The FREE Guide For Achieving Your Big Goal (Or Any Goal)

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

I was just thinking about what I really wanted in life and how to get it–a bit obsessively, if we’re being honest. At times, I’d really rather punch myself than keep thinking about it.

So, naturally, I made myself a 17-page guide rooted in deep analysis to help me strategically maximize my chances of achieving what I want and take action to reach my goals… and then I thought, I wonder if my friends would benefit from this, so here we are.

Turns out I’m not the only one wrestling with how to achieve our goals.  With near perfect timing, Carl Richards wrote recently in The New York Times about this very challenge in his article “Time to be Honest About the Fear That’s Getting in Your Way.”  When it comes to accomplishing your big goals, Richards asks “What is stopping you?”  He goes on to write about how we use roadblocks as excuses (“Places to Hide”) on our journey to achieving our goals.

Friends, there’s really no more time for hiding.  If you’ve been putting off achieving your goals because it’s too hard to plan, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.  The Guide will help you leap over, sidestep, or simply knock down your roadblocks.  If you don’t want to pay for life coaching, the Guide is free.  Run out of excuses yet?  There’s really only one thing left to do:  start.

(Here is a preview of the first 4 steps of the 12 total steps.  I’m so fired up to help you achieve your goals that I’m giving the entire Guide to you for FREE once you sign up to get emails from me!)


“The reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error…The strategy is, then, to tinker as much as possible.”—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan:  The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Many successful people will tell you  they got lucky.  They’ll say they were “in the right place at the right time.”  And it’s true—many  people work hard but never get lucky in achieving their big goals.  But the reality is a little more nuanced.

You can be fatalistic about it, believing that since luck hasn’t happened to you, why even try?  Or, maybe you tried once… but failed.  Why try again?  If you think this way, this is how you see the odds:

The reality is that every action is a bet.  Any luck in achieving your goals is a function of how often you try.  If you place no bets, you’re betting on life staying the same or some outside force making it better.  Place many bets and one will eventually hit.  Place smarter bets and your winning rate goes up.  Place a lot of smarter bets and…jackpot!  

The quality of “how” and “what” you try maximizes your chances of success.  Fortune favors not only the prepared, but those prepared to try many of the right things.  If you can narrow down those options to smarter ones and create a strategy before you even start them, you will increase your chances at success.  The very act of filling out this guide is a critical first step in your tinkering.

In addition to our own insight and involvement with hundreds of companies, we used a variety of resources you may find helpful to read in their entirety or investigate further.  Our resources include:

  • Make Your Own Luck by Eileen Shapiro and Howard Stevenson
  • Originals:  How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
  • Redeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Timothy J. Keller’s insight on finding your “calling”

Ok, here are some guidelines:

  • Print this guide out and write your thoughts down.  You’re more likely to act on your Big Goal if you’ve let the ideas out of your head.
  • Go through it fast the first time through.  Spend minutes, not hours, per step.  Again, the whole point is to tinker as much as possible.  You’re not looking for perfect—you’re looking for a better path to achievement.  You can always go back and refine.
  • Remember that for each goal, you have limited resources (time, money, relationships, etc.).  Shapiro and Stevenson call these your “100 marbles.”  How do you best use them to reach your goal?

We created this guide to help you maximize your chances of taking action and achieving success.  You can use this guide for a variety of things—a job change, a serious relationship, whether you should start a side hustle, or anything more complicated than, “What should I eat for lunch today?”  By the end of this guide, you will have a much clearer understanding of where you want to go, how to get there, and what to do if you have a set-back.  

Step 1.  Who are you?

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”—Winnie the Pooh

You have big goals—that’s great!  But do you know if you’ll want to go on the journey?  Or will you even be happy when you finally achieve it?  In this sense, your goal setting has nothing to do with the goal itself.  It has everything to do with you.  

We use Timothy Keller’s guideline on spiritual “calling”:  Find the intersection between Ability, Affinity, and Opportunity (“AAO”).  The following is our rationale for each category.   

  • Ability:  We start with ability.  Why?  Think of it this way:  if you need someone [opportunity] to fix your roof [goal], you want to know if they’re able to do the job [ability].  Why would it be any different for your goal?  Also, according to Strength Finders 2.0, you’re 6 times more likely to be engaged when you feel like you’re doing what you do best.  What do you do easily that is hard for others?

