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The Number One Thing to Stop Doing to Become More Effective

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We all have this crazy love-hate relationship with our To-Do list, right? (Ok, for many it might be straight-up hate or profound avoidance.) I get it because I talk to clients about it every day.

But there’s one major problem with how most of us approach our to-do list: We become obsessed with getting it ALL done ASAP! We start creating “Dream Lists” of 15-20 things that we are determined to complete today. Then, we only knock out 4-6 of them because other things get in the way, and we feel frustrated and depressed. Does this sound familiar?

If so, then I’m going to tell you the one secret that can immediately shift that destructive and disempowering pattern in your life. Even better, it’s something for you to STOP doing…Stop confusing your “Master List” for your “Today List.”

 

1. What is your “Master List”?

We all have dozens, if not hundreds, of things on our plates. Writing them down allows you to reflect and prioritize your actions. Capturing those tasks in one consistent place (a notebook, software app, etc), establishes the beginning of your “Master List.”

Your “Master List” is the one place where all your actions live. It’s where all those possible actions hang out until you’re ready for them. But, it’s not what you work from during each day. Trying to work from your “Master List” will feel crazy overwhelming because it will, and should be, never-ending.

In the best of all possible worlds you will still have a to-do list on the day you die. Having the list is a sign that you’ve stayed engaged in your life all the way to the end. In other words, having a list is a GOOD thing.

“The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list. The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be.”   – Alan Cohen

The types of tasks on the list may evolve over time, but having a “Master List” is every bit as important as having a calendar to remind you of when to show up for the dentist or that lunch date with your friend.

 

2. What is your “Today List”?

If your “Master List” is where all your actions live until you choose to complete them, then your “Today List” is the SHORT selection of the items that are your priority for today. This list should have no more than four items on it.

Just four tasks? (And I do mean tasks, not projects. Actions that you can complete in 5-30 minutes.) This might sound like horrifying levels of under-achievement. But, things are going to come up. That call from your client, that urgent email response, the last minute errand for your kid’s homework. New tasks show up in our lives constantly each day.

When we choose our four priority tasks intentionally each day, then we can both keep ourselves focused and leave space for the urgent things to arise without knocking us off course or making us feel overwhelmed.

What I teach my clients is that your four daily tasks include: your “Inspired Action” and 3 bonuses. Your “Inspired Action” is a commitment that you’re making to yourself. This one item, come hell or high water, will get done before the end of the day. Once that’s accomplished, then the other three items are your next top priorities.

If you get through all four tasks on any given day, then celebrate! Seriously… 3 minute dance party, at least. When you’re done celebrating, then you can decide if you want to go back to your “Master List” and choose another task to power through. Or, you can leave space for inspiration, flow, or other activities as they arise. You’ll likely choose what works based on your energy and schedule for the day.

“Make each day your masterpiece”  – John Wooden

When you stop confusing your “Master List” for your “Today List”, then you increase your ability to focus and decrease your persistent sense of overwhelm. It’s one of the simplest, and fastest tricks to immediately improve your effectiveness each day.

Have you been confusing your “Master List” and “Today List?” Please share with us in the comment section below!

Erin Wells is The Intentionality Expert, Productivity Strategist and founder of Chosen Course. Erin helps high achievers, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and influencers to improve their productivity, focus, and effectiveness in their work and daily life. Erin is the author of Inspired Action: Create More Purpose, Productivity, & Peace in Your Life. You can Download your FREE Start Your Master List eGuide to learn more about To-Do’s Done Right.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. vicky

    Jul 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Erin your article is so nice…but what is the most important thing for continuing to make a “master list” daily? I try it many times but never continue it for long.

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Aug 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Vicky,
      It’s a habit that’s rather like getting use to writing all your appointment info in your calendar every day. It takes practice. But, more than anything you have to create a relationship with the tool you’re using to hold your master list that allows the habit to become as easy as possible.

      If you’re just writing it on a random sheet of paper, then you aren’t creating a consistent relationship with a specific tool. That’s why I would encourage you to choose a specific notebook or a well-designed project management app to hold this information for you. Just like you would buy a good day planner for your calendar or choose calendar software that’s a good fit for you. There needs to be one place where this information lives in your world, and you have to develop the consistent habits of capturing new tasks onto it and reviewing it each day to decide your priorities for your Today list.

      For more about getting this system up and running for you, I would definitely pick up the free Start Your Master List eGuide that I created to walk you through the initial system setup and offer some tool recommendations. You can grab it here: http://www.chosencourse.com/12Stop.

      Good luck!

  2. Stefanie

    Jul 14, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Hi Erin, I love the idea about having one mission and 3 bonuses! Just a slight change of words, but it shows clearly that one has more impact than the other.
    I have been using Trello for my weekly goals, which I plan together with my husband every Sunday. Each of us has 3 goals each day which we mark with labels, so we know who of us will accomplish this goal. This is really helpful as we can interact on the goals and track the progress.
    I noticed that sometimes, we have tasks which are too huge. I’m going to take into account what you wrote about actions (5-30 min.). This is really helpful to not feel overwhelmed. Thank you!

