Expect January not to disappoint when it comes to clichés: hangovers of foods and drinks and parties, too much of too many people; going back to work after what the French call “the confectioners’ truce”, i.e. that time of the year where everyone seems to agree to chill;


The pressure of the “New Year / New You”… don’t think you’ll escape this one: new detox, new fitness program, new course and all sorts of new “New Year resolutions”.

So here we go again, just out of December’s resolution to slow down a notch, racing to set all sorts of new goals…

Starting with…

“I will not binge on reality shows and I commit to limit my Netflix time to 1 hour a day” (comment: it will not happen)

“I will resume my fitness routine” (add the word “again”)

“I will eat healthfully” (right, who’s in for some leftover panettone?)

I will do this and that. And pressure and more pressure on self, as if there weren’t enough of it already.

Humor me, please: comes February, how many of these goals do you think will still be a today’s news? … yep, I thought so!.

Sarcastic comments aside, setting goals can be a real good idea.  But a goal is just wishful thinking until we take the first step.

The $100 question is: why do we have so much trouble staying on track and how can we change our perception that goals are something that we must/should do, to seeing them as one of the many tools we choose to gather on our way to a better life?.

Setting goals = waste of time?

 Can setting goals be anything else than a massive waste of time?.  Duh!


Why do we feel the need to set goals?

We set goals because, as humans, we like to know where we’re going.  Our brains loathe uncertainty, hence goal-setting is nothing more than a way to tell ourselves” “I know where I want to go, I am in charge, dear brain, this is our plan together, step by step”.

Setting goals is also a healthy way to:

1/ verbalizing and setting our intentions in writing.  If our objectives are not visible somewhere, they are no different from just an illusion or a dream.  When we put our desires on paper, we make a mental commitment to ourselves, that we heard the inner inspiration and that we are ready to look into it in more detail.

2/ making it more than just wishful thinking.  Let’s take the exercise a step further.  When we set goals, we give our brains something to chew on for the longer run.

Because we asked our brains to focus on a certain (limited) set of topics, all of a sudden, we start noticing new information and ideas around us, which in turn, will make us more open to identifying opportunities. Even in the most unexpected places. 

3/ training our brain to notice our successes more often than what it perceives as failures.

That’s right! the more you show your brain that, yes, I can do it and yes, I did it, the more your brain will get you out of the self-fulfilling prophecies of noticing all the wrongs that happened in the past.

I can bet you that you can have 99 great things happening to you on a day, and yet, when you get home at night, what you will mainly remember and talk about is that 1 event that annoyed you; am I wrong here?

Let’s try my theory. Do this exercise with me.  Note on a piece of paper how many good things happened today so far, from the tiniest – yay!, the train was on time, to the biggest event of the day.

Put that paper out of sight and carry on with your day as usual.

Go home and during your commute, notice what is your key takeaway from the day.

If your day was all good, I commend you for knowing how to zen your life.  Otherwise, you might notice that your brain is still playing that annoying conversation with a colleague or rehashing how you could have done this and that better.

It’s not you, it’s your brain.

And as always, the more conscious you are about how it will trick you into feeling yucky, the less you’ll allow it.

As you direct your brain to notice every time you have reached a step, a milestone, and a goal, you will also be more prone to stop the self-defeating talk and give yourself an injection of mega self-confidence.

Now remains the question of why we set all these New Me Goals and then abandon them in an Old Me Second?


Why do we fail to launch?


Oh so many reasons…mainly because we go all crazy and unrealistically grandiloquent on ourselves, so when we think we are setting goals, the only thing we are actually doing is setting ourselves to fail.

Here is how.

“Dream Big”, says Mr. or Mrs .Big Guru.

And frankly why not, let’s go crazy!

I want by December of this new year 

  • To bring my business from a Startup to a Forbes 500.
  • To squeeze into my high school skinny jeans
  • To find the One and Marry them and have everything that I said I would have by the time I am [xx].
  • To have a Mac Mansion in the burbs, my house on the shore, my chalet in the mountains and my pied-à-terre in Paris.
  • To have my bank account double every month.

Oh and…

  • To be happy and wealthy and healthy too.

So ok, you’ll tell me, what’s wrong with wanting all of that?.

Nothing, au contraire, go for it! Don’t play small, be ambitious, know your value and go and get it, Tiger!.

The trouble is that all this remains quite unrealistic.  And what is unrealistic will mean that your brain will see it as the Everest to climb, and instead of getting the map out, it will start freaking out big time…and guess what…bye, bye dreams and hello procrastination!.

And it doesn’t end there…there is double trouble in utopia.

When we set goals because

1/ we have to, after all, everyone does it, so I should too…


2/ when we have no real idea why we want what we want, aside from the fact that it will make my spouse/parent/kid/partner/boss happy (or something outside us).

This bird of paradise will not fly high.