  • Affinity:  What makes you come alive?  What would you do for free?  If you would do something for free, then it’s a good chance you’ll put in the extra effort to accomplish your goal.  Once you do that, figure out 3-5 subgroups you belong to that define who you are (like “marathon runners” or “rock climbers”).

  • Opportunity:  Be brutally honest with yourself.  If your goal is to play in the NBA but you’re shorter, older, and less athletic than anyone in the league, your chances of getting lucky there is zero.  Since opportunities are goal specific, we will hold off on thinking about opportunities until a goal is identified.

If you know yourself and your situation, you can quickly eliminate low-probability goals and figure out your best goals given your talents and makeup.  Tinkering isn’t throwing your marbles at a wall and seeing what sticks.  In fact, that’s a good strategy for wasting your marbles.  

Effective tinkering is not just the things you do try, but the things you don’t.  If you limit your tinkering to choices where you can improve your odds, you greatly enhance your chances of success by default.  If you tinker with things you don’t really enjoy or don’t utilize your strengths, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

But be careful not to underestimate yourself, however.  Most people don’t achieve their Big Goal because they’ve taken themselves out of games they’re qualified to play.

Step 2.  What’s your big goal?

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”—Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

The next step is narrowing down your big goals to one Big Goal.  Start with a list of possible goals.  Make sure you’re specific and tie it to an action.  So instead of “getting rich,” write, “make enough money to retire by 50.”  Better yet, “save $600,000 so that I can retire by 50.”

Remember, you only have 100 marbles to spend on your goals, so you can’t achieve them all now.  Narrow it down to 1.  Start ranking your objectives from above.  Keep in mind that goals are different from benefits, but we often confuse the two.  So if your objective is to become rich, think about why you want that money.  If it’s so you can quit your job so you can travel, then traveling is your benefit, not your goal.  It’s your Big Why that you fall back on when things get challenging.  (Achieving your Big Goal will be challenging, since most worthwhile endeavors are non-linear and require new skills).  From there, choose the action that unlocks the benefits.  Start with the end and work backward.  

Say you desire the benefit of traveling more.  To do that, you need the benefit of time.  To enable more time, you need the benefit of passive income that at least covers your flight & living expenses.  To get that passive income, you need to either have your investment income generate it or create a side hustle.  Or you just become a vagabond.  Which of those is the better choice for you?  

Go back to your Ability, Affinity, and Opportunity (AAO) analysis.  Let’s say you’re interested in investing [affinity], but you don’t know how [no ability].  You also have no savings and aren’t in a high paying job [no opportunity].  To you, getting an MBA, JD, or MD is a non-starter.  That means passive income from investments is decades off, but you don’t want to wait that long to travel.  

So working backward with your AAO in mind, if you were this person, you’d choose a side hustle.  Which one?  There are many out there, but a word of wisdom:  make sure it is scalable.  This means that it has the potential to make you money even while you sleep (or travel).  So scratch off dog walking and babysitting.  You could buy a business or a rental property, but that takes money you might not have.  So now you’re down to scalable side hustles that require less start-up capital.  Two examples are blogging and e-commerce.  So if you were this person, your goal would be something like, “Create online business that generates at least $50,000 a year.”  

Step 3. The 3 “R”s—Rewards, Risks, and Rules

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”—T. S. Eliot

You’ve made significant progress by identifying your Big Goal.  Now you’re close to entering the game, but you need to figure out if it’s worth it to you.  Your next step is an analysis of the 3 “R”s:  the Rewards, Risks, and Rules.

  • Rewards:  These are your benefits.  Why revisit and expand on the benefits?  Because they help us dream and keep us motivated through the challenging times.

  • Risks:  What can you stand to lose?  If creating this side hustle takes your evenings and missing out on your favorite TV shows for a couple of years while you build it up, is it worth it to you?  What if you never generate enough passive income?  Is the pain of that “wasted” time so much that you’re not willing to risk it?  Then don’t waste your marbles here.  Find a new goal.  

  • Rules & Rule-makers:  What are the rules of the game and who makes the rules?  For example, in your current job, finishing your projects adequately and on time may be the rules.  Your boss makes them.  In something less structured like a side hustle, this is harder to discern.  Sometimes rules are hidden in plain sight, like a children’s word search.  All you need to do is train your eye to look for them.  Step 4 will help sharpen your eye.  For example, you may think the rule to blogging is putting up good content.  It’s not.  You might be surprised when you take a deeper look.