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Aug 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Hey Stefanie,
      Glad it helped! It’s amazing how just a minor change in words can actually make a big difference in how you feel every day :).

      Keep going and knock it out of the park!

  3. Shawn Lim

    Jul 11, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Can’t agree more. I used to have a long to-do list, but I never get all of the tasks done.
    Like what you mentioned through your ‘masterlist’.
    I have then learned to prioritize and work on those that will yield the most result.
    Usually only a few important tasks. 🙂

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks Shawn. Yeah, it’s a common confusion and frustration for folks. This distinction can make a huge difference to your emotional attitude, which by extension improves your overall productivity.
      After all, it’s a lot easier to stay productive when you feel focused and energetic… rather than frustrated and depressed ;).

  4. Chris

    Jul 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Great article thanks, I tend to break my 5 year goals into annual goals, into monthly, into weekly then into daily tasks, as not to confuse the daily tasks with my “Master List”

    When do you set your tasks, the night before or in the morning?

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Honestly, morning or evening… it’s your choice. But, I do encourage you to choose a consistent time.
      Many of my clients like to choose their 4 tasks at the end of the work day for the following day. Personally, I’m a fan of first thing in the morning when I have a better sense of my personal energy level and what I’m feeling inspired about.
      My task management system (www.Asana.com) also sometimes pops some items to the top at the beginning of the day that I hadn’t thought about previously, so I weigh those against items that I might have previously considered priorities.

  5. Tim Denning

    Jul 9, 2016 at 3:51 am

    Erin thank you for this simple distinction between a “master list” and a “today” list. The two lists have definitely been confused for me on many occasions.

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      You’re welcome, Tim.
      Glad this distinction was helpful to you! It can really improve your attitude and enjoyment of each day :).
      Warmly,
      Erin

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Success Advice

How to Use the “Small Victories” Method to Avoid Burning Out

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Have you had a goal you begin to work toward only to run out of steam? Do you know what you need to do to get to where you want to be, but the necessary work feels overwhelming? “Small Victories” is the method to eliminate procrastination, dramatically increase productivity, and to make every part of the process not just bearable, but fun.

The journey from novice to rockstar is filled with a thousand small victories. Each victory increases your skill, your confidence, your positive expectation, and is ultimately the only way to really do something truly great.

Imagine you have a band in which everything was fun- fun to practice, fun to get together and create. The first victory was writing your first song. Afterwards, some friends come to watch you practice, and they cheer you on giving you another boost. Then you play your first show, do your first band photoshoot, and create a band website. After all this hard work, you record your first song as a band, have your first major show, your first tour, and develop the best thing so far which are your first true fans.

Each victory gives you the energy to get to the next victory

If you told the kid, it was going to take ten years of work to get to the end goal, without celebrating the small important victories in between, it would be illogical for any human to hunker down and work 10 years to get there. So how is this relevant? When starting a business or following your dream, incentivizing yourself with small victories will make you far more likely to make you continue on to your end goal. Without it, your willpower only lasts so long.

The small victories are the positive fuel to make it to the next milestone. You create small victories by finding a way to interact with people as a way to have an impact even if it’s small. For example, when people try to start businesses, often they try to get everything together before selling their first product. It could be months or years of work before they are at the level of their competition.

I am a series of small victories and large defeats and I am as amazed as any other that I have gotten from there to here. Charles Bukowski

Say you’re creating a bakery, it could be a year before anyone tried your first baked good if you go the traditional brick and mortar route without any small victories. This comes with great financial cost and energy. You also lose out on the opportunity to improve your craft, your products, your image and your connections with others who can take your business to greater heights.

However, if you go with the method of small victories instead, you would start by creating a cult following amongst friends and family with your decadent treats. Next, you would bake them at home and sell them at local events, farmers markets, and maybe even at local businesses. This can give you the opportunity to create a strong local and social media following well before the opening of your first actual store.

Work and effort without small victories lead to burnout

We need to build rewards along the way into our endeavors, because this provides encouragement to keep going. Each moment is a separate gift, an experience where something was fulfilled, where something was accomplished, no matter how small, and being a recluse until the grand unveiling will have so many missed opportunities along the way.

Small victories are also an opportunity to develop your skills, get feedback – positive or constructive – and considerably increase opportunities. Small victories increase your credibility by showing a track record and the trajectory you’re on by increasing your ability to attract investors and partners.

“Success is rarely the result of one swell swoop, but more often the culmination of many, many small victories.” – Joseph M. Marshall III

The idea of celebrating small victories can be applied to any subject. In weight loss, for instance, seeing pounds melt away will give you the positive mindset to continue and even improve the choices you make to enhance your physique. Sharing your success with others will bring in the element of positive encouragement. It can also motivate others to come with you on the journey. Your small victories can inspire others to start their own journey.

