“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath
Before I take you down the rabbit hole, first decide why you want that thing.
If your life is an episode of Gossip Girl, quit wasting your time. Instead, I’ll point you towards a few good authors on character building, starting with Jim Rohn.
But if you’ve found meaning in your life and want to deepen that meaning, keep reading.
Change your mindset
“Growth hacking is a mindset, and those who have it will reap incredible gains.” — Ryan Holiday
If you use word’s like can’t or but when referring to your goals, change your mindset.
Reframe your excuses. Transform them from impossible roadblocks into challenges that encourage growth.
In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck explains how you either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
People with fixed mindsets believe genetics and chance determine their fate.
Need help developing a growth mindset? Change what you feed your mind. Associate with people who share similar objectives. Guard the words you speak about yourself.
Change your self-talk.
Wouldn’t you prefer to control your life through learning and deliberate practice instead of chance?
The big picture
Seeing the big picture is more than just discovering your why.
Find what you want in all areas of your life and see where each of your goals fit into that framework.
Goals should complement each other. If your goal is to move to Hawaii, think about how your medium-term goals push you towards that aim. You may need to take one step back now so you can move two steps towards your larger goal.
If you’re in a relationship, work on your big picture together. The last thing you want is two conflicting primary goals.
When you see your daily actions building towards a common purpose, you also deepen your relationship.
“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” — Austin Kleon
No matter how hard you try, you’re not perfect. You can’t see the future or every answer.
Release your ego. Ask for help. Find a unique perspective.
Use a coach, a mentor, or a support group. Seek out likeminded individuals, or at least someone who’s accomplished what you hope to.
Don’t rebuild the same building. Use someone else’s as the foundation for your own.
The secrets of knowledge
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” — Mark Twain
Embrace lifelong learning.
Formal education ends, but your life doesn’t. If you want the wisdom and skills to reach and surpass your goals, keep learning.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” — Mark Twain
A coward is a person who avoids meaningful actions that create fear. A courageous person is one who finds meaning by tackling it head-on.
Face your fear. Don’t cower from it. It’s pointless to research and plan without implementing. Always strive for excellence, but don’t expect to be perfect.
Give yourself hard deadlines and follow them. Yes, things come up. Sometimes you have to make exceptions. But remember this:
No output = no feedback.
No feedback = no growth.
This doesn’t mean you should make crap. It means don’t let fear keep you from meeting your personal deadlines. When you follow through, you get better at seeing the big picture. You find patterns. You adjust. You learn. You grow.
Keep it simple. Humble yourself. You deprive yourself and others of value when you procrastinate through perfection.
Find your focus
If you’re an over-achiever, it’s tempting to tackle many goals at once. But researchers found top performers focused their daily actions on one thing at a time. They waited to complete each task before moving on to the next item.
Decide your number one goal for the month, the week, and the day. Create a daily action plan with specific actions to get there. Do your priority task (singular) first before moving on to your less urgent goals.
Don’t waste your day with constant task switching. Use a timer to focus only on that action for 40 to 55-minute time blocks. Shut out all other activities and notifications. Allow no distractions.
Once complete, you can spend 5 to 20 minutes putting out fires or rewarding yourself until your next focused time block.
Back to basics
Don’t just have goals. Write them.
If you write your goals, you’re more likely to succeed. It puts your goal in your face. It allows you to reflect. It keeps you from lying to yourself and from forgetting what’s important.
Don’t delude yourself into thinking you don’t need to write them. Your subconscious mind takes written goals more seriously. It searches for solutions and actions that support that goal while you work on other things.
Do you really want a basket of ideas with forgotten dreams that outnumber your positive achievements?
Precision is everything. Your goal must be measurable. If it’s vague, you won’t know what to measure. You’ll lie to yourself about whether you achieved it.
Give yourself a specific time to complete your daily and weekly goals.
