Another year down, and a new one has begun.
For some of us, this means reminiscing about how successful your year was, the business or personal growth you experienced, the goals you achieved and excitement about expanding on that success this year.
For others, disappointment and frustration that another year passed without achieving your goals that you initially set out to accomplish.
For those of you that have been reading ForeverJobless for a while, you know that for the last few years I’ve published a post that shows you how to achieve your goals, and many of you who’ve followed the guide have written to let me know the success you’ve had. If you’re a new reader to ForeverJobless, I’d highly recommend taking the time to read this post without distraction, as well as printing the guide you can receive at the bottom of the post, and putting it somewhere you’ll see it each day.
The people that are following this guide daily are achieving some incredible goals. Everyone from first time entrepreneurs who’ve since started a successful venture, to people achieving extreme fitness results, to those who’ve told me they’ve achieved millions of dollars in revenue using this as a guide.
Don’t short yourself. If you’ve followed this guide for past success, you know the results you can obtain by committing(please email me and share your results, I’d love to hear!). If you’ve read one of my goals posts in the past but have failed to take action, why put yourself through another year of disappointment. Commit to yourself and change your life this year accomplishing your goal.
First, you have to know the most important question:
What is your goal that you’d like to achieve?
Notice I didn’t say “goals”. You must pick one main goal, and focus on that. Most people list a bunch of goals they’re going to attempt to achieve, and within a week or two they’re already so distracted by trying to do so many things, they already feel underwater and a feeling of failure. They feel like they should give up and the year has barely even started yet. The problem is, they’re not actually setting goals, they’re listing dreams. Unless you have a specific plan to achieve a goal, and one you won’t constantly be distracted away from, it’s just a dream. If you have 10 big goals you are definitely not going to do what you need to do on a daily basis to form the necessary habits to achieve the goals. It’s just not going to happen.
You can dream dreams, or plan goals. One will lead you to success, the other will lead to unhappiness that you’re never achieving your dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting to dream. I love it just like anyone else. The problem is, it often confuses you to thinking you’re doing something about attaining it. Setting a goal that would allow you to live that dream, and following a process that guarantees goal achievement- that is what will allow you the chance to bring dreams to reality. Dreaming is great, but only in a small enough dose to motivate you to set a goal. Any more than that and dreaming just becomes a distraction from achieving the goal, that will let you achieve the dream.
I do think it’s okay to have multiple goals, but you must fully commit to one goal in particular. Other goals are secondary, and cannot ever be used as distractions to achieving your main goal.
A good way to decide what your main goal should be is by setting a goal that would help you achieve other goals. If you have five related goals, which goal makes the other goals easier? That becomes your main goal.
Diversification is for people who don’t know what they’re doing. They’re not confident enough about something to make a bet on it, so they sprinkle their bets everywhere, essentially hoping for mediocrity at best. I wrote a post on diversification in business.
“There’s no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts from plan A”
For the same reasons you shouldn’t try and launch 10 businesses at the same time, you shouldn’t try and achieve 10 goals at the same time.
I used to set 10 new year’s goals. Well, all I was doing was setting up 9 distractions to whatever my #1 priority goal was. As a byproduct, none of them got done, or at best the easy/non life-impacting goals got done.
If you did nothing except followed this one piece of advice for your goal setting, you’d immediately have an edge on most people.
There’s a lot of ordinary people out there achieving extraordinary results just by staying truly committed a goal. You’re probably much smarter than many of them, but don’t have the results they do. This is why. An ordinary person with obsessive focus and commitment will beat a genius who dabbles almost every time.
Want to guarantee you achieve your goal this year?
Just figure out what you need to do on a daily basis to achieve it, and then do that everyday. It’s not anymore complicated than that.
“If you are what you repeatedly do, then achievement isn’t an action you take but a habit you forge into your life. You don’t have to seek out success. Harness the power of selected discipline to build the right habit, and extraordinary results will find you.”- The One Thing
One thing to keep in mind about your goal is to set a goal that when achieved has the ability to change your life.
Don’t fall into the trap of setting low goals so that you can hit them. Then you’re just going to be “successful” at hitting goals, but unsuccessful at life.
If you just set a goal to lose five pounds or make an extra $500/month, it probably won’t really change anything in your life. You’ll actually be much more motivated to continue pursuit of a goal that would have life changing results for you once achieved.
That doesn’t mean you have to try and make a million dollars this year. If you’ve never made money before that’s going to demotivate you since you don’t know how yet.
So, while it’s important to set big goals that will change your life when achieved, it’s also incredibly important to be realistic. Stretch yourself, but don’t set something you have no chance of achieving just to set a big goal. It’ll demotivate you and cause you to give up.
So you might be wondering, how do you find the balance between a goal that’s big enough to change your life, but is also realistic? Well, it’s actually relatively simple. See, a lot of people get away from goal setting when they’re advised to think big. They start announcing dreams. One of the easiest ways to test your big goal is to ask yourself, “how will I achieve this?” If you cannot answer how you’ll achieve it, you’ve listed a dream, not a goal. You must be able to set daily actions that will all but guarantee accomplishment of the goal.
