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How to do less and make more in 2017

How was your year? 

I hope it was FANTASTIC, and if not, I wish you strength, luck, and momentum to charge forwards into 2017 and beyond.

I want you to know that, in 2017, you can do less and make more.

How the heck can you do less and make more?

That’s what I want to outline for you here today, because that actually was my plan in 2016 and it turned out spectacularly well, so I’m going to be repeating it again in 2017.

Here’s how this post came about:

Just last week we flew in our two executive assistants; Summer, who helps me run my business, and Carrie, who helps my wife, Amy, run our charity.

What Summer, Carrie, Amy and I did was we mapped out all of 2017. In fact, we even mapped out some of 2018.

I HIGHLY recommend you do the same, if you haven’t already. I’ll give you some tips about how to do this efficiently.

Planning an entire year can be overwhelming, so when you are planning your year, I want you to break it down into three areas of focus:

Number one, you’ve got to get clear on your PRIORITIES.

I know that that sounds obvious, but it’s SO important.

This means getting clear on people and projects that are most important to you, as well as getting clear on the LIFESTYLE you want to live.

For me, obviously my amazing wife, my incredible kids, my team, my sister, my parents, my friends and business partners – they are all a huge priority to me.

What can I say? I’m a people person!

I bring this to your attention because, when people are a priority to you, you’ve got to be INTENTIONAL about incorporating them into your planning process.

Next, it’s extremely important to decide which projects are your highest priority.

For example, last year I had just one project that was the highest priority for me. This allowed me to engineer the entire year around that one project, which allowed me to be uber creative.

After people and projects comes lifestyle. Outside of your business, what aspirations do you have?

For example, in 2017 I really want to exercise my creativity in some new and different ways.

Playing guitar is one. Doodling is another – I know it kind of sounds funny and weird – but doodling and calligraphy is another thing that I really want to do.

I’d also like to learn Swahili, because in Kenya where our charity operates, the kids speak Swahili, and I want to be able to interact and engage with them. I want to be fluid so when kids are talking back and forth, I can just jump into the conversation and blow their minds.

Number two, get clear on your PRIMARY FOCUS.

You’ve got to have a primary focus. Everything else you do falls around this one thing.

This relates to prioritizing your projects in step #1.

Your primary focus combines the project you chose as a top priority, and the outcome you’d like to see from that project. It’s your guiding light throughout the year.

Here’s an example: one of my clients, Mastin Kip, is an incredible speaker and author.

His primary focus is releasing his new book in the fall of 2017, so we are engineering the entire year around that focus.

Other things are going to come up, of course, but the primary focus is getting that book to top of the New York Times Bestseller list.

Let your primary focus be the most important, most ambitious accomplishment you’d like to achieve, and then give it the attention and resources it needs to come true. 

Number three is to identify your BIG ROCKS

And start mapping them out on the calendar.

That’s exactly what I did with Summer, Carrie, and Amy when we planned our year. We first started with our big rocks.

What are our big rocks? When you’re mapping out your calendar, these are the most important events and deadlines in your year.

Some are deadlines that you set for yourself, and others aren’t so flexible, but they are all important.

For example, last year my family vacations got tacked onto business or charity trips. If I was going to speak at a conference, I would take the family, and we would spend a few days after the conference exploring that location.

This year we decided to let family trips be family trips, so those were the first big rocks we added to our calendar.

The next big rocks we added were dates that are already set.

For example, next year we’ve got a big trip for our charity where we’re taking 50-60 of our top donors over to Kenya to see the schools they helped build.

There’s also conferences that I’ve committed to speak at, mastermind groups that I’m a part of, and so on.

It’s important that your big rocks get laid out on the calendar. Because too often as entrepreneurs, we end up taking on more than we can handle because we get so excited about opportunities.

You and I have to concentrate our efforts, because if we try to do too much in 2017, we’re going to do a whole bunch of things in a half-assed way.

But if we focus on a few big rocks, and we pour all of our creative energy into those things, we will experience a lot more success.

