6 Lessons From Goal Setting For The First Time Ever

Are you personal growth oriented? As 2014 started, I set significant goals for the first time ever. I’ve nailed a few and made only partial progress on some and no progress on others. I couldn't be happier; I am accomplishing significant personal growth. This is my mid-year review, updated goals for the rest of 2014 and encouragement for you.

2014My first post in January, Make 2014 Your Year, focused on growth and self investment. Setting, tracking and achieving goals is a key investment in growth through the self discipline it requires and creates.

Previously, I have not set, written down and consciously pursued goals. The simple fact I have written goals with clear objectives and time bounds makes 2014 radically different for me.

And, I'm learning as I grow.

“Own your goals
and own how you
attain them”

I’m confident I will hit or make significant progress towards completion on all of my goals. I’ll be using my experiences this year to refine my goal setting later this year and push myself much harder to accomplish specific, significant goals in 2015.

2014 Goals, Progress and Updates

I broke my goals into two main growth categories, “Personal and Physical” and “Platform”. I refer to personal brand building and setting the stage for future endeavors as “Platform” after Michael Hyatt’s influential book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Below are the two summary lists of my goals. When you click on each list, you can read my goal details and my self-evaluations. I recommend reading this entire article first, then clicking on the details. The main message of this article is the impact of goal setting and how to easily set your own goals.

Personal and Physical Goals

  • Wake Up at 5:00
  • Achieve A 50,000 Step Day
  • Return to My Healthy Weight
  • Choose My Peer Group Purposefully
  • Leverage Our MasterMind
  • Invest in Myself

Alram Clock

    • Wake Up at 5:00 a.m. Specific goal: “Wake up at 5:00 a.m. each weekday and focus on planned tasks for my 2014 goals.” This goal is more about self discipline than anything else. I really struggle with this goal, having been a night oriented person my entire life. I know from experience in 2013 that early morning hours can be productive. I’d do OK for a few days, be happy with what I accomplished and then miss a week or two. That changed in May. I spent time with a former peer group and from that evening forward, I’m motivated to rise at 5:00 a.m. far more often than not. This includes several weekend days and even while on vacation. While not 100%, yet, I’m trending that way and expect to have my self discipline tuned soon. Consider it a “B”.

Fitbit 50K Day 2

  • Achieve A 50,000 Step Day. Specific goal: “Record 50,000 steps in one day by June 30th.” I have a Fitbit One to record physical activity. It was a birthday gift (OK, more of a hint) from my wife, Kim, last year. My highest 2013 days were just above 35,000 steps. This year I set a goal of a 50K Day by July 1st, and accomplished it on June, 15th. I walked just over 24 miles with 51,619 steps. Boom! Clearly an “A+”. My new goal? A 75K Day by July 1, 2015.
  • Return to My Healthy Weight. Specific goal: “Weigh 175 by December 31st.” I gained about 15 pounds last year from not exercising enough and just not eating well. I’ve been successful at not gaining more, but unsuccessful at losing the gained weight because I haven’t made it a priority. At best, I’ll give myself a “C” on this goal. On the bright side, I have just built a glass top desk for our treadmill and have added 3-5 miles of walking per day by using it while I work during the early mornings. I only have six months left to get back to my goal weight…
  • Choose My Peer Group Purposefully. Specific Goal: “Invest my time and resources with individuals who I respect, who are mentors and who have abundance mentalities”. This goal does not have any specific numbers or dates associated for measurement. It is an overriding principle guiding how I am approaching friendships and professional contacts. Jim Rohn says “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with”. I don’t think it is that absolute, but I do know that we are significantly influenced by the people around us. This year, I’ve made several conscious decisions to increase my time around individuals who have an abundance mindset rather than one of scarcity. It is already having a significant impact on who I am and I am becoming. I'll give myself a B+ with final grades due on December 31st.
  • Leverage Our MasterMind. Specific goal: “Pour myself into and learn from our Mastermind twice per month throughout 2014.” Three friends and I began meeting last November for mutual encouragement. These meetings have become some of the most valuable time I invest in others and in myself. Each person brings unique talents and perspective as we discuss our businesses, our personal lives and our goals. All three of my MasterMind partners have vibrant, abundance mentalities that set the tone for each meeting. I'll give myself a B on this goal, as I have not always been as prepared for or meetings as I should be.
  • Platform Conference Michael HyattInvest in Myself. Specific goal: “1) Attend, at my expense if necessary, two conferences that open doors of opportunity personally and professionally by December 31st; 2) Increase my involvement with the professional coaching cohort, Deeper Path.” Self-investment is the best investment I can make for myself, my family and for others. In November, I will attend the Platform Conference and the Igniting Souls (Deeper Path) Conference. Both of these conferences are oriented to entrepreneurs. Deeper Path LogoI increased my participation in the Deeper Path in March. In May, I joined Author Academy Elite (AAE) as one of 25 inaugural members. AAE is closely aligned with Deeper Path and is an opportunity to learn from and contribute to those publishing their first, second or even third books. All of these investments are with my own funds and primarily on my own time. So far, I’ve got an “A”, with significant work ahead to make my investments meaningful.

