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Summary: Your Best Year Ever: A Five-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt

  • The book is a self-help guide for people who want to achieve their most important goals and live a life that matters.
  • The book shares the author’s proven system for setting and achieving goals, which he calls the Five Steps to Achieving Your Most Important Goals: believe the possibility, complete the past, design your future, find your why, and make it happen.
  • The book provides practical tips and exercises for each step of the process, as well as examples and stories from the author’s own life and from other successful people.

In “Your Best Year Ever,” leadership expert Michael Hyatt shares his system to help you turn your dreams into realistic goals and then teaches you to take the necessary steps to achieve them. You’ll learn to operate from a mindset of abundance and set yourself up for success by recalibrating your thinking. By using the past as a road map for designing the future, you’ll be on the road to your best year ever.

Have your best year ever by converting dreams into goals and then goals into achievement.


  • Need to change your mindset and get rid of limiting beliefs
  • Are searching for the motivation to take action and accomplish your goals
  • Wish to design a bright future by setting better goals


Many of us set goals for the New Year, start out strong, but then get derailed. This struggle is so widespread that gyms sell yearlong memberships to more people than they can accommodate, knowing that most will work out for less than a month and never return.

Heather Kampf knows about getting derailed. During the 600-meter final at the 2008 Big Ten Indoor Track Championship, the champion runner tripped and fell flat on her face. Kampf then pushed herself up off the ground and not only managed to run the rest of the race but passed everyone on the track to take first place. This book is about how to do just that: get up and push yourself forward. Leadership expert Michael Hyatt presents a goal-setting system that will help you avoid common pitfalls and leverage the commitment needed to accomplish your goals.

Perhaps right now you feel like Kampf after falling and finding herself at the back of the pack. Set that aside and imagine having a breakthrough year in which you accomplish all your goals. Imagine being healthier, financially secure, and in a loving relationship. Imagine awakening grateful and happy every day while feeling connected to a purpose higher than yourself. These things are possible with Hyatt’s system, which is based on five key assumptions:

  1. Real life is multifaceted and consists of 10 interrelated domains: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, and financial.
  2. Every domain matters.
  3. Progress starts when you get clear on where you are right now.
  4. You can improve any of life’s domains.
  5. Confidence, happiness, and satisfaction with life are byproducts of personal growth.

Hyatt’s system is divided into the five simple steps you’ll explore in this summary. In step 1, you’ll work on overcoming doubts. Step 2 is about getting closure regarding the past. Step 3 gives you a seven-part framework to set goals that really work. In step 4, Hyatt introduces the most powerful motivator he knows. Lastly, in step 5, you put all the pieces together in a way that allows you to have your best year ever.

Book Summary: Your Best Year Ever - A Five-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals

Believe the Possibility

Your thinking habits produce what you experience in life. If those habits are positive, you experience positive things, such as happiness, personal satisfaction, and material success. If not, you experience the opposite and are unhappy, unproductive, and dissatisfied. The good news? You can change thinking habits that don’t serve you. When you focus on improving your thoughts and beliefs, you can change your life.

Hyatt and his wife had a wonderful Irish setter named Nelson who had one flaw: He was an escape artist who bolted outside at every chance, putting himself in danger from passing cars. The solution was found in an electric fence installed around the perimeter of the family home. Nelson wore a collar that gave him a warning vibration when he approached the electric border. Not only did Nelson learn to stay in the yard, but after a while, he didn’t even need the collar. The barrier was no longer the electric fence — it was Nelson’s mind. This is an example of how your beliefs shape your reality.

Maybe you’re like Nelson. Life has zapped you, so you give up, trying to avoid the pain of failure. You might think, “Why should I apply for that job? I don’t have enough experience to impress them.” Or, “I’d love to run that marathon, but I’m too overweight.” The thoughts in your head keep you stuck. Consider pilots who once thought it impossible to break the sound barrier, or runners who didn’t think it possible to run a four-minute mile. But these things were possible and eventually accomplished.

Consider an example of two very different men, Charlie and Robert. Charlie feels persecuted, complains about everything, and is often suspicious. In his view, everyone is stupid and life is rigged. No wonder people don’t enjoy being around him and success is always out of his reach. On the other hand, Robert is there for his friends with a big smile and lots of encouragement. He’s generous, treats everyone well, and invests in the success of others. His generosity comes back to him, and he enjoys success in many areas of his life. What’s the difference between these two men? One comes at life from a perspective of scarcity and one from a perspective of abundance. Scarcity thinkers operate from a place of limiting beliefs, where little, if anything, is possible. Abundance thinkers work from a place of liberating, positive truths. What’s your mindset?