For example, when I set my fitness goal, I didn’t say, “my goal is to be ripped!”. I had to figure out what ‘ripped’ meant. So, I hired someone who understood how to get ripped, and asked what that meant for me. First, we figured out exactly where I was starting from. Then, we got specific with exactly what I wanted to look like, and we put a roadmap together to make sure it happened. “Ohh, I need to gain x amount of muscle and get to y% body fat? Great, how do I do that?” … “Okay, eat these foods and do these workouts?”… “How long will it take?”… “Okay, that many months… what do I need to be doing on a daily basis to make sure that happens?”… “Okay, and that’s it? Sounds good I’ll have that!”
(pictured with Kamilah Powell)
“If I want to do it, it’s done. It’s already done the second I decide it’s done, it’s already done. Now we just have to wait for ya’ll to see.” – Will Smith
I already knew exactly what I would look like because I had a specific plan in place to make sure it happened. I basically selected the body I wanted, and hit the order button. It was essentially all but done already, because I’d committed to complete the actions needed to acquire it.
Now, if you know of something you absolutely want to achieve but aren’t 100% sure how to accomplish it yet, there’s a fix for that too… tiered goals(besides coaches and masterminds which we’ll talk about later in the post).
I do these myself, and when someone joins The Incubator one of the first things we do if their ultimate goal is a big one is to have them set a tiered goal.
For example, if someone has never started a business before, it’s great if their goal is to make $50k/month, but it’s unlikely that they fully understand how to make that happen. If they don’t understand how to make that happen, they won’t know what their daily actions should be. If they don’t know what their daily actions should be, how will their daily actions lead to their ultimate goal? They won’t. So, I’ll have them set a smaller first tier goal that gets them heading in the direction of their ultimate goal.
“You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t set out and say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid’, and you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.” – Will Smith
So, instead of someone wanting to make $50k/month, and giving up a few weeks in because they have no idea how to do it, they set a $5k/month goal with a specific plan to achieve the goal. After accomplishing the tier one goal, they re-evaluate and set the next tier. It’s also helpful because of the much shorter time periods. For example accomplishing 30-90 day tier goals keeps you much more engaged than if you set 12-18 month goals. So, something you might want to consider is setting a big yearly goal, and then set a first quarter goal that will put you on track to hit your yearly goal. Setting shorter term goals will allow you to see things that need adjusting to be able to hit your longer term goal, and you can tweak the plan to add or subtract daily actions that insure accomplishment of your goal.
Just because you break down a smaller tiered goal doesn’t mean you should stop there. No matter how long or short your goal, you should definitely be tracking progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. That way you’ll see the progress you’re making and/or adjust if it’s not quite the progress you want. Not only will it improve performance, but it’s great for maintaining motivation.
“Scorekeeping stimulates us to create more of the positive outcomes we’re keeping track of. It reinforces the behaviors that create the outcomes in the first place.”
To give an example let’s say you had a website and wanted 100,000 people/month to visit. That goal seems huge if you’re starting out small. However, if instead of just focusing on the 100k, you said you wanted to hit 25k by April 1st, that’s a feasible goal that’s more likely to keep you hungry. You might hit 15k relatively quickly for example. That would put you pretty close to your quarterly goal, giving you the motivation to push through and hit it. Now, if you were at the same exact 15k but were only focusing on hitting the 100k goal, you’d be in the same exact place but feel like you were making no progress because you’d still be 85k away from your goal. It would almost seem insurmountable, even if you had a plan in place to achieve your goal. It’d be significantly more difficult to stay motivated over the course of an entire year.
Does sharing your goals with others help you achieve them?
I’d highly recommend sharing your goals with people who can keep you accountable and/or help you on your path to achieving it, but not wasting time sharing it with others outside of that. It’s exciting to talk about, but it gives you a false sense of accomplishment. It’s like when you were a kid and you shouted “mommy, daddy, did you see the drawing I made!”, or “did you see me jump off the diving board!” You just want someone to tell you you’re awesome so you can feel good about yourself. Many of us have subconsciously trained ourselves to crave praise for talking about things, instead of actually doing and achieving things. All you’re doing is giving yourself an unearned dopamine rush.
“Don’t dilute it’s power. The dream is for you. It’s between you and your Muse. Shut up and use it.” – Steven Pressfield
Follow the No Exceptions Rule To Achieve Your Goal
Once you’ve made a commitment to your goal, there are no exceptions for not working on the thing that will lead you to that goal.
The Decisions You Make On The Hard Days, Will Make The Road To Success Easy For You
Tired? Doesn’t matter, no exceptions.
Busy? Everyone’s “busy”. You can be busy after you finish. No exceptions.
Someone in town visiting? Great, hang out with them after you’ve finished. No exceptions.
