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How ultra-achiever entrepreneurs use the holidays to win

The way you start 2016 will determine your success.

Astronomically successful entrepreneurs treat the end of their year as a sacred ritual. They get a serious head start by taking advantage of the holiday lull to reflect and plan ahead.

This isn’t just a matter of setting a few goals. 

Wannabe entrepreneurs flub it. They don’t have a good process in place. They know planning is crucial, but not how to do it correctly. Make this mistake and the price you’ll pay is Brain Fog for the next twelve months.

As The Shrink for Entrepreneurs I’ve been able to witness first hand the planning rituals of several insanely successful business owners. These people all have their own personal twist on the process BUT – just like how the fundamentals of a stellar business plan never change – the same fundamental puzzle pieces of good planning are all present at the meta level. 

One of my clients gets weird in the woods – they go out to a cabin to be totally alone. Another spends a ton of time with close family. One journals. Another builds spreadsheets.

All of them are committed to a year-end ritual. And underneath that ritual are three crucial meta-principles that I’m going to break down in this article. Oh, and I’m announcing something kinda big too…

Planning Principle 1: Intelligent Reflection

So many people assume that the new year should be about looking optimistically ahead and thus miss the biggest opportunity of all. Without fail, the top 1% of entrepreneurs carefully consider the year that has been.

By following a precise formula for mindful retrospection, these entrepreneurs win immunity from a dark tendency in the heart of all self employed business owners

We’re ruthless with ourselves. I am. You are.

Your expectations for yourself are higher than anyone else could imagine. Even when you do amazing well, you’re hungry for more. You have the capacity to be extraordinarily hard on yourself. God forbid anyone should ever hear your internal dialogue on a bad day.

If you flub the annual pause for intelligent reflection, you’ll enable an insidious tendency to discount your own achievements and successes – minimizing or forgetting them – that’ll simply vaporize your self esteem.

You’ll be consumed by thoughts that you’ve not accomplished enough, haven’t moved fast enough or grown enough. 

The net outcome? A pervading sense of hopelessness. Starting to feel like this whole business thing is a mistake. Feeling lost.

On the other hand, you also need reflection to look critically at mistakes you’ve made.

Entrepreneurs DO tend to minimize their past wins, but half the reason you need to positively remember the good stuff is to find the strength to recollect – and examine – the bad.

You need to reflect on the wins and do a post-mortem on the mistakes you’ve made. The cost of missing that last part is tremendous: You’ll keep making the same mistakes without learning.

Ever feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall? Or maybe just sitting with the same sensation of “stuck-ness” – like a brittle tension in your chest – for months on end?

The value of reflection isn’t always intuitively obvious. Nevertheless, my experience has shown that entrepreneurs who are stuck and beating themselves up while ALSO not learning from the past have just one problem: intelligent reflection didn’t happen. 

Planning Principle 2: Artful implementation design

There is no bigger divider between the wannabes and the winners than this one.

Amateurs set goals for the year ahead. Meanwhile the consummate pro artfully designs implementation plans for his or her vision.

These entrepreneurs rocket themselves into the stratosphere by not just setting long term plans, and not just knowing where they are now in relation to the plan… but by applying a specific strategy to thinking through all the steps from A to B.

It’s tough to describe this process – or how liberating and clarifying it feels – but the side-effects of NOT doing it are painfully obvious:

You’ve done it wrong if you’re someone who gets that gut-clenching feeling every time when – throughout the year – the 1st of a new month rolls around. Or if dread trickles into your stomach when people around you say things like “Can you believe it’s ALREADY March?!

You’re in this trap if you have huge plans for yourself – big long term goals – but end up sitting down at your desk and defaulting to mindless tasks like emptying your inbox… or responding to some other never-ending game of urgency.

If you feel like whole weeks go by where you do everything (anything!) EXCEPT take steps toward your most important goal… your planning is busted.

These things happen to an overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs. They’re stuck, endlessly struggling and miserable. 

The tendency – when this happens – is to look inwards. Blame the self. There must be something wrong with YOU, right?

