I used to have these big lavish goals during the week. For instance, write a book on Tuesday, on top of deep cleaning the entire house, start and finish reading a self-help book, eat 3 healthy homecooked meals, work out for 3 hours after meditating for 2 hours, oh and of course, relax.
If you take a glance at my planner, you’ll see hundreds of tasks without checks next to them all because I tried to do multiple unrealistic things all in one day.
Selena C. Snow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist says,
“Unrealistic expectations are damaging because they set us and others up for failure. When we or someone else naturally falls short, we draw false conclusions, feel negative feelings and act in negative ways.”
Do you ever feel the same way? You wake up feeling so energized, ready to take on the day with ferocity. You start with a cup of coffee, but then you see the dishes piled in the sink, so you start doing them, then you remember you’ve got emails to go through, so you stop and scan through them.
Ping — you’ve got a meeting to get to now. You join it. It ends late, and you realize you never finished the dishes. Your coffee is cold now. You wash the last spoon in the sink and feel so good.
Then, a thought dawns on you — you’ve got 17 more things to get through before you can even touch your side hustle. Will I even get anything important done today? You wonder.
Remember Most Things Make No Difference.
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, says,
“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
People often confuse being busy with being productive. I used to have such heavy scheduled days that I’d usually go to bed feeling frustrated and unaccomplished. While I might have done various things I thought were propelling me forward, my actual goals remained untouched.
For example, I’d tell myself to clean my house daily; even if it was already clean, there were little things I thought needed tending to. Or I’d go to the grocery store for 1–2 items and end up there for over an hour looking at things and reading ingredients.
I’d go to the gym with no plan, resulting in 2+ hour workouts that weren’t even beneficial because I didn’t have any structure. I was wasting so much time doing things that weren’t relevant to my future yet convincing myself that because my day felt so busy — I was being productive.
The majority of the things you do in your daily life make no difference to the overall picture. If you want to get in shape and lose weight, spending all of your time researching shortcuts and buying fat burners isn’t going to move the needle, you already know what needs to happen. To lose weight, you move more and eat less.
How to apply this:
Take some time out of your day every week and identify the things you can eliminate out of your everyday life that steals precious hours from you.
Instead of letting the dishes pile up, clean them immediately after use. Instead of checking your email 10x a day, dedicate an hour to it every morning or when it’s most convenient.
Instead of going to the gym without a plan and wasting time texting people back or looking for a good ab routine, create a structured and time-efficient workout.
Instead of fuming over what went wrong and wasting time being frustrated, move on. Remember, most things make no difference. Focus on the things that do.
Focus on Making Small And Continuous Improvements.
There’s a concept that you can’t eat an elephant all at once. You have to take it one bite at a time. Henry Ford once said,
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.”
I’ve wanted to write a book for a while now. I’d think about it, dream about it, talk about it, and write it on my to-do list — literally — “write the book.”
I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with setting big goals like writing a book on a sunny Tuesday afternoon (do you), but the problem is most times you don’t write the book because it’s not only intimidating but how do you write a 300 paged book in the span of a few hours?
Big goals take careful and thoughtful planning. Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin planned to take 18 months to two years for each volume and projected the last of the planned six books to be released five or six years later.
J.K Rowling took six years to write Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series.
Without even knowing you, I know you want to accomplish big things in your life. And you will — but all good things happen over time with continuous effort and improvements.
How to apply this:
As Henry Ford said, it’s not hard if you divide it into smaller pieces. Instead of trying to force yourself to run the marathon, work your way up to it. Start with a light 1-mile jog, then add 2–3, and so forth.
If you’re a writer, instead of trying to write 10 crappy blog posts at once, focus on creating a great one — editing it and adding any necessary final touches. Then, move on to your next vital task.
Your dreams and goals don’t have to take up every single hour of your day; if you do things correctly and efficiently, you can increase both the quality and quantity because the better you get at something, the easier it gets to complete.
I’ve used this strategy for my writing career for the last few months and have increased both views and monetary gain.
Do whatever you can do today to ensure you’re not wasting your time trying to do it again tomorrow. It’s all about the incremental gains in your life. You start small, and as each one of your small goals builds up, your motivation pushes you farther, and little by little, you start surpassing your big milestones.
It’s not about adding more things into your life — it’s about eliminating the unnecessary bits and pieces that prevent you from being focused and truly applying yourself.
If you were to unplug your TV, remove access to social media, get off the grid and the only thing you could do with your time is work on your business, imagine how far along you’d be.
Remove unnecessary time-consuming tasks out of your daily life, and stop focusing on finishing the race. Take it one mile at a time — and make sure that each mile is your absolute best.
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