What small victory did you achieve today which will bring you a step closer to your goals? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Setting Up Your Mindset to Win: How to Achieve Success in Your Life and Career

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How did Usain Bolt become so successful? He seems superhuman, doesn’t he? Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Paul Bocuse… all these people have something special in them. They became the stars in their niche. Have you ever wondered why? No, they do not have any superhuman capacity. They are simple people, just like you and I. They, too, had flaws. Their mindset, however, is what set them apart. If you want to win in your career and in life, generally, you need the mindset of a winner. You have to think like a true champion, so you’ll overcome your flaws and emphasize your strengths.

So how do you set the mindset to win? Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. When You Can’t Achieve a Goal, Get Help

Have you heard of Paul Bocuse? He was one of the most famous chefs of his time, and he was named as the chef of the century. This is a good example of the point we’re about to make. Even the best are not almighty, they have to learn from someone. Paul Bocuse learned from another famous chef. He constantly worked to improve his skills and he learned along the way.

The lesson is: you cannot do everything on your own. This is the first thing you have to do: learn and find the right person to learn from. Are there any books by the champions of your chosen niche? Get them and read them. Can you get a mentor? Of course, you can! Start connecting with people on LinkedIn. Your alumni network is a great source of mentorship opportunities, too. Don’t be afraid to reach out and say that you want to learn from someone.   

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Work on Your Resilience

Here’s the most important life lesson you’ll ever learn: things don’t always go as expected. When you strive towards a particular goal, the chances of failure are real. When Usain Bolt started training, he wasn’t the fastest man on Earth. He worked towards that goal and he was resilient enough to go through all the obstacles he faced. We couldn’t possibly assume that such success came easily for him.

The journey towards a successful life is not a straight line, it’s a bumpy road full of difficulties and setbacks. The average person would give up along the way, but a champion would stay resilient. It’s the mindset that makes a true difference. The good news is that the more obstacles you overcome, the more resilient you become.

3. Focus

What do you want in your career and in your life? This is not something that can go with the flow. You cannot simply live your life one random day after another and expect great things to come your way. You have to focus on particular goals and work your way up there.

Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, has a nice tip for everyone who wants to become successful: “Dedicate yourself to a core set of values. Without them, you will never be able to find personal fulfillment, and you will never be able to lead effectively.”

Simple and straight to the point, right? So set your goals! Find that major goal you want to achieve and break it up into smaller achievements. Then, start accomplishing things on a daily basis. You need to devote your life to achieving that goal.

4. Be Bold

Steve Jobs wasn’t focused on getting an average job, achieving average results and living an average life. He had big dreams and bold goals. All successful people have something in common at the starting point, a bold dream. Being afraid to dream big is a huge mistake. Set your imagination free! What’s the biggest thing you’d like to achieve? If you believe in yourself and you start working towards that goal one day after another, you’ll unlock your true potential. You’ll realize that not many things are impossible. You can achieve much more than you believe you’re capable of.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. If You Fall, Get Back Up

Have you ever wondered why Richard Branson became so successful? The answer is simple: never gave up, no matter what hardships he faced. His first company didn’t make money. The test flight of Virgin Atlantic Airlines almost crashed because of a flock of birds. Virgin Cola, his soda company, failed miserably. He almost got himself killed during his trip around the world. Richard Branson has done many things, but do you know what he never did? Give up. No matter how serious the failure was, he always found the strength to get back up on his feet and carry on with life. That’s the mindset of a champion!

Never allow yourself to get disappointed from failure. Do not fall back into average just because your big dream doesn’t seem to be working. Failure is not a big deal. It’s just part of the journey, and everyone has to face it. If you carry on, you’ll find success along the way.

So you want to be a champion? You better start working towards that goal without wasting any time. The first step is changing your mindset. Hopefully, the tips above inspired you to do that.

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3 Important Principles You Need to Know That All Billionaires Have in Common

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I’ve always been highly interested in the similarities amongst the world’s wealthiest. Their habits, successes, mindset, and failures have fascinated me. The journey to great prosperity can seem overwhelming, but if you apply success principles to any endeavor you can quickly and efficiently overcome challenges and expand.

Michael J. Gabrielli, founder of WeRunAds, has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars studying billionaires and their habits. Michael has also studied over 2000 different billionaires and from this experience he’s found three principles they all had in common.

Here are the 3 principles the billionaires all had in common:

1. Be in a rapid growth industry at the right time

Timing is so important. Billionaires know when the time is right to enter a market. Most billionaires do not enter first or second into a market because of the inherent risks involved. Many billionaires let the pioneers pave the way and then leverage the knowledge gained to innovate and optimize in order to create something that works.

The key is to find an industry that is soon to take off. Stepping in at the right time is important. Let’s take a real life example that is known all too well– the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. When he entered the scene, the idea of a social network was moderately known, but it was still not quite predicted to be the monster it is today.