The truth is that the way you set and plan the implementation of your biggest goals… is fundamentally broken and needs to be fixed. You’re fine. You’re just missing a crucial ingredient that super successful entrepreneurs have in abundance.

Planning Principle 3: The Significance of Ecology 

Most people have no idea what I’m talking about here. It’s too out-there and woo woo.

Ecology is the relationship of one thing to another. It’s harmony and alignment. It’s actually at the heart of the most hard-boiled behavioral psychology.

It’s something that’s difficult to put your finger on, but your goals need it like a fish needs water.

A lack of ecology is the cause of ALL first world “champagne problems” that are in fact insanely painful problems.

Broken ecology means finding out the ladder you’ve worked so hard to climb all year has been leaning up against the wrong wall the whole time. It means finding out that “success” is not what you thought it would be, but being utterly spent and exhausted from getting there all the same.

Don’t make the mistake some people do by thinking “Well, I’d rather struggle with the problems of success than the problems of failure”.

A lack of Ecology in your goal setting will actually result in failure so severe you could never even imagine it. 

I’ve seen people plummet into absolute hopelessness after chasing something so hard – and getting it, in a way – only to find out there’s no money, or no freedom… or no win to be had at all.

It’s a lack of ecology in this way that causes more entrepreneurs to quit – abandoning GOOD businesses with real potential – than anything else I’ve seen!

When your business looks so disgustingly trapping that your friends and family are quietly thinking “well if that’s success, I’d rather work in a nine-to-five!” … you’ve flubbed your ecology planning.

When your business hasn’t given you MORE freedom, but less… Or you’re working three times harder than most white-collar employees for the same (or less) money… you’ve flubbed your ecology.

The ultimate cost of this is that your unconscious mind will figure it out. It’ll learn that moving closer to your goals is making you miserable so – in it’s ultimate mission to protect your emotional health – it’ll slam on the brakes.

The motivation tap will run dry. You’ll feel apathetic toward your business. Disinterested. Switched off. Like your house is on fire but you’re just kinda bored of the whole thing.

What happens when you “GET” the 3 Principles…

Get Reflection… and you’ll spot massive opportunities that are EASY to take advantage of. You’ll realize that you cracked the code of success a few times already and simply need to do what works.

You’ll gain a new-found sense of confidence in yourself and your ability to know what to do! You’ll discover your strengths, avoid your weaknesses and find that SUCCESS ITSELF becomes easier and easier instead of harder.

It makes sense that the longer you’re in the game, the easier succeeding becomes. Lack of Intelligent Reflection is the only thing that prevents this being true.

Get Implementation… And you’ll never agonize over what to do next, but simply leap into action. You’ll become the kind of person who can tell someone – anyone who’s asking – PRECISELY what you’re working on TODAY in your life and business. AND you’ll know precisely how that thing you’re moving forward fits into your overall vision for success!

Naturally, the people close to you in your life will be in awe of how you seem to be able to throw an idea, dream or vision out there… and then a few weeks or months later have built something.

Welcome to the ultra-achievers-club! This is where entrepreneurs look like wizards to the mere mortals around them.

Get Ecology… And you’ll feel the deep, almost spiritual sync between your conscious mind’s desires and your unconscious values and drivers.

The motivational faucet is turned to full flow and not in a way where you’re pushing yourself either. Your motivational drive will be inexorable, like a river rushing over a waterfall. Unstoppable.

When ecology is in place, your unconscious mind KNOWS that what you’re pursuing is going to be GOOD FOR YOU. There’s no more internal struggle, just a clear sense of wanting what matters… and desiring to do what it takes to get there too!

The Head-Start 2016 Planning Ritual is coming

Monday – December 21st – I’m releasing a comprehensive video training program you can use to guide your year-end planning over the holidays. 

It’s going to be available as a limited release ONLY for this time of year, and only for folks willing to commit to setting aside a few hours during the holidays to dive into it.

