How to pick your battles? The real secret to setting and achieving goals!



Over time I have discovered that setting and achieving goals is not a to do list, but rather a personal decision to enter into a battle. That’s right, I said battle. Most of the times those battles I am talking about are solely with myself and my own will, but there are times it involves others or outside obstacles.

Today, if you have things in your life that you want to change, you will have to decide between doing something or doing nothing. That decision alone will be your very first battle on the way to your victory.

If setting and achieving goals is like going to war or entering a battle, then the question we must all ask is “How do I choose my battles or how do I plan my attack? Here are some points to consider in helping you to decide what you should attack first. I call it the LAP Method.


List everything that you want or need to do.  Your battle plan has to begin as a list and for some people the courage to even write the list is the very first battle. Think of this list as your “Declaration of Independence” or your “Articles of War.” Research consistently proves over and over again that those who write their goals down have a much greater chance of achieving them.


Ask great questions. Every great General will ask lots of questions before they enter into a battle. Once you have declared your goals you will need to ask questions to develop your battle plan. Here are just a few questions you should ask…

  • Are your goals achievable? Simple question to ask yourself to make sure they are really achievable. No one goes to battle without first counting the cost and making sure they can win. Fighting for your marriage or life is different from trying to become the center for the Orlando Magic. Some battles you are going to engage in no matter what the outcome is.
  • Is there one goal or “Battle” you must choose first? “Sometimes it’s not about you choosing the battle simply because the battle is choosing you.” Is there a battle that you must fight first before you can engage in other campaigns? I remember when I was trying to get hired a State Trooper and the only thing blocking me was my weight. I had to lose several pounds or I was not going to get hired. That goal easily became my first battle.
  • Which goal are you most passionate about? Sometimes it is easy to pick your first battle because there is one clear objective that matters most. You might think it would be fun to travel or learn a new language, but if your heart burns for starting a ministry for homeless people then you can easily choose your first battle. You will always battle harder and longer for something that you really want and desire.
  • Are there any similarities in any of your goals? Look to see if you can group any into a common category. If you want to lose weight, start an exercise program, then you can move them all into one campaign titled “Getting Healthy”. After you have put them into groups you will need to ask yourself which group is most important? Once you know that answer then you will need to develop your battle plan.
  • Are there any “Hidden Snipers”? It could be the food in your refrigerator or the late night show you watch every night that keeps you from being able to get up early to write or train. No matter what it is, it just keeps causing you to fail. If there are any, get rid of them and eliminate them!


Start with a plan and then start your plan. Once you have a list of what is most important, whether that is one single goal or a category, it’s time to think like a General. It’s time to look at the objective and make a plan of attack and then it’s time to attack. Here are three keys on how to make a plan that will move you forward.

  1. Start with the easiest objective first. If your goal is to get healthy and run a marathon then you should maybe start with just buying your running shoes. Win the border battles before you try to attack the center of the city.
  2. Measure your progress. General’s have maps to track the progress of any battle. You see them on almost every movie that involves a war. You should make your own map so that you can map your progress and see the results as they happen.
  3. Move from strength to strength. Win one city and then win the next. Break your goals into smaller goals that you can win and secure.
  4. Celebrate every step of success. It is important that you stay in the battle for what you want. Celebration is a big key to keeping yourself motivated.

If you know it’s time to go to war and start taking territory that belongs to your dreams and destiny, I encourage you to begin with your own list, your own declaration of war. Go ahead and make the choice and watch what God can do when you get fully committed to moving forward.


Coach Don Newman

The 365 Day Journey Begins Again!

Three years ago I made a decision to change my life by working on changing three specific areas in my life before I turned 50. I blogged during that year and named my blog 365to50. Since then I have repeated some of the principals I learned, but not the entire plan for an entire year. I just turned 52 last weekend and have decided that it is time to revisit the 365 Day Plan. It was a memorable journey and it changed the course of my life in several areas. One of the biggest areas was in the area of learning to become healthy through participating in Triathlons with my daughter Brittnee. We just completed our fifth event on Saturday.


Here are the areas that changed in my life by doing this for a full year before I turned 50.

  • I started competing in Triathlons with my daughter Brittnee. We just competed in our 5th Triathlon yesterday.
  • I finally got started on my first book. Although I didn’t finish it that year, I finally did start it. I am now over halfway with finishing it!
  • I started reading more books, great books that could change my life and make me a better person.
  • Most of all I learned the secret of having a full year to achieve life changing goals. There is a secret to making goals for one full year and I will be sharing some of the things I am learning from that process this year.

