4 Powerful Ways to Leverage the New Month
You want to achieve your long term goals, but you don’t seem to ever stick to a plan.
You know New Year’s resolutions don’t work (for you, at least), but you haven’t found a way around it.
You’re aware of how much you could achieve if you had systems built for you to grow.
It’s August. When you stretch out slightly north of time, you see 2021.
This year has been a mess, hasn’t it? You’ve had to test your limits, adjust to new environments — even if that was transforming part of your living room into an office.
Or maybe you lost your job, someone you love.
You lost everything.
If you’re in a country like Cameroon, you’re ridden with anxiety because you are no longer sure of the numbers by the government. Still, the people around you seem to think the virus is gone. Worse, you don’t know who to trust anymore.
That sounds like every country.
If you’re like me, even though these things are happening, part of you is optimistic. You believe things will be okay in the long run and that it could be smart to rethink how you’ve been doing things so far.
Instead of waiting for December or another pandemic or a life event, you wish you could find more straightforward ideas to implement right now. You still want to move ahead towards your goals.
Below are some you can use to carry yourself forward as the year slowly creeps out.
They all involve two things: a pen and paper. Or a dry erase board.
I’ve noticed that whenever I feel overwhelmed by anything, writing things calms me. I thought it was just therapy. As I kept doing this ( and not doing it in other circumstances), I realized it was the chance to see my problems in a visual medium that made the difference.
The main idea of this article is to write down what’s bothering you and what you can do and have done. Let’s dive into it.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance”
— James Baker
“Well, this is obvious,” you’d say — just…hold on for a bit.
I’ve you’ve been reading good books and articles about money and performance, you’ll notice a theme that keeps popping up over and over: planning for your success.
What does that even mean? How do you plan for something so far in the future? What is “success”?
Success is a personal target. There’s no article or book or guru that will tell you what success is for you reading this.
Most would say success is having the following:
Wealth, health, and happiness.
I think we can agree on that. In order then to have these things, you need to know what these are — for you. Not from the popular articles on google or the books with the most reviews. Whatever you define success to be, you need to make a plan — your plan.
Writing this plan out allows you to ‘see’ what you need to do, or as you’ll see below, what you need to stop doing.
Srinivas Rao uses about the compass vs. the map analogy of having a general direction in life. To that, I’d say, have a compass and an editable map. How?
Have a general direction:
I want to make money (online)I want to be married to someone I love.I want to be able to play with my young children without getting out of breath.
Then have an editable map:
What skill do I need to acquire, and when?What type of person do I want to spend my life with, and who do I need to become to attract them?What would a healthy regimen — for me — look like?
The idea of a plan, especially one written down, is to reduce the anxiety that comes with thinking about everything and nothing.
An incredible tool to do this is the 1/5/10 strategy Rule by MJ Demarco.
2: Analyze What Didn’t Work
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”
— Rita Mae Brown.
When it comes to plans, we always have to revise them. With your pen and paper and your blocked time, go back to previous plans, ideas, goals and see what went wrong.
Yeah, it might suck to see how much you’ve “failed”. Trust me, I know. But when you can write this down, point to things that are closely linked, you’ll emerge with so much learning that your confidence would rise.
Whether it’s with relationships, money, prayer life, or your sense of fulfillment, you need to question your map and compass.
Who am I comparing myself with? How do I spend my day? What goals did I set that I shouldn’t?
Analyzing what didn’t work may seem like dwelling on your weaknesses — it’s not.
You’re doing what Jocko Willink will call a post-mortem — at the end of every mission, there is a debrief to see what went well, and especially what could have been done better.
You need your personal debrief when you’ve stepped away from the situation and can have a bird’s eye view of the task accomplished.
Everything you pick here can, and should, be used to step forward with more knowledge and confidence. Just keep in mind that you need to move fast.
3: Find Your LHL — Least Heavy Load
Your LHL is the number of projects you can work on simultaneously.
How long is your to-do list? Do you brandish it with pride? Do you cross off all the wrong items and wonder why things keep stacking up?
The Eisenhower matrix is known to help decide what’s essential and what’s urgent. Also, when to focus on which. It would be great to master and apply this.
But for the rest of us still trying, what we could do is start with The One Thing.
“What’s the one thing that you can do this week such that by doing it, everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
— The One Thing by Gary Keller With Jay Papasan
Once we’ve figured that out, we need to define, incrementally, how many things we can be working on at any chosen period.
Last month, I had to let go of my publishing to gain a new skill. I had moments when I was tempted to crack open a new book or take a new course. Still, because I had seen my weakness too often, I had evidence — visual evidence — that I can only handle so much every week.
This, too, varies with the time of the day. When you consider point 2 above ( analyze what didn’t work), you may find out that you have the energy for specific tasks at particular times of the day. Which often fuels procrastination.
Ali Abdaal, the doctor and Youtube creator, made this even more evident to me.
You don’t lack motivation or inspiration. You’re taking action on the wrong things, and also taking more than you can handle.
Yeah, sure, you should increase your load to build your effort muscle. But past a particular capacity, you get injured.
You get burnt out. Toast! You can’t move forward when you’re toast!
Find your least heavy load and stick to it for a while. Increase slowly. Measure. Adjust.
How will you do that? How will you know what’s working and what isn’t?
I’m glad you asked.
4: Review at The End of Each Day
I have a day job, and I have my side hustle. I’ve had to make plans, analyze, and let go of projects, usually because it was evident that I couldn’t handle them all.
At the end of the day, I’m often physically exhausted but mentally active. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of activity that I can use to write — it’s mostly feeling like I could have done something better or missed something.
What I share here with you is what I’ve had to learn the hard way.
The way I overcame this mental exhaustion was to physically write down what I did that day — what moved the needle.
The plan usually shows me with part of the map I should work on at the start of the day or week. The end of the day review is a mini-exercise to boost my morale for an exhausting day and set the next day’s pace.
It’s not a full-blown review in the sense that I write journal type entries.
No. This is just for me to see, logically speaking, that I’m doing something worthwhile. Or if I’m not, I can put the intention to change that the next day.
The way to plan for the next day or week or month is to start before.
You plan for 2021, now.
Everything you do now will affect your future self. But we don’t realize it’s still “us” who will deal with the problems we’re pushing for later.
“Your hunter-gatherer brain is not wired to use mental models. It’s wired to rely on instincts and to prioritize the short-term over the long-term. Our inability to plan for the future is a phenomenon known as hyperbolic discounting.” — Source
End your day with a pat to the back. Do it unapologetically. And if there’s no pat to give, you can change that as soon as you wake up tomorrow.
Make a plan.
“Without a goal you can’t score” — Casey Neistat
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about what to do when nothing seems to work. Or to feel like you’re wasting your life . A powerful way to get perspective is to take out those clouds from the mind and jot them on paper or board.
- Drawing a road map based on where we are and where we can go.
- Being impartial with what led us here in the first place.
- Relentlessly looking for the load that allows our “effort” muscle to grow.
- Taking time each day to pause and check-in. Even before the weekly, monthly, or yearly review.
You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you stop using your brain for storage and instead for what it was made to do: generate ideas and solutions.