“If he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.” – Steven Pressfield
Working on Your Goal First Thing In The Morning Will Ensure You Achieve It
Do NOT start your day until you work on your main goal. Remember, if you’ve set your goal correctly, that is the thing that if achieved would change your life. Do that first. One, it basically guarantees you get it done. If you don’t start your day until you focus on your goal, it’s literally impossible to get too busy to do the daily actions needed to hit your goal, and as a byproduct, literally impossible not to achieve your goal and change your life.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” – Somerset Maugham
If you plan your life around your goals, you’re going to have the willpower and energy to make sure they get done. If you plan your goals around your life, life tends to get busy and things come up, and then you’re left at the end of the day tired with the most important task still to do, and you’ll find yourself in a mental battle of willpower vs. excuses. Since your willpower is drained at the end of the day, excuses will win out in a lot of people, especially people who haven’t trained themselves to avoid giving in to excuses.
“Willpower has a limited battery life. Make doing what matters most a priority when your willpower is its highest” -The One Thing
Make it easy for yourself to follow the “no exceptions” rule. If you’re worried about your ability to overcome potential excuses, just remove the possibility of them all together.
Paul Graham has a great article on how he structures his day for this: Maker’s Schedule
To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.
Block off however much time you need to work on your priority goal.
If you can just start doing your priority goal first thing each day, then all you have to do is Don’t Break The Chain.
I have multiple calendars to check off days that I do something, so that I don’t break the streaks and can develop a habit. I think you should only attempt one, big new habit per quarter, at most. The extra calendars I have up are for habits I’d like to maintain, or for smaller habits that don’t require much effort, but are beneficial for me. You’re not always going to want to do it, but if you can string enough of those days together you’ll have a habit that’s not hard to maintain, and rewarding results that come with it.
If you are obtaining good habits, they’ll translate into results that are significantly better than the results others are getting.
If you are getting results significantly better than others are getting, it will lead to a life that’s significantly better than others are able to live.
It’s all tied together.
“How long do I need to do something for before it becomes a habit?”
There’s no definitive answer but the more days in a row you do something, the higher the probability of success in your habit sticking. I recommend 90 days. If you can string together 90 days of consistently doing something on a daily basis, it will most likely become a habit. Once the habit is formed, it won’t require a great deal of effort on your part to maintain, it will become the norm for you. This will allow you to dedicate time to new habits, and each of these habits will lead you to new goals, or new tiers towards your ultimate goal, which will lead to a much improved life.
Do you find it difficult to brush your teeth each night? Of course not, because it’s a habit so you don’t even have to think about it anymore, you just do it. If it wasn’t a habit you’d have messed up teeth that negatively impact your life. Financial, fitness and other habits work the same way, it’s just that most people never set the habits that guarantee the results from them. If it was not normal to consistently brush your teeth, most people would have rotten teeth. It’d become the norm. Well, the norm for most people is not going to the gym or eating healthy, and not having any sort of financial plan, so most people are out of shape, with a rotten financial picture.
Successful people just work hard focusing on building habits that will give them extraordinary results in whatever areas of their life they want them in. That’s why a lot of successful people make things look easy. It wasn’t easy for them at the start, it was probably just as hard for them as it would be for you. It’s just now that it’s a habit, it is easy for them.
Super-successful people aren’t superhuman at all; they’ve just used selected discipline to develop a few significant habits. One at a time. Over time.”- The One Thing
Look at the habits of a fat person, and someone who’s in incredible shape. The fat person eats what they want, occasionally goes to the gym at best, and looks like crap because of it. The person who’s ripped works out daily at eats good food. Both the fat person and in shape person understand that this is what’s needed. So, it’s not complicated for either, but without the habits that insure those things happen, the daily decisions are difficult, keeping the fat person fat, or the poor person broke. One person’s habits gets them in the gym each day with healthy food on their plates. The habits insure that the decisions are automatic instead of difficult. The other lacks those habits. The person in incredible shape just used selected discipline to target a habit they wanted to form that would get them the results they wanted in that area of their life. So, their return on that investment is life changing results.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Your results are simply the byproducts of your habits. Great habits, great results. Bad habits, bad results. Therefore, prioritization of life changes that would be most meaningful for you, is simply prioritizing the most important activities to ensure they become habits. Ensuring this, ensures life changing results.
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures”- F.M. Alexander
If you want to achieve your goal you must eliminate large to-do lists
Focus on the four D’s:
- Do it
- Delegate it
- Delay it
- Dump it
Anytime you get an email/letter/request, decide whether you’ll ever do anything with it. If not, dump it. Anything you don’t want to do but needs to be done, delegate it. Anything you can do within 10 minutes, do it.
The to do list is a struggle for most people, myself included. The more items on your “to-do” list you can eliminate, the easier your life will be.
It’s easy to hold on to things we really shouldn’t be doing. You may have a huge list and just don’t know how to wittle it down to a small action list. Here’s something that will make it easier:
Go down the list and just eliminate anything that doesn’t relate to your main goal. I know your first thoughts will be all the reasons why you must hold on to meaningless tasks. I go through the same thing. If your goal is meaningful to you, all of the other tasks that aren’t related will do nothing but distract you and decrease the chance you achieve your goal. You can always save these things on a ‘some day’ to do list if you want, but they aren’t important so remove them and your life and your goal becomes easier.
