Make All Your New Year’s Goals Come True by Following My Easy 6-Step System

Now that the holidays are coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you could have done better and what you hope to achieve in the new year.

It doesn’t matter how 2017 has gone for you, 2018 holds tons of new possibilities. All you have to do is think of what you want to do or have in your life and then choose to make it happen.

I know it’s easy to muse about making more money, getting in better shape, or having the relationship of your dreams. But actually figuring out how to make those dreams a reality is a lot more challenging.

That’s why I came up with a goal-setting framework that teaches you how to create a plan for achieving almost anything you want in life.

My process includes six basic steps, along with a few different ways to proceed so you can pick the option that feels the best to you. You’ll find everything you need to know in this post, but I did also write a book, which goes into a lot more detail about the system.

(Take Control of Your Life: A 2-hour plan to help you set and reach your goals)

But, again, everything you need to know is right here.

That said, let’s get started!

My 6-Step, Goal-Setting Process

1. Figure out what you really want.

Time spent: 30-60 minutes

I encourage you to take your time with this first step so you can be completely clear about your goals and why they matter to you. I’ve found that the following two options are good ways to go about defining your goals:

  1. Figure out how you want to feel and then define your goals accordingly (this is the option I prefer).
  2. Choose your goals and then decide how you want to feel while working to achieve them.

Step 1a – Using the #1 from above, figure out how you want to feel.

We create goals because we’re chasing feelings. For example, maybe you want to earn more money because you want to feel secure. Or maybe you want to write a book so you can feel respected and smart. Whatever the case may be, figuring out how you want to feel helps set the tone for how you can achieve your goals.

Here are three ways to help identify which feelings feel the best to you:

Option 1 – Think about how you feel when you’re at your peak. What feelings do you associate with feeling your best (e.g. clear-headed, energetic, accomplished, connected)?

Option 2 – Think about what your ideal day looks like. What feelings do you experience while having your perfect day?

Option 3 – Think about your happiest memories. What feelings do you associate with these memories?

After using one or more of these prompts, narrow down your list of desired feelings to your top 1-5.

Step 1b – Create your “rough draft” goals.

After establishing how you want to feel, the next step is to create goals around these feelings.

Based on your top 1-5 desired feelings, think about activities or accomplishments that would cause you to experience these feelings. For example, say you want to feel healthier. Here are some activities that could lead to you feeling that way:

  • Running a marathon.
  • Losing 10 pounds.
  • Incorporating more protein and fiber into every meal.

Once you create your lists, circle the activities or accomplishments that resonate most strongly. Then, narrow down your list to your top 1-3 goals. Choose the goals you’d feel the proudest to achieve and those that are most doable (but still fall a little outside your comfort zone).

Step 1c: Make your goals measurable and include a timeline.

Now it’s time to tightly define your goals and give them specific timelines. There are two ways you can do this, depending on the type of goal you’re working towards:

  • Create a super-specific outcome goal (e.g. to be earning $5K in passive income every month by next year)
  • Or make a “take the right action” goal (e.g. to go for a run three times a week)

You also want your goals to be measurable.

The first example is easy: this goal is measured by the amount of money you’re earning. And you can measure the second goal in terms of the distance you run or how fast you can run a mile.

2. Brainstorm how to get there.

Time spent: 10 minutes

Start by listing all the ways you can achieve your goals. Let’s stick to the example above and say your goal is to earn $5K a month in passive income by next year.

Well, there are a ton of ways to make this happen.

For instance, you could create a membership site that has at least 250 members who pay you $20 a month. You could look for a sales job that pays commission or you could make jewelry or artwork to sell on Etsy.

Let your brain expand and think outside the box. Write down as many options as you can.

3. Break it down so it all happens on your terms.

Time spent: 10 minutes

In this step, you’re going to take that big list you just created in step #2 and cross off any suggestions you are definitely NOT interested in pursuing.

As you eliminate options, keep in mind the feelings you want to experience as you’re both working towards and achieving your goals. Eliminate any suggestions that contradict those desired feelings.

Once you finish going through your list, review it one more time, weeding out even more options, taking into consideration your skill set and what excites you most.

4. Start mapping it out.

Time spent: 30-45 minutes

After narrowing down your list to a few exciting ways that you can achieve your goal, you need to start breaking things down into actionable pieces. Ask yourself what exactly needs to happen in order for you to accomplish your goal?

For example, if you’re going to create a membership site that has at least 250 members who pay you $20 a month, what steps do you need to take to make that happen?