The details will be posted here on my blog and emailed out to folks on my list on Monday. Email me personally (my email address is just peter@ the name of either of my websites) if you have questions.

Who’s with me? 

Do you want in on this? Post a “Hell yeah!” in the comment section below… and I’m curious to know something:

Who here amongst my smart readers has felt the effects of one of these principles missing from their planning? Who here has felt the rush of having one locked into place? If you’re up for it, share in the comments… and I’ll start us off by sharing a personal story there.


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  1. I’m obviously “in” so it’s a HELL YEAH from me 😛

    But I wanted to share something about Principle #3 … because I think that’s a hard one to really wrap our head’s around.

    I struggled with it for the longest time with my corporate consulting business. What i did for a living prior to The Shrink for Entrepreneurs.

    For me, I had to work soooo damn hard to find motivation. Everything was a struggle. I had to have 8 hours of sleep, perfectly work out, drink a green smoothie, hold my tongue just right… and if the STARS WERE ALIGNED… I’d be able to get a few important things done.

    It was because my business objectives weren’t aligned – were not ECOLOGICAL – with what I really wanted and needed in life.

    When I figured this out and pivoted to this totally new thing… built a blog… got online etc etc. I had whole days go by where I’d practically forget to eat (or sleep!) because I was on fire with motivation.

    That’s the visceral difference between being in a state of unaligned broken ecology… versus having it lined up. It’s a night and day thing.

    1. Hey Peter, that kind of “Ecological” based motivation is something that is super important to me! Are the video trainings going to cover that in depth?

      1. And thank you for the blog posts, by the way. I’m already a Commit Action member, but I still really appreciate it. 🙂

  2. Thank you, Peter. That’s a very thoughtful, informative & relevant article. Happy to cheer on all those other kindred entrepreneurial spirits out there with my own “Hell, yeah!”

  3. This is an incredible motivator. I felt this over the last year and this email has empowered me to ensure that implementation and ecology are evaluated in my daily actions.


    My take on the three “gets” is thinking me/we/us.

    As in me to reflect
    We – you and I to implement
    And Us – it’s all of us together – ecology

  5. Great article, Peter. I’ve definitely fallen short with each principle in the past, especially the first one being so afraid to even look at how much I thought I’d failed. I’m looking forward to the training!

  6. Principle #3 described my entire 2015. In December 2014, my book was released.

    The book has done really well (consistently been in the top 15 for Amazon’s Marketing, Web Marketing, and Ecommerce kindle rankings for a year straight – & the book has made getting clients in my business easier + allowed me to charge higher rates but….

    ….it didn’t deliver the changes I had dreamed up in my head that it would. I ended up with less freedom in my life. I’ve struggled with personal productivity / effectiveness all of 2015 when that hasn’t really been a problem in the past.

    I figured there was something wrong or broken within me but I can now see how on a deeper level my subconscious mind decided that reaching my goals equals pain & as a result I’ve been fighting against that all year (which can also help explain why it has been so energetically draining to try to get myself to be productive)

  7. Hell yeah 🙂
    You nailed it with point#3 “You’ll feel apathetic toward your business. Disinterested.” been there myself! Thanks Peter for another well thought out article.

  8. Hi, Peter

    It’s unnerving and comforting to know how deeply you understand the mental challenges we entrepreneurs deal with each day. Its like your inside our heads.

    Actually I’ve already started reflecting on this past year which helped me realize the methods I’m using in my business are outdated and simply not working anymore. I continued with them because they were familiar. Need to find the courage to change and experiment with new approaches.

    Getting the ecology right, doing things that I’m emotionally connected with is definitely a biggie for me. So, looking forward to what you have in store for us.

    1. Wayne, I’m with you, Brother!
      I’m a real estate entrepreneur who keeps moving the ladder, having exhausted myself climbing one of the many RE walls, so try another, etc. etc.
      I need help!
      To your success and mine!

  9. -snip-
    Broken ecology means finding out the ladder you’ve worked so hard to climb all year has been leaning up against the wrong wall the whole time.