The 365 plan is simple but not easy. It is built around identifying the key areas you want o change in and spending a full year planning and tracking those changes. Because this principle is so powerful, I have decided to do it once again.  I also have decided to start blogging again while I am moving through this year. Since I am wanting to continue this blog, I am changing the name from 365to50 to 365toChange. It’s not about turning 50 anymore but now it’s about changing my life over the next year, one day at a time. I have a new saying for this year and for this journey.

“Change a day and you can change a year, Change a year and you can change your life”

Here is what I am planning to do in the next year before I turn 53 years old next September.

  1. I am going to finish my first book before the end of this year and start my second book by February 2016. My goal is to have one book published and my second manuscript finished before I turn 53 next September.
  2. Lose Weight! I am determined to not give up the fight to win this battle. My goal is to lose around 1 to 1.5 lbs per week over the next 365 days. That would move me from being 282 to being about 215lbs. This goal also includes goals for Healthy Eating, Regular Exercise and Better Sleeping Habits.
  3. Work on developing a new outlet for ministry that I feel called to develop. One where I would deepen my own ability to encourage and coach others as I define what this will look like and how it will function.
  4. Read and review 12 books that I find to be impactful and life changing. My goal is to share what I learn from them for anyone wanting to change their own life.
  5. Deepen my relationship with God! I am looking specifically to deepen my ability in Spirit led prayer. This month I am specifically praying for Law Enforcement Officers. As the year continues I want to grow in my ability to follow God’s leading in prayer.

While these are the 5 areas that I will be focused on during the next year, there are other areas I also plan to grow in over the next 365 days. Those areas include my Marriage, Career, Family and Finances. For this blog I will be sharing everything I learn as I continue this journey for the next 365 days. I encourage everyone to follow along and please provide feedback. Your feedback will not only help me but others that will be reading my blog.

NEXT WEEK: I will answer the question I most often hear from people that I am coaching for life change. The most often ask “I want to change a lot of things in my life, which ones do I work on first?”


Coach Don

Top 4 Reasons Why Writing a Book this Father’s Day Could Change the World

This Sunday we’ll celebrate fathers. Some of you will take dad out for his favorite steak, while others will simply call to say “I love you.” For me, my favorite was the year my kids surprised me with a new grill. They sent me out into the backyard to cook steaks on my old, rusted-out grill. When I realized there was no gas in the tank, I had no choice but to run to the store and exchange the empty tank. When I returned with the full tank to connect it to the grill, I found in its place a brand new, shiny, chrome-brushed grill that was twice the size of my old one. I’ll never forget it.

Some of you will not be able to celebrate with your father the way my kids did with me. The reasons can vary; perhaps a dad has passed away, or you’ve never even known your father. My prayers go out for anyone facing those feelings today, and I hope you’ll feel the healing hand of God. I’ll touch on that below.

In light of this special day, and what it means to so many, I was inspired to think of the ways books about fathers can have an influence on fathers and everyone that celebrates them.

1) Books can influence fathers for years to come. If God has spoken to you about writing a book on being a great man, just think of the effect that could have on current or future fathers! Xulon recently released a new title by Pastor G.F. Watkins titled The Alpha Male, and the Women Who Get Them. It’s a great book about what it means to be a man. I believe it will help thousands of men avoid the pitfalls that can destroy generations.

2) Books can pass on legacy to your children’s children. On a weekly basis, I speak to someone who wants to leave a legacy in print for future generations. The desire to see one’s offspring carry forward the honor of the family name is a core desire of almost every father; even if their actions in life say otherwise, it is there. The father who takes the time to write it now, however, is sending a message in an open time capsule which allows future sons and daughters to look in and learn.

3) Books can honor forefathers from past generations. I have worked with several authors who were writing a book to honor the men who came before them. The desire to honor and preserve the legacy of a father, grandfather or past ancestor is a desire not easily quenched. Those who carry it feel called to be the one who ensures future generations hear the stories. If you feel called to write as a tribute to a father or grandfather, there is no better day to start than Father’s Day!

4) Writing a book doesn’t just impact others—it also impacts you. The first person affected by the book you will write will be you. The act of writing brings healing and understanding like no other act can. Some of you will write a book and become a better father yourself, while others will write and find the love and understanding to forgive a father who needs to be released. All kinds of things happen in the heart of the writer when they write. “The first words you write are the key to unlocking your own heart and soul.”

