• Zack McCarty

9 strategies to get sh@t done in 2021

Morning Finishers,

Raise your hand if you have ever set a new years goal that you didn’t complete. Ok now keep your hand raised if you’ve ever quit a new year’s goal before June. Before March? How about February? Now raise your hand if you set a goal on January 1 that you quit in the first week?

Setting goals at the start of a new year is a fad. Everyone does it. This year alone more than 74% of the entire US population will start Jan 1 on a new mission to do something great. But, you already know what happens next.

Humans tend to suck at goals

80% of those resolutions will fail before the second week of February. We get our fix of self-improvement by just saying the goal out loud and then immediately stop pursuing it. The second it becomes challenging, inconvenient, or time-consuming we realize we didn’t care that much about it in the first place. I wasn’t shocked at all to read that 25% of people that set resolutions don’t even think achieving them is possible. Huh?

In last week’s Mug Thoughts, I talked about the importance of setting goals. If you missed it, start there before you read the rest of this piece.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t feel great about having unfinished resolutions. I catch myself judging those that don’t pursue their goals when I am very much included in that group.

I’ve said I was going to learn the piano, save $10k in a year, read a book a month, and countless other things that I didn’t end up doing. It’s normal and forgivable. I get that. But here’s the thing about me…I don’t want to be remembered as “normal.”

So here’s my resolution for this year: Complete 100% of my goals for 2021

What are my goals for this year?

  1. Run a 100-mile race

  2. Write 365 journal entries

  3. Hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

  4. Organize a team for a Ragnar Relay

  5. Grow M1F to 100 paid subscribers

Most of you will say this isn’t possible, and that’s completely fine with me. I’ve seen impossible proven wrong many a time. I know it’s possible. I will make it possible.

My 2021 Challenge for you

I know you have goals. They might be big, or they might be small, but I know you have them. Here’s my challenge to you this year: Don’t be the 80%. Don’t allow yourself to give up before you even get started. Pick the goal(s) that means the most to you, and don’t settle for anything less than finishing it. Will it be hard? Of course. That’s why most people don’t do it. I promise you can though.

I want you to take this challenge seriously. Keep your promises to yourself this year. To ensure that you do, I’ve put together a list of 9 methods and tools I’ve seen effectively help people reach their goals. Many of these things I’ve done and some I’ve witnessed through other people.

At least one of them will work for you if you choose to truly embrace it. Read the list, pick a place to start, and if it isn’t working out, try another one. Whatever you do…don’t quit. I know you are capable of doing hard things. This year, you deserve to realize that too.

Start with “why”

You know what the goal is…but why is this your goal? What is your purpose, cause, or belief? What would it mean to you if you completed this goal? What is your why?

You have to start with why, otherwise you are bound to fail. This ideology comes from an author and motivational speaker named Simon Sinnek who discusses this theory on one of the most-watched Ted Talks of all time.

Watch the youtube video HERE

Without knowing your “why” you won’t have the conviction and passion you need to complete the goal. In short, you won’t care enough. If you don’t care, why call it a goal in the first place?

Create a plan

So we have the goal and the “why” behind it. Now let’s figure out how to get there.

We can’t complete our goals overnight. If we could, then we didn’t set the right goal. There is a development of habits that has to happen before we can even think about accomplishing our goals.

  • If you want to lose weight, you have to build healthy eating habits

  • If you want to travel the world, you have to build better financial saving habits.

  • If you want to train for a marathon, you better signup for M1F…I mean make running more of a habit.

This habit doesn’t just magically happen, however. While most believe habits take 21 days to form, the true science says that it can take anywhere from 2-8 months of dedicated work for a habit to become automatic.

If you have any shot of building the habits that lead to your goal, you need a plan. Start at your desired outcome and work backward.

  • What smaller goals do you need to complete in order to complete your big one?

  • What milestones should you hit along the way?

  • How long do you have to complete this?

  • Where do you start?

Think about this stuff, and WRITE. IT. DOWN. Dedicate a journal to your goal and scribble this stuff out. If you’re an Excel nerd like me, make a spreadsheet that outlines this plan. Draw yourself a treasure map that leads you down the path of success and refer to it daily.

Unsure of what the plan should be? Keep reading! By the end of this post you’ll figure out where to start.

Accountability Mirror

This is a method I picked up from David Goggins, an ex-NAVY SEAL and ultrarunning freak of nature, in his book Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds (I couldn’t recommend this book more).

Put your goals on a sticky note, and put them on your bathroom mirror. Each morning when you face yourself in the mirror you’ll be reminded of those goals that you set for yourself. Look at the person staring back at you. Are you proud of this person? Spend this time with yourself, reflect on where you are at with these goals, and figure out what you need to do next.

Make this part of your early morning routine and I promise you’ll learn to be very proud of the person staring back at you.

Set the date

This works 100% of the time for me. Give yourself a hard deadline on your goal, and put it in your calendar. Without a stopping point, you won’t prioritize your goal because you’ll never feel like you have to. Something we’ll do “eventually” is not important to us.

Here’s an example. The 100-mile race I will run is on Oct 31st. I know that I only have until that day to train for a 100-mile race. Because my time is limited, I will prioritize my training now. If I don’t…well I’ll be screwed for it 😐

Don’t just say you’re going to do something, PICK the day you’re going to do it!

