REVIEW: Pick Four goal-setting workbooks

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Pick Four (4 Pack – Designed to Share)
by Zig Ziglar and Seth Godin. 

The Great Recession Do-Over is a great opportunity for reinvention, but when you’ve slid into a rut looking at dirt walls, you need a view of the blue sky outside of the rut. (Yes, this is my intelligent summary of goal-achievement. Shut up.)

What’s needed to get out of the rut is movement. ANY movement.
A view outside of the rut,
and a plan. YOUR OWN plan. 

The best goal-tracking tool I’ve tested lately was something I found recommended at the end of the free Kindle version of The Flinch by Julien Smith. Seth Godin’s repackaging of Zig Ziglar’s goal-setting program, Pick Fourhas a lot of appeal: a neat-looking mashup of workbook, diary, and goal-setting tutorial. Godin put Pick Four into four nicely-sized graphically-neat spiral-bound workbooks, each book meant to cover the progress of working four simultaneous goals over 12 weeks.

Four goals. Four books. Four quarters.

They’re workbooks you write in with a pencil or pen, designed to physically engage with every day. (Hm. That sounded dirty. Good. Carry on.)

The four-book set will get you through a year (with a week between quarters) if you hog the set for yourself. Better, you can share a book with some like-minded company. Which is what I did with my friend Hiroe, who is in her own rut in Japan (more on Hiroe shortly).

In each book there’s

  • an important introduction on how to choose your favorite goals and balance them among some suggested categories,
  • a two page spread per day (except weekends) where you track your progress on each goal, and
  • week end review of highlights, what didn’t work and WHY those things didn’t work.

I ordered the workbooks in December and started on the first week of January. I mailed one to Hiroe in Japan, which gave me about a week’s head start. I was on Week 11, and Hiroe should have been at about Week 9.

But she was at Week 3 and not enjoying it at all. (Godin even predicts that at Week 3 many people lose their way.) So we set out to review how we were using our books.

Working the Workbook, a Koan where “Nothing” is Something

Some important concepts proved to be elusive to her at the beginning: It’s 12 weeks of recording every day’s progress on all four goals no matter what you manage to do that day. If you make no progress on a goal, Godin tells us, you write “NOTHING” in that space. At the bottom of each goal for each day there’s the question: “Is it enough?” Sometimes, for me at least, if I’d accomplished tons on one goal, “NOTHING” on another goal was good enough.

For her, though, it probably seemed wasteful to write “NOTHING” over and over, so she saved the week’s sections until she had something to report. So she lost the benefit of reviewing her goals every day, and the end-of-week observations about what she learned from things that didn’t go right. And some weeks, for me, very little goes right.

Are They Worthy? OWN Your Goals.

Initially, though, I think Hiroe tackled choosing what four goals to pursue with a grim practicality that ultimately discouraged her.  There was also an imbalance – three of the four goals were related to a career she wasn’t entirely excited about. She hadn’t yet rigged her game into something she’d really enjoy.

Your goals are yours alone. Your workbook is your tiny empire in which you are the potentate.

For the commitment-phobic like me, choosing just four means there are hundreds of other pursuits that get shelved. I taped a piece of paper into the back of the Pick Four workbook and wrote other goals and what quarter I’d do them. I’ve always wanted to take trapeze and circus arts classes but I’m in terrible shape. So

  • Q2: Pilates and Yoga, do a headstand, run flat out half a mile.
  • Q3: take Circus arts classes. (Perhaps by then I’ll even own a Little Clown Car, See Q1: Get A Car.)

So my future plans have safe storage and I can focus on the present.

Q1: Underachievement is Still Achievement.

I’ve been having giddy good fun with my first Pick Four quarter.

  • An earning goal combined with finding and buying a car are lumped together in one goal called “Get a Car/Make $10k.” The making of money didn’t have a career or business orientation; it is just to make enough to pay immediate bills and get a car. So, nothing meaningful, just acquiring tools for future progress.
  • Improve my appearance in a superficial way. This goal is not geared toward health, character, or anything at all deep. It mostly involved tossing worn-out clothes and doing something with my hair.
  • Create 12 artworks. Very loosely defined. If I taped off a piece of watercolor paper and slapped on some new paint colors in a random fashion, or did thumbnail sketches on post-its in a bar, those counted. Next quarter I might get more ambitious, but at least I got out my paints and did stuff. So that goal worked and I have something to show for it.
  • The most daunting goal, and the one that meant the most to me had weeks of “NOTHING” entries under it. For a while I’ve wanted to write a specific interview series. After a few weeks I re-defined the goal to “Write 6 Blog pieces.” I decided to lower the bar so I could hit the goal at the end.

So back to Hiroe. She calls me on the fact I haven’t done a single article when I think it’s such an important thing to do. I rethink that goal.

I ask her, “Name three things you want more than anything right now.” Come back to the United States. Get really good at surfing. Get a job. So we break them down into smaller bits that will tie in with the other things she’s interested in. Radiation and water quality post-tsunami are of tremendous interest to her. Surfrider Foundation is something she holds in great affection and volunteers for. And surfing… well, that’s just all she’d do if given half a chance. It just takes remembering these are the things that matter, and making sure they’re somehow part of her Pick Four goals.

An aside in our discussion was about my search for a car. The MINI Cooper still tops my list, even though it’s not the best car trip or cargo car. Even used ones are are expensive right now. But. Sometimes a girl just wants a cute car. This is what she said:

I eat rice and beans kind of basic diet day after day but I still have $1200 surfboard.

So back to the Pick Four process:

  • Carefully choose the four goals and make sure they’re something you really want to achieve. Make sure they cover different categories. Take time to refine these goals, because 12 weeks is a long time. Godin recommends one long-term goal and three short.
  • Write in the book every day. Don’t skip. Carefully read your week’s notes on the weekend. Pay special attention to lessons learned.
  • Get out your calendar and schedule a few things that will get you where you’re going.
  • Notice synchronicities. They happen a lot, and they’re good to notice.

This is working for me, and for Hiroe. At the end of 12 weeks, I had made all my Quarter 1 goals (the car will be mine very shortly). Even though she put it on hold for a bit, Pick Four helped Hiroe land a job which she’s working with an agenda that integrates with her other better goals, and she wrote a fine primer for Beachapedia called Radiation: Why it is Harmful to Us. I’m on to Quarter 2, with much grander financial goals, some major website developments, and some undisclosed wackiness. Things fall into place much faster now.

Godin and Ziglar are convinced it will work, and it truly does. Three thumbs up.


About Leslie Strom

Stand out. Be bold. Prove you exist. I try to do this in web design, writing, publishing, and with my frequently bad ideas. Since I spend about 85% of my time collecting information and am willing to set myself out as a human cautionary tale, I think you might enjoy the enlightening (or not) tinkertoy workings of my mind. Welcome!
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