Others like Friendster, Myspace, etc. had made some headway into this fledgeling industry and then Facebook entered leveraging the knowledge and expertise gained from the early pioneers. Zuckerberg saw the huge potential of social networking, took what was done previously and made it better.

He is presently worth over $66 Billion and the company has surpassed the 2 billion users mark with 1.4 billion using the platform daily. Not surprisingly, many billionaires were not the first to pioneer the industry they would later find success in. They came in at the right moment, learned from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors, and made a lasting final product.

Here’s a practical 3 question exercise you can do to judge if you have the right timing with your current venture:

  1. Look at your industry and say—is this brand new?
  2. Am I trying to invent something that doesn’t exist?
  3. Am I too late to the party?

2. Position yourself better

In addition to finding the right industry and getting in at the right time, billionaires position themselves in the best way. They provide the solution to the need and they think outside the box to do it. Optimal positioning is a commonality amongst billionaires. For example, during the California Gold Rush, people rushed to mine for the gold itself blinded by the promise of large profits.

However, it turned out that Sam Brannan had the better idea for how to position himself for success. He knew the chances of finding gold were risky, so instead he committed to a sure thing. He manufactured the tools that were needed by all the miners to mine gold. As each new miner migrated West, they were happily met by Brannan and his company who were ready and waiting to sell these new hopefuls the shovels and tools they’d need to strike it rich.

Digging for gold seemed to be the most profitable route, however, greater returns were yielded in the supplying of materials required to mine for gold! A good company that also illustrates this concept is Microsoft. They did not seek to create their own computer, but the software that computers would run on. Most people mistakenly think they have to “go for the gold” to attain wealth, but it’s evident in history that selling the necessary tools to the gold miners can be far more profitable.

The two questions you need to ask yourself to see how you could position yourself correctly are, “What industries will need the supplies that I could provide? And, “Am I following the trend instead of innovating?

“Big shots are only little shots that keep shooting. I can see your sun rise out of obscurity. Keep shooting” – Ikechukwu Joseph

3. Take calculated risks

Most people choose the safe bet that is secure, however, this is not common among billionaires. Billionaires take big calculated risks in order to propel themselves to higher levels of influence and success. The most important thing to note here is that while to others the risks seem big—to billionaires, they are calculated.Risk and Calculated Risk are not the same. Calculated risk is measured and well-thought-out. Risk is impulsive and immeasurable. Understanding the difference between the two is a commonality among billionaires. The world’s most prominent figures have at some point in their lives disagreed with the ordinary and took a shot at the unknown. Proper calculation and clever thinking certainly accompanied the bold moves they made in their careers.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of this. He had grown up in poverty and made his way out to earn a comfortable wage as an executive at a company that manufactured coffeemakers.

“Risk more than others think safe.” – Howard Schultz

He risked it all when he discovered a small coffee shop named “Starbucks” in Seattle that prompted him to quit his job and step out to create a company that was inspired by the Italian coffee culture and personal relationship people could have with their coffee.

Of the 242 people he spoke to, 217 said no to investing with him. Despite the discouragement, lack of agreement, and investment, Schultz kept pushing on. Fast forward to present time, and Starbucks’ is a massive success. Strong intuition and unshakeable belief is common among high achievers. Many successful billionaires risked their safe jobs, personal assets, and even their reputation to take calculated risks that they knew would pay off huge in the end.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “where can I take a calculated risk? Am I holding back when I should be going forward? What tangible steps can I take today to move forward?”

These 3 success principles are staple elements that are common among many billionaires. Now, there are more principles that you must discover and implement in order to become a billionaire. Work diligently and do all that can be done each day. Be inquisitive and study those that you wish to emulate.

Which one of these principles do you need to work on more this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome.

Here’s the question I always ask: What is standing between your current reality (where you are now) and your ultimate vision (where you want to be)? Are the impediments psychological, physical, emotional or some other reason?

Until you answer what is causing the difference between your AS IS and your SHOULD BE, you will be stuck spinning your wheels in the mud and the muck of the former. This is an important question that requires a level of mental self-examination. And the answer to this question may require a lifetime of introspection. It is an important question to answer because if you know where you want to go that provides direction but examining why you are not there yet can provide momentum. (In other words, by answering the question it may get you there faster!)

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

It’s just like following a road map. A map is useless unless you know two things, where you are, and where you want to go. What might be stopping you (or at least slowing you down) from the ultimate destination of your passion and life’s fulfilment?

I’ve asked many people about this over the years and have heard these four reasons that keep people from moving forward.

1. Lack of vision

How do you plan to get there, if you don’t know where “there” is? The most difficult undertaking in the world is to sit quietly with a blank sheet of paper and chart out your life. I know, I have many blank sheets of paper to prove it. However, I also found out that it only takes one sheet, with a few well-crafted lines of thought to give you the direction you need. But you need to start!