Vision Board

To be the goal, you have to see the goal. A visual reminder of your goal will help you stay committed and reinforce the daily habits required to complete it. A vision board is a great way of going about this.

A vision board is a simple collage of photos, magazines, quotes, or anything else you can think of that remind you of your goals. Use it to paint a picture of what life will be like when you complete your goal. You have to see yourself completing the goal and believe it’s truly possible before you ever will.

Accountability Bet

This year, two of my friends made a $10,000 bet on both of them completing a marathon. When I first heard about this, I thought they were absolutely insane. Fast forward to now, both of them having completed the 26.2-mile quest, I actually think they unlocked something incredibly powerful.

We are a competitive species as humans. We hate to lose, and we especially hate losing to our friends. If you can’t motivate yourself to reach your goals, maybe a friendly wager will do the trick.

Find someone with the same goal as you. Come up with a bet that makes you both uncomfortable. It could be money-related, or it could be something else. Format the bet in a way that no one gets punished if you both complete the bet, but if someone doesn’t, they pay the price.

The bet that my friends made was as follows:

  • Both will attempt to run a marathon (26.2 miles)

  • If both finish the marathon within 1.5 hours of each other, no one pays

  • If one person finishes more than 1.5 hours ahead, the other person pays $10,000

The 1.5-hour buffer was to ensure the other person didn’t walk the whole thing and actually gave their best effort. Neither of them had that money to lose, so both of them worked their butts off to make sure they didn’t have to. What seemed very crazy at first now seems incredibly genius, and I encourage you to find a friend to do the same with.

Ulysses Pact

This is a new concept for me, but one I came across and really liked.

In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Ulysses and his men must sail past the Sirens, beautiful women who sing such enchanting songs that any man who hears their voice will do nothing but sit and listen to the sirens’ song and eventually die. To overcome this temptation, he’s advised to have his men fill their ears with wax so they can steer the ship, and bind Ulysses to the mast until they sail past the Sirens.

This renowned scene from the Odyssey is an example of how we as humans can commit to a decision BEFORE we have to make it by putting things in place to ensure that we do.

Think about automated bill paying. To ensure you pay on time, every time, you make a decision to forego that amount automatically each month.

We all face countless temptations on a daily basis that keep up us away from what we SHOULD be doing. I’ll bet you could actually pinpoint what your biggest temptations are. Well if you know what they are, what if you did something to stop them?


Goal: You want to lose weight

Temptation: You love eating cheese balls and twinkies as a snack

Ulysses Pact: Don’t buy cheese balls or twinkies when you grocery shop

Goal: You want to run 3x a week

Temptation: You spend your mornings scrolling through Instagram in bed

Ulysses Pact: Leave your phone and running shoes in the living room the night before

Get a coach

You don’t have to do it alone. Maybe what you need is an expert that tells you exactly what you need to do to complete your goals. Find someone that is teaching others how to do what you want to do and see if they’re interested in teaching you.

We trust coaches more for two reasons

  1. We feel obligated - If your coach is a professional they probably aren’t cheap. Hiring a personal coach is a big investment financially and might help you stay committed. Alternatively, your coach may just be doing you a favor. You’ll feel guilty or ungrateful if you waste their time, so instead, you make the extra effort.

  2. They’ve already done it - Coaches help provide a clear path to your goal because they’ve either done it themselves or have helped other people do it.

No matter what your goals are, there is someone out there that is willing to coach you. Maybe they coach professionally and you can just signup. Maybe your coach is a friend or family member that is willing to teach. Just find someone, and commit.

Shameless Plug: Need an inexpensive running coach? I got you, just click here.

Track your progress

Completing a goal is all about the journey, and there are things you can do to keep yourself on course. Refer to the plan that you created, or the plan someone created for you, and keep track of how often you stick to it.

Let’s say your goal is to drink 1 gallon of water every day. How will you know you completed the goal unless you are tracking it? You can do this on paper, track it on a spreadsheet, or leverage other applications to do it for you.

Two apps I found very helpful for goal / habit tracking are Strides and Streaks.

Strides is cool in that you can customize what you want to track and how you want to track it. The app provides daily reminders, high-level analytics, and an all in one dashboard that helps you visualize how you are tracking. Finally, Strides includes a template for goal-setting that can help you build a plan of attack to reach your goals.

Remember snapchat streaks? Well now you can build a streak of self improvement. Streaks won an award from Apple back in 2016 for it’s simple yet elegant design. It does one thing very well: it helps you build a habit. You can add up to 6 goals, and streaks will track how many days in a row you complete it. If simple is what you’re looking for, this is for sure your app.

Find the thing that works for you

Well there you have it. This is everything I know about completing goals. Unfortunately, most people won’t read this far into the newsletter. For those that do, I would bet that 99% of them don’t even try a single thing on this list.

So for this week, I focus my message on the 1% of you that DO read this newsletter and DO accept my challenge to complete your goals in 2021. Whether that goal is running related or not, know that I’m here to support you every step of the way. Reply to this post what your goal might be, and let me help hold you accountable to it.

You heard what my goals are, and I expect you to hold me accountable to those as well. We’re all this together people. Let’s make 2021 the most accomplished one yet.



P.S. Shout out to Nathan for gifting me the new mug!