Basically, you want to reverse-engineer your goal. Start with the big picture and then work your way backward to figure out what the moving parts are.

A helpful strategy is to break your goal down into milestones. For instance, if your goal has a deadline of one year from now, figure out where you want to be in 6 months, then where you want to be in 3 months, and in 1 month (you’ll learn more about creating a schedule in step #5).

If this process feels overwhelming, don’t worry; that’s totally normal, and you should honor that feeling.

Here are some tips that can help you if you start to feel stressed:

  • Break your goal down in a way that you only need to complete 1-3 tasks a day.
  • Plan to outsource any tasks you aren’t comfortable with.
  • Hire a coach to help guide you.
  • Take frequent breaks and practice deep-breathing to stay calm.

5. Schedule your sub-themes.

Time spent: 10 minutes

After determining the steps involved in achieving your goal, you need to create a monthly schedule and set deadlines.

If your goal takes a year to accomplish, that means you have twelve monthly milestones (or mini-goals) to hit.

For example…

Month 1: Figure out the niche you want to be in and set up a website.

Month 2: Create a month’s worth of content for the membership site.

Month 3: Get all the technical pieces up and running. Find twenty initial members.

Month 4: Come up with a plan to continually provide high-quality, unique content that warrants a membership fee.

Month 5: Find 20 more members…

Month 6: Find another 20.

Month 7: Pick up the pace and find 30 more members…

Month 8: And another 30…

Month 9: And another…

Month 10: And another…

Month 11: Find 30 more members and queue up 3 months’ worth of content.

Month 12: Find 40 new members.

Your progress obviously depends on your skill level and the amount of time you have to devote to your goal. But setting milestones is a great strategy to help make overwhelming tasks feel more manageable.

If your goal is still stressing you out, though, don’t worry; you can break things down even further in step #6.

6. Create your daily to-do lists.

Time spent: 10-20 minutes

With your monthly milestones set, it’s time to drill down into your mini-goals and come up with daily to-do lists. I recommend doing this step each time a new month rolls around.

Working with the monthly milestone example from step #5, let’s imagine that your first month’s mini-goal is to figure out which niche you want to be in.

Okay, so here’s one way you might break down this mini-goal:

  • Brainstorm a list of niches that appeal to you.
  • Check which niche is the most profitable.
  • Join five forums or Facebook groups in that niche.
  • Find twenty people willing to converse with you.
  • Ask them what their frustrations in the market are.
  • Come up with potential ideas to solve their problems.
  • Ask them for feedback.

From here, you can set milestones the same way you did in step #5. But instead of twelve monthly milestones, you can set four weekly milestones. That way, it’s easier to come up with an action plan for each day of the week.

Alternatively, you can create a calendar and write down the tasks you want to complete each day.

For example, your first week might look like…

Day 1: Brainstorm a list of 20 potential niches.

Day 2: Review Clickbank.com to see which niches perform the best. Then, whittle your list down to the top 3-5 options.

Day 3: Join five forums or Facebook groups and make two posts in each.

Day 4: Contact ten people to see if they’d be interested in talking to you.

Day 5: Reach out to ten more people.

Day 6: Reach out to another ten (in case some say no).

Day 7: Come up with a rough-draft list of questions you want to ask the people you interview.

When you create a detailed plan of action, it becomes a lot easier to make progress towards your goal because you know exactly what you need to do each day.

Pro Tips

  • Your daily to-do lists shouldn’t include any more than 1-5 items. Your plan should be realistic; plus, you want to prevent burnout.
  • Start working on your most difficult or time-consuming tasks first when you’re at your freshest and most alert.
  • Remember to continue taking small, consistent actions.
  • Stay positive when challenges occur and hold onto the certainty that you WILL accomplish your goal. Don’t let your focus get derailed.
  • Have measurable checkpoints, aka milestones or markers, along the way to help ensure you’re still headed in the right direction.
  • Ask/look for help when you need it (e.g. apps, how-to courses, mentors/coaches, outsourcing).
  • Make choices based on your goals.
  • Hold yourself accountable (e.g. work with a friend, announce your goals on social media, use stickK.com).

Any goal you have can be reverse-engineered — whether it’s to earn $5K a month, lose twenty pounds, or improve your relationship. All you have to do is ask yourself the right questions upfront and create an optimized plan and timeline.

My book

As previously mentioned, you can find more detailed information about my six-step process in my book Take Control of Your Life: A 2-hour plan to help you set and reach your goals, which is available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audio versions.

