challenge in December (I’m on day 43), have not had a drop of alcohol for more than 2 weeks, and for three weeks have done a few sets of several small exercises for my body while my coffee is brewing! Darren, you’re the best.


  32. Great advice. Also I think it’s important to revisit throughout the year. Do the goals still make sense in light of new things that happen? Goal setting is not a once a year event.



  33. I guess I am a bit arrogant. I think I have the will power to take on 20 goals at a time and yet I don’t have the will power to let go of 15 of those goals!

    This year I am playing a psychological game with myself to help me stay focused. I am allowing myself to have 20+ goals for the year but I will limit myself so I only work on a few each month. I have found that it is easier to let go of my goals if I think I will be getting back to them soon.

    Common Sense (which I am still trying to defy) says that I won’t get them all done so I am doing the most important ones first. If I don’t get them all done, I will still be able to look back at the year and feel good about it.

  34. I have been most challenged by comparing my goals and gifts with that of others. I have too often considered myself to have failed when I have served a relatively small number of clients or students instead of a large audience. What I continue to be reminded of in one way or another is that although my contribution is on a small scale, it appears to have reached deep into the hearts and minds of those I have served. The teaching/healing moments I have with others appear to have lasting impact. I conclude that I am not a very good judge of my own success. I have endured in my practice and I begin each day with hope and intention to be and do my best for that day. I sincerely appreciate the message of Success magazine which is hopeful and inspiring for me, even as a small town practitioner. I believe my life is making more of a difference than I may be able to realize.

    Leia Hughey
    Harisburg, OR

  35. So true. I kinda fell in that trap myself and would get overwhelmed and disappointed when I didn’t reach some of my goals last year. I almost don’t want to hold back from working at my goals and breaking all my bad habits all at once. I’m a bit impatient to see my great results just beyond the horizon. I will be working on being disciplined in my actions at the same time being smart about my goals.


  36. Great post Darren – It really resonated with me. I spent the first year and a half of committing to changing my life and driving for success with raw determination and perserverence. I was relentless and ruthless on myself, sleeping an average of 4 hrs a night so that I could stay up and listen to audio’s and study – reading business books and learning what it takes to make a great business. During the last 6 months, I have been slowing down with all that – not in a giving up way, but rather realizing that I was on a course to burnout and life outside of balance. I still read everyday, still listen to audio’s every couple of days, I meditate and listen to nueral reconditioning every single day – just without the feeling of neccessity to fill every waking minute on changing my life. I am learning to appreciate and celebrate my successes along the way now – before I brushed it off without reflecting on the progress, instead only thinking what else I can do to accelerate the process and acheive my goal. I learned that by trying to force something to happen faster, I was actually pushing it away and then I would continue to chase – Now I take action based on my plans, allowing time for gestation, and now I am seeing more of my goals being attracted to me, and coming without struggle. The biggest point that I relate to is to slow down and not rush for making massive change in such a short period of time – inch by inch – it’s a sinch.
    Thanks Darren,

  37. I am great at working my butt off to reach my goals but I found that determination does not leave room for anything else. I lost my personality in the process. So this year I have reduced my goals to just a handful and set one on my goals to enjoy the process.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?