Knocking out a hundred tasks for whatever the reason is a poor substitute for doing even one task that’s meaningful. Not everything matters equally, and success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that is exactly how most play it on a daily basis.” -The One Thing
How many of those coffee meetings and random ‘catch up’ calls were meaningful to you last year? How many tasks while technically beneficial, if they were never done would not really negatively affect your life at all? 100 ‘to dos’ can turn into 5-10 pretty quick if you just eliminate everything not related to your goal. No one dies if these things don’t get done, or don’t get done as well as you could have done them. The only thing that dies is your chance of failing. You remove more barriers that could keep you from achieving what you actually want.
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do” – Francine Jay
Still struggle with ‘to dos’ even with a small list? Find out where your time is going. You’re probably getting distracted by little tasks or distractions you don’t even realize are taking up your time. Eliminate facebook and twitter. Stop reading so many internet articles and watching youtube videos. Clickbait titles will grab your attention and burn your whole year, an article or video at a time. While it feels productive, unless they are specifically related to helping you achieve what you are trying to achieve, they do you more harm than good.
Ask yourself about all of the social media you consumed last year. You likely spent 10+ hours/week on it, or 500+ hours during the year. You probably struggle to remember any of the consumption from your social media binging, or exciting times it helped you experience. It’s because it takes the time that would have given you experiences or memories, and eats them up. If you had instead invested that 500+ hours into your goal, the chance of succeeding skyrockets. Instead of burned time that gave you nothing in return, you might have helped create a life changing accomplishment, or done something to create life long experiences or memories like traveling, or learning a new skill. Don’t be a dopamine addict, giving yourself hits when you don’t deserve them.
You do not understand what you are capable of, because you are keeping yourself too busy to give yourself a chance to find out.
A day of working on random tasks mixed in with videos and articles followed by a tv show to wind down because you’re tired is a normal day for many. You give the reason that you were “too busy” to work on the thing that would have changed your life. You’re not too busy, you’re just an expert at doing meaningless shit.
I did some testing with extreme essentialism towards the end of last year. I was living in Medellin, Colombia for a couple months. I spent most of my time doing nothing but reading, writing, and thinking. There was one week where I was pretty sick, so I didn’t go to the gym, and never went out other than to cafes to write. I wrote about 18,000 words in one week. What seems like an impossible amount of words to write in such a short period of time, was made possible because I literally did nothing else that week. Eat, sleep and write. That’s it. I’d never think that was possible if I hadn’t tested extreme essentialism. It wouldn’t be possible most of the time, because a normal week would be inserting in dozens of other activities that would do nothing but stop the writing. If other activities don’t even exist, you’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” – T.S. Eliot
You might not be able to go that extreme, but do the best you can. Go past your comfort zone and you’ll realize nothing bad happens by not working on things that don’t serve your goal. Most people allow things like returning emails and phone calls to drive their life. I had my phone turned off for the majority of my trip.
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook”- William James
Guess what? Nothing bad happened. I probably never got some messages, and others I returned a week or two after they sent. No one who’s doing anything with their lives is going to be upset if you take time to get back to them. The only people who will get mad at you for not playing your life on their schedule are people who maybe shouldn’t be in your life. If you’ve spent your whole life training people to expect a response from you in ten minutes, you may just have to let them know you have a goal you’re trying to accomplish that will keep you busier than normal. The people who want the best for you and should be in your life will understand. The people who are upset you can’t run your life on their schedule are probably upset because you’re offering more value to them than they are to you, so they’ll identity themselves for you and make elimination simple.
Here’s how I’d recommend working on your tasks:
Obviously your priority goal is done first before anything else. Then, have 3-5 other tasks you want to accomplish for the day. Those are the only things that should show up on your daily to do list. Having so few things to do will not only make you happier because you’ll feel accomplished at the end of the day having completed your tasks, but you’ll prioritize more important things instead of doing the easiest, often unimportant things off of a huge list.
Out of those 3-5 daily tasks, I recommend doing the most difficult one first.
There’s a book called Eat That Frog that talks about why it’s so important. I often struggle with it so I even bought a random toad that I put on my desk to remind myself:
If you have items on your to-do list that never make your daily top 3-5 tasks, all that means is they were never important enough to do in the first place.
Leaving some things undone is a necessary tradeoff for extraordinary results.” – The One Thing
Feeling comfortable on how to structure your day but not sure how to structure your week? Jack Canfield has a great book called Success Principles that follows the formula of having four focus days, two free day, and one buffer day per week.
The buffer day is essentially a day where you do the things that allow the focus days to remain focus days. For me this means things like most appointments, some meetings or phone calls, etc… Got a dentist appointment? That goes on your buffer day. Bunch of mail piling up? Great task for buffer day. It’s similar to why you work on your priority goal first thing in the morning, to avoid distractions. Well, buffer day works the same way. You eliminate tasks that could have been distractions and put them on a certain day.
You don’t have to follow this calendar example exactly, but it’s a good framework to use. Maybe you like working six days per week instead of five. Maybe you only want to work three days per week except for your priority goal which you do seven days. Try things out and see what works for you. I just want to give you frameworks to make your life easier.
