For this entire year, I have been asked why I have zero goals.
That’s right. You heard right. I write all about personal development and how to be a better version of you and yet I have no goals for this year. You must think I’m a total screw up and a liar / cheat. You must think that I am completely incongruent.
How can you be successful if you have zero goals?
Okay, I left out one important detail. I decided this year to have only one mission and zero goals. Having a single mission means I can be completely focused, rather than get caught up in a blaze of half done goals. See the thing is I would rather achieve one massive, ginormous mission that means the world to me.
I am not interested in doing anything else other than playing life all out and you shouldn’t be either. There’s no point in being mediocre. Mediocre leads to an unfulfilling life and I can’t settle for that. In fact, I can’t settle for second best and you shouldn’t do that either.
Second best leads to regret and that feels like total crap to me. I don’t want to feel like that. The only way I can live the life I want to lead is to be nothing short of inspirational. This means I have to make all of you reading actually take action and execute like you never have before.
“This requires me to go first. This is because leaders go first and they eat their dinner last”
A brief interlude…Tracy Morgan
I’ve just finished listening to a podcast about the famous comedian Tracy Morgan. I’ve never taken him very seriously until the man made me cry like a baby this morning. The man was in a bad car accident and nearly died. He came out the other side having realized what his goal is.
His goal is to love people and show us how to do the same through his comedy. That’s his entire goal. He doesn’t write goal lists or live some crazy morning ritual. His ritual is a single mission and a single goal.
There is something about having a single mission that is so damn motivational in itself. It’s simple and easy to execute on just one thing. We all do such a poor job at trying to juggle multiple balls.
“What if all you needed to do was juggle one ball at a time while taking part in life’s circus”
Through the tears I shed by listening to Tracy be the opposite of funny for a brief moment, I finally understood that our life purpose is our single mission. Our life purpose is that one big mission that we should focus all of our attention on.
As we go through life, our mission can change but our purpose does not. Whatever your mission is and whatever way you find to serve people, you’ll eventually realize that you must love people and show them how to do the same.
Now to be vulnerable
The mission I wanted to achieve this year was to find an amazing woman. I’ve turned down every other offer and every business proposal to do just that. Everyone who knows me knows this mission. It’s written everywhere. It’s spoken about more than one hundred times per day.
If I liked tattoos, I’d probably get it stamped on my arm so I don’t forget it. It’s not easy to admit to the world that I’m trying to find a woman. Generally, people keep this sort of thing behind closed doors and rarely speak about it. It’s a secret mission that shows me that we’re all the same.
So I thought screw it. I’m either going to live what I preach and be honest, otherwise what’s the point?
Why bother writing these words if I’m going to hide behind some corporate mask trying to be someone I’m not. There’s something so freeing about sharing your single mission for the year.
Focus is king
By having one mission for this year, it’s made life crystal clear. When I thought about taking a holiday, I said no. When an opportunity to join a business venture came up, I said no. When I was asked to speak about what I do, I said no.
It’s hard to say no. I’ve found that it’s easier to say no when you have a single mission. You don’t feel regret because you have focused all of your energy on just one thing. I feel that simplicity is so freeing and that’s one of the reasons why I live a minimalistic life.
I want to save my mind for my life’s purpose and not waste thinking capacity on having 101 goals that are not that important to me. This advice might seem counter intuitive to every other self-help blog post, book, video you’ve ever seen. So what? Think about it carefully and it will make sense.
Big goals take enormous energy
Imagine the rejection, negativity, hard work and vulnerability it takes to find a woman for a second. I can tell you that it takes everything you’ve got. If you don’t give it all, then you don’t get the result. This year I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy to achieve my one big mission unless I deleted everything else.
You piss a lot of people off when you do this, but they eventually forgive you. The ones who don’t weren’t your true supporters anyway. The reason I have the energy to deal with so many negative emotions is that I’ve stored up massive reserves, by having no other goals.
The most fatiguing part of having one big mission rather than lots of goals is the decision making that comes with it. Making decisions drains your energy so by not having lots of goals I can concentrate my decision making muscle on only things that are relevant to my mission.
Through the process, I’ve simplified other parts of my life to compound my energy reserves further. I try to have a basic wardrobe, eat similar meals most days, have very few emails, have one place to post my blog articles and so on.
The truth that will set you free
Here it is: you’re distracted, over worked and not focused on what matters to you.
That’s a very harsh thing to say but it’s true. Riding along the highway with just one goal for a year allows you to reset. You may not live this way forever although I think it’s good to try it out on a major goal that seems to escape you continually.
Being true to yourself and forgiving yourself for your past failures will allow you to start fresh. This time, start fresh on a single goal that is a must for you.
When a goal becomes a must, and you’ve diverted all your energy towards it, you’ll see the results you’ve always longed for.
“Take that single mission and slap it over the head until you get the monkey off your back that is distraction and complication”
Narrow down, chunk it down and show us all how to love people. Don’t stop until you get what you want. When you get it, remember to be grateful.
Wish me luck with my mission. Peace. Big, scary world I’m coming for you!
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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