Complete the Past

After limiting beliefs, the most common deterrent to living your best life is the tendency to dwell on the past. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to move forward if you keep looking back. However, you can learn from the past in a way that helps you build a better future by using what the U.S. military calls an after-action review. This is a four-step process that allows you to examine the past and take what lessons you can from it. Here’s how to implement this process by looking back over your past year:

  1. State what you wanted to happen. Look at your goals from the past year. Did you have a major hope, dream, or wish? Did you want to start your own business? Build a committed relationship? Run a marathon?
  2. Acknowledge what actually happened. As you went through the first step, you probably noticed some gaps between what you wanted and what was accomplished. For example, maybe you wanted to run a marathon but only jogged around the block a few times. Ask yourself about any regrets you experienced to shed light on the present and future. Also, ask yourself what you’re proud of. What accomplishments did you make over the past year? You should celebrate your wins as well as examine your struggles.
  3. Learn from the experience. What are the major life lessons learned? What can you take away from the gaps between what you wanted to happen and what actually did? Can you identify what was missing from your success last year? Could you have saved more money? Spent more time with your family? These lessons from the past can inform you as you move forward.
  4. Adjust your behavior. All the lessons in the world won’t help much if you don’t adjust your behavior accordingly. Use what you identify in your afteraction review to improve your performance and your life as you move forward.

You may encounter regret while working through the steps outlined above. Regret is painful, but think of it as a gift that can serve you in several ways. For example, regret is instructive because it provides you with information that helps you avoid mistakes in the future. Also, regret can provide fuel to motivate change, since it forces you to examine how and why you got off track. You can treat regret in one of two ways: like a roadblock or like a road sign pointing the way forward. Perhaps your biggest frustration is pointing you toward one of the biggest wins of your life.

Looking back can serve you in another way as well: It can fill you with gratitude. Researchers have found that gratitude helps you meet your goals. It keeps you hopeful, improves your patience, and multiplies possible responses to situations as it moves you into a place of abundance. For all these reasons, keeping a gratitude journal is very helpful as you plan your future.

Design Your Future

A bright future does not appear out of nowhere, and you can’t drift aimlessly toward success. Therefore, it’s critical that you get very clear about what you want. The key to clarity is to transform your hopes and dreams into written goals that fit seven boxes, and those boxes are easily remembered by the acronym SMARTER:

  • Specific: Identify exactly what you want to accomplish. For example, “Learn photography” is vague, whereas “Complete a portrait photography class at the community center” is specific.
  • Measurable: Identify criteria that help you know whether you’ve reached your goals. An objective target is necessary to measure progress.
  • Actionable: Active verbs can help you set goals that are actionable. Compare these goals: “Be more consistent with exercising” and “Run for 30 minutes three times a week.” The second goal is easier to act on.
  • Risky: Setting goals that are too safe can prevent progress. Risk helps you accomplish more because people tend to rise to challenges. So go for the gold.
  • Time-keyed: Without deadlines, you miss that necessary sense of urgency. The goal of “Read two books” is less helpful than “Read two books this month.”
  • Exciting: If a goal is inspiring and exciting, you’re more likely to meet it because you won’t lose interest.
  • Relevant: Your goals should align with your values and the true needs and demands of your life. If you’re a working parent, your goals may be different than if you are young and single or a retiree.

Happiness comes when you push yourself to meet goals that are both significant and risky. This also means that things won’t always be easy. But that’s OK — comfort is overrated. If you want to better your life, your goals should stretch you outside your comfort zone.

Find Your Why

Beginning to work toward an exciting goal is relatively easy because motivation is high in the early stages. At some point, things get tougher and you find yourself in the messy middle. This is where many people tend to quit. The best way to make it through is to leverage your motivation, so when the going gets tough, you keep going.

A winning strategy is to connect deeply to why you want to do something. This is what keeps you moving toward your goal. When Hyatt wanted to run a marathon, he identified his motivations and wrote them down. First, he was tired of being overweight and wanted to get into the best shape of his life. Also, he wanted enough stamina and energy to be his best self. This list helped him connect with what was at stake whenever he didn’t feel like running, and it gave him the motivation to hit the pavement anyway.

After you’ve connected to your why, it’s critical to master your motivations as you progress. You can master them in four ways:

  • Identify the right reward. Anticipate reaching the end of your goal and earning a satisfying reward.
  • Be realistic about the necessary commitment. Recognize that forming new habits may take longer than you think and set your expectations accordingly, so you don’t get discouraged.
  • Gamify the process. Games are great motivators. When Hyatt set out to drink more water, he found an app that grew a digital plant a bit bigger every time he recorded drinking water.
  • Measure gains. Rather than always looking at how far you have left to go, be sure to take periodic stock of how far you’ve already come.

Finally, a journey is always easier with friends. After the success of The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien struggled to complete a sequel. He gave up on the book several times. But his friend, the writer and philosopher C. S. Lewis, encouraged him to keep at it. Tolkien said that this encouragement was the only reason he finished his next book, The Lord of the Rings. Enlisting the help of a friend or an expert can result in learning, encouragement, accountability, and the boost that comes with competition.

Make It Happen

Thus far, you’ve learned a lot about making plans. Now it’s time to talk about action. You must take the right steps if you are to reach your goals. General George B. McClellan was appointed to lead the Union Army to victory in the Civil War. After a string of early victories, everyone was excited about his leadership and had high hopes about what he would accomplish. But those hopes were dashed. Although McClellan excelled when it came to preparing his soldiers, he hesitated in battle. His expert planning resulted in too little action. This led to his failure against Robert E. Lee at Antietam. His story highlights an important truth: Merely setting a goal is insufficient; meeting a goal requires action.

