It all started with a book.
(That’s how pretty much everything starts for me.)
In The ONE Thing, Gary Keller encourages goal-setters to ask a question:
What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
This simple, unassuming question changed my life.
The ONE thing question takes the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 rule) to the extreme. It asks not just what 20% of efforts generate the majority of results, but what one specific thing, when achieved, will drive the greatest benefit for everything else you do?
One year ago, I wrote my 2017 goals based on that question.
Of all the things needed in each of my main “areas” of life, what ONE thing could I do in each area that would make everything else easier or unnecessary?
Here’s what I came up with:
My 2017 Goals
1. Alana Le brand
Goal: Get website and email automation set up in “maintenance mode” so it can continue to grow without daily focus.
I began the process of closing my consulting business and converting this blog to an entrepreneurship-focused brand/shop instead. I knew I wouldn’t have any extra time and effort to devote to it after the baby arrived, so I wanted it to be as self-sustaining as possible.
2. Genre fiction brand
Goal: Publish four books.
I decided to launch a new fiction brand (under a pen name) in YA fantasy in 2017. This was a big, scary goal for me in January 2017 – so big, I was embarrassed to even talk about it even with my closest friends. I’d read in countless sources that the best way for a new author to build up sales on Amazon was to release a new book every 3-4 months, and I wanted to see if I could do it right out of the gate. What can I say – I’m a go-big-or-go-home kind of girl! (Sometimes. Other times, I’m a just-stay-home-and-go-at-a-glacial-pace kind of girl…)
3. The Six Box
Goal: Ship [REDACTED] care packages per month. 😉
The Six Box is the e-commerce company I run with my friend and fellow military spouse (now veteran spouse) Megan. We send “reverse” care packages to military wives going through a hard season of life like deployment. We picked a number that we felt would challenge us to improve our marketing & operations systems and put us in a good place to grow in 2018.
Goal: Gain no more than 22 lbs during pregnancy.
I struggled to lose the baby weight after my first, and while I could set a lot of health goals for the year, I thought if I just achieved that ONE thing – limiting weight gain during my second pregnancy – everything else would have to follow.
So, those were some ambitious goals. For me, at least! To help me avoid distractions, I also picked a word for the year: PLANT. I told myself that I would spend 2017 planting the seeds that would one day grow into a future where I and my family would be thriving and healthy. If that meant less income in the short term, or saying “no” to more things for now, I would do that, in order to plant the right seeds for the future.
Here’s how my 2017 goals played out in real life:
1. Alana Le brand – get website and email automation set up in “maintenance mode” so it can continue to grow without daily focus.
This sooo did not happen. My poor blog got zero love in 2017. Working on fixing that this month!
2. Genre fiction brand – Publish four books.
Almost! I was so close. I published three books in this brand, and finished writing the fourth book just before Christmas. It should come out in March 2018. I ended up releasing one book in August, one in October, and one in December.
3. The Six Box – Ship [REDACTED] care packages per month.
Missed this one too. Megan and I both had babies in 2017, among other adventures, so it wasn’t too surprising. We did ship a lot of care packages to amazing military spouses, so we still call that a win! We also published a book under the Six Box brand called Got Your Six: A 12-Month Journal for Military Spouses. If I consider that one my fourth book, I can cross off goal #2… 😉
4. Health – Gain no more than 22 lbs during pregnancy.
Crushed this goal! YAY! I ended up gaining exactly 22 lbs, then returned to my pre-pregnancy weight just 2 weeks postpartum. Today, less than 3 months after giving birth, I’m within 4 pounds of my goal weight. Hallelujah! After two and a half years of frustration, it feels good to be making progress in this area. I managed this goal by counting macros, lifting weights, and going on tons of stroller walks throughout my pregnancy. Thankfully, I had a good birth experience and recovery and was able to start up again a few weeks after giving birth.
Energized by my solid progress in 2017, I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for 2018. But first, I came up with a new word for the year:
2018 Word for the Year: Deep
Rather than reaching up for a broad, nebulous idea of well-rounded “perfection,” I want to go deep in just a few areas that are most important to me, and seek to do them as well as they can possibly be done. Here are the areas I picked:
- Knowing God
- Nurturing my family
- Strength training
I see these four areas as a foundation for everything else I do. If I can make solid progress in each one, my other goals will become much easier.
Based on that focus (going deep instead of staying broad) and the ONE thing question, here’s what I came up with for my 2018 goals:
My 2018 Goals
1. Alana Le brand
Goal: Publish two “self-help” books for entrepreneurs.
I’m working on a series of encouraging, practical books for entrepreneurs. This year, I want to publish a short, promotional freebie and the first full book in the series. I have several other big goals for my blog, but if I can publish those two books, everything else will fall in line as part of that goal, so it covers a ton of work from now until then.
2. Genre fiction brand
Goal: Publish four books and six companion short stories (complete the series I launched in 2017).
Part of this goal is to keep hitting the “publish every 3-4 months” recommendation, and part of it is to create a good reader experience – a binge-worthy series of stories that readers can go through quickly, immersing themselves in the world and characters all at once. For the most part, I’m holding off on marketing my pen name’s books until the series is complete.
3. The Six Box
Goal: Grow to the point where we can pay ourselves monthly salaries of [REDACTED].
So much needs to happen to hit that goal! That’s the beauty of the ONE thing question – a single goal encapsulates everything we need to do this year.
Goal: Lift heavy weights 3+ days per week.
I’ve been lifting inconsistently for the past 3 years, and more consistently for the past 12 months or so. Strength training motivates me to stay on track with nutrition, makes me feel good, and makes everything else in life easier (especially toddler wrangling and car seat lifting). If I can consistently lift throughout this year, everything else in the health arena will come easier.
Goal: Keep a daily family diary.
Why does it take 45 minutes to get my toddler out the door to the park? Why did she sleep well one night and wake three times the next? WHO KNOWS?! 😉 I’ve realized that much of the chaos in our family could be lessened by simply being more intentional and strategic – identifying what’s working and what isn’t, tweaking things, paying attention to results, etc. But if I don’t keep track of what is happening, I forget lessons learned and go back to passively reacting to the daily toddler insanity. Writing a daily entry in our family diary will be my way of figuring out what’s working and what needs to change.
Goal: Spend 15+ minutes with the Bible and prayer each day.
I’ve found that I can spend ten minutes reading the Bible easily enough, but it’s harder for me to include extra time dedicated to responding to God in prayer after reading. Fifteen minutes may not seem like much, but if I can consistently do it daily throughout this year, I know it will make a big difference in my faith.
This blog post terrifies me…
I wrote this post three days ago and have been waiting to hit publish this whole time because I don’t want to go public with my 2018 goals! How’s that for fear of failure?! Here’s a good reminder, for me and for anyone else who struggles with perfectionism: if I don’t achieve all of my 2018 goals (or any of them), it is not the end of the world. I’ll learn. I’ll grow. And I’ll set ambitious 2019 goals too. 😉