Platform Goals

  • Speak at the 2014 Ohio Growth Summit
  • Publish My First eBook
  • Publish My First Book (added in March)
  • Be Interviewed on Podcasts
  • Write Regular Blog Posts
  • Build RickCoplin.com
  • Write or Co-Write Articles

  • Ohio Growth Summit Presentation Rick Coplin

    Click to see slides on SlideShare

    Speak at the 2014 Ohio Growth Summit (OGS14). Specific goal: “Lead a breakout session at OGS14 about pitching your company.” The invitation to speak came in April and I led a one hour breakout session on June 4th. Presenting at OGS14 was a key growth goal for me; it marks the first time I’ve led a breakout session at a significant conference. It challenged me to package my expertise into a highly valuable presentation. Now, I can say I’ve spoken at the same conference as such notable thought leaders as Chris Brogan, Jason Surferapp, Amy Schmittauer, Steve Kloyda, Jerry Ross, Heather Whaling and Jess Osteroff. Three additional speaking opportunities have resulted from OGS14. Feedback was highly positive, so I'll give myself an “A” on this one.

  • Publish My First eBook. Specific goal: “Publish a 3,000 – 4,000 word eBook about pitching your company on Amazon by June 30th.” I began research for my eBook last summer. As I wrote, it became apparent something more in depth than a short eBook would result. It also became clear that I would not finish by my goal date. So, this goal birthed a more complex and ambitious goal and morphed into a new goal Pitch Your Best! By Rick Coplin“Publish My First Book”. Then, as I developed handouts to accompany my OGS14 presentation, I realized the materials could be an eBook and Pitch Your Best! resulted. My first eBook published on Amazon on May 25th. In a roundabout way, I accomplished this goal first by deciding to abandon it, then deciding to publish the companion to my OGS14 breakout. I'll give myself an “A” on this one.
  • Publish My First Book. Specific goal: “Publish a 15,000 – 25,000 word guide on pitching your company through Amazon Kindle and Create Space by October 31st.” This goal was added to my list of goals in April. Nail Your Pitch (working title) centers on what to do before, during and after your pitch to maximize your odds of success. The time it takes to write a book seems excruciatingly slow. I am fitting in research, writing, marketing and developing a launch plan in-between everything else I have going on. Some days I write for an hour, others for a just a minute or two. I’ve worked on it in three foreign countries and on the flights in-between them. I’ve gone weeks on end without working on it and then made significant progress in a day or two. So, while I’m frustrated with the pace and consistency of time I can devote to it, I am happy I am making progress. It is currently about 20,000 words. I am confident I will finish it well, but not 100% confident on reaching my goal date.
  • Reach the Summit PodcastBe Interviewed on Podcasts. Specific goal: “Be interviewed on an entrepreneur oriented podcast by December 31st .” I listen to about 30 podcasts each week and love the opportunity to learn from thought leaders. My first podcast interview occurred as a result of speaking at OGS14. Mike Bowers and Amy Schmittauer and I discussed pitching your business on Reach the Summit’s 20th episode published on June 25th. Reach the Summit has interviewed several thought leaders such as DJ Waldow, Carrie Wilkerson, and Chris Brogan. I am honored to be in their company. Since I accomplished this goal before the midyear mark, I want to be interviewed or co-host a podcast at least one more time this year. I'll give myself an “A” on this one.
  • Write Blog Posts. Specific goal: “Publish 2 blog posts each month throughout 2104.” This goal has been a near total fail, with just 5 posts through the midyear mark. Less than 1 a month. I have plenty of ideas and several drafts, but haven’t made this the priority I should. Even publishing this post was several weeks later than intended. This goal remains active, and I will dedicate 1-2 of my mornings each week to making it happen. This is a good example of a goal that competes with another goal, “Publish My First Book”, for time and attention. If I invest time here, I reduce the time available for writing and completing Nail Your Pitch. I’m not sure of a workable solution yet. Right now, I’ve got a “D” with an opportunity to pull that to a “B-“ or “B” by year’s end.