My prayer is that many of you will decide to begin your writing journey this Father’s Day, and experience all that God wants to do within your own heart.

A great reason to write and publish a book!

Have you ever considered the impact that your own writing or journaling would have upon your own family and your future generations? I often think about the impact of my own writing and the future impact of the book that I am working to complete now. in fact, while working on my book recently, I looked over at my young granddaughter and began to wonder. What will she think about my book when she’s older? Will she pass it to her grandchildren to read? Will future generations talk about what I have written the same way I love talking about my ancestors book?

The book my ancestor, Dr. Charles Wesley Pope, wrote is a family treasure that reminds me to keep pressing forward on my book. As I think about his book and its impact on me, I realize the books that each of us are writing will create eternal ripples destined to effect generations to come.

1. Our books and writings will let our future family know who we are through what we have written. Think of the people you have come to know only through the books or music they wrote.

2. Our books and writings will pass our faith and what we hold dear to those we will never meet in this lifetime. A book gives us the chance to pass the baton of our experience well beyond our years.

3. Our books and writings will inspire our grandchildren, and even great grandchildren, perhaps causing them to dream a little bigger. Some will even dream of being just like us, another author passing on their faith to the world and continued generations.

I encourage you to consider writing something and for you that are brave enough to take the challenge, I encourage you to write and publish your own book. What has God done for you or showed you that you really want your descendants to know about. You are the only one that can write it. Maybe your own book will be on the shelves of descendants all over the world. I know John Wesley’s is, what about yours?

What speed are you going?

Speed Limit1Every road has a speed limit! Do you know what yours is?

In life everyone is traveling down one road or another on their way to what they want to become one day. These roads and bridges are more than just pathways to get us to where we want to go, they are the very brush strokes and pigments that make us who we ultimately are. Too many times we are on the right road but we are missing the journey that really takes us to where we want to go.

“The problem is that many times we are in such a hurry to get somewhere that we never really become who we are meant to become, we only change locations.”

Dallas Willard is quoted by in John Ortberg’s newest book SOUL KEEPING with this powerful statement Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” As I read that statement my eyes teared up and my heart seemed to almost stop for a moment. It was as if I had just read the answer to the question that my soul had been asking of God for months. “What am I missing?” “Why am I having difficulty finding the center of my life, and of my soul?” Hurry! The enemy of my life hurry! The hurry I am talking about is best pictured by this word picture below.

Have you ever drove home from work with so much on your mind that you didn’t even remember how you even got home?  What road did you take? Did you run any read lights or stop signs? God doesn’t want us to just arrive at the next location, He wants us to remember the drive.

Think of the things that you have seen while driving down a scenic roadway. I know I have seen everything from a double rainbow that was at the tail end of an awe inspiring storm,  to multiple falling stars crossing the sky right at twilight. There is so much to miss if you are not present or open to it at the time it happens. Thats why hurry or busyness can dry up our soul.

Three ways to slow down in a crazy fast world.

1. Permit life to interrupt you from time to time.

One Sunday I was working at home, trying to get caught up on paperwork, when my granddaughter Paislee came into my office and asked if I would play “Let it go” from the movie Frozen. Well that request went on to the request to go to Disney World and yes I took her and the whole family. Having annual passes makes it that easy to go. In short It was one of the best days ever and my daughter Brittnee took the picture below. My quote for the day was “I got nothing done today, except was most important”.

Me and Paislee

2. Look for the small details in the journey

Have you every just looked at your wife’s hair or took in the way someone laughs? Have you ever just looked at a heat lighting storm in the distance and allowed yourself a moment to be filled with awe and wonder? Have you ever forced yourself to hold your own brilliant idea to just let the person with the ok idea that will never work finish his or her explanation? What makes a diamond great and worth much value is all of the tiny facets and colors that make up its brilliance. I have missed more of the small moments than I care to remember on my way to becoming something. We have to look at the small details if we want to slow down. If a small child is asking you a silly question on the way to your big daunting business meeting. Stop and notice the seemingly small or insignificant details. They are God’s gifts in tiny packages!

3. Walk with God!

Have you ever noticed that God is never in a hurry. He has more responsibility than any of us will ever fully know, but He is never impatient or impulsive. If the creator of the universe and everything we can’t even imagine has time to spend with us in the early morning than He must know something that we don’t know. He must know that life was created for the tiny moments and the journey is all about becoming, becoming like Him! In fact it is only in the journey that we truly learn and become his follower, to become his friend.