Taking action can be hard, especially if you get bogged down in planning. A plan is important, but you get into trouble when too much planning becomes a way to procrastinate. The best way to begin is by tackling the easiest task first. This sets things in motion, provides a boost to your mood, and builds momentum. Maybe your goal is to run a marathon, but jumping from a sedentary lifestyle to running every day feels overwhelming. Take the small step of calling a coach or finding a running club online. After taking that first step, commit to taking all the steps that lead to your goal.

Once you start making progress toward your goal, you may find that you still have trouble taking action. Hyatt uses activation triggers to help him with this problem. Activation triggers set you up for action and help you plan ahead so that you’re not derailed. For example, when Hyatt had a hard time getting out of bed at six in the morning to exercise, he found that setting out his gym clothes the night before helped push him forward when the alarm clock went off. This kind of advance planning can help you overcome obstacles and maintain momentum.

Finally, you’ll want to implement a regular goal review process. Research shows that those who write down their goals and journal about their progress are better able to analyze what holds them back and how to overcome it. A good start is to scan a list of your goals every day. This keeps them fresh in your mind and allows you to connect your goals to daily tasks. A weekly review goes a bit deeper and helps you stay emotionally and intellectually connected. This is a good time to review your why to stay motivated. It will also give you a sense of what you need to do in the upcoming week. Finally, plan for a deep review on a quarterly basis. When conducting a quarterly review, you should rejoice in progress made, revise the goal if needed, and recommit.

If a goal no longer works for you, go ahead and hit delete. Yes, you can delete a goal. This is your life, and if you find that a goal is no longer relevant to having your best year ever, you have permission to let it go.


Follow Hyatt’s five-step system and turn your dreams into reality. Begin by addressing any limiting beliefs you may hold and improving your mindset in a way that shifts it toward abundance. Use the after-action review to learn from the past and remember that regret can help push you forward and even indicate where you need to go. Set SMARTER goals and make progress toward those goals by connecting deeply to why you set them in the first place. Then take the steps necessary to achieve them — taking action is a hugely important step. If you need help staying on track, use activation triggers and implement a regular goal review process.

Turning your hopes and dreams into achievable goals and working toward them is challenging, but in the end, it makes for a much happier life. It’s time to have your best year ever!

About Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is a recognized expert in leadership and founder of the leadership development firm Michael Hyatt & Company. He’s the author of Living Forward (co-written with Daniel Harkavy) and the New York Times bestseller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.


The book is a self-help guide for people who want to achieve their most important goals and live a life that matters. The author, Michael Hyatt, is a bestselling author, speaker, and entrepreneur who has helped thousands of people reach their full potential. He shares his proven system for setting and achieving goals, which he calls the Five Steps to Achieving Your Most Important Goals. These are:

  • Step 1: Believe the Possibility. This step involves overcoming the limiting beliefs and negative emotions that hold us back from pursuing our goals. The author explains how to identify and challenge these beliefs, and how to replace them with positive affirmations and gratitude.
  • Step 2: Complete the Past. This step involves reviewing the previous year and learning from our successes and failures. The author provides a framework for conducting a year-end assessment, which helps us to celebrate our wins, acknowledge our losses, and identify our key lessons.
  • Step 3: Design Your Future. This step involves creating a vision for our future and setting SMARTER goals that align with it. The author explains how to use his goal-setting template, which helps us to make our goals specific, measurable, actionable, risky, time-keyed, exciting, and relevant.
  • Step 4: Find Your Why. This step involves finding the motivation and purpose behind our goals, which helps us to stay committed and overcome obstacles. The author shows how to write a compelling goal statement, which includes the benefits, the costs, and the transformation of achieving our goal.
  • Step 5: Make It Happen. This step involves taking action and making progress towards our goals. The author shares his best practices and tools for planning, prioritizing, scheduling, tracking, reviewing, and adjusting our goals. He also advises us on how to deal with common challenges such as fear, distraction, procrastination, resistance, and fatigue.

I found the book to be very helpful and inspiring. The author has a clear and engaging writing style that makes the book easy to read and understand. He also uses a lot of examples and stories from his own life and from other successful people to illustrate his points and make them relatable. I liked how he balanced the theoretical and practical aspects of goal-setting, and how he provided actionable steps and exercises for each stage of the process.

The book is not only informative but also empowering. It encourages us to take charge of our own lives and happiness, and to challenge ourselves to achieve our greatest goals. It also reminds us of our potential and capabilities, and celebrates our achievements and growth. It is a book that can help anyone who wants to improve their personal, professional, or spiritual life.

Overall I think that this book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to achieve their most important goals. It is not a book that tells us what to do but rather a book that shows us what we can do. It is a book that will make us think differently and act differently. It is a book that will make us have our best year ever.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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