How To Transform Your Life Without Changing Your Whole Life
This is the simple secret super-successful people use to achieve extraordinary results
If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one.
We all have goals in life. Some have less of them, some have more of them. I had quite a number of goals and multiple areas of my life that I wanted to improve.
I wanted to up my daily hours of sleep from 3 to at least 6, meditate twice a day, go to the gym six days a week, create mental health awareness videos on YouTube, spend more time with my family; all the while working a full-time job.
The challenge I found is that even when I am committed to working hard on my goals, my natural tendency is to go back to my old habits at some point. The truly impossible goal for me has been making a permanent lifestyle change.
As a result, I was constantly frustrated with the feeling of being extremely busy albeit increasingly unproductive. I felt like I was failing even when I succeeded in some areas.
From what I have come to learn, many people are like this. Do you have spurts of consistency and success towards achieving your goal only to fall off the wagon a few days, weeks, months down the road?
Do you promise yourself that when the conditions are perfect, or when you have the necessary motivation, you will check things off your goal list? Yeah, me too. It does not work often though. I have recently discovered that the approach to successfully achieving goals in life is fairly counter-intuitive.
Do less so you can do more.
The One Thing
I recently read a life-changing book, The One Thing by Gary Keller. It opened my eyes to the fact that extraordinary results are determined by how narrow you make your focus. I was trying to do everything, instead of making one thing my priority and really working on it.
Could I become a master of everything I was doing? No. The best I could become is average or mediocre in everything.
Every successful person has their own one thing. Look at Tiger Woods for example. His one thing is golf. Does he work towards becoming a world-class pianist or musician every single day? I do not think so. He made golf his one thing and we have come to expect the extra-ordinary results he produces whenever he has a golf club in his hand.
When you focus on your one thing, you also improve your brand positioning and accountability to yourself and others. Think about some of the successful brands you know, they have one thing. Everything else is secondary.
Google — Search
KFC — Chicken
Starbucks — Coffee
Apple — Electronics
Michael Phelps — Swimming
Kobe Bryant — Basketball
When somebody mentions YOUR NAME — what comes to mind? What is your one thing?
That does not mean you should drop all the activities you are doing completely and do just one thing in your life. That would be a mistake. However, if your goal in life is not to be a bodybuilder, or a Buddhist monk, or a world-class gymnast, (insert anything you vest so much effort into), then you should limit the time you give to those activities so that you have more time to master your one thing.
Find out what your one thing is and ensure that you dedicate some time to its mastery every single day. In his bestselling book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell suggested it takes a total of 10000 hours to become a master at anything. If you want to master that one thing, you have to focus and dedicate the time to it. Focus on your one thing.
These 3 ideas to help me improve productivity really stood out for me in The One Thing;
- The myth of a disciplined life
- The myth of multitasking
- Time blocking
The Myth Of A Disciplined Life
There is this idea that a successful person is a disciplined person who lives a disciplined life. It is a lie. The truth is we do not need any more discipline than we already have. We just need to direct and manage the discipline we already have, a little better.
Success is actually a short race. A sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for the habit to kick in and take over. When we know something that needs to be done but is not currently getting done we say “if only I had more discipline”. Actually, we need the habit of doing it and just enough discipline to help us build the habit.
Use your discipline to build the habit.
Research says it takes about 66 days (I think James Clear also emphasizes this in his book Atomic Habits), but remember that success is sequential, not simultaneous. No one actually has the discipline to acquire more than one powerful new habit at a time.
Super successful people are not superhuman by the way. They have just used discipline to develop a few significant habits. One at a time, over time.
Do not try to acquire more discipline. Use the discipline you already have to help you build the habit of focusing on one thing.
The Myth of Multitasking
Research shows that -28% of the day is lost due to multitasking. Big corporations that study their employees found that the ones that were multitasking were 28% less productive than the ones who would focus on one task and then move on.
There are college kids studying while eating, and adults driving while texting. They probably think they are saving time this way. But when you try to do two things at the same time, you can’t do either task well. The problem of trying to do two things at once comes up when one task demands more attention.
When your friend is describing to you on the phone the way your office furniture has been rearranged, you engage your visual cortex to see it in your mind’s eye. If you happen to be driving at that moment, this channel interference means that you are now seeing the furniture, and are blind to the car braking in front of you.
You simply can’t effectively focus on two important things at the same time.
Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing.
Do not multitask. Focus on one thing.
My favorite idea from The One Thing is “time blocking”.
Most people think there is not enough time to become successful, but there is when you block it.
So go to your calendar right now and block off the time you need to do your one thing. Everything else — other projects, paperwork, unimportant meetings, calls, and emails all must wait during this time.
For example, I now have a specific time blocked out for Medium. During that time, all distractions are removed and I do nothing but draft content for my Medium account and read the articles Medium thoughtfully curates for me.
That also means if a friend asks me if I want to hang out during my blocked time, I will reschedule for a time when I am available. Not my blocked time.
Remember that resting is as important as working. If you struggle with switching off as I do, also block time for resting; sleeping and other rejuvenating activities for you.
I hope you learned something new today. Apply this knowledge and every day, you will incrementally be better than you were yesterday.
Do The One Thing.