Just don’t try to throw things in your calendar to maintain ‘balance’, as they like to call it. Trying to have a similar balance to everyone else just means being average is your goal.
Balance significantly reduces your chances of achieving your goals
The #1 thing that will lead you to missing days, which will ultimately lead to missing that goal… well, trying to focus on many things in your attempt to maintain balance.
A balanced life is essentially guaranteed mediocrity in many areas.
Remember that everything outside of what leads you to achieving your priority goal, is just a distraction. Distractions lead to excuses why you need to take off days. Taking off days leads to excuses as to why you couldn’t pick up the habit you needed. Not picking up the habit you needed leads to excuses as to why you couldn’t hit your goal. Not hitting your life changing goal, means your life doesn’t change.
People who live a balanced life, can’t really expect to compete against someone with the same goal who’s living an unbalanced life.
“If You’re Living a Balanced Life, There’s Somebody in Your Niche Living an Unbalanced Life, Kicking Your Ass” – Nathan Latka
I’ve realized that most of my achievements have come when my life was somewhat out of balance.
When I’ve been most successful, all of my thoughts and actions throughout the day were around whatever it was that I was focused on. I wasn’t splitting my time between a lot of different things. As many of you know, shortly after college when most people were stuck in an office with entry level jobs, I chose a very different path, and played poker professionally. I was in my early 20s and had months where I would make tens of thousands of dollars as a professional poker player. How? Well, I was playing a ridiculous amount of hands, and when I wasn’t playing I was studying them, and when I wasn’t studying them, I was talking strategy with other good players. My life was… well, unbalanced. However, the unbalance brought success, because all of my thoughts and actions revolved around achieving that success. It was somewhat inevitable that I would have pretty extreme results.
I train and I go home, and when I’m home, I think about training. That’s my life every day, and that’s it. – Conor McGregor
While most of the people I graduated with were doing the 9-5 thing and leading a balanced life, I may have been leading an unbalanced life, but because of that, the income potential I had vs. what everyone else had was going to be extremely unbalanced as well. The income potential being heavily balanced in my favor, allowed me to then go live an unbalanced life in the other direction, taking off on vacations for a month at a time traveling with friends.
When I got serious with my fitness goals, I had to sacrifice some things like drinking beer and pizza. To achieve the results I wanted wasn’t possible with that kind of balance. Balance keeps you closer to mediocrity than it does life changing results.
Everyone talks about balance in a positive sense. They’re not necessarily wrong. It’s just that many people haven’t experienced the unbalance, and the upsides of living unbalanced for a certain period of time. So while they’re not incorrect that balance can be good, they’re also not necessarily qualified to say that living unbalanced is bad.
There’s pluses and minuses to each. If you do want to achieve any goals that are extremely lofty, you’re going to have to consider living unbalanced for a certain period of time. That unbalance, may allow you to live a life of balance that’s many multiples better than other people’s, once your goal is reached.
Do not multi-task, it will hurt your chance of achieving your goals
‘An essentialist never attempts to do more than one thing at a time… We can easily do 2 things at a time, but we cannot concentrate on 2 things at a time… Multitasking is not the enemy of essentialism; pretending we can “multifocus” is’ – Greg McKeown
Attempting to multi-task just means we wear our brain out from having to constantly re-focus on what we were supposed to be doing in the first place.
An easy hack that helps is this:
Delete your browser history and leave one window open related to your priority goal before you go to bed. That way you won’t have distracting website options, you just sit down in the morning and start working on your goal.
Eliminate all noises/notifications from your computer and phone. I highly recommend deleting most apps from your phone. Use things like News Feed Eradicator for Facebook which eliminates your news feed, so if you are tempted to visit distracting sites, the distractions are gone. I haven’t seen a facebook feed since the new year. I have no idea what people’s babies look like or what food people have been eating. Amazingly, I am still okay!
Make it impossible for anyone to distract you during priority goal time. Phone, skype and email should all be off.
“Without great solitude no serious work is possible” – Picasso
Also, I get up very early in the morning. So, when I’m living in the states, even if someone wanted my attention, chances are at the times I’m working on my priority goal, they’re still sleeping. Make it as difficult as possible for yourself to be distracted. Even in non-priority goal work time, I’ve been doing a lot of this. My phone is off or on mute almost the entire day. I don’t have the tv on, and the remote is behind the tv so that I would have to make a conscious decision if I decide to turn it on for anything.
“Good or bad, habits always deliver results.”
Your workspace should be clutter free. I’m normally a messy/unorganized person, but if I want to be productive, I know my desk should have nothing on it so I can focus 100% on what I’m doing.
Can you make time to have fun and still achieve your goals?
It’s important that you make time for play.
“They times we feel most alive, the times that make up our best memories, are moments of play.” – Greg McKeown
You should plan vacations well in advance. If you don’t, it’s unlikely you’ll end up going on them. Plan your year’s vacations now.
Instead of attempting to plan your vacations around your work, plan your work around your vacations.
Maybe you start with trying to do one vacation somewhere per quarter, even if it’s just a short getaway. It might be a great reset for you to use that time to set up your next quarter, so you can crush your next habit, and make sure you know what you want to accomplish towards your goal in the next 90 days.
