Set Goals: The Most Important 45 Minutes of Your Day

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Cliff Diver by Mark RoesslerJack Canfield, best-selling author and America’s #1 Success Coach calls it the most important 45 minutes of your day.

Margaret Thatcher mused, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” Successful dreamers follow this theory to stay focused on the next action steps they need to take to move them closer to their dream.

What am I talking about?

Planning your days.

It’s taking time at the end of each day to objectively look at where you are with your dream plan. (You do have a dream plan, right?) The last 30 – 45 minutes of your day should be spent in reflection on your day, looking at whether you accomplished what you set out to do, and contemplating what you want to do tomorrow that will continue to move you closer to where you want to be.

You need to spend time looking at what you are doing — or not doing for your dreams — and you can’t do this only once a week. You have to look at it every day.

I recently have felt the pinch of not planning my day when I became overwhelmed by all the PR requests 8 Women Dream is getting each day. With a stack of books and reviews piling up against the wall, I confessed to Heather that I needed a big white board with a plan.

She quickly sprang into action, came over and gathered up several items to take off my plate. But I knew what was really wrong. I wasn’t sticking to my dream plan and I wasn’t looking at my plan every single day. Yes, I work on the 8 Women Dream site daily, but this isn’t the same as looking at where I am with my dream and checking in with myself every day.

I had moved away from looking at all the pieces and parts of my dream plan to reviewing it only on the weekends.  It was beginning to spell disaster for my plan. I needed to fix my dream life.

Jack Canfield’s fix is to do “The Evening Review” —

At the end of each day, I needed to return to sitting someplace quiet and closing my eyes. I needed to relax, take in a deep breath and give myself one of the following directions from Jack:

1. Show me where I could have been more effective today.
2. Show me where I could have been more conscious today.
3. Show me where I could have been a better [fill in blank with your dream — photographer, product launch expert, parent in the American Dream, frugal planner, publisher author, top blogger, travel blogger, life coach, etc.]
4. Show me where I could have been more loving today.
5. Show me where I could have been more assertive today.
6. Show me where I could have been more [fill in any characteristic that embodies your dream — adventurous, fearless, dauntless, fierce, enthusiastic, busy, industrious, etc.]

As I sit calmly in a state of quiet receptivity, I can see a number of events from my day. Jack advises that you observe the events without judgement or criticism. When no more incidents come to mind, then take each incident and replay it in your mind the way you would have preferred to have handled it had you been more aware at the time.

For example, I can picture Heather coming by and seeing my organized 8 Women Dream section of my home  — complete with post-it notes and a calendared white board outlining my completed tasks as well as a list of goals to complete for my dream plan.

At the end of each day also identify 5 things that were happily accomplished. (I wrote this post.  I made a great dinner for me and my son. I cleaned the bathroom.  I worked out with my resistance bands. I picked up Jack’s book for dream advice.)

It’s great if you can write the 5 accomplishments down in a journal, or a notepad.  You can create your own Daily Success Focus Journal to keep track of all the amazing accomplishments you achieve each day. Maybe you didn’t get to working on your dream, but you helped your family, or helped a friend, or organized your kitchen, or you went for that walk you’ve been putting off, or stuck to your plan not to eat sugar.

But I know you did something today — even if it was getting out of bed and brushing your teeth!

Tracking 5 daily accomplishments gives you the confidence to take bigger risks in your dream life.

Jack Canfield offers a blank Focus Journal form on his Success Principles website (click on the image to open the form in pdf)

The daily focus journal by Jack Canfield

Instructions: Write down what you achieved in the first column “Achievement.”  Next, consider why that accomplishment is important to you and write that reason down in the second box under the heading “Reason Why.” Then, identify how you can make further progress in this same area listed under “Further Progress.”

Last, write down a specific action step that will lead to this progress and jot that down in the fourth box under “Next Specific Action.” For example, in the sample form, the first success is “I conducted a great group meeting.” The reason that is important is that “it created the team spirit we were lacking.”

The “Further Progress” box needs to be something else I could do to create more team spirit, which in this case is to plan and execute a team development day. A “Next Action” I could take is to form a committee with keep members to plan the day. This quick and simple process keeps me constantly moving forward in the arena of building team spirit as well as many other areas.

Once you have completed the form, transfer all of the action items in the “Next Action” column into your calendar or planner. Schedule a specific time to do each item so that you actually get them done. Get them onto your calendar or to-do list.