I really hope you find my goal-setting system useful! Leave a comment below and let me know what your top goals are for 2018!Using this 6-step productivity system, you can achieve all of your New Year's goals!

Here Are 10 Script Templates for Tricky Customer Service Scenarios

Here's what to say to improve your customer service.

Customer service is a necessary component of almost every business. You want to make sure your customers feel satisfied and cared for and like their questions and concerns matter.

On the other hand, though, customer service can be time-consuming and pull you away from other important areas of your business.

So to help strike a balance between nurturing customer relationships and saving time, customer service scripts are useful.

You don’t want all of your customer service to feel like copy-and-paste interactions, though, as that can come across as cold and impersonal. But you do want to think ahead when it comes to tough customer service scenarios (e.g. damaged goods, late arrivals, angry customers, etc.) and have some flexible, POSITIVE, go-to responses at your fingertips.

This way, instead of just copying and pasting cookie-cutter scripts, you have templates for how to respond but also the flexibility to adapt and add a more personal touch, which customers really appreciate.

Below, I present ten common customer service scenarios along with examples of what to say to keep your communication positive, effective, and leaving customers feeling taken care of.

1. What to say when you don’t know the answer…

First of all, don’t worry if you don’t know an answer. The purpose of customer service is to serve and help make things better, not to be infallible and all-knowing.

However, instead of saying “I don’t know,” which doesn’t communicate anything helpful to customers, try repeating the question back to customers and then saying something like…

“Does this mug come in a color-changing option? That’s a great question! Let me find that out and get back to you. Thanks!”

2. What to say when an item is unavailable…

This isn’t a great situation for your business, but you don’t want to highlight the negative in your response. Instead, you want to put a positive spin on things and use positive language.

So rather than saying something like…

“Unfortunately, you can’t order that product right now. It’s back-ordered and unavailable until next month.” (NO!)

…try this instead…

“The product you’re interested in will become available next month. I can place the order for you now and then make sure to have it sent to you as soon as it’s back in stock.” (YES!)

3. What to say when a customer asks a favor (or to be an exception) that you can’t accommodate…

It’s good to be as accommodating as possible, but it has to be within reason. And sometimes, your customers will ask you for favors or special treatment that you just can’t (or shouldn’t) oblige. For these situations, try using the following template as your response:

“As much as I’d like to fulfill all of my customers’ needs and make them as happy as possible, I’m afraid I can’t meet your request. The reason is that [give at least one reason why]. Could I perhaps offer/suggest [provide at least one alternative solution to the problem]? Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to better assist you. Thanks.” 

4. What to say when a product is damaged or late…

This is an unhappy and disappointing event for customers, and showing a little empathy can go a long way. Here are two examples of what you can say:

4a. A product arrives damaged

“I’m so sorry your product arrived damaged! That’s very disappointing! A mistake may have occurred in the manufacturing process, or perhaps your order was damaged during shipping. I will send you a replacement right away, though. And please accept my apologies again for the inconvenience.”

4b. A product is late 

“I’m so sorry your product is late! That’s very disappointing! I’ve checked with the shipping carrier, and according to the tracking number [insert number], your order is due to arrive on [date] so you will have it soon! Please accept my apologies again for the inconvenience.” 

5. What to say to (tactfully) let customers know the mistake was on their end…

We all mess up sometimes. But the last thing you want to do when your customers make mistakes is to rub it in their face or make them feel stupid. So, if a mistake is made that’s your customer’s fault, here’s how to gently let them know and also help them out:

“I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. The problem seems to be due to [explain the problem]. I’ve done this a few times myself before, so I can definitely relate. But the good news is, I’ve resolved the issue for you by [briefly explain how]. I really hope that helps! 

6. What to say when YOU are at fault…

There’ll be times when you make mistakes too. And whenever this happens, you want to own up to it and be transparent. Try saying something like the following:

“I’m very sorry! I made a mistake by [explain what happened]. I am working to fix it as quickly as possible, however. Just please be aware that it may take up to [number of hours/days]. I will follow up with you when I know more. And in the meantime, I thank you for your patience and offer my sincerest apologies once again.”

7. What to say when you’re too swamped to respond…

Ideally, you want to respond to people within twenty-four hours. But, especially during the holidays when everything is ten times crazier than usual, you may need to take a little longer to respond. You don’t want to leave people completely hanging, though, so you can send them an initial response like this…

“Thanks for getting in touch. I do my best to respond within 24 hours. But I am currently away from my computer, so my response time may be slower than usual. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Your questions and feedback are important to me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

8. What to say to point customers to an existing FAQ or tutorial without sounding dismissive…

You create FAQs and tutorials for a reason: namely, to streamline your communication so customers can help themselves without needing to wait for you to respond. Not everyone is going to notice or use your support materials, however.