I’m currently living out in Bali, so if you make it out here let me know!
You definitely shouldn’t be working all the time. It’s important to have fun.
Not only should you plan vacations, but some free time on weekends as well. Plan a hiking trip, a ski trip, a wine tour, or a party with friends. You’ll remember those things. Work hard, play hard.
“Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.” – Stuart Brown
In Essentialism, it mentions three big benefits of play:
- It helps us see possibilities we wouldn’t have seen.
- It works as an antidote to stress, which is huge because stress is the enemy of productivity and can shut down the creative, inquisitive, exploratory parts of our brain.
- It has a positive effect on the executive functions of the brain- planning, prioritizing, scheduling, delegating, deciding, analyzing, etc…
You should also make sure you’re staying healthy by eating well, exercising and getting sleep.
“While there are clearly people who can survive on fewer hours of sleep, I’ve found that most of them are just so used to being tired they have forgotten what it really feels like to be fully rested… Sleep breeds creativity and enables the highest levels of mental contribution”- Greg McKeown
I can’t imagine someone being healthy and having high energy if they aren’t sleeping well, eating well and getting in the gym. Also, drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated will help you maintain energy throughout the day. If you’re not doing these things, you’ll see significant drops in productivity due to energy.
“What else should I be doing?”
Will a mastermind group or accountability partner help you achieve your goals?
These are great. However, make sure you’re working with people at your level or higher, or it’s just not a good use of time. Keep in mind that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you’re in a mastermind group where no one has had any success before, it’s probably not going to be a group that breeds much success. Much like reading articles and watching youtube videos all day, it confuses you into thinking you’re making progress, but you might just be confusing yourself because the information being exchanged in the group is not information that’s likely to take you to the next level.
If you’re thinking of getting in a mastermind full of 6’s, you’re in a ‘master’ time waster, not a mastermind. Do you aspire to be like the others in the group? If not, you’re in the wrong group.
Make sure you surround yourself with others who are viciously pursuing their goals. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t have goals, or who give up on their goals easily, you need to find a new circle quickly. That’s poison to be around. It makes it easier for you to give up. Eliminate any excuses for giving up once you know what you want.
Get a Coach.
“The single biggest difference between amateurs and elite performers is future elite performers seek out teachers and coaches and engage in supervised training, ones that remain amateurs rarely do.” – The One Thing
It’s unbelievable to me how much money people will spend on things, but refuse to invest in themselves. They wonder why they never progress, and they’ve got more money invested in the latest tech gadgets than they do their own self development.
Getting a coach is one of the most +EV things you can do. If you’re not familiar with EV(expected value), read my post on it.
Working with someone who’s been there and done that is going to save you an enormous amount of time and money.
I’ve had coaches in poker, fitness, business – you name it. When I was living in Medellin recently I hired a spanish teacher to fast track my ability to communicate. Anything I’ve gotten results in I’ve invested in someone to help cut down on the time/money I’d spend making mistakes. Instead of things taking forever trying to learn on my own, I work with someone who will help me get the result I want.
Only an amateur tries to do it alone. Most never make the progress they hoped for. They’re likely to remain an amateur, instead of investing in themselves to get the results they desired.
An affirmation is a statement that describes a goal in its already completed state. It should be brief, but specific. Repeating affirmations will help you think positively, and help your mind constantly think of ways to help you reach your goal.
You may have heard of Stephen Curry, who’s taken the basketball world by storm the last few years.
He went from a player some weren’t sure would make it in the league, to literally the best basketball player in the world. What you may not know is he’s been writing an affirmation(“I can do all things”) on his basketball shoes way before anyone knew who he was.
Something I’ve learned is that visualizing the process over the outcome can actually help improve your results. With my own goals I focus less on end result, and more on process, since if you get the process right, you get the end result. Get excited about crushing the process, and you’ll crush your goal.
I’ve done bits and pieces of journaling over the last few years. I plan to do significantly more than I’ve done in the past this year. I wasn’t seeing much for results from journaling, and then once every six months or so I’d read back through only journal entries and be amazed at how many insights I had from going back through. Everything from things that excited me that I totally forgot about, which seeing again allowed me to re-explore, realizing more about what made me happy or unhappy, so that I could do more or less of those things, and just overall gaining more clarity by reading what I was thinking at different points of my life.
If you find it difficult to write openly to yourself, some questions that I’ve personally used quite a bit I found reading The Saint, The Surfer, and The CEO:
- How would I live out this day if I knew it were my last?
- What do I have to be grateful for in my life?
- What one thing could I do today to make my life extraordinary?
- What can I do to make today incredibly fun?
- How can I help someone today?
Answering these questions may help spark some other thoughts for you. When that happens, write them down so that when you’re struggling to gain clarity in the future you can refer back.
Reading is great, just make sure it doesn’t distract you from producing. It can trick you into thinking you’re productive if you aren’t careful. I try and read in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before I go to bed. If you’re reading the right books, you can get a lot of knowledge on a subject very quickly- just make sure it’s knowledge you’re going to put to use.
