I want to share a strategy here that I’ve used for years and so far I’ve gotten pretty much everything out of life that I’ve asked for.
Step 1: Decide what it is you want out of life
Very often we get out of bed in the morning and go through the day just doing things without really thinking about why we’re doing them. We do things because we think that’s what we ‘should’ do or ‘have’ to do. The issue with this is that it’s not very inspiring and when things get tough we struggle far more than if we were working on something important for ourselves. It’s more powerful to do things because we choose to do them and because we ‘get’ to do them. A small shift in mindset can really change how we experience the day to day.
So the first step is to decide what it is that you want. A nice exercise is to write down your ‘perfect‘ day. A normal everyday day and not something like ‘if you had one day to live’. We all would love to drink pina coladas on the beach but eventually that would leave us bored and unfulfilled and hating coconut!
Write down how you wake up in the morning and what you do from that moment on. Write the story of your day using the present tense, as if it is already how you live. Be specific and detailed in your descriptions and really visualise how the day goes.
Now you have your roadmap and a nice start to your story.
Step 2: Focus on fewer but more important goals first
If we think of a shower head when it’s on the disperse setting; we know the water goes in all directions but is not very powerful in any direction. Now change the setting to the one where all the water is directed from the centre. All of a sudden the power of the water is multiplied.
Our energy works the same way. If we try to do too many things at once we can’t give a lot of energy to any of them. Write down all the goals that you would like to work on. Then rank them starting with the one that feels the most exciting. Break them up into would love to do and nice to do and focus on one or two from the would love to do list. The rest are probably not really that important to you.
Step 3: Build up your story
Get crystal clear on exactly what you want and why. Lots of people will have a goal like ‘lose weight by Christmas‘ or ‘make more money‘. While there is nothing wrong with these goals they are too vague to be achievable.
More specific goals are ‘reduce body fat by 5%‘ or ‘attain financial independance so that I can leave my 9-5‘. Being specific helps to make a plan so that you can actually take steps forward.
Whats probably even more important though is why.
Why do you want this particular thing?
What is exciting about it for you?
Why is it inspiring?
Often it’s not the thing we’re trying to do that we want but rather what that thing brings us. For example losing weight might give us confidence, we feel we look better so we’re more willing to put ourselves out there in social situations and try to make friends and form closer relations.
We all know the saying ‘money doesn’t buy happiness‘ but money is a tool that allows us to do the things that make us happy, it gives us freedom to take more risks in life and go after something exciting that might not pay the bills.
Have a review of the story you’re telling yourself about why you want the things you want. There may be a faster route to getting what you want more directly.
Review the stories you’re telling yourself about why you can’t do the thing or why you should wait. Usually these stories aren’t really true or they’re covering up a fear we have around going after what we want.
Step 4: Start with the big picture goal and reverse engineer it
Most people over-estimate what they are capable of in a short amount of time but under-estimate what they can do over a long period. Breaking a problem down into the small fundamental actionable steps and carrying out those steps regularly over time can result in some amazing progress.
Having a big goal can seem overwhelming and sometimes impossible but everything can be broken down into smaller more manageable chunks. Work on the fundamentals regularly and as your skillset grows review and refine your plan.
Think about what needs to be in place for you to reach your goal and work backwards from there. Go back to basics and put in place steps you can do everyday to make progress.
Step 5: Forget motivation – build habits instead
I could talk for days on building habits but for this post I’ll keep it simple.
Put systems in place that make reaching your goals almost automatic. Have healthy food in the house, have your savings come out as soon as you get paid before you even see it etc. Whatever you can think of to make life easier and point you in the direction of what you want.
Your environment plays a huge role in developing habits so have a look at the people and the things in your life and examine how they either help or hinder you on your way. Put more of the people and the things that support you in place and reduce the amount of hindrances.
A big part of building a new habit into our lives is building that characteristic into your identity.
If you think ‘I am a person who likes to eat healthy food‘ it’s more powerful than ‘I’m on a diet at the moment‘. Building our idendity in this way makes it easier to stay the path during tough times.
Eventually it gets easier to stick to the plan than to not stick to it and when you get to that point, building the life you want is inevitable.