Write more = bad
Write with no distractions for 25 minutes a day six days a week = good
Actions over outcome
Make psychology work in your favor. Specific numbers and outcomes are great. But for your daily and weekly milestones, focus on the process.
Once you make the switch, you’ll find it’s easier to sit down and get started.
I used to set daily word count goals for myself. Now I set focused time goals instead.
With process, I don’t get hung up on whether I met the word count or some other metric that’s out of my control. I’m also less tempted to spend three times as much time if I’m stuck instead of moving on to my next task.
You can apply this approach to anything. Even weight goals.
If your goal is to lose fifteen pounds, a better approach would be to make your goals the actions themselves needed to get there.
Lose 2 pounds this week = not so good
Reduce meal size 10% & exercise five minutes daily = great.
If you find your actions aren’t moving you towards your larger goals, it will be easier to see where you need to increase or change those actions.
The simplest way to be consistent is to start small. Schedule those actions daily in your calendar. You will only achieve your goals if you have the required tools. Your habits are those tools.
Once your actions become a habit, build on them.
The ultimate routine
Your goals should be part of a daily routine.
Locate things you already do. Your existing habits are sticky. Glue your new actions to your existing ones until you’ve supercharged your routine.
Repeat the process. Stack your habits.
Track your numbers
Even with process goals, record your data. Write your word count. Record your weight, your time, or whatever metric you use for your specific goals.
If you don’t have any baseline, you can’t see your progress.
Tracking also keeps your goal in front of you. If you see the numbers, you change your behavior. Behavior is everything.
When you track, you’re more likely to take other positive actions. You’ll make better choices that move you towards your ultimate goal.
The power of reflection
Reflect daily. Reflect weekly. List the obstacles that challenged you and the strategies you used to overcome them.
Reflect on whether your smaller goals and milestones are working towards your larger aim, your why.
Embrace what worked. Change what didn’t.
Do more research when required. But you can’t do that unless you reflect often on your progress.
Benefits of a partner
Hold yourself accountable. Use a supportive accountability partner.
Research shows accountability partners increase the chance you’ll meet your goal.
Define what you want to complete during the week, and make them hold you to it.
Check in with them at least weekly, and have them ask you what you did and didn’t do for each task.
Leverage your energy
High energy requires a balanced diet and moderate exercise. Keep your body healthy. Your mind needs it.
Get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. If you can’t do that, change your priorities.
There will always be more you can do, but you won’t get there if you’re in a hospital from a heart attack or stroke.
You only have one life, so don’t shut out everything else important including your health. Leverage your energy so you can focus on your task with mental clarity, and give it the effort it deserves.
Leverage your time
Use the Pareto Principle to focus on the 20% of things that give you the greatest results.
Outsource, delegate, and work with a team. Don’t be afraid to visit Upwork or outsourcing agencies for help.
Complete tasks that develop several areas of your action plan. Exercise with a friend. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts during your commute at double speed.
Take advantage of opportunities that create more effective results when done together.
The power of no
You will always give the same number of no’s. The only difference is whether those no’s come before or after your yes.
Each time you give your first yes, you say no to everything that follows. Save your yes’s for things that catapult your towards to your highest purpose.
If you’re not sure, say no. It should be a heck yes or a no. If people respect you, they’ll respect your time.
If you divide your time among less meaningful tasks, you’ll deprive the world of your highest value.
Don’t crush your ability to do your goals. Embrace the power of no, and supercharge your life.
Erase the finish line
Focus on permanent behaviors that create lasting change and constant growth.
How many times have you achieved your goal but lost those gains later? That’s because you reverted back to your “normal” behavior.
Your highest goal should be something that doesn’t end. Your smaller goals should be milestones that push you in that direction. As you approach the end of your milestone, create the framework for the next one.
Your actions and habits are that framework. If you build on it, nothing can stop you.
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
As you progress along your path and achieve your impossible goals, show gratitude. Choose happiness. Appreciate the small things.
Your life isn’t one goalpost. It’s the journey along the way.
What do you want for your journey?
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