I even take a suitcase full of books with me when I travel
Plan Your Day The Night Before
This has been an unbelievable productivity booster for me. When I don’t do this, my day is noticeably less productive.
This will change how your day runs completely. Most people who don’t plan their day ahead of time spend the first part of their day figuring out what heck they’re going to do that day, and often end up doing whatever pops up, since they didn’t have a plan. If that happens you don’t end up getting much done. That’s why besides just blocking out time for your priority goal it’s vital to know what else you should be doing. Otherwise you end up running around spending your time on unimportant things.
“Either you run the day or the day runs you” – Jim Rohn
Wake up Early
Waking up early can be hard if you’re not used to it. As difficult as it was initially to get used to, I know I get much better results when I wake up early. Anytime I’ve stopped waking up early, I find it much harder to maintain the same productivity. Most of my friends who are waking up early are noticing significant increases in results as well. It just makes sense- no one can bother you if you wake up early enough, so productivity tends to skyrocket. I’m testing 4:30am wakeups for the first quarter. You don’t have to do that early, I’ve just never tried that early before so wanted to give it a shot. Treat your life like one big experiment 🙂
Don’t limit yourself to thinking you can’t work on your priority goal in the morning because you have a job. Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice something like going out late at night, but any significant results will take sacrifice.
One of my friends holds a full time job, and had some big goals he wanted to achieve. He started his business just last year. He posted in The Incubator that he wakes up at 4:30am everyday to work on his business before he goes to work. I know what happens when you read that. Your own limiting beliefs kick in and the voice in your head is telling you all the reasons why you wouldn’t do that. “Oh, I’d be tired all the time”, “I’d never get to go out with my friends”, “I don’t want to risk not sleeping enough I heard it’s bad for you”, etc… Everyone has those limiting beliefs. The only difference is the results of those who decide to push through them. He ended the year with a business making $20k+ profit/month. It didn’t even exist at the beginning of the year. Big sacrifices reap big rewards. Sure, he might be a bit tired some days, but while you’re curled in bed snuggling with your limiting beliefs, he can probably generate some extra energy counting all the money coming in.
You can literally do anything you want. As I’ve mentioned most people unintentionally try to do everything, and as a byproduct don’t do anything. At least anything meaningful. That is why most people lead mediocre lives. They don’t spend their time doing anything important. They’re just busy.
“To attain knowledge add things every day. to attain wisdom, subtract things every day.”- Lao-Tzu
Besides just getting rid of the obvious non-essentials, you need to be getting rid of “good” opportunities as well.
Turn down good opportunities to leave room for the opportunities that you absolutely have to do. You’ll be much happier only focusing on things that are a “hell yes”, instead of just good.
You should enjoy what it is you’re doing. If you enjoy it, you’ll perform better. If you perform better, you’ll also enjoy it even more.
Good opportunities, become very bad opportunities, and very bad choices for your overall happiness and productivity if they’re taking time away from great ones. Lower happiness and productivity lower your chances of achieving your life changing goal.
When presented with an opportunity, ask yourself to rate it. Is it at least a 9 out of 10? If not, it’s a “no.” That’s it. Just don’t even entertain the possibility of doing things that aren’t at least a 9 out of 10 for you.
You can apply it to anything in your life.
Not sure about an investment opportunity? Is it a 9 or 10?
Don’t know if you should date someone or not? Are they a 9 or a 10 for you?
Going to a lot of networking events? If they aren’t 9s or 10s, stop going.
Have so many friends you have trouble keeping up with everyone? Why not just spend time with the 9s and 10s?
Lots of people wanting to meet, pick your brain, catch up, etc… If it isn’t a 9 or 10, it’s only taking you away from doing something that is a 9 or 10, or is related to making even more progress on your priority goal.
Do things that are meaningful to you and others. No one’s going to list “attended 1,000 coffee meetings” as a great accomplishment of their life.
Make it easy on yourself. You’ll have more time for things you actually want to do.
“Well, what if it’s an 8. I mean, it’s close enough right?”
No. Equate everything that’s not a 9 or 10 to a zero.
There have been many things in my life that were never anywhere close to a 9 or 10 for me. Some of them were ‘good’ things, but that right there tells me I was wasting my time. Good things will only distract you from spending time on great things, or finding other great opportunities/people you haven’t been exposed to yet.
‘Eliminate the nonessentials- don’t just get rid of the obvious time wasters, but cut out some really good opportunities as well. Focus on what is absolutely essential and eliminate everything else.’- Greg McKeown
In Essentialism he mentions a question you can ask yourself if you’re struggling with getting rid of things in your life you don’t need and would probably be better off without:
“If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?”
You’d be surprised how much you spend your time on that you don’t really care to be doing in the first place.
Get good at saying “no” to even very good opportunities.
“Remember, anytime you fail to say “no” to a nonessential, you are really saying “yes” by default…Say “no” and regret it for a few minutes, or say “yes” and regret it for days, weeks, months or even years.”- Greg McKeown
Do not feel guilty about saying “no” to anyone or anything.
There’s a perfect analogy for this relating to what they tell you on an airplane.
