How do Bill Gates, Tim Ferris, Marie Forleo and Brendon Burchard review 2019 and/or set goals for 2020?



Oh yes, it’s that time of year again where we ponder our 2020 goals, dream big for the year ahead, and convince ourselves we will do more exercise and eat less chocolate (or maybe that’s just me!).


I’m on a personal mission to raise my game to the next level in 2020 and for inspiration I started researching what some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris and Brendon Burchard do to set goals for the year ahead. I also looked for common themes and clues to successful goal setting.


The first thing I found on my ‘goal hunt’ was research by Dr. Gal Matthews showing that we are 42 percent more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.


That was enough to get me running for a new journal ready to write down my goals (any excuse for more stationery!).


Tony Robbins is an avid believer in goal settings as he sees it as the first step to achieving them.


“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”. Tony Robbins


A surprising finding was that many of the most successful entrepreneurs had abandoned goal setting in favour of past year reviews.

Tim Ferris:

Tim Ferris is an American Entrepreneur, author of 4 hour work week and creator of #1 business podcast of all Apple Podcasts (The Tim Ferriss Show )

Tim Ferris no longer makes New Year’s resolutions after decades of doing them. He’s found past year reviews more effective.

Tim reviews the past year on a notepad of two columns, positive and negative. Then goes over his calendar for the year noting people, activities or commitments that trigger a positive or negative emotion for the month.

Tim then reviews “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?”

Based on the analysis he schedules more of the positives in his calendar now, prepays for bookings/tickets, schedule time with those people and sets those commitments now.  The negatives go on a “not to do list”.

To get started and do Tim’s exercise grab a piece of paper and a pen then click here

Bill Gates:

The founder of Microsoft surely needs no introduction?

Bill Gates likewise no longer makes New Year’s Resolutions and reflects on the previous year. He reflects on his biggest successes and where he could have done better.

“Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them”

To learn more about Bill’s approach check it out here.

Melinda Gates takes a different approach and has a word for the year which sets the theme of the year. A previous word was ‘grace’ as an example.

Marie Forleo:

Marie is one of my favourite entrepreneurs to follow and was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation. 

Marie has been focusing on the end of a decade and reviewing the past 10 years. She also encourages the review to be with friends and family.

Questions she asks include:

  • What am I proud of (from the past decade)?
  • Out of everything achieved what was most important and why?
  • What have I learned over past 10 years?
  • What am I willing and ready to let go of?
  • What’s next? What’s my future in the next decade?

After recently reading Marie Forleo’s book, “Everything is figureoutable” I’ve been inspired into big action with her ten-year test for the next decade by asking myself, “In ten years, will I regret NOT doing this?”

For a step by step guide to do this exercise check out Marie’s short videos here.


Brendon Burchard:

Brendon Burchard who is one of the world’s top experts on high performance and author of High Performance Habits focusses heavily on goal setting and then breaking down goals by quarter, by week and into daily goals.

“You should never start a Monday without clarity of what should be done by Friday” Brendon Burchard

I liked Brendon’s mantra of raise your ambitions and deepen your discipline!

I’ve started using Brendon’s high-performance planner to help with this process.

To read more on Brendon’s approach and complete his exercises click here.  

My own:

After all that searching and reading here was what I ended up testing out:

Journaling some of the questions above as they were very thought-provoking and worked really well. I loved Tim’s ‘not to do list’.

I reviewed 2019 via a process of start, stop, keep doing which a former manager taught me.

I review what I need to start doing that perhaps I’ve been meaning to do and will get me to my goals, what I need to stop doing as it isn’t working or no longer serving me, and finally what I need to keep doing as it is working well and double down on it.

As examples (and for the ultimate public accountability!) I will start a podcast which I’ve been nervous as hell about. I will stop some of the inefficiencies in the business eg death by email, and I will keep doing (and double down on) public speaking as this has fast become something I truly enjoy and works really well for lead generation.

I’ve set my 2020 goals for the business via the 4 Disciplines of Execution methodology with one wildly important goal and 3 sub goals which will help me achieve my wildly important goal. For more on this methodology check out my recent article. 

I set my broader 2020 goals by the areas of my life which are important to me eg health & fitness, financial, family, work etc.

Finally, I’m working on a new vision board which is something I wanted to get back into as part of my morning routine (subject to baby sleeping!).

For more on my approach to setting business goals and creating a fast start to 2020 download my 2020 fast start checklist here.

Common themes:

Whilst each entrepreneur I read about had a different approach, the common theme was that everyone took the time to do some sort of check point and review. The other theme was that everyone ensured they were emotionally invested in what they are doing.

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