But you don’t want to let the hard work you put into creating these materials go to waste. So it’s totally fine to point customers towards a FAQ or tutorial. You just don’t want to sound rude or dismissive in doing so.

Here’s what to say:

“Thanks for getting in touch! I actually created a [FAQ/tutorial] for the exact issue you describe. I think you’ll find it very useful. You can find the [FAQ/tutorial] here: [link]. If this doesn’t help resolve your issue, however, please contact me again and I’ll be happy to help.”

9. What to say when ending a conversation…

Whenever you end a conversation with a customer, it’s helpful to convey your willingness to ensure the customer has had a happy experience doing business with you. So try to close your conversations with something like…

“Before signing off, is there anything else I can assist you with today? I’m always happy to help.”

10. What to say to over-the-top angry customers…

This is another time when a lot of empathy comes in handy. When dealing with really angry customers, you want your communication to do four things:

  1. Be apologetic – You absolutely need to say “I’m sorry” (even if the situation isn’t your fault).
  2. Sympathize – Even if you don’t fully understand where a customer is coming from, it’s helpful to say things like, “I understand how upsetting this must be for you.”
  3. Accept responsibility – Again, even if you’re not technically at fault, you are responsible for your customer’s happiness when it comes to your business.
  4. Find a way to help – Coming up with a solution to a customer’s problem is a given, but you also want to aim to have customers who started out angry leave feeling satisfied.

Here’s an example of what you might say to an especially irate customer:

“I’m truly sorry about [the situation at hand]. I understand how upsetting this must be. But I’m going to do everything I can to fix the problem for you. I’m going to [how you’re going to make things better].And I really hope that helps. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to assist you today. I’m always here to help.”

Certain customer service scenarios can be difficult to navigate, so I hope you find these response suggestions useful. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Here's what to say to improve your customer service.

Etsy Profit-Sharing – How We Made a Couple Hundred Bucks (and Counting) By Sending out Some PM’s

How to increase your sales using this easy Etsy profit-sharing technique.

Partnerships can be a fantastic way to increase your sales and tag-team your marketing efforts, thus significantly expanding your reach. And Etsy is a great hub to find people to collaborate with.

You don’t even need to have an Etsy shop yourself. But if you want to find talented designers and artists who’d be willing to let you use their creations on your products, then Etsy is the place to look.

I recently partnered with two Etsy sellers following the process detailed below. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results and so I wanted to share the strategy with you, too.

Basically, how it works is you reach out to Etsy sellers who have designs or artwork you think would look great on your products (mugs, pillow cases, shot glasses, t-shirts, etc.). Then, you form a mutually beneficial partnership in which you create new items to sell using their designs and then give the sellers a cut of the profits each month.

It’s a pretty simple process that can yield significant results, especially if you form multiple partnerships. And below, I go over everything you need to know.

Here’s how the process worked

My assistant ran searches on Etsy for things like paintings, artwork, and print wall art. She also searched for more niche-specific items, such as dog prints and dog watercolors.

Then, after scrolling through the various items, she selected those she thought would make nice designs for my products, including mugs, tumblers, and pillow cases. Next, she contacted the sellers.

You can do this by clicking on the Etsy shop’s name and then clicking “Contact” under where the shop owner’s name is listed on the right-hand side.

How to increase your sales using this easy Etsy profit-sharing technique.

Here is the exact message template we used:

Subject: I love your [product type]!

Hey [first name],

My name is [your name], and I’ll keep this as short as possible since I know your time is valuable. 

I’m reaching out because I absolutely love your [Etsy seller’s product(s)]! And I think a collaboration between our two Etsy stores would be a natural fit and a total win-win. 

My shop is [your shop’s name], and it specializes in [items you sell].

And if we were to put your artwork on [your shop’s name] products, I think it would create something really special that both of our audiences would love. 

Please let me know if this is an opportunity you’d be interested in discussing further. 

Thanks so much!

Best, 
[your name]

What happened next…

Out of the 40 or so people we contacted, 4 sellers said they were interested so we sent them this follow-up message:

Hey [first name],

Thank you for getting back to us! 

Ideally, we’re looking to profit share with you. And the way that would work is you’d give us your design files and we’d put your designs on our mugs, pillow cases, tumblers, etc.