They tell you that in the event of an emergency, a mask will drop down to provide you air, and before you attempt to help children and other passengers, you must put the mask on yourself first. Reason being, you wouldn’t be able to help anyone else in that situation if you ran out of air yourself.
It applies the same way when achieving your goals. If you’re spending all your time and energy straying from your goals to attempt to solve everyone else’s goals/problems, you’ll suffocate in requests that won’t help you get to where you want to go. A byproduct of you suffocating in requests that lead you away from accomplishing your goals will actually decrease your ability to help others, because you’ll constantly feel like you have too much to do, be stressed, and unsure of what to focus on. Just remember to concentrate on your priority goal, and this will allow you to do more of what you want to do in the near future, including helping others. You just need to help yourself first, to be able to help others. Many people don’t understand this.
Do Not Set Goals To Compete With Others
Something else that will lower happiness will be setting goals to compete with others. It doesn’t matter what others goals are, don’t let their goals lead you to believing that your goals should be anything like them.
When setting your goal, ask yourself why you want it. Do you want to achieve the goal, or does your ego desire the praise and admiration for achieving it? If you’re setting goals that are unintentionally more for others than yourself, all you’ll do is increase the stress in your life and limit your happiness.
Keep in mind that eliminating ego from your decisions will make your life much easier. Forget looking good to anyone except the person staring back at you in the mirror. At the end of the day you must only be true to yourself.
“Everything you do should be an expression of your purpose. If an activity doesn’t fit that formula, you wouldn’t work on it. Period.” – Jack Canfield
When setting your priority goal, it’s extremely important to pick something you’re genuinely interested in. I won’t get into the whole passion vs. profit argument in this post, but it’s very hard to stay motivated to achieve a goal if you’re not passionate about it.
The goal must be something you truly want. I’ve learned from my own goals and from watching others that if you don’t really care about the end result deep down, you won’t push through because it’s not that important to you. It’s easy to stop if you don’t want the goal bad enough. So ask yourself the question, “why do I want to achieve the goal?”. Do you want to quit your job, buy a house, buy your dream car, travel the world…? It doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is that it actually matters to you, otherwise it won’t be something you push through to achieve. So take extra time now to really question why you’re pursuing what you’re pursuing. When someone quits on a goal, surprisingly it can often be tied to not really wanting the goal very much in the first place. It sounds funny, but if you track back to why someone set a goal, they often didn’t put enough thought into it. They listed some metric they thought would be good to hit, and then when it got tough they stopped. When quizzed on why they set the number they did, they either:
- set it based on what they saw others doing(competing with others, which is a flaw we mentioned)
- didn’t really have a reason, it just sounded like a good target
- set the number to acquire something they didn’t actually want very badly in the first place
If something doesn’t get you excited, it won’t make you motivated enough to push through to form new habits. If you’re not motivated enough to make new habits, you’re unlikely to make big progress. If you don’t make big progress, you’ll likely remain in a similar spot to where you are now.
People who do not have a strong enough reason for accomplishing a goal will let small barriers totally derail them. On the flip side, if you had an absolutely burning desire to obtain a goal you desperately wanted to reach, you would not spend time getting caught up in every little detail. You’re never going to know everything about everything. Those small details that you don’t know how to do will stop you from taking action if you don’t have a reason to push through. It’s an easy way to create an excuse to stop taking action and remain in the same place you are. You’re creating opportunities for yourself to give up. Sometimes it’s because you didn’t invest enough time setting a goal that you actually wanted, either because of limiting beliefs or laziness. When the same situation arises for someone who desperately wants to reach their goal, even if they don’t know what to do they’ll take action. If they don’t know the answer they’ll hire a coach or join a mastermind to get them past that hurdle. It is phenomenally important that the goal is something you want. Don’t just set a goal so you have a goal. Set a meaningful goal for yourself.
If you know exactly what you want, and your plan is truly mapped out for your goal, it’s just a matter of doing what’s needed, and the goal is all but accomplished already.
Remember this quote I mentioned earlier:
“If I want to do it, it’s done. It’s already done the second I decide it’s done, it’s already done. Now we just have to wait for ya’ll to see.” – Will Smith
You can predict your own success if you’re willing to follow the guidelines in this post, and truly commit to yourself. The only thing holding you back from a huge year, and life changing results is stringing enough days together to form habits that guarantee accomplishment of your goal.
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield
I highly recommend you print out the ‘Goal Accomplishment Calendar’ you can get below(if you’re already a subscriber, you should have it in your inbox). Put it somewhere you can see it. If you’re thinking that sounds like a nice idea but you probably won’t do it, I strongly urge you to reconsider. What will often happen is a lot of excitement and motivation the first few weeks with a new year beginning and then most people forget how to make their goal happen all together. Make achieving your goal easy on yourself. Print and follow the cheat sheet and calendar below(my personal daily routine is included as well for you to see). If you get stuck and want my help, join The Incubator, which has a great group of members who can help hold you accountable, several of whom achieved massive goals themselves last year.
Hope your new year is off to a great start, and I look forward to hearing all about your success this year.