In order to change your life and accomplish your big dreams you must form a “completion consciousness” by continually asking yourself: What does it take to actually get this dream completed?

The cycle of completion

To be successful in all that we dream for, we must clean up all our incompletes.

The image above is the steps in the cycle of completing a project or task. First we DECIDE, then PLAN, then START, then CONTINUE (overcome any setbacks or adjustments), FINISH, then COMPLETE. This is the cycle successful big dreamers follow every time.

How many of us start something only to get to one of the stages in the cycle and then quit? When you start a commitment to finally go after your dream, your subconscious mind gets ready to deal with the upcoming change. Your mind seems ready to support you.

So why do we stop?

We stop and don’t complete the steps to accomplish our dreams because something about the dream is not clear — and we may set up emotional and psychological roadblocks out of fear.

Whatever the case, checking in with yourself every day and tracking your accomplishments prevents you from veering off course and eventually giving up on yourself.  If you don’t keep track, how do you celebrate your successes?  How do you know all that you have done?

For example, if I didn’t have stats to look at it might feel like the 8 Women Dream website isn’t moving towards great success, but if you look at the stats from all the way back to the beginning, you can see how much success has happened —

8WD stats

In the first year this site had 19,383 visitors for the ENTIRE year. In 2011 we are at 521,945 and the year isn’t over yet. The stats reassure me that we are on the right plan.

You must be able to do the same thing with your dreams. You must complete the small goals, keep track of them and look back whenever you are feeling lost or want to quit.

Begin today to take the action steps to complete your dream goals. Write them down. Schedule them. Track them. Do one thing every single day except Sunday — then celebrate by looking at your Focus Journal. I promise you, in a year you won’t even recognize your life.

But it’s up to you.

Aren’t you tired of having incomplete dreams?


Portions of this article is from The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Copyright ©2005 Jack Canfield . All rights reserved. Published by HarperCollins.


  • Pingback: 8 Top Ways To Motivate Yourself To Take Action On Your Dream | 8 Women Dream()

  • It was. I re-organized my office space!

  • Heather Montgomery, Product Launch Dreams

    I never get tired of reviewing those stats.

    Thanks for a great brainstorming session today… now my “success focus” spreadsheet is full again!

    – Heather

  • Olivia

    I believe that the key here is the source of the motivation. We generally don’t need to prioritize or otherwise force or trick ourselves into performing actions that are internally motivated. But the more the motivation comes from the husband or the running group or the kids or the boss or any other external source, the less likely we are to go after a dream.

    We all know people who got into the family restaurant business, or became a doctor, or went to law school because someone they loved expected or demanded it and they became the unhappy chef or the depressed doctor or the suffering law student.

    When we chronically put off an activity like working on our dreams, it’s because we aren’t really sold on doing it at all. The reasons could be:

    We don’t think it’s our responsibility to do what’s necessary.
    We think someone will do it for us and drop our dream in our lap (think lottery).
    The dream feels like a waste of time (I’ll never get to …).

    We need to answer two fundamental questions about our dreams:

    1. What’s in it for me if I go after this dream with all my heart?
    2. What will happen to me if I don’t?

    If you can’t find an internal motivation that comes from inside you — and you can’t see the benefit for going after your dream and any suffering for not doing it, then you will decide not to go after your dream — you’ll decide to do everything else but (I was too busy with raising my kids etc.).

    There is also some fear wrapped up in the idea of following our dreams like fear of failure, fear of success and the fear of achieving the dream and having nothing else to look forward to or complain about. But if the dream really means that much to you, you’ll be able to work on your dream in spite of your fear. You have to want it enough, or your fear will allow you to always want or need to do something else more than working on your dreams.

    Real dreaming takes honesty with ourselves and the ability to look in the mirror and take responsibility for our lives and not everyone is very good at doing this. You daily check-in sheet will force dreamers to look at what they are doing or not doing to their dream.


    • Thank you Olivia for such a comprehensive response as to why people don’t work on their big dream, ignore it, or never start. I’ve witnessed this with dreamers on 8 women Dream. Dreamers always have the best intentions, but you are right, they must take action and look at why they don’t.

      I agree that fear is a major factor, but also self-esteem. A person has to feel that they deserve to have their dream and that they are capable of achieving it.