  • Build RickCoplin.com. Specific goal: “Enhance my website’s content, develop 2-3 incentives for readers to subscribe, and grow my email subscriber list to 100 by December 31st.” My website is my home base (as described in Michael Hyatt’s book Platform). I have not published content consistently. I  have not developed valuable eBooks/PDFs to provide additional value that will encourage readers to subscribe. I have a handful of draft incentives, but have not completed them yet. I have not yet built an email list and am not even half way to my goal of 100 subscribers yet.  On the bright side, I did add pages for my eBook Pitch Your Best! including a password protected download page for the giveaway links in the book. Overall, I’ll give myself a C-, with the opportunity to pull that up to a B+ if I prioritize and focus. I Have a lot of work to do here.
  • InvestorWrite or Co-Write Articles. Specific goal: “Write or co-write 4 articles or guest posts published in local and national outlets focused on entrepreneurs during 2014.” At the mid year mark, I’ve co-written two articles: How to Create the Perfect Pitch and one at BPlans.com: Four Things that Scare Investors Away. Two out of four at the midyear mark is on target. I’ll give myself an A, and will have to work hard to maintain that grade.

Hide Platform Goals


Six Lessons Learned Setting Goals This Year

  1. Set SMARTY Goals. In order to be successful at goal setting, you need to be structured in how you set and plan for attaining your goals. SMARTY Goals are explained below.
  2. Review Your Goals Regularly. I started making progress when I began to review my goals. I now look at my goals almost daily and ask myself “What do I need to do next to accomplish this?”
  3. Be Flexible. I set and manage my goals, not the other way around. My eBook is a good example. Because I was flexible, I first postponed this goal and it birthed the more significant goal of publishing a book. I accomplished the original goal, publishing an eBook, on-time when the opportunity presented itself.
  4. Make No Excuses. Own your goals, own how you are going to attain them, and own up to yourself when you miss a goal. When you take complete ownership you can figure out how to reach any goal.
  5. DirectionPractice Personal Discipline. Goal setting is as much about personal discipline and responsibility as it is achieving specific things. For this first year of goal setting, my attention has been more on my personal discipline than on achievement. I am developing the discipline of reviewing my goals daily, the discipline of evaluating progress, the discipline to see a goal to completion, etc.
  6. Celebrate. It's a big deal when you accomplish a significant goal. Have fun with it.


SMARTY is an acronym for:

  • Specific – Write down exactly what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable – Quantify the results clearly if at all possible. Not all of my goals fit this criterion, however most do.
  • Actionable – Start with and use action-oriented verbs in your descriptions. Each time you review it, subconsciously you will want to take action.
  • Realistic – Make sure each goal is attainable, even if you don't know how to accomplish it when you write it down. The best goals challenge us to leave our comfort zones. Make sure they are reachable with determined effort. At least 8 of my goals have forced me out of my comfort zones, and I'm really happy about that.
  • Time-bound – Goals without dates are only dreams. Create deadlines that are thoughtfully spaced across each quarter and/or the year. Putting deadlines together, too soon or too far off is a recipe for failure.
  • Y Based – Determine why you have a goal and why it is important to you. Clarity will help you evaluate your goals and progress against priorities throughout the year.