2. Lack of goals

So, you know where you want to go, you just don’t know how to get there. The second hardest thing in the world is to have a sheet of paper with your ultimate destination on top, and the rest blank as you ask yourself, now what or how do I get to my vision? The process of functional decomposition means breaking down the larger process into steps that are both actionable and motivational. In other words, the steps are small enough to do and you remain motivated because they are so small.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

3. You don’t believe you can get there

You want to, but there is a script running through your head telling you to go home, make some chicken soup and don’t leave the house until these foolish notions of greatness are gone. Think about it, your parents never did what you are trying to do, no one in your family has ever done it, you are far too old (or too young) to do that, you don’t have the right education…your rationalizing can go on for a lifetime! Here is my suggestion when it comes to running those self-deprecating scripts: STOP IT!

4. You are lazy

You won’t admit this to yourself, but perhaps you are just plain lazy. I’ve seen it so many times; individuals majoring in minors. Performing high fun, low payoff activities instead of the low fun, high payoff activities. (And, by the way, who ever said that a high payoff activity can’t be fun? There’s that darn script again.) As a species we are inclined to take the path of least resistance, but that path may not lead us to our vision, but you must admit, we are having a great time NOT moving toward our vision! Laziness is not “doing nothing.” It’s doing the wrong thing because that’s what you want to do, and, very often, we know it’s the wrong thing to do!

There you have the four possible things that might be holding you back from the realization of your vision. Are any of them hitting home? Answer this question before you move on:

What is standing between my current reality and my ultimate vision of success?

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5 Counterintuitive Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Time

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Do you think you’ll accomplish everything you want to before you die? Do you sometimes worry you won’t reach your goals? Do you have a plan to get what you want? If you’re like most people, you often have trouble squeezing in everything you want to do during the day, week or month, let alone everything you might want to accomplish in a lifetime. Updates from friends on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat come in to your phone at all hours of the day and night. Invites to activities, events, festivals, etc. blow up your phone on a regular basis. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. vicky

    Jul 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Erin your article is so nice…but what is the most important thing for continuing to make a “master list” daily? I try it many times but never continue it for long.

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Aug 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Vicky,
      It’s a habit that’s rather like getting use to writing all your appointment info in your calendar every day. It takes practice. But, more than anything you have to create a relationship with the tool you’re using to hold your master list that allows the habit to become as easy as possible.

      If you’re just writing it on a random sheet of paper, then you aren’t creating a consistent relationship with a specific tool. That’s why I would encourage you to choose a specific notebook or a well-designed project management app to hold this information for you. Just like you would buy a good day planner for your calendar or choose calendar software that’s a good fit for you. There needs to be one place where this information lives in your world, and you have to develop the consistent habits of capturing new tasks onto it and reviewing it each day to decide your priorities for your Today list.

      For more about getting this system up and running for you, I would definitely pick up the free Start Your Master List eGuide that I created to walk you through the initial system setup and offer some tool recommendations. You can grab it here: http://www.chosencourse.com/12Stop.

      Good luck!

  2. Stefanie

    Jul 14, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Hi Erin, I love the idea about having one mission and 3 bonuses! Just a slight change of words, but it shows clearly that one has more impact than the other.
    I have been using Trello for my weekly goals, which I plan together with my husband every Sunday. Each of us has 3 goals each day which we mark with labels, so we know who of us will accomplish this goal. This is really helpful as we can interact on the goals and track the progress.
    I noticed that sometimes, we have tasks which are too huge. I’m going to take into account what you wrote about actions (5-30 min.). This is really helpful to not feel overwhelmed. Thank you!

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Aug 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Hey Stefanie,
      Glad it helped! It’s amazing how just a minor change in words can actually make a big difference in how you feel every day :).

      Keep going and knock it out of the park!

  3. Shawn Lim

    Jul 11, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Can’t agree more. I used to have a long to-do list, but I never get all of the tasks done.
    Like what you mentioned through your ‘masterlist’.
    I have then learned to prioritize and work on those that will yield the most result.
    Usually only a few important tasks. 🙂

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks Shawn. Yeah, it’s a common confusion and frustration for folks. This distinction can make a huge difference to your emotional attitude, which by extension improves your overall productivity.
      After all, it’s a lot easier to stay productive when you feel focused and energetic… rather than frustrated and depressed ;).

  4. Chris

    Jul 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Great article thanks, I tend to break my 5 year goals into annual goals, into monthly, into weekly then into daily tasks, as not to confuse the daily tasks with my “Master List”

    When do you set your tasks, the night before or in the morning?

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Honestly, morning or evening… it’s your choice. But, I do encourage you to choose a consistent time.
      Many of my clients like to choose their 4 tasks at the end of the work day for the following day. Personally, I’m a fan of first thing in the morning when I have a better sense of my personal energy level and what I’m feeling inspired about.
      My task management system (www.Asana.com) also sometimes pops some items to the top at the beginning of the day that I hadn’t thought about previously, so I weigh those against items that I might have previously considered priorities.

