noah kagan notes to myself

How to Make Personal and Business Goals on the “Noah Kagan Presents” Podcast

Check out the Noah Kagan Presents Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • First…
    • Before you make your goals, delete outstanding tasks and start fresh
    • Know that goals should be specific (if a goal is too vague, it’s hard to gauge whether or not you’re actually accomplishing it)
  • How to Make Yearly Personal Goals:
    • First, write out the fantasy story of your dream life for the upcoming year
    • Pick a “word of the year” (your yearly theme)
    • Organize your goals into categories (Noah suggests: Work, Workout, Personal, and Places to Visit)
    • After writing down your goals, put the list EVERYWHERE
  • How to Plan Your Yearly Business Goals:
    • Write up an annual company review
    • Do an 80/20 analysis of your company and answer these 3 questions:
      • How could a competitor screw us over?
      • What is our moat and repeatable business model?
      • Pick a clear numerical goal for the upcoming year
    • Make a spreadsheet to model out exactly how you can achieve your goal
    • Commit to a GMO (goals, metrics, outcome) for the upcoming quarter

Books Mentioned


  • In this solo episode, Noah Kagan (@noahkagan) delves into his exact process for making professional and personal goals at the start of each year

🎧 5 Things Noah Learned Over the Past Year

  • 1) We All Actually Know What We Want
    • This relates well to a famous quote: “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” – Jerzy Gregorek
    • So, in the new year, instead of being reactive, focus on what truly matters to YOU
  • 2) Follow the Fear
    • By doing so, you build strength and self-confidence
  • 3) Be Excited About Whatever You’re Doing
    • If your line of work doesn’t excite you, it’s time to re-evaluate
  • 4) If You Feel Stale, Change Your Environment
    • If you’re in a rut, consider moving somewhere else for a few months
  • 5) Consistency Pays Off
    • With whatever you’re working on, show up every day, do the work, and watch the magic happen

Before You Make Your Goals… Delete Your Outstanding Tasks and Start Fresh

  • All of them – inbox to-dos, tasks, calendar to-dos, you name it
  • Related:
    • Steve Jobs has famously said: “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter the most creative period of my life.”

How to Make Personal Goals

1. Write a Fantasy Story of Your Dream Life for the Upcoming Year

  • Include the specifics – where you’re living, what you’re doing, how you feel, where you travel to, etc.
  • Why? – To get you excited!
  • Here’s a snippet from Noah’s:
    • “At the end of the year, my new house is nearly complete, and I’m really proud of all the podcast content I put out this year. I got to meet an insane amount of great guests and had a really fun time doing it. The Sumo Charity rides were amazing — can’t believe we did 4 of them across America!”

2. Pick a Word of the Year

  • This is your yearly theme/mantra 
    • Noah’s Word of the Year: Power

3. Organize Your Year Into Categories

  • Noah recommends these four: Work, Workout, Personal, and Place to Visit
  • Then, within each category, create 3-5 sub-goals (and be specific!)
    • If a goal is too vague, it’s hard to gauge whether or not you’re actually accomplishing it
  • Examples:
    • Work: Grow my email list to X, hit $X in revenue, start a side hustle
    • Workout: Go to the gym 3x/week, start boxing
    • Personal: Get engaged, learn to sing
    • Place to visit: Travel to Thailand

4. After Writing Everything Down…

  • Put the list EVERYWHERE – on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, as a sticky note on your computer, etc.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, choose an accountability buddy and email them the list (tell them you’re trying to hit these goals, and every month, encourage them to check in on you)

3 Things to Add

1. Say No

  • The above list helps make it easier when it comes to choosing what to say “no” to
    • “The most successful people don’t drift from what they want. Be strict and say no to anything that’s not on this list.” Noah Kogan

2. Create a Morning Habits Checklist

  • Noah uses an app called Strides
  • Ask yourself: “What are the things I want to have done every morning that will help me achieve my goals?”

3. As the Year Goes On…

  • Create an Evernote text file titled “Things to Do Next Year”
    • For every opportunity that comes your way, which you don’t have time for in the present but still want to eventually do, log it down

How to Plan Your Business Goals

1. Write Up An Annual Company Review

  • This is similar to iconic companies writing up yearly shareholder letters:
  • In your review, describe:
    • What the company did great over the past year
    • What the company could improve upon for the upcoming year
  • Be honest, and share everything with your team:
    • “The more honest and open you are with your team, the more honest and open they’ll be about the problems face in your business”Noah Kagan

2. Do An 80/20 Analysis of Your Company

  • Answer these 3 questions:
    • Where does 80% of our revenue come from right now?
      • Essentially, what’s working that you could do way more of?
      • What’s in the 20% that you could remove?
    • How could a competitor screw us over?
      • By asking this, you’re protecting yourself long-term, and guarding against anything a competitor could do to one-up your company
    • What is our moat and repeatable business model?
      • AKA: What is your undeniable business advantage that is both defensible and repeatable?
        • “If you have something that’s undeniable, and you can repeat it, you have something successful. That’s a fact.” – Noah Kagan

3. Pick a Clear Numerical Goal for the Upcoming Year

  • “Successful businesses have clear objective targets… The more clear you are with your numerical goal for the upcoming year, and the more concrete you are about it, the more likely you are to achieve it.” Noah Kagan
  • The goal should:
    • Make you excited
    • Be consistent with what you’ve done in the past
    • Reflect the success of your customer (by hitting the goal, your customers should also experience success)

4. Make a Spreadsheet (to model out how you can accomplish the goal)

  • Why?
    • To ensure the goal is realistic and achievable
    • To determine what inputs affect the outcome
  • One point to note: “If you hit your goal in July, you planned the wrong goal. If you hit it around November/December, you did the right planning.” – Noah Kagan

5. Commit to a GMO (Goal, Metrics, and Outcome) for the Upcoming Quarter

  • So, for the upcoming quarter goal, pick a sub-goal that will set you on your way to achieving your yearly goal
    • For example, if you want 5k customers by the end of the year, you should have ~1.3k customers by the end of Q1
  • For metrics, these are the key indicators that indicate progress (signups per day, ad dollar spend, etc.)
  • Outcomes are CONCRETE (the things that, once done, will help you achieve the Q1 goal)
    • In general, have 3-4 short-term outcomes, and 1 long-term experimental one
      • Then: 4 days a week, do the main stuff; 1 day a week, do the experimental stuff
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