Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – HARD Goals

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Mark Murphy. This book will teach you an entirely new way to set goals, and when you do it will change your life.  

Brief Summary:

Mark Murphy is founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, which is a leadership consulting company. Mark and his team studied 5,000 workers from all different type of industries to understand what makes people and businesses extraordinary. He also shares stories from people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and many of our past presidents to discover what made them achieve things most dream of doing. What he learned was that they didn’t set easy or “SMART” goals, they set HARD goals. In his book, Mark walks us through what HARD goals are and how we can achieve them. 

Things I learned from the book:

  • You must be emotionally connected to your goal, able to see and feel as if this goal is necessary to your survival and when accomplished it is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life.
  • Forget about SMART goals, and focusing on tactical and analytical goal setting. The most important part of the goal-setting process is asking yourself questions like this: “WHY do I care to accomplish this goal,” What happens if I don’t accomplish it? How is this goal going to help me reach my potential?
  • The specific part of “SMART” goals is OK, but all you do to make it specific is focus on making the goal a number. Instead, why don’t you visualize the goal, and draw it out to make it specific? If you can draw the goal being accomplished, then your mind will be more invested in completing it.

Other things I learned:

You can set and achieve HARD goals because YOU HAVE DONE IT MANY TIMES BEFORE

We have all accomplished things we never thought possible. When we do, we all have the same feeling that makes us feel on top of the world. Unfortunately, as incredible as that feeling is we as humans tend to lose it so quickly. For most, they just completely forget, and it prohibits them from remembering how they achieved things once thought impossible. So, right now at this moment think back to the last time you did set a goal and achieved it. Now ask yourself these questions?

  • Did this goal challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone?
  • DId I have a deep emotional attachment to the goal?
  • Did I have to learn new skills to accomplish it?
  • Was my personal investment in this goal such that it felt entirely necessary?
  • Could I vividly picture what it would be like to hit my goal?

What are HARD goals and How do you set HARD goals?


As mentioned above, the best question to ask yourself is “Why do I care about this goal.” This is a straightforward and easy question, but yet very powerful. And to further develop a heartfelt connection Mark explains you must focus on intrinsic, personal, extrinsic connections to your goal:

    • Develop goals around things that interest you, and you have expressed passion towards
    • Who are you accomplishing this goal for? It is OK if it is not just for you but for someone else
    • Ask yourself what the payoff is?

Also, Mark discusses the idea of discovering your “Shoves and Tugs” which are moments/things that pull you away from your goal or push you towards your goal. Once you identify what these “things” are you can be more aware of them and set goals that are tailored to the tugs more than the shoves. To help, ask yourself questions like this to help yourself identify shoves and tugs:

    • Describe a time when you felt really frustrated and wanted to give up?
    • Describe a time recently when you felt really motivated, and you were totally fired up?


This is a simple task that I think most people know how to do, but don’t actually do it. A great way to think about is to ask yourself “How do I think this goal looks and feels? Literally, Draw it out. (Shape, Colors, Lighting, Distinct parts, Emotions, Movement)


Most of us set goals annually and never achieve them (80% of us to be exact). Why? We want the reward immediately rather than putting in the long-term work. When it comes to goals like losing weight, saving money, and trying to improve yourself, it is easier to just eat that cake, spend that money, or not pick up that self-help book in the moment. You say, ‘well I have time. I can start tomorrow, or next week’. You have no thought of the future implications. So, how can you try to turn the goal into being a requirement and ensuring it gets accomplished?

  1. Ask yourself this: If you don’t accomplish this goal, what happens? If the implication is something you can deal with, then I bet you will not be invested enough to follow through on accomplishing the goal.
  2. Spread out the costs and rewards over the present and future: Instead of taking on the brunt of the work now, and rewarding yourself right now. You can spread it out and have small wins to avoid burnout and gain confidence.
  3. Limit your choices: If you are trying to lose weight don’t go to a restaurant that has healthy and crap food. Just, change the habit not the reward to get you thinking about breaking your goal.
  4. Focus on each day, or as I like to put it say to yourself “every day is day one.” Just focus on accomplishing today.
  5. When writing down your goals or visualizing your goals make sure you tell others you want to “lose weight” say “6 months from now I will be wearing an X size” OR say “I will be wearing those pants that I have not worn since I was young”s


To create a difficult goal you ask yourself  questions like this:

  • How is this goal going to stretch me?
  • What will you have to learn to achieve this goal?
  • How will you have grown and what skills will you have acquired?

How has this book impacted me?

The first time I read this book I thought it was dumb, no joke. I was all for the “SMART” goal idea, but I quickly realized how I and so many others fail to actually accomplish their goals. I re-read this book about 3 years ago and went into it wanting to find a better way to set and achieve goals. Well, over the past 3 years I went from saying I was going to achieve goals to ACTUALLY achieving goals. I go through an annual goal setting process for myself personally, and I use these steps above to help me do that.

In 2017, I set 6 goals for myself: Read 25 books, reconnect with 6 people from my past, write 5 recommendations for others who I have worked with, save and invest X amount of money, build out a framework for a blog, and write a “thank you” letter to my high school teacher. I can tell you that I read 28 books, reconnected with 10 people, wrote 9 recommendations, didn’t just start my blog, but published 10 posts in 2017, and reconnected with my old teacher. My goals were crushed in 2017, and I have no doubt if I follow this process of setting HARD goals I will do it again and again.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to set your HARD goals for 2018 and beyond. You can start by purchasing the book here: Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and check out www.leadershipiq.com for more information on Mark and his company.

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