  5. Tim Denning

    Jul 9, 2016 at 3:51 am

    Erin thank you for this simple distinction between a “master list” and a “today” list. The two lists have definitely been confused for me on many occasions.

    • Erin Elizabeth Wells

      Jul 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      You’re welcome, Tim.
      Glad this distinction was helpful to you! It can really improve your attitude and enjoyment of each day :).
      Warmly,
      Erin

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Success Advice

How to Use the “Small Victories” Method to Avoid Burning Out

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Have you had a goal you begin to work toward only to run out of steam? Do you know what you need to do to get to where you want to be, but the necessary work feels overwhelming? “Small Victories” is the method to eliminate procrastination, dramatically increase productivity, and to make every part of the process not just bearable, but fun.

The journey from novice to rockstar is filled with a thousand small victories. Each victory increases your skill, your confidence, your positive expectation, and is ultimately the only way to really do something truly great.

Imagine you have a band in which everything was fun- fun to practice, fun to get together and create. The first victory was writing your first song. Afterwards, some friends come to watch you practice, and they cheer you on giving you another boost. Then you play your first show, do your first band photoshoot, and create a band website. After all this hard work, you record your first song as a band, have your first major show, your first tour, and develop the best thing so far which are your first true fans.

Each victory gives you the energy to get to the next victory

If you told the kid, it was going to take ten years of work to get to the end goal, without celebrating the small important victories in between, it would be illogical for any human to hunker down and work 10 years to get there. So how is this relevant? When starting a business or following your dream, incentivizing yourself with small victories will make you far more likely to make you continue on to your end goal. Without it, your willpower only lasts so long.

The small victories are the positive fuel to make it to the next milestone. You create small victories by finding a way to interact with people as a way to have an impact even if it’s small. For example, when people try to start businesses, often they try to get everything together before selling their first product. It could be months or years of work before they are at the level of their competition.

I am a series of small victories and large defeats and I am as amazed as any other that I have gotten from there to here. Charles Bukowski

Say you’re creating a bakery, it could be a year before anyone tried your first baked good if you go the traditional brick and mortar route without any small victories. This comes with great financial cost and energy. You also lose out on the opportunity to improve your craft, your products, your image and your connections with others who can take your business to greater heights.

However, if you go with the method of small victories instead, you would start by creating a cult following amongst friends and family with your decadent treats. Next, you would bake them at home and sell them at local events, farmers markets, and maybe even at local businesses. This can give you the opportunity to create a strong local and social media following well before the opening of your first actual store.

Work and effort without small victories lead to burnout

We need to build rewards along the way into our endeavors, because this provides encouragement to keep going. Each moment is a separate gift, an experience where something was fulfilled, where something was accomplished, no matter how small, and being a recluse until the grand unveiling will have so many missed opportunities along the way.

Small victories are also an opportunity to develop your skills, get feedback – positive or constructive – and considerably increase opportunities. Small victories increase your credibility by showing a track record and the trajectory you’re on by increasing your ability to attract investors and partners.

“Success is rarely the result of one swell swoop, but more often the culmination of many, many small victories.” – Joseph M. Marshall III

The idea of celebrating small victories can be applied to any subject. In weight loss, for instance, seeing pounds melt away will give you the positive mindset to continue and even improve the choices you make to enhance your physique. Sharing your success with others will bring in the element of positive encouragement. It can also motivate others to come with you on the journey. Your small victories can inspire others to start their own journey.

What small victory did you achieve today which will bring you a step closer to your goals? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Setting Up Your Mindset to Win: How to Achieve Success in Your Life and Career

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How did Usain Bolt become so successful? He seems superhuman, doesn’t he? Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Paul Bocuse… all these people have something special in them. They became the stars in their niche. Have you ever wondered why? No, they do not have any superhuman capacity. They are simple people, just like you and I. They, too, had flaws. Their mindset, however, is what set them apart. If you want to win in your career and in life, generally, you need the mindset of a winner. You have to think like a true champion, so you’ll overcome your flaws and emphasize your strengths.

So how do you set the mindset to win? Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. When You Can’t Achieve a Goal, Get Help

Have you heard of Paul Bocuse? He was one of the most famous chefs of his time, and he was named as the chef of the century. This is a good example of the point we’re about to make. Even the best are not almighty, they have to learn from someone. Paul Bocuse learned from another famous chef. He constantly worked to improve his skills and he learned along the way.

The lesson is: you cannot do everything on your own. This is the first thing you have to do: learn and find the right person to learn from. Are there any books by the champions of your chosen niche? Get them and read them. Can you get a mentor? Of course, you can! Start connecting with people on LinkedIn. Your alumni network is a great source of mentorship opportunities, too. Don’t be afraid to reach out and say that you want to learn from someone.   