In exchange, we’d give you 20% (because we only have so much profit; we are willing to negotiate, however). And in the product’s description, we would link to your store so our customers could see more of your designs/artwork.

Then, if you could tell your audience that your designs are also available over on our Etsy page, a shout out like that would be great! 

We hope this sounds like a good win-win! What do you think?

Thank you!

Best, 
[your name]

All four sellers ended up agreeing to the 20%. And three out of four agreed to be paid monthly via PayPal (be sure to collect each seller’s PayPal email address). The fourth person wanted to receive checks quarterly instead, though, since she lives in Canada and is unable to receive e-tranfers.

After some more back-and-forth communication, one seller eventually became non-responsive. And after submitting one design to us that we printed on a mug, another seller decided our partnership wasn’t a good fit for her business model after all.

So then we were left with two sellers, both of whom have been great to work with.

Partnering with two fantastic Etsy sellers

Seller #1 has submitted 42 designs (as PNG files) to us so far. And seller #2 has submitted 11.

You can have sellers email you the files, or the sellers can submit them to you via Dropbox or Google docs.

(Note: Seller #1 wanted us to sign a contract laying out some terms to protect her art and Etsy shop. It was all standard and not an issue to sign.)

We put the designs of both seller #1 and seller #2 on mugs to start to see how they’d perform. And at the end of each mug’s description, we included a shout-out to the seller as promised.

Here’s what that shout-out looked like: 

To see more amazing [product type] designs like the one featured on this [product], check out [Etsy seller’s shop name] shop at [Etsy seller’s shop link].

Seller #1’s designs have been performing decently so far. And sales have been picking up lately, most likely thanks to the holiday season.

But for seller #2’s designs, no sales were made in the first month. So we decided to branch out and also put her designs on tumblers and pillow cases. We’ve now seen two pillow case sales come in for her.

Keeping track of sales

My assistant created a spreadsheet to keep track of the following information:

  • Seller name
  • Seller contact info (PayPal email or address if checks are being sent)
  • Seller’s Etsy store name
  • Seller’s Etsy store link (to include in the items’ descriptions)
  • Design name (e.g. Golden retriever watercolor, ‘Hope’ word art)
  • Etsy listing link (the link to the product we created using the seller’s design)
  • Payout percentage (20% unless otherwise noted)
  • Month – Under this column heading and next to the design name, you can note how many of each item was sold, on what date, and for what price (e.g. 1 – 11/25 – $14.95)

Then, at the end of each month, we tally up the total sales made for each seller, multiply that number by .20 (20%), and send that amount to the seller.

We also send the sellers an email to let them know how many of their designs sold and when they can expect their payouts.

Here are the results (so far):

There have been 20 sales so far for a total of $296 in revenue.

  • 2 pillow case – $9.95
  • 13 mugs (11 oz) – $14.95
  • 4 mugs (15 oz) – $17.95
  • 1 mug (15 oz plus shipping) – $24.90

The pillow case sales were under-priced but we still made revenue on every item, even factoring in expenses.

As previously stated, the Etsy sellers get 20% of each sale made. So factoring that in, $248.76 of this total was profit for me.

The consensus

This is a pretty easy strategy to implement. The most time-consuming part was the initial back and forth with the sellers to make sure everyone was on the same page and content with the arrangement.

After that, it takes just 5-10 minutes of work a day (I recommend checking your Etsy orders daily, especially if you have a high sales volume, as doing so helps you stay more organized).

And in case you’re not familiar with how to check your orders, here’s what to do:

  • Login to your Etsy account.
  • Click “Shop Manager.”
  • Go to “Orders.”

How to increase your sales using this easy Etsy profit-sharing technique.

  • Click “All.”
  • Scroll through looking for any orders for one of the Etsy seller’s designs.
  • Note these sales on your spreadsheet.

So, without needing to spend a ton of time — or any money — getting this strategy up and running and maintaining it, I’ve seen an extra $248.76 in profits in around 2 months. And if I were to continue recruiting even more Etsy sellers to profit-share with me, I’m sure I’d see even more revenue.

Both of the Etsy sellers I’ve been working with also said they’d promote the products with their designs to their social media followers — the more sales I make, the more money they make, after all!

This strategy is a total win-win. And overall, I’d say it’s definitely worth trying for yourself.

What do you think? Do you think this Etsy profit-sharing strategy is something you’d like to try? Please leave a comment below and let me know! 

How to increase your sales using this easy Etsy profit-sharing technique.