Today, do something you have never done before and take in every single sight along the path that leads to your next destination. You never know, sometimes you can be going so fast that you might miss the turn you need to make to ultimately get to where you want to go!


“What bridge are you wanting to cross this summer?”

Bridge Crossing

As this weekend begins the pathway through what we call Summer, I have been thinking how this time presents a great time to make some changes in my own life. It seems that as some things slow down and we take time to spend with our families on vacation or holiday, its important to pick at least one thing that I want to accomplish this summer before the rhythm of Fall begins.

For me, I have decided that in keeping with my goals before I turn 51, I have three goals to accomplish this summer. I consider these three goals one in the same as they are the core desire that God has placed within me to change my life. If you have been following my blog for very lone you will know that it has always been about losing weight and writing my first book. Because I will never quit seeking that end, I will keep crossing these bridges on my way to achieving it. Here are my three goals that make up the bridge I am going to cross this Summer.

  • READ at least three books over June, July and August
  • RIDE my bike at least 3 days a week over June, July and August
  • WRITE at least a third of my book by September

Here are three things to think about when you consider what bridge you should cross this summer.

Decide what bridge you want to cross

There are so many things you could focus on this summer. In fact, Summer can become so busy with so many activities that it just becomes a blur of motion and activity. The way you find what bridge you should cross this summer is by asking yourself the following questions

At the end of Summer where do I want to be? 

Do you want to have a summer full of great memories with your family? Then you want to cross the bridge that leads to “A full Summer with endless and wonderful memories”. Do you want to have a summer where you finish a project at your house? Then you want to cross the bridge that leads to “A successful Summer project finished”. 

After you have decided where you want to be in September, its important that you know where you don’t want to be. Ask yourself this question.

At the end of Summer where do I not want to be?

Have you had a Summer before where you failed to spend quality time with your family and you regretted that Summer? Have you had a Summer where at the end of it, you didn’t finish the one project that you had planed to finish? Just decide where you do not want to be come September and let that emotion help you make a plan.

As strange as it sounds, crossing a bridge requires two desires. The desire to enter a new destination or season and the desire to leave one or to avoid one. Without both desires clearly in mind it is easy to just hang out on the bridge.

Hanging out on the bridge is having just enough desire to move a little but not enough to cross all the way over.

Focus on where you want to go and where you don’t want to end up. Defining those things together will help you to be able to pay the toll that is required for crossing the bridge you really want to cross.

Have a great bridge crossing Summer!

What to do when you fall behind!

Where did the last three months go? It has already been over three months since I turned 50 in September and I feel like I am just starting today to work on my goals for this year. This in fact is what I believe is the greatest challenge of staying on track with my goals. What do I do when I have gotten off course or actually gone the other direction and fallen behind? How do I start back when I have lost momentum? Do I make excuses and figure out who’s to blame? Do I say to myself “I’ve already blown it so I might as well have some fun and I can always try again next year”. What do you say to yourself when you fall behind?

In my last posting I talked about reading the first book of 12 that I want to read this year. I am currently on my second book and I can tell that I will have to pick up the pace if I want to hit that goal of reading 12 books by my birthday.

Yes, I am currently behind but the question that I have to ask myself is this “Who am I behind?”.  “I am only behind myself and guess what I can always catch myself!  If I will just get up and start going again, I can catch myself”.

Maybe you feel behind because you failed to start something when you first intended to. Maybe you feel like you have failed so many times that you don’t want to try anymore. Whatever your circumstances currently are, you are only behind yourself and you catch that person every single time. Get back up and start chasing the person you want to become, the person you were meant to be and you will catch up. In short you might not ever be able to catch someone else who is chasing their dream, but you can still catch up to yours. The point is, you were never meant to catch up to the plan for someone else. You were only meant to catch the person you were meant to become. Peter Pan may have difficulty catching his shadow, but you are not after your shadow you are after your future you! So take some time today and start going after that person one more time. Together we can catch up to the people we were meant to become. We just can’t quit, even after falling three months behind. Come on! You and I can do this thing!

Today I am taking back the lost time and before birthday I plan to catch back up to the man I am dream of becoming. Here are my goals before I turn 51.

1.  Finish the book that I am writing by my 51st birthday.

2. Lose weight and weigh in at 205lbs by my 51st birthday.

3. Focus this entire year on choosing my words wisely everyday.

4. Read 12 good books

5. Learn to practice Silence and Solitude to reflect, pray and grow closer to God.