As soon as your loved one will get on your nerves, you’ll drop the goal as a “punishment” to them, and you know where I am going here, the only one who’ll get punished is you…

We cannot let that happen!.


The (Sm)Art of Goal Setting


Let’s start by the obvious question

1/ Why do you want what you want?


This is the most critical step.  Do not skip it.  Do not botch it.  Work with a coach, ask a friend to help you or be your own coach, ask yourself as many iterations of the “why?” as needed; until you get to the real, deep and quite often, unconscious reasons behind your motivation.

Once you are at peace with it, things will flow much more naturally and without resistance.

Let’s remember that cardinal rule: a happy unconscious mind = a more at peace you.

2/ Smart is Sexy


Yeah I know, you’ve heard it before.  And it’s still true, setting S.M.A.R.T goals will put team sabotage in your camp.  No one can refuse that offer.  Here is the how.

First and foremost, start by the big picture then repeat the process for smaller chunked down goals: Let’s take the example of “I want to make more money next year” throughout this exercise.

S.M.A.R.T – Specific/significant, Measurable/meaningful, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

So how does this translate?.

For the big picture, it would mean: I want to increase my revenues by 15% by the end of the year.

This is a specific goal, quantifiable (15%), attainable (we will see how in the next paragraph), relevant to you (well, earning more is relevant to everyone, the important part is your why, and this is the reason why you will always start by what motivates you), and finally, you have given yourself a deadline.

All well and good in the kingdom of the dreamers.

Now how can you make it a reality?

By making smaller and as smart goals.  This is also how you will train your brain to see your goals as within your own reach, i.e. attainable.

Each month, you can work on a new set of goals aligned with the bigger goals, but also adjusted after the previous months’ outcome.  Life happens, we survive by adapting, not but fighting against it.


3/ The Ws to the Power of Five


For our goal, chunking it down could mean starting a new line of smart goals with the help of team “Five W”: I give you Why/What/Where/When/Who… in no particular order.

Making it all real, this is how it would work for our big goal.

Why = we already got that established

What can you do this month to make more money? Offer something new to your customers?  Market to a new segment? Or perhaps just cut more costs? 

Then Where / When will this offer take place? Social media, Trade events, Ads…

And Who will do what, who can you work with, a new partnership?.

Remember to make those s.m.a.r.t. too!

One last word from the (not-so) wise: it’s 100% ok not to set goals and to want to live your life as it comes.

We live in cultures that are mainly result-oriented.  This is how we start defining ourselves by our titles, jobs and bank accounts. So if you’re not amongst those high achievers, rest assured you are by far not alone!.

And, contrary to what we think, when we decide to live consciously, we actually achieve as much, without needing to label anything as a “goal”.

For example, when it comes to personal growth, when we decide not to let something bothering us again, we mentally start searching for ways to make it go away.  This is how we start noticing patterns and behaviors and then take action, internal and external, to get it out of our system.

That, too, is progress and advancing in life!.


I found the One and Only (Goal)


My lifetime goal.

Is to “Know Thyself”.

Because we can start making crazy plans, but nothing will ever happen if we don’t know 1/ why we want what we want, and 2/ how to get it in an efficient manner, i.e. using our own skills, talents, resources etc to get there.  We addressed the why previously, let’s talk about your own treasure chest. 

Introducing Ms / Mr. Right


That’s you!.

Take the time this year to examine who you are. Without judging anything as being good or bad.

We are all multifaceted.

We can be quick at beating yourselves up for never being perfect, a.k.a conform to what our environment is expecting from us.  But the truth is that every one of us has our own golden aura and a dark side.

Having a short fuse may sound awful in an environment of suppressing and anger management anything;  but if you are aware of your triggers and can manage your emotions before they become outbursts, then you can also channel this anger in order to get your message across in a firm and unapologetic way. 

Another example: being a team player is great, sure!.  But how many times putting other people’s needs and wants before yours prevented you from getting what you actually really deserved?.

Here is a truth that will sound cheesy, but think about it: You are perfectly fine the way you are.  What is not fine is when you are not in control of your thoughts and behaviors. When your life is run by your emotions, rather than by you, using them to get what you want.

How do you get to know yourself (better)?

In the era of everything streamed online, from the conventional therapies to self-help books and other movies, there is no shortage of choice.  I have compiled a manageable tiny 6 suggestions for the year to come.


The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz


If there is one book to read this year, make it this one.  And it’s a short and easy read.

What is it about?

don Miguel Ruiz explains the recipe for a life without guilt and shame, in four steps.

  1. Be Impeccable with your Word, 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally, 3. Don’t Make Assumptions, 4. Always Do Your Best.

How will it change your life? 

Imagine this ideal conversation.  You say what you want, in a confident and kind and compassionate way.  The other person replies, in the same way.

You are not making assumptions about what they might be thinking or what their words imply.  You take everything at face value, as the other person is only expressing their views of their own world and environment.

