How To Use The Panda Planner To Achieve Your Goals

Rather than let another year go by and leave you behind with unfulfilled goals, use the Panda Planner to break down your goals into the daily and weekly habits you need to succeed.

Joe Garma and his Panda Planner

Another New Year. Another set of new resolutions.

Maybe yes, maybe no – certainly a good number of my friends say, “I don’t do resolutions”. Yeah, but nearly everyone strives for something, whether or not they write it down, or plan the work and work the plan.

And if all those New Year diet and exercise TV ads reflect the popular mood or intention, then it’s fair to suggest that we tend to want to shed the old skin and grow a new, more lustrous one when January comes around.

Which leads me to what 27.6% of you tell me you want to experience in your life, which I’ll get to in a moment; but first let me give you a sense for what’s ahead.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Why learning to live with intention and guided by habits makes you the genie;
  • How to live with intention and create empowering habits;
  • How I will plan the achievement of my 2017 goals; and
  • How to record and track it all in the Panda Planner (and get 10% off).

Let’s dig in…


Most of You Want A Life Guided By Intention and Empowering Lifestyle Habits

I have a survey: What Do You Want To Improve in 2017?

It has 12 selections. Each conforms to the 12 building blocks that make up the four anti-aging pillars that support living a long and strong life, the subject of a book I’m writing. (No need to sign up for it if you’re already a Subscriber.)

So far, about 250 of my readers took the survey. The number one selection is “I want to become leaner and more muscular” at 16.3%; however, more respondents were enamored with two selections that pretty much fit together, hand-in-glove:

  • “I want to live my life guided by focused intention”, and
  • “I want to learn new, empowering lifestyle habits”.

Together, they add up to 27.6%:

Habits and intention are two of the most important desires people selected

(Click image to see all responses)

(Click here to select what’s important to you.)

You might have noticed from the data shown on the pie chart above that the “get lean and muscular” selection (16.3%) beat out either of the individual selections for “intention” or “habits”, but if you think about it, focused intention is a lifestyle habit.

I’ll go out on a limb here and assert that we can cobble intention and habits together and declare that most of the people who took the survey want to get better at both.

That said, there’s no better time than now to stir the pot to get that goal simmering – not only because it’s a fresh New Year, but because “now” is always the only time you can do anything.

Now is all you’ve got.

So right now, this very instant, I’m going to present you with some tips on how to live your life more intentionally through developing your capacity for habit making.

This will be the third article in a row that speaks to habit formation, starting with Use the Seven Virtues to Attain Your Goals and How To Use Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans To Get What You Want.

This is intentional.

It goes back to what I’ve already said:

We tend to want to shed the old skin for the new come January.

Unless you’re a snake, this doesn’t happen naturally. It takes intention and consistent application. It takes a planned process. I repeat this again:

You need to plan your work and work your plan.

Thus, once you’re done reading the rest of this article and the others I’ll link to (like Virtues and Titans), you’ll have the tools to build a life guided by intentional, empowering habits that most of you said is your priority (those who took the survey).

Moreover, you will also have the habit-making methodology to achieve the single thing that most of you said you wanted: “I want to be lean and muscular.”

I want to become leaner and more muscular

(Click image to see all responses)

(Click here to select what’s important to you.)

More about this lean and muscular thing in next week’s article.


How To Live With Intention

To have “intention” you must be “aware”.

To be consistently aware, you must develop a habit of being aware.

To be aware, you must be “present”.

To be present you must stay focused on the task at hand.

You formulate the task at hand as the habit exercised in any given moment designed to step you closer to accomplishing your goal.

When Subscribers to this site sign up, they are encouraged to first develop habits before delving into any of the other material presented in my Transform You Body and Mind guide.

This is simply common sense.

Most of us aren’t very good at making change happen.  Change is hard. So, why tell Subscribers how to “get lean and muscular” if they haven’t first learned how to get good at intentional habit-making?

(Read Why Change Is Hard — Three Reasons We Get Stuck.)

Seems to me that the reason most of the survey takers were interested in living with intention and/or habit making is for the same reason there’s only one smart answer in response to that genie in the bottle who emerges to ask:

“What is your one wish”

Your most empowering answer:

“To be the genie”

You see where I’m going here:

To become good at intentional habit making makes you the “genie” that can make your wishes come true.

Therefore, when people subscribe, the first thing I suggest they get their arms around is to become good at habit making.

These are the habit making resources presented to Subscribers:

1. How To Make Tiny Habits Big is based on Stanford University professor BJ Fogg’s research. The concept is that you begin by making a habit out of something simple to do that then becomes a stepping stone to a larger, more significant habit that you believe will culminate in the achievement you want.

Wanting something is not the same as actually planning what you want, and then working the planIt’s the “doing” that makes something happen, not the wanting.

The difference could be tiny habits.

Tiny habits tied to already established routines are easy to do and can grow to become substantial, beneficial changes in your life. Read more about this technique and process here.

2. How To Build A Better Life With Morning Habits argues that beginning your day with conscious intent is an excellent way to help ensure that you shape your day’s experience the way you want it to be.

Yes, you may wake up groggy and basically sleep-walk your way to work, but this is not a useful way to take control and get what you want out of your life.

Stringing together small simple morning habits can set you on the right track to reach the destination you desire.

As the Chinese proverb wisely advises, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Your first step begins when you first wake up. Continue with this here.

3. The Genius Of Doing — How To Change When Change Is Hard is based on a wonderfully insightful book called Switch by brothers Chip and Dan Heath.

