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How to Achieve More by Intentionally Doing Less

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Often times when we look to achieve a certain goal, we set ourselves up for failure because we come up with these ridiculous expectations for ourselves.

“I’m going to exercise twice a day, six days a week” – even though you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in years.

“I’m going to save $10,000 in 90 days” – even though the only thing you typically save is that item on sale from being stuck on the shelf too long.

“I’m going to wake up every day at 4:30am” – even though most restaurants have stopped serving breakfast by the time you usually wake up.

Get the picture?

In no way am I saying you should avoid goals that push you, and force you to step outside of your comfort zone. But I am saying, sometimes it’s better, and more realistic, to set more conservative goals that you can actually stick to.

One way to make that happen, is to intentionally limit yourself to doing a little less than you know you’re capable of.

Let’s go back to that exercise example above.

 

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

In week one, you actually go to the gym twice a day, for six days. Then in week two, you go to the gym six days, but you only make it twice on three of those days. By week three, the whole “two a day” plan isn’t working anymore.

Then, by week four, you’re not even going to the gym six days anymore. By week five, you’re lucky if you make it three days. Fast forward a few more weeks, and the gym is a distant memory.

Sound familiar? I’m using the gym as an example, but this applies to pretty much any goal you set for yourself. You start off at a ferocious pace, only to eventually burn out and revert back to your old ways.

So what’s the solution?

How do you give yourself a fighting chance to actually achieve those goals that could improve your life? Well, the answer is something you may not be expecting.

In order to achieve more, sometimes it’s better to do less.

 

The Theory in Action

Here’s another scenario, but in this one, you intentionally plan to do a little less.

You set a goal to workout 45 minutes a day, 3 days a week, every week, for the next year. You know on a good day, you could realistically work out for 60 minutes. And on a good week, you could workout at least 5 days a week.

But you also know that not every day is a “good day“. You understand that just because you could, doesn’t always mean that you will.

The first week, you meet your goal. The second week, you meet your goal. And the third week, and the fourth week, and the fifth…

By the end of the year, you’ve stayed consistent and totally transformed your body.

But you made sure to never work out more than 45 minutes a day, and never more than three days a week. Even if you felt you could do more.

Why would you do that? Why would you purposely restrict yourself from doing more?

 

less is more

 

Doing Less in the Short Term, Achieves More in the Long Term

The answer is simple. It’s better to do a little action, consistently, than a big action sporadically. Even though you may be limiting yourself in the short term, you’re building up your ability to stay consistent in the long term.

Working out three times a week for an entire year is better than working out six days a week for a month.

Saving 5% of each of your paychecks for year, is better than saving 15% once.

And when you force yourself into doing slightly less than your maximum ability, you increase the chances of actually sticking to whatever it is you’re trying to do.

This one, simple strategy, could be the difference between finding success in the goals you set, and constantly struggling only to fall back into your old ways of doing things.

 

If you’d like more of my advice you can get updates from my blog, DoReallyGood.com, where I show you how to utilize willpower, habits, systems and automation to create lasting change that leads to the achievement of your goals.

Tony Robinson runs DoReallyGood.com, which is a site that shows you how to utilize willpower, habits, systems and automation so you can create lasting change that leads to the achievement of your most important goals. You can pick up a free copy of his ebook "Goal Domination: The 5 Step Game Plan to Setting and Achieving Your Goals" by clicking here.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. mike802

    May 30, 2015 at 1:02 am

    I remember while I was living in Boston I starting trying to learn to skateboard for a while. Every day after I got back from class at my college, I’d spend some time doing ground tricks in the alley beside my apartment. After a while I got frustrated with my lack of success trying to learn to ollie, and pretty much stopped altogether. I still snowboard (being from the Northeast), but I haven’t skated since my Junior year of college. I think that if I had gone a little slower and maybe tried again once in a while, I might have gotten good enough to casually enjoy the sport.

  2. TONY MARREN

    Nov 17, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Life has a mindset of brutally teaching tough Life Lessons. From 1971 through summer 1976 I was heavily involved with the Order of the Arrow program of the Boy Scouts of America. I learned quite a few lessons which have been painful but Reality driven.

    1. A resource that is easily attainable is often easily not regarded too seriously.

    I volunteered for EVERYTHING. Yes, yes, yes, no problem its ok was my mindset. Slight technicality; I eventually was type casted and taken for granted. Social life suffered and academic performance took a hit. The watershed moment was high school graduation; I sat at commencement wondering why I was a nobody of sorts. Equally I left many OA activities feeling frustrated that I was not ever part of the Inner sanctum. From that point on I realized a sense of balance was needful. Don’t be afraid to express NO if there is truthfulness in your decision.

    2. Pick the battles worth fighting

    I did more than my share of Don Quixote like scenarios. My success was dismal due to being stretched too thin in my involvement with the OA.

    3. Leadership IS NOT executed by accident.

    I realized leadership in particular and success in general will not happen by accident. The most successful leaders are proactive and very much dedicated to living life in the moment. Being unfocused WILL create results that are exactly that; Unfocused.

  3. jhevpoy

    Aug 26, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    nice,its a good lesson so far from me.

  4. Naya Alina

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Well, I would disagree a bit. I think if the whole workout plan works for 3 to 4 weeks (the time to build a habit) perfectly I would start working out on 4 days a week for one hour for example if you want to have an even stronger body etc.
    Anyway, nice post and I try to adopt the first part of it into my life. 😉

  5. Talal

    Aug 19, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I am already too lazy. 🙂

    • tonydrgTony

      Aug 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      🙂 Focused laziness is key. Be lazy on the things you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

  6. LaToya

    Aug 19, 2014 at 6:18 am

    This is will be my daily inspiration , i have been biting morethan i i could chew that at the end of the day i break down coz the outcomes were never my expectation .

    • tonydrgTony

      Aug 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      That’s amazing LaToya! I hope you can use this simple idea to find some success!

  7. Liv

    Aug 14, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I Agree with the post to a certain degree .In some situations it does require more effort and action. I think what your’e saying overall that consistency is key. Biting off more than you can chew sometimes can act as a motivational factor. But by doing small things consistently you will see a change in anything you do over time .

    • Tony

      Aug 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Hey Liv! Yeah, that’s the main point I wanted to communicate. Don’t focus on too much, or more than you can realistically handle. Small consistent action beats big inconsistent action

      • Liv

        Aug 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        well said !

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