Throughout, you listened and replied with integrity, without a hidden agenda; you did your best to facilitate the dialogue; there was no room for misunderstanding.

You both took responsibility for your own wants.  No shouting, no race for world domination, nada. Only 2 people talking.  Yay to that!.

Now how can you extend these four agreements to other parts of your life?.

The key here is that you are taking responsibility for your own behavior.  You did your best.  If the outcome wasn’t what was expected, there is nothing to beat yourself up about, you cannot control anything outside yourself.

Sounds good, right?.


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Oh boy, this is heavy stuff. It took me several years to have the courage to open the book and read it. And I am glad I finally did.

What is it about?

Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist chronicles his years in a German concentration camp.  And gives all of us a lesson of hope and resilience.  To this day, I am still floored by his humanity and his compassion.

How will it change your life? 

Where do I begin? The courage, the kindness, the vision, the personal philosophy.  This book will change how you look at your life. Because for Frankl, as humans, we can adapt to anything, we can live in the worst conditions ever and yet keep our identity and our integrity.

How? By knowing the “why” of what we do.  When we have a purpose, something to hang on to, we can put up with almost everything. When your life has a meaning, when you act out of love and compassion, you create hope.  And when there is hope (and motivation), everything is possible, even under the most horrifying circumstances.

Find your ‘why”, understand your motivations and see how certain things become much more bearable when you know they are just a means to an end that you have decided upon.

Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series)

Of all the TV series and movies that I have watched over my quite long career as a potato couch, Galactica 2004 is among the (very) few that I have re-watched several times now. And each time, I discover new meanings and new teachings.  Go figure!

What is it about?

What happens when there are less than 50,000 humans remaining after a nuclear attack, orchestrated by highly intelligent machines who rebelled against their makers?.

Panic, chaos, despair, numbness; and all 5 stages of grief: the initial denial of the event, the anger that precedes the finger pointing, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, and finally, acceptance and resignation that this is the way things will be going forward.

And the only thing to do is to live with what is, to be prepared and continue life day after day.

How will it change your life? 

Are you a master at conflict avoidance? This is for you.  Because conflicts, you will have plenty of it.  And I am not only talking about wars with those not-like-us-who-hate-us.

There is the conflict between different philosophies of being, between opinions; between personal and community’s interests.  And then there is that inner conflict.

The writers did a fantastic job at creating depth in the personalities and in the situations.

Conflict resolution, teamwork, acceptance, tolerance and toleration of others are at the heart of this series.

And plenty of examples to model in real life.


The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight

So you followed the guidelines of the “Four Agreements” and you did your best, you acted with integrity and now you are thinking: “I am still scared people will not like it”.

Do you see yourself in a version of this?.  This book is for you.

What is it about?

A copy/paste of the sub-title will explain it all: “How to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do”.

‘nough said!

How will it change your life? 

How liberating it is to know that you are not the center of anyone else’s world but yours (right?)!.

This is what this book is telling you.  Mind your own business, literally.  Don’t pay attention to what you think other people expect from you or think of you. Live your life.

Pay attention to yourself first.  And if someone needs something from you, I am certain they will find a way to ask.

Feels better already, no?.

Boss Baby, The Movie and the Cartoons

Cartoons have this wonderful quality of being able to express certain realities and opinions, and to push all sorts of envelopes without triggering a massive and collective righteous anger.  Boss Baby is among those.  Brace yourself for some grinning and jaw clenching!.

What is it about?

We had Dilbert in the 90s, we have Boss Baby today.  Boss Baby is a toddler whose job is to maintain the popularity of babies in the community.  He is that resourceful, straight-to-the-point guy that everyone calls when executive decisions need to be made and solutions to be found.

How will it change your life? 

And you thought your workplace was the only one with yucky office politics?  Boss Baby gets through all sorts of office shenanigans.

And it feels so good to know that someone else understands the utter nonsense that you have to go through every single day at work.

Humor trumps anger and frustration.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I was recommended that book by a friend.  And it gave me a whole new understanding of certain of my behaviors towards others and why I can get disappointed and frustrated in certain of my relationships.

It all boils down to the way I express my love to others and how I would like them to express theirs to me.

What is it about?

Through his work of counseling hundreds of couples, Gary Chapman derives the concept that we each have a specific way to show our love and how we expect to be shown we are loved.

He identified 5 “languages” and each of us has a primary and a secondary language of love.

These are: Words of affirmation (you are awesome!, Thank you!), Gifts, Acts of Service (helping out at home for example), Quality time (spending time together without the iPhone), and Physical touch.

How will it change your life? 

When you can tell your spouse what makes you feel good, you help them out of the painful guesswork, the misunderstandings, the disappointments, and bring in real communication and intimacy. It’s really that easy!

What other books or movies changed your life for the better?