When it comes to making changes in one’s life, the central idea here is to break the desired change into small, doable steps. And then shape the path so you don’t stumble as you begin your journey

Make it like gravity, inevitable, as described right here.

4. 4 Steps To Make Your Goals Smart and Achievable 4 Steps To Make Your Goals Smart and Achievableis an important article about goal setting, because it gets into — as the title suggests — the actual steps, or tactics needed for achieving goals, referred to as “SMART”.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

As I write in the article:

People who use this “SMART” approach are more likely to achieve what they want, not because this technique is so unique or ideal, but because it offers a framework to guide our goal selection and goal-oriented activities.

Once you’re done absorbing the knowledge offered in the four articles presented above, you will know:

  1. How not to stumble by making the habits required to achieve your goals too big and ambitious;
  2. The importance of preparing each day by cultivating certain morning habits;
  3. Following up with tiny habits, how to shape your path to accomplishment; and
  4. How to get SMART with goal making by using this clearly defined and accountable goal-setting system.


My 2017 Goals

I spent some time over the last two weeks examining the things I want to achieve in 2017 that I’m willing to work for, plan for and execute day by day, or week by week, depending on the goal.  Some of them are private, but these I’ll share:

So, if these are my goals, what should I do to attain them?

Certainly, thinking about them from time to time, or writing them down on some piece of paper and glancing at them here and there will not help me achieve my goals.

Let’s grab onto one of them and consider how it might be realized.

The body fat reducing goal serves as a good example, because for it to happen several specific habits need to be put in place and (literally) exercised.

(Read 8 Surefire Ways to Trim Body Fat and Keep It Off Forever.)

Although I have yet to work out the very important specifics, here’s how I might go about it:

  1. Measure and record my current body fat percentage; say it’s 18%
  2. Use some simple math to determine how many pounds of fat I need to lose to hit the 12% goal; say it’s 10 pounds.
  3. Choose a reasonable monthly goal of pounds lost, which will tell me how many months it could take; say it’s two pounds per month, or five months.
  4. Mark on a calendar or goals planner (my preference as you’ll soon see) the two months of fat loss per month milestones.
  5. Determine the daily habits I must cultivate to consistently lose two pounds of fat each month, which will be a blend of:
  6. Break down each of the “to dos” listed in #5 above into daily/weekly habits.

(Each of the links in #5 provide articles I’ve written on those respective topics.)

In the past, I’d write these goals and the steps needed to achieve them in some notebook.  After a few months, I’d have a hodgepodge of confusing material that was hard to track.

This year it’s gonna be different.


The Panda Goals Planner System

Joe's Panda Planner

That booklet-looking thing I’m holding in the above picture is a Panda Planner, my choice for this year’s goal planning journal. It’s also the choice of about 1,422 reviewers who gave it a 4.4 approval rating.

Note in the picture above that I’ve written nothing in the Panda Planner.  That’s because I just got it.  As mentioned, what I have been doing since the last week in December is writing down what I want to achieve and how to get there.  That list of goals I shared above came from that process.

Now, using the SMART system along with information in those articles I linked to above that I send to Subscribers, I can dissect my goals into bite-sized habits and schedule them daily, or whenever they make sense.

I heartily recommend that you, too, get some kind of goals planner.  After searching around, I chose the Panda Planner for three basic reasons:

(1) It provides the space and prompts for me to list:

  • What I’m grateful for (here’s why that’s important)
  • What I’m excited about
  • Affirmations
  • Priorities
  • Wins
  • Improvements needed

(2) It accommodates the SMART goal making/achieving system.

(3) It comes with a series of videos that explain how to use it, as well as several ebooks about how to accomplish goals.

When you purchase a Panda Planner, Michael Leip, the Founder of the company, sends you an email containing links to various “how to” videos showing best practices for using his planner, beginning with this introduction video:

Here’s some of what’s inside the Panda Planner:

Panda Planner Daily view

Panda Planner weekly view

You’ll also get a bunch of ebooks to help you accomplish what you want out of life, as shown in this promo pic:

ebooks are given away for free when you buy the Panda Planner

UPDATE: I shoulda read the “ebooks” before highlighting them here, because once I did I came away very unimpressed.  Not to say that they were without merit or good advice, but none earn the appellation of “ebook”; rather each could have been presented as a couple of paragraphs in a blog post.

This doesn’t diminish the potential value of the Panda Planner for planning and executing on what you want to create in your life. What I can say without reservation is this: You need a systematized approach to accomplishing your goals and part of that is to (I repeat ad nauseum):

Plan your work and work your plan,

Something akin to a Panda Planner makes that not only a lot easier, but pretty much necessary.

Here’s a 10% discount code you can try using if you buy the Panda Goals Planner on


By the time I publish my next week’s article about how to get lean and muscular, you’ll have a much better sense for taking my suggestions and breaking them down into doable habits, all planned out in your very own planner.

UPDATE: Get started on your “lean and muscular” journey here.


Your Takeaway

Remember this:

  • Wistfully saying that you want to achieve something is not the same as making it a goal, complete with action steps and milestones.
  • Accomplishing your goals is a lot easier if you create a process, or road map, that consists of regular action items that become habitual.
  • Your goals road map should be committed to paper, and some sort of “goals planner” like the Panda Planner, is very helpful.
  • Once you know how to bring the systematic change into your life needed to accomplish your goals, you can apply this method to anything you wish to make happen — you can be your own genie!

Next week, I’ll cover how to get lean and muscular, because that’s what most of you said in the survey that you want to achieve in 2017, as depicted in the pie chart above.

Before we part company, may I remind you that if you’re not one already, become a Subscriber so you don’t miss a thing. (It’s FREE.)


Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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