Note: The SMARTY Acronym first appeared in 1981 in an article by Geoerge Doran in Management Review. I have based my SMARTY acronym on Michael Hyatt's Best Year Ever goal setting program. I have added the “Y” to suit my need to be reminded of why the goal is important to accomplish.

Hide SMARTY Goals Explained


Anticipating 2015

“Your goals
require and create
self discipline”

I am significantly ahead of where I would have been without setting goals in 2014. I will be stepping up my game to accomplish my remaining 2014 goals and set significant goals for 2015. The growth I am experiencing and what I'm learning through this process will help me to do just that.

Setting my goals for 2015 will start in November. I am already keeping a list of possibilities in Evernote. By starting well before the end of the year, I'll have time to evaluate, refine and internalize my goals. The result will be clear objectives at the start of 2015.

Lessons learned this year will help me to set more specific, more ambitious, and more meaningful goals for next year. I plan to add additional categories  such as “Spiritual and Generosity”, “Service”, and “Family”.

Taking Action

I encourage you to do three things:

  1. Set your own goals. Start by setting a few goals for the rest of this year. Follow my SMARTY guidelines and use my lessons learned to jump start your effectiveness. You can download my free Goal Setting Workbook for a good start.
  2. Best Year Ever Michael HyattRegister for Best Year Ever. This is a program offered by Michael Hyatt. Leave your email at the Best Year Ever page to be notified when the opportunity opens later this year. Best Year Ever helped me significantly; I'm confident it will help you too.
  3. Let me know how it goes. Leave a comment or send me an email with success stories and questions. I'm happy to help you.

Rick Coplin

Bonus: Setting Significant Goals PDF

Setting Significant  GoalsI put together my own template for goal setting to help me set goals in a structured manner and to plan how they will be accomplished. I'll be using this myself this year as I plan for 2015. You are welcome to download my free Goal Setting Workbook PDF and use it to help you set your own goals.


Note: “Direction” photo source: BK via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/14490702953; “Scared Investor” is from the article at Bplans.com I helped to write.



I work alongside emerging companies on business formation, commercialization strategies, and capital planning. My passion is to find, support, mentor, coach, incubate, & fund start-ups engaged in innovative technology businesses.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “6 Lessons From Goal Setting For The First Time Ever

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too have recently done this and it took a lot for me to write my goals down. I think the biggest one for me to remember is to be flexible. I can be so hard on myself in a lot of ways and it is important to re-evaluate. I might add- ask why and how often. Why did I choose this? Why might I be falling short? How can I adjust? How can I re-prioritize?

    Have a great holiday weekend!

    • Thanks Mark! I’m sifting myself this year as I evaluate goals and what they mean. Increasingly, I’m recognizing a need to not only grow personally and professionally, but to put that growth to use as soon as possible to make a difference for others. I want my progress to be a blessing to those I come into contact with whether it be in person or digitally.

    • Meghan, thank you for reading. I think you nailed it with the need for flexibility. I tend to beat myself up over even minor misses, and the idea of flexibility is both freeing and empowering. You are asking great questions! I’m definitely adding them int my questions when I review my goals. Yes, we had a GREAT holiday weekend!

  2. Rick,

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop on your progress. It is inspiring to watch you move forward and achieve your goals. Thanks also for the generosity with your materials! Really looking forward to setting some better goals for myself!

    • Thanks Mark! I’m sifting myself this year as I evaluate goals and what they mean. Increasingly, I’m recognizing a need to not only grow personally and professionally, but to put that growth to use as soon as possible to make a difference for others. I want my progress to be a blessing to those I come into contact with whether it be in person or digitally.

Comments are closed.