When I talk about the big rocks, here’s what I would encourage you to do:

Think about one big promotion that you’re able to do every quarter. One big promotion every four months. Everything else gets filtered around those four promotions.

And if you can do less than four, that’s even better.

In summary:


For you and I to make 2017 a spectacular year, here’s what I recommend:

Number one, get clear on your PRIORITIES. When I say priorities, I’m talking about people, projects, and lifestyle.

Second, get clear on your PRIMARY FOCUS and engineer your entire year around that.

Number three, map out your big rocks. What I recommend for my clients is four big promos per year, one per quarter. Everything else gets filtered around those big rocks.

Your turn: What are you going to do to make 2017 your best year ever?

  • Victoria Labalme

    So valuable, Stu. What a superb post. Thank you.

    • Thanks V! Appreciate you dropping by 🙂

  • Anita Morrow

    Absolutely beautiful and so true!!! Thank you for being in the world and for inspiring a new wave of conscious entrepreneurs!

  • Maureen

    This is coming at such a perfect time in my life where I really want to get clear on my focus for next year without taking on too much – which I really did this year. Thanks for sharing this ^_^

  • Thanks for this Stu. I’m about to plan my 2017 year and these steps will really help me map out my success for it.

  • Brian Dunn

    Thanks for the tips, I launched my new art series on sculpture and character design and i really want to grow it next year.

  • So timely! Thank you for keeping me on track with my eye on the big picture!

  • Well obviously I’m going to follow this advice! Last January was the first time my wife and I sat down and really made plans and goals for 2016. It was incredible to think ahead! For the first time doing it, we didn’t fare so bad. We hit some big goals and flopped on some others but, nevertheless, we’ll have another go at 2017 and make it our best year ever! Thanks for this Stu!

  • Shiffon

    This was great … Now it’s time for reflection time and implementing so 2017 will be a different year than 2016

  • Jerry Smales

    As a consultant, many of my goals are centered on and around my business aspirations, so my personal and business goals are often intertwined. For this example, I want my business to help other businesses make money. This goal is perfect because it fits right into my longterm and short term goals. My short term goal is to give away video training that helps business owners write effective copy for their business. This will be a gift for anyone joining me on any of your favorite social platforms. Goals are road maps, and with these road maps we can travel the world. We can go anywhere we want. With goals, people like myself are positioned to have the best year ever. Thank you, Stu, for sharing and being one of the greatest leaders I follow.

  • Great post Stu. The one promotion a quarter is one you have mentioned before and I need to map these out. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Hussein

    Hello. Stu, I’m Tanzanian and I live in Tanzania, East Africa, which near to kenya. Swahili is our native language. As I read you plan to learn Kiswahili, I can help you in this langauge.

    Here’s my email: [email protected]

  • launch that focus on help Aligned Thinking Team members get the most from their time.
    40+ years of research here.

  • Great one, Stu! 2017 is looking like its going to be a GREAT YEAR!!!!

  • Jonathan Van Horn

    Great post Stu! I have had a good 2016, but not great. I am looking to build on what I was able to accomplish this past year and make 2017 amazing. Big Rocks for me is start a non-profit that works primarily with youth soccer players that have the desire and ability to play club but don’t have the resources or connections to play. Appreciate the post today as I reflect on 2016 this month and prepare for 2017.

  • Sandy Turner

    I am going to find a way to turn my passion into my business. I’ve got ideas, and I’m ready to shake off the fear of failure and go for it. I’m also learning SWAHILI! I spent a few weeks in Kenya this past September, and I plan to go back as much as possible to work at a ministry there.

    Hey, Stu! Maybe we can practice Swahili together!

  • Fired up @myideaguy:disqus … Always look forward to the ideas.

    Cheers to an even better 2017 🙂

    – Kyle

  • Felipe Mandelli

    Great job, Stu! I saw your presentation at the Erico Rocha’s event this week and I started to follow your work! Thanks for sharing that!