Nick’s Note: Every year at this time, PBRG co-founder Mark Ford scales back his work. He spends some time every day reflecting on the past year… looking over the goals he set at the year’s start… reviewing his journals… and thinking about the big picture. Then, he puts pen to paper and begins mapping out his goals for the upcoming year.

In this classic essay, Mark shares exactly how his goal-setting program works… and how you can follow it.

By Mark Ford, co-founder, Palm Beach Research Group

For most people, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is a frenzied rush of social activity mixed with nagging business obligations.

They come back to work feeling exhausted and barely able to remember what happened.

That’s crazy. Those seven days should be wonderful days—days that clear your mind, energize you, and get you ready for a fantastic year ahead.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve developed a protocol for making this week happy and productive. If you’d like to make 2019 your best year ever, consider incorporating some of what I do into your routine.

Here are a few steps:

1. Create the possibility of tranquility that can last for seven days.

For me, that means clearing my schedule of any work that’s unimportant, stressful, and/or open to surprises.

You want a calendar that’s open, so you can spend most of your “work time” doing three things: reflecting on the past, contemplating the present, and setting goals for the future.

2. Schedule an hour or two every day for these three tranquil activities.

Don’t just promise yourself you’ll find the time. Block it out in your calendar. Find a quiet place. Turn off your cellphone. Shut off your Wi-Fi. Put on some tranquil music. Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

Your first few hours should be devoted to reflection—looking back at this past year and assessing how it went for you in terms of what you accomplished… what you did not accomplish… and how you felt about those achievements and failures.

To get the most from this effort, I look at four things: my calendar, my daily journal, the goal sheet I wrote the year before, and the record I keep of the monthly and weekly objectives I set to achieve those yearly goals.

When I first began this process, this exercise in reflection often left me frustrated. I was forced to realize how little I actually did the things I most wanted to do. But as time passed, I improved the way I set and pursued goals. Nowadays, this is mostly a very good experience… feeling proud—and, sometimes, even amazed—of what I’ve done.

3. Contemplate.

Think about what you want from life. You just reviewed your goals and accomplishments of the prior 12 months. Now, spend some time asking yourself how you feel about them. Are you happy with that book you wrote? Was it worth the time you put into it? Would you want to write another one?

Give yourself the chance to rethink your long-term life goals. There’s no law saying you can’t change them. If you want to make changes, do so.

4. Plan your future.

Based on the reflecting and contemplating you’ve done, set goals for next year, 2019.

Here’s how to do it…

First, I set goals in what I see as the four primary areas of life:

  • Health (mental and physical)

  • Wealth (business and investments)

  • Personal (hobbies and interests)

  • Social (family, friends, and community)

To avoid biting off more than I can chew, I limit myself to no more than a half-dozen goals in each area.

For example, my health goals are the following:

  • Spend more of my time feeling happy.

  • Develop a stronger cardiovascular system.

  • Stay under 200 pounds.

  • Get my neck back to full flexibility.

Then, I might break those bigger goals down into parts.

For example, under the first goal (spend more time feeling happy), I might write:

  • Get at least seven hours of sleep per day.

  • Spend more time thinking about others… and less time thinking about myself.

  • Make smiling a habit.

So take some time right now to think about what you’ve done—and what you haven’t done—in 2018. Start writing it all down. Pledge to make a change.

To be continued…


Mark Ford
Co-Founder, Palm Beach Research Group


Is Elon Musk’s worst nightmare coming true?

Musk put $70 million of his own money on the line to start Tesla. His dream is to fill America’s roads with electric cars. And with 300,000 Teslas on the road today, some think he’s on his way to achieving it.

But soon, it could all come crashing down. And one tiny company could be responsible.