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Work on Your Resilience

Here’s the most important life lesson you’ll ever learn: things don’t always go as expected. When you strive towards a particular goal, the chances of failure are real. When Usain Bolt started training, he wasn’t the fastest man on Earth. He worked towards that goal and he was resilient enough to go through all the obstacles he faced. We couldn’t possibly assume that such success came easily for him.

The journey towards a successful life is not a straight line, it’s a bumpy road full of difficulties and setbacks. The average person would give up along the way, but a champion would stay resilient. It’s the mindset that makes a true difference. The good news is that the more obstacles you overcome, the more resilient you become.

3. Focus

What do you want in your career and in your life? This is not something that can go with the flow. You cannot simply live your life one random day after another and expect great things to come your way. You have to focus on particular goals and work your way up there.

Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, has a nice tip for everyone who wants to become successful: “Dedicate yourself to a core set of values. Without them, you will never be able to find personal fulfillment, and you will never be able to lead effectively.”

Simple and straight to the point, right? So set your goals! Find that major goal you want to achieve and break it up into smaller achievements. Then, start accomplishing things on a daily basis. You need to devote your life to achieving that goal.

4. Be Bold

Steve Jobs wasn’t focused on getting an average job, achieving average results and living an average life. He had big dreams and bold goals. All successful people have something in common at the starting point, a bold dream. Being afraid to dream big is a huge mistake. Set your imagination free! What’s the biggest thing you’d like to achieve? If you believe in yourself and you start working towards that goal one day after another, you’ll unlock your true potential. You’ll realize that not many things are impossible. You can achieve much more than you believe you’re capable of.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. If You Fall, Get Back Up

Have you ever wondered why Richard Branson became so successful? The answer is simple: never gave up, no matter what hardships he faced. His first company didn’t make money. The test flight of Virgin Atlantic Airlines almost crashed because of a flock of birds. Virgin Cola, his soda company, failed miserably. He almost got himself killed during his trip around the world. Richard Branson has done many things, but do you know what he never did? Give up. No matter how serious the failure was, he always found the strength to get back up on his feet and carry on with life. That’s the mindset of a champion!

Never allow yourself to get disappointed from failure. Do not fall back into average just because your big dream doesn’t seem to be working. Failure is not a big deal. It’s just part of the journey, and everyone has to face it. If you carry on, you’ll find success along the way.

So you want to be a champion? You better start working towards that goal without wasting any time. The first step is changing your mindset. Hopefully, the tips above inspired you to do that.

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Success Advice

3 Important Principles You Need to Know That All Billionaires Have in Common

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I’ve always been highly interested in the similarities amongst the world’s wealthiest. Their habits, successes, mindset, and failures have fascinated me. The journey to great prosperity can seem overwhelming, but if you apply success principles to any endeavor you can quickly and efficiently overcome challenges and expand.

Michael J. Gabrielli, founder of WeRunAds, has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars studying billionaires and their habits. Michael has also studied over 2000 different billionaires and from this experience he’s found three principles they all had in common.

Here are the 3 principles the billionaires all had in common:

1. Be in a rapid growth industry at the right time

Timing is so important. Billionaires know when the time is right to enter a market. Most billionaires do not enter first or second into a market because of the inherent risks involved. Many billionaires let the pioneers pave the way and then leverage the knowledge gained to innovate and optimize in order to create something that works.

The key is to find an industry that is soon to take off. Stepping in at the right time is important. Let’s take a real life example that is known all too well– the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. When he entered the scene, the idea of a social network was moderately known, but it was still not quite predicted to be the monster it is today.

Others like Friendster, Myspace, etc. had made some headway into this fledgeling industry and then Facebook entered leveraging the knowledge and expertise gained from the early pioneers. Zuckerberg saw the huge potential of social networking, took what was done previously and made it better.

He is presently worth over $66 Billion and the company has surpassed the 2 billion users mark with 1.4 billion using the platform daily. Not surprisingly, many billionaires were not the first to pioneer the industry they would later find success in. They came in at the right moment, learned from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors, and made a lasting final product.

Here’s a practical 3 question exercise you can do to judge if you have the right timing with your current venture:

  1. Look at your industry and say—is this brand new?
  2. Am I trying to invent something that doesn’t exist?
  3. Am I too late to the party?

2. Position yourself better

In addition to finding the right industry and getting in at the right time, billionaires position themselves in the best way. They provide the solution to the need and they think outside the box to do it. Optimal positioning is a commonality amongst billionaires. For example, during the California Gold Rush, people rushed to mine for the gold itself blinded by the promise of large profits.

However, it turned out that Sam Brannan had the better idea for how to position himself for success. He knew the chances of finding gold were risky, so instead he committed to a sure thing. He manufactured the tools that were needed by all the miners to mine gold. As each new miner migrated West, they were happily met by Brannan and his company who were ready and waiting to sell these new hopefuls the shovels and tools they’d need to strike it rich.

