The problem you have, above all, is you’re trying to do too much all at once.
I should no because I have a cluster bomb of goals I’m trying to achieve right now. What ends up happening is you achieve nothing. You go to narrow and so wide that nothing gets done. Nothing gets traction. Then you get pissed off and give up.
Giving up is not the answer. Focusing on one thing is.
I’d love to be the worlds best blogger, speaker, author and lover all at once. It’s not going to happen like that. That’s not how the game of life works.
Here’s why you should focus on one thing at a time:
Your memory sucks.
We now have so much information to store in our mind that we end up forgetting most things whether we want to admit that or not. Focusing on one thing frees up space in your mind to store all the knowledge associated with your one goal.
Get used to ignoring information that you don’t feel is needed. I do this all the time. When I check emails, most of them are deleted before they are even read. If an email is not aligned with my two-line purpose or my current goal, then it’s gone. Never to be seen again.
What you want to do instead is use the virtual memory in your mind to do the same habits associated with your goal over and over. This carves a deep path in your mind for the tasks and habits you need to be awesome at to hit your current goal.
Go for one big goal.
Instead of having lots of small goals that are mostly meaningless, go for the big goals. Try knocking off one every few months or even one a year if you have to. My current goal is to pivot my career in a new direction. Then straight after that, I’m going to knock off some big speeches to up my public speaking game. Other than those two items, that’s about it.
Nice and easy to remember. This strategy puts large amounts of focus on only one or two goals meaning you get results faster. I find that as I gain momentum and see results quickly, my one big goal doesn’t require motivation. Your results should become your motivation and that requires all your energy and focus.
I had another big goal this year to sort out my love life. People laughed at how crazy and deep I went on this goal. Within five months and after more than fifty dates, I got my goal. There’s a lot that you can get from focusing on one big goal. Try it for yourself.
Keeps fear from destroying your action.
Fear is a constant battle – even for me. Having too many goals means that you’ll get a small slice of fear with each one. Once you add up all of that fear, you can easily become crippled by it. By focusing on one big goal, you only have one slice of fear to deal with.
For me, changing career and nailing public speaking at the same time is just too much fear. It’s way easier to tackle one at a time. You can’t just block fear out and pretend it doesn’t exist. You have to work through the fear that comes with your goals and this requires smaller doses.
Your conversations become simpler.
We all get asked to join 101 meetings and do lots of coffee catch ups. These two things already annoy me enough. What having one goal has done for me is make my conversations simpler. If someone wants to talk about something, if it doesn’t align with my current big goal, I decline.
I explain that I’m working towards one big goal and anything that’s not part of that goal is on hold for the moment. By saying it in this manner, you avoid sounding like a smart ass and your no is delivered in a respectful way.
To-Do lists become a thing of the past.
These problematic lists become near irrelevant because when you have one big goal, you don’t have as many tasks to manage. Right now, when I wake up, I work on my career goal and then get to work. I don’t need a to-do list because there’s only one goal to think about.
Deep thinking sessions deliver more value.
I tell everybody to spend a bit of time every day doing some deep thinking. When you have too many goals, these sessions are wasted. By having one big goal, I’ve been able to use my deep thinking time to really reflect on what it’s going to take to achieve my goal.
The progress I get from these deep thinking sessions has tripled. I’m no longer trying to fix all of the world’s problems every time I go into deep thinking. I’ve found that I’m becoming much better at solving my own problems because I can deeply think about what’s standing in my way.
Answers are much less challenging to find.
My mind has become a beacon for the information I need to achieve my one big goal. When you have lots of goals, all the information you consume get’s lost. Having one big goal makes your mind focused on what bits of knowledge you need.
“All the answers you seek have already been presented to you in one form or another. The problem is that you can’t hear the answers because there are too many goals which have created a lack of focus for your very busy mind”
For example, my public speaking goal is something I always thought would be near impossible to solve. As I practice my habit of listening to podcasts, I’ve found that all the good tips for crushing fear when it comes to public speaking have been there all along.
People like Tim Ferriss and Gary Vee have been sharing the wisdom needed for good public speaking for a long time. The problem was I had too many goals, so I didn’t hear their golden nuggets of advice. With more focus, I do not only hear their tips, I’m meditating and doing deep thinking on their ideas.
You can’t be known for everything.
Ever been to someone’s LinkedIn page and it says something like this:
“Kimbo is an entrepreneur, blogger, speaker, coach, finance professional, investor, advisor, avid reader, professional hockey player and lover of cars.”
I mean you can’t be known for all of that. When all of us see profiles of people like this, we end up switching off. Focus on being a world-class blogger, or an accomplished author.
“There’s no point trying to be A-grade at everything because you never will be, and your personal message will get lost”
Simple is always better.
Whether it’s your goals, fitness routine, business, etc, simpler is always better. Simpler equals focus. Focus equals power. Power equals energy and motivation towards your one big goal that will make you unstoppable.
Stop trying to do so much because you’re not fooling anyone, least of all yourself. Chunk things down, go for simple and be incredible at fewer goals.
You can be a standout person when you go for one big goal rather than a huge lists of goals that never get actioned.
What do you really want more than anything? That’s your big goal.
Now go execute on your goal.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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