Is It Really Possible To Complete A 1-Year Goal In The Next 3 Months?
Honest lessons from my experiment with extreme goal-setting.
In less than three months, I grew my number of Medium-followers by 567%.
It’s not as extraordinary as it sounds, and you can do it too.
A little background.
I started writing on Medium in February 2018.
Pretty soon, the stats taught me that my articles were getting a good response — that what I produce adds value to the life of its intended audience.
Next, it was time to scale up.
Not (just) for my ego.
I want to make people think deeper about why they live like they do. Generating a large following seemed like a good strategy for accomplishing that mission. I figured that if more people would read my stuff, I would add value to the lives of more people.
As it happens, Medium has a lot of articles on how to quickly reach your goals.
For example, this post teaches you “How to achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months”.
I was in a modest mood, so I set out to achieve my 1-year goal in 3 months.
This article is about what I learned from trying to go three times faster, and about whether it worked.
Spoiler: it was awesome.
But first: how the hell is this even supposed to work?
Most folks who set goals are not stupid and it’s unlikely that they suck this hard in estimating how long it takes to reach their desired result.
If it’s possible to achieve your dreams so much faster, why don’t more people do it?
Something must be wrong with ‘achieve-your-10-year-plan-in-the-next-6-month’ tactics. It sounds too good to be true.
I was likewise skeptical, but it did sound really — seductively — good so I wanted to know whether it could be true and did some research on the theory behind these wild-sounding claims.
When you set extremely high goals, two changes are supposed to occur:
1. You’ll use your working time better
This has two parts: effectiveness and efficiency.
First, you’ll increasingly do the right things — activities that maximally contribute to goal-attainment. No more wasting time on cold calls that have a conversion rate of 1% (let alone wasting time on Facebook).
It sounds plausible that there are margins for profit here. Picking the right thing to work on is the most important element in being productive and is often overlooked. Many people spend too much time on puzzling how to optimize their workflow, and not enough on questioning if they’re working on the right problems.
Second, you’ll do the right things better.
Your insane goal and sense of purpose spark a motivation boost that causes an increase in your output per unit of time that you invest. (That’s the idea, at least.)
2. You’ll act differently in all areas of your life
It’s hard to specify what this exactly amounts to, but the suggestion is that shortage of time takes your ballgame to a whole new level:
“When you have a short timeline, and something meaningful you’re pursuing with vigor — you learn a lot. You adapt. You face problems in real-time and deal with those problems in real time. You learn only what you MUST learn.” (Benjamin P. Hardy— How to achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months)
It’s not just about work, but because you value your time more, you change. You begin to ask harder questions, to be more honest with yourself, and to remove everything from your life that hinders you from achieving your goals.
Due to a solid belief system about the purpose of your existence, you’ll act more in accordance with your mission and have the courage disregard to what other people think of you.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds super exciting to me.
So I gave it a try.
Like I said, I set out to achieve my one-year goal in three months.
At the beginning of the year, I had decided that I wanted to have 2.500 Medium-followers by the end of 2018. I figured something like that would the critical mass needed to start propelling things forward.
The experiment started at the end of April. At that time, I had 300 followers.
This meant that I had three months to increase the number of followers by 733%, to reach 2.500 followers by August 1st.
As you can see, it’s going to be a close call.
More important than whether I’ll make it, however, is what this experience taught me about goal-setting.
I attribute the following behavioral changes to having an extreme goal:
· I did more than I thought I could. As the theory predicts, my output increased dramatically. I thought I didn’t have time to combine my PhD-job with publishing more than one quality article per week. Actually, I did. A high standard means high performance. That’s really a thing.
· I took more risks. For extra spice, I transferred 100 euros to the bank account of my accountability partner and told him to keep it if I wouldn’t make the deadline. I didn’t have time to care about whether other people thought this was stupid.
· I got out of my comfort zone. I spoke out about my passion to people in my environment and new people I’d meet and asked them to follow me. I asked Charles Chu for a closer cooperation and he made me an editor of this publication. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done these scary things without being forced to by the extreme goal.
· I looked for ‘marginal gains’ in all areas imaginable. For instance, I approached two more mentors, had a Skype call with Nick Wignall about writing (advice), sent out emails with strategy questions to bloggers I look up to, such as Nat Eliason. I experimented with Quora and republishing to get more traction. The extreme goal made me hunt for progress in all areas of my life.
· I was so much more rigorous. Lack of time means that you have to be wary of what you spend it on. I religiously monitored my experiments with Quora and republishing on other sites to check whether they were effective. I canceled a lot of half-baked social commitments. Suddenly, it was very easy to stay off Facebook, e-mail, and WhatsApp when I wanted to. The distinction between goals and desires never felt clearer. First things first: scarcity fuels improvement. That’s also really a thing.
Having a goal that sounds too good to be true sets your ass on fire.
You want to show the world what you’re capable of.
When you are really on the clock, you don’t have time for self-limiting excuses because you are lazy or scared. Extreme goals tell apart the real limitations from the self-imposed ones.
That, I believe, is the driving mechanism that turns commitment into in success.
I was doubtful of the process at first, but extreme goal-setting does cause behavioral changes that cause you to go much faster — it’s not a sham.
In my case, I learned that I was capable of more than I thought I was. I did things I would not have thought of and things I wouldn’t have dared if it wasn’t for the extreme goal. I grew more than I imagined possible.
I profoundly felt like ‘a man on a mission’. The fact that, for these months, my entire life was built around this one target gave me an amazing feeling.
I loved it and I’m going to do it again.
If I can do it, you can do it too.
How can you achieve your 1-year plan in the next 3 months?