Stacey Abrams says the secret to her success is an Excel spreadsheet she’s been using since she was 18

Stacey Abrams
AP Photo/Butch Dill

At the start of 2020, data from YouGov suggested that around 28% of Americans would start the new year with a few resolutions. Our goals were noble — exercising more and saving more money topped the list. After such an exhausting 2020, making resolutions this January might sound untenable, but if you like the idea of getting a fresh start in the new year, it’s not too late to set some reasonable goals and look to how others have achieved theirs for motivation and inspiration.

One woman who is already crushing her goals in 2021 is New Georgia Project founder Stacey Abrams. Regardless of whether you agree with her politics, there’s no denying that Abrams has accomplished a lot in her life, from graduating from Yale Law School to founding organizations, like Fair Fight, that have helped register hundreds of thousands of new voters in her home state of Georgia.

And apparently one of her secret weapons to success is an Excel spread sheet she started when she was just 18 years old. Abrams uses the spreadsheet to map out her goals and keep track of the progress she’s making toward realizing them.

“The spreadsheet is how I concretize how I intend to get there,” she told CNBC in 2019. “I like to say that until you write down how you plan to get there, it’s just a wish. It’s a dream. But when you actually lay out the steps and you think about what it takes to make something real, that makes it possible.”


“If I want to be the No. 1 athlete, I can’t do it simply by watching other people play,” she continued. “I’ve got to do the work to get myself there. And so my spreadsheet has been, since I was 18, my road map for the things I need to learn and the work I need to do.”

Though she’s now an accomplished politician, Abrams’ spreadsheet has included more whimsical goals over the years. When she was younger, publishing spy novels was on her spreadsheet, and in 2009, she published her eighth romantic-suspense novel under the pen name Selena Montgomery (who is now retired, she told Atlanta magazine, though Selena Montgomery might eventually finish a trilogy she started). Abrams’s next book is a legal thriller titled “While Justice Sleeps,” set to be released this May under her actual name.

Now 47, Abrams has been using the spreadsheet for decades, and it helps her stay focused on what she’s trying to accomplish.

“It’s been true a number of times that what I thought was my ambition really wasn’t my ambition,” Abrams told CNBC. “It really was just a wish, and my real ambition had a different facet to it. And because I had that spreadsheet, I was able to really double-check and reaffirm my goals.”

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About the Author
Jenn Fields
Jenn Fields serves as Simplemost Media’s managing editor from Colorado, where she worked as a reporter and editor, on staff and as a freelancer, at newspapers and magazines. After earning her master’s from University of Missouri’s journalism school, Jenn worked in community journalism for 10 years, writing and editing for the Boulder Daily Camera and Denver Post. Over her 20-year career, she has covered a diverse range of topics, including travel, health and fitness, outdoor sports and culture, climate science, religion and plenty of other fascinating topics.

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