Digging for gold seemed to be the most profitable route, however, greater returns were yielded in the supplying of materials required to mine for gold! A good company that also illustrates this concept is Microsoft. They did not seek to create their own computer, but the software that computers would run on. Most people mistakenly think they have to “go for the gold” to attain wealth, but it’s evident in history that selling the necessary tools to the gold miners can be far more profitable.

The two questions you need to ask yourself to see how you could position yourself correctly are, “What industries will need the supplies that I could provide? And, “Am I following the trend instead of innovating?

“Big shots are only little shots that keep shooting. I can see your sun rise out of obscurity. Keep shooting” – Ikechukwu Joseph

3. Take calculated risks

Most people choose the safe bet that is secure, however, this is not common among billionaires. Billionaires take big calculated risks in order to propel themselves to higher levels of influence and success. The most important thing to note here is that while to others the risks seem big—to billionaires, they are calculated.Risk and Calculated Risk are not the same. Calculated risk is measured and well-thought-out. Risk is impulsive and immeasurable. Understanding the difference between the two is a commonality among billionaires. The world’s most prominent figures have at some point in their lives disagreed with the ordinary and took a shot at the unknown. Proper calculation and clever thinking certainly accompanied the bold moves they made in their careers.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of this. He had grown up in poverty and made his way out to earn a comfortable wage as an executive at a company that manufactured coffeemakers.

“Risk more than others think safe.” – Howard Schultz

He risked it all when he discovered a small coffee shop named “Starbucks” in Seattle that prompted him to quit his job and step out to create a company that was inspired by the Italian coffee culture and personal relationship people could have with their coffee.

Of the 242 people he spoke to, 217 said no to investing with him. Despite the discouragement, lack of agreement, and investment, Schultz kept pushing on. Fast forward to present time, and Starbucks’ is a massive success. Strong intuition and unshakeable belief is common among high achievers. Many successful billionaires risked their safe jobs, personal assets, and even their reputation to take calculated risks that they knew would pay off huge in the end.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “where can I take a calculated risk? Am I holding back when I should be going forward? What tangible steps can I take today to move forward?”

These 3 success principles are staple elements that are common among many billionaires. Now, there are more principles that you must discover and implement in order to become a billionaire. Work diligently and do all that can be done each day. Be inquisitive and study those that you wish to emulate.

Which one of these principles do you need to work on more this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome.

Here’s the question I always ask: What is standing between your current reality (where you are now) and your ultimate vision (where you want to be)? Are the impediments psychological, physical, emotional or some other reason?

Until you answer what is causing the difference between your AS IS and your SHOULD BE, you will be stuck spinning your wheels in the mud and the muck of the former. This is an important question that requires a level of mental self-examination. And the answer to this question may require a lifetime of introspection. It is an important question to answer because if you know where you want to go that provides direction but examining why you are not there yet can provide momentum. (In other words, by answering the question it may get you there faster!)

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

It’s just like following a road map. A map is useless unless you know two things, where you are, and where you want to go. What might be stopping you (or at least slowing you down) from the ultimate destination of your passion and life’s fulfilment?

I’ve asked many people about this over the years and have heard these four reasons that keep people from moving forward.

1. Lack of vision

How do you plan to get there, if you don’t know where “there” is? The most difficult undertaking in the world is to sit quietly with a blank sheet of paper and chart out your life. I know, I have many blank sheets of paper to prove it. However, I also found out that it only takes one sheet, with a few well-crafted lines of thought to give you the direction you need. But you need to start!

2. Lack of goals

So, you know where you want to go, you just don’t know how to get there. The second hardest thing in the world is to have a sheet of paper with your ultimate destination on top, and the rest blank as you ask yourself, now what or how do I get to my vision? The process of functional decomposition means breaking down the larger process into steps that are both actionable and motivational. In other words, the steps are small enough to do and you remain motivated because they are so small.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

3. You don’t believe you can get there

You want to, but there is a script running through your head telling you to go home, make some chicken soup and don’t leave the house until these foolish notions of greatness are gone. Think about it, your parents never did what you are trying to do, no one in your family has ever done it, you are far too old (or too young) to do that, you don’t have the right education…your rationalizing can go on for a lifetime! Here is my suggestion when it comes to running those self-deprecating scripts: STOP IT!

4. You are lazy

You won’t admit this to yourself, but perhaps you are just plain lazy. I’ve seen it so many times; individuals majoring in minors. Performing high fun, low payoff activities instead of the low fun, high payoff activities. (And, by the way, who ever said that a high payoff activity can’t be fun? There’s that darn script again.) As a species we are inclined to take the path of least resistance, but that path may not lead us to our vision, but you must admit, we are having a great time NOT moving toward our vision! Laziness is not “doing nothing.” It’s doing the wrong thing because that’s what you want to do, and, very often, we know it’s the wrong thing to do!

There you have the four possible things that might be holding you back from the realization of your vision. Are any of them hitting home? Answer this question before you move on:

What is standing between my current reality and my ultimate vision of success?

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