Rule-makers are the gatekeepers to your success.  Continuing with the example of blogging, the rule-makers of your time are your loved ones.  Can you get their buy in to allow you a few hours a night to work on your blog?  The rule-makers of your guest blogging are other bloggers.  If the rule-maker’s interests don’t match or run counter to yours, either figure out how to make it work or go back to step 1 for a different game to play.  Step 6 will help you find out how to specifically identify them and get them on your side. You may like the rewards, and the risks are acceptable, but if you can’t or don’t want to play by the rules or with the rule-makers, then you won’t capture the rewards.

Now that you’ve completed your 3 “R”s analysis, is it worth it to put your 100 marbles in achieving this goal?  

Step 4.  Look Around, Look Around

“There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”—Colin Powell

Everything is out there for you to replicate if you know where to look.  How do you do that?  Find at least 5 people who have successfully achieved your Big Goal and…ignore what they say.  Sometimes they don’t want to reveal their “secret sauce,” other times, they don’t even know themselves.  Instead, look at what they do.  How do they spend their own 100 marbles?  

Now, since you can’t follow them around you won’t know for sure, but you can get a good proxy.  Chances are when you figure out what these people or businesses all do well, you know how they’ve been spending their marbles.  You’ve discovered the open secret.  

Most often, if your goal is to start something with the intent of making money, two good factors to start with are time and marketing.

  • Time:  Can you, or will you allocate the sufficient amount of time to develop new skills?  There is this dream of a side hustle that magically becomes successful with no work.  That’s a fantasy—not a goal.  If you can’t make the time, then you’ve disqualified yourself from the game.  Successful Big Goal achievers make great use of their time.
  • Marketing:  To have a business, you need customers.  How do you get them?  Marketing.  Marketing looks different for each endeavor, so a large part of your time allocation should be spent on learning how to do marketing the way the big bloggers do.  Yes, they’re great at social media.  Yes, you can find their guest blog posts everywhere.  But they’re also great at getting other people to promote their courses and products for them.  How?  They’ve figured out how to get other people to use their 100 marbles on their behalf.  How do you do that?  We’ll cover it in Step 6.

Time to plot out your own chart:

  1. Fill out the 4 factors you believe you need to have to be successful in achieving your Big Goal.  For a blog, factors could be things like time, marketing, writing, etc.
  2. Now, look around to at least 5 examples of successful people or businesses, and rank the average of them by each factor on a scale of “Great,” “Just OK,” and “Meh” with an “x.”  Chances are, a pattern will emerge.
  3. Now, using your AAO analysis of yourself, plot yourself with a “y.”  

Don’t be a Sisy(phus):  This chart should show you the rules of the game and the gap in abilities and resources you need to play competitively.  You might discover that in order to play the game, you need to be great at a factor that you neither have affinity for nor desire to do or learn.  You don’t want to pay to outsource it either.  This tinkering produced valuable feedback.  Unlike Sisyphus, doomed to rolling a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll down, you can opt out of futile games.  We’ll show you how to decide when to quit in  Step 12.

But if—armed with this perspective—you’re emboldened to press forward, the next step is to set your strategy. 

Want the Rest of the Guide?

Get the last 8 Steps, which includes topics like “Setting Your Strategy,” “Mapping the Future,” “Reducing Your Risk,” and “How to Deal with Fear of Failure” in the complete FREE 17-page guide.  Start achieving your goals today!

Tired of waiting for “someday?”  You have a dream you’d like to come true, but going for it seems too scary.  So how do you do it?  This FREE 17-Page Guide is exclusively for subscribers. It will help you clarify your goal and develop a plan that will maximize your chance of achieving it.


We’ll also let you know as we come out with additional guides and tools, so you won’t miss a thing!


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  • Beth April 27, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Wow you’ve put a lot of work into that! Looks like there is very wise advice on there. I’m nor sure if I have signed up already, but I’d like to receive the rest of the document.

    • JT April 27, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Absolutely Beth! I just sent it. Let me know if you haven’t seen it in your inbox.

  • Heidi November 11, 2017 at 4:40 am

    Would love to get the 17 page steps! Such an inspiration. Thanks

    • JT November 11, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Hello Heidi! Thanks for dropping by and signing up for it. You should have seen it by now. If you haven’t, let me know at

      To your success!


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