    That’s bloody excellent, I’m nicking that.

  10. Hell yeah!
    Hell yeah!
    Hell yeah!
    (just so as you know I noticed the 3 principles. Which I’ve kind of done, but – really importantly – kind of NOT done)
    Looking forward to reading more
    Looking forward even MORE to reflecting more
    And can I please send my very best wishes to Steve Daar – who’s way out ahead – i have this feeling there’ll be a little jostling, some noise … and then lots will change for you Steve, in the most surprisingly pleasant way. Hope you keep us all informed?
    Thanks so much, Peter!
    Hope there’s going to be some egg nogs or whatever-somethings you especially like over your Holiday period

  11. Hell yeah!

    Appreciation, detached self-analysis, and alignment. Sounds like some pretty solid points.

    Hit me with the video training!

  12. Hell, yeah, Peter! Ecology is a great analogy and I’d put that one forward for me because it’s a new way of thinking about it. Sometimes I have one client or project take twice as much effort than the others…and the job pays half the money, but took all my energy.

    I write a lot about ecology and nature and the ability of plants and animals to live in harmony with the resources at hand is the formula for success. You can say the same for an office!

  13. Hell yeah! Reflecting on mistakes is a great idea. Ecology is a nice way of thinking about understanding where you’re going to make the voyage more fun.

  14. Definitely Peter!

    I feel stuck and i think all 3 of those lack in my planning. I can’t wait to get the video and sit down and plan properly. This feels like the perfect timing!

    I am still struggling to understand the ecology part though and maybe the video will help

  15. Hell Yes!

    1. I don’t do reflection…except to beat myself up
    2. I don’t do implementation…I put out fires
    3. I don’t do ecology…I don’t even know what this looks like. I thought I was connected to my work, but my struggle with motivating myself to do the “right” things shows that I have a disconnect.

    I’ve got Dec 21st on my calendar.

  16. Absolutely Peter,

    Another insightful post that provides clarity. After reading your first post from a few days ago, I started planning next years projects. The three principles from this post plus the four guidelines from the previous post are definitely a helpful structure to follow.

  17. HELL YEAH!!

    I can recognize that I’ve been missing all three of these principles, but probably none more so than Ecology. I have certain visions of success in my mind, but I also see the price that this image of success has, and I feel like I’m stopping myself before I start because I don’t want to wind up imprisoned by all the fragile systems I would need in place to have that image of success.

  18. Cant wait Peter, thanks .

    As a commit Action Member I am accountable & focused on my goals, the reflection I have , the get I have , its staying from the ecology I stray from , until Fridays when my coach sets me straight ! I find the negative people & external pressures that will rip you out of your ecological zone.

  19. Hell yeah Peter, I’m in. This week I’m at a surf and yoga retreat in Costa Rica working on my annual planning. The couple that runs this place has got the ecology thing all figured out. I’m learning first hand. Looking forward to Monday!

  20. I’m a Hell Yeah! Ending the year strong and I want to make sure my year end planning catapults me into the new year!

  21. Hell Yeah Peter! I’m in!! This sounds awesome!!
    While I have done year end/start planning before I’ve not done for several years… Which now that I think about it is scary!!

    I’m so looking forward to this! I’ve achieved so much in the last 9 months of being involved in CA, and I’m so excited about the next 12 months once supercharged with this training!!

  22. Hell yeah!
    Looking forward to an enlightening holiday break under your guidance.
    Which reminds me to thank you for the equally timeline Webinar on “ego depletion” this Summer and how to fully take advantage of your holiday to rest and refill your creative tank.
    Happy holidays Peter and CA kickass team.

  23. Hell yeah! Perfect timing I would say because through the support of one of your commit action coaches I was able to massively push me forward. Equipped with the right mix of reflection, implementation and ecology I am going to crush it …

  24. “Hell Yeah!”
    I need help in all three of these areas. I never quite commit to a plan, which means the implementation is screwed from the start. This leads to massive amounts of negative self talk. Ecology? Not even close.

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