Do your goals feel more like dreams? Does it seem like whatever the plan, your focus wanes after the initial excitement, and then the next shiny object grabs your attention? Having the right strategy is the best way to reach your goals. Have you employed micro-strategies yet?
“There’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.” – Desmond Tutu
Whatever your goal, the bigger it seems, the more daunting the task to achieve it. That’s why we break it down into small pieces to push you past obstacles that might otherwise lead to quitting. Instead of finding some clever saying and taping it to your computer for motivation, use these micro-strategies to almost guarantee success.
Know your “why”
Why do you want to write a book, become an entrepreneur, or finish a marathon? If you can’t find a compelling reason other than “I think it would be cool to whatever,” then chances are you’ll either give up or change your mind.
Knowing your “why” makes the process of achieving the task more valuable than the result. When you think about having a career in stand-up comedy or owning a food truck, the grind is the goal. Failing to embrace the everyday aspects of your goal is looking toward the finish line and not running the race.
Create a schedule
A schedule is the road map to your goal. Before you dive right in and call a real estate agent, figure out what it takes to buy your dream house. How much of a down payment should you expect to need? Find a starting point, like how much cash is in your savings or investment account, then figure precisely how much you’ll need to put aside each paycheck to reach your goal in a specific time frame.
Consider every goal as you would a marathon. Nobody straps on the Nikes and runs 26.2 miles on day one. In the first two weeks, you may run a couple of miles per day and gradually increase your mileage on a set schedule. You should include checkpoints to gauge your improvements and adjust the plan accordingly. Without a schedule, your goal has no deadlines and thus no way to measure progress.
The secret sauce to scheduling is setting yourself up for as many quick wins as possible. Stacking small victories straight out of the gate creates momentum and motivates you to keep going.
The goal is to lose twenty pounds, and the scale shows you’re down about five in the first week. Woo hoo! Let’s celebrate with a sleeve of Oreos! Since you already ruined the day with cookies, you might as well order a pizza for dinner. You ate like crap last night and lack energy, so let’s skip the gym this morning and get back on track this afternoon. You forgot it’s Suzy from the office’s birthday and everyone is going for drinks after work. Oh well, You’ll hit the reset button tomorrow.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Everyone trips a couple of times before the finish line. What you need to avoid is the follow-up mistake. When you mess up, acknowledge the failure and move on. Don’t compound the error by justifying a second or third mistake.
A great way to avoid piling on blunders is tracking your efforts in streaks. For instance, if you eat healthy for fifteen meals in a row, you’re less likely to break the streak. When a streak ends, immediately begin another and try to break your previous record. Tracking a negative chain of events also works as motivation to fix a problem.
Find someone already succeeding at what you’re trying to accomplish and copy their path. Unless you’re building a space kayak and want to paddle to Saturn, there’s somebody out there that you can use as a model. Success stories abound on the internet, and most of them are free.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel and look for someone as close to your situation as possible.
Stop listening to the advice of the people around you with little or no experience in the thing you want to do. Along the same lines, don’t pay for advice from a so-called expert unless they have verifiable proof of their success.
Which do you think is more valuable if you wish to be a comedian: A $1,000 course from some random dude who claims he can make you a star or a book by Jerry Seinfeld? Get a library card. Most books are free.
Not everything needs to be instructional, either. Books about George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy will tell you a lot more about how to get where you’re going than any class.
Optimize your environment
This strategy is simple, yet so many people disregard it. If you want to lose weight, don’t keep junk food in your house. When you want to write, go someplace quiet. Turn off the TV while you practice the guitar.
Eliminate all distractions from your intended purpose and work on your goal. The OFF button on your phone is there for more than a reboot. Use it! Don’t silence your phone or put it on vibrate. Remove yourself from the temptation of looking at any device unrelated to your task.
Perfect is a unicorn. It only exists in your imagination. If you wait for the perfect time or ideal conditions, you’ll never get started.
Forget the motivational poster or just one more YouTube video that you need to feel like you’re ready. You’re ready! Thinking about the perfect strategy or optimizing your routine is procrastination in disguise. Stop wasting time thinking about your goal and get to work.
Put skin in the game
Risk something that you’ll hate losing to ensure success. It’s easy to tell yourself you want to lose twenty pounds. If you do, great. If not, no big deal.
What if, on the other hand, you posted on social media that you are going to lose weight or get a tattoo of a walrus on your butt cheek. How about writing a check and having a friend hold it? Lose twenty pounds, or they donate your money to an organization you despise. How’s that for motivation!
Make failure painful.
Find the tipping point
There’s a point in every journey where success begins to compound and success comes easier. The problem with most goals is that people don’t understand the tipping point and quit before it happens. The tipping point is when the same amount of work leads to a more significant payoff than before.
It can be challenging to predetermine when the tipping point might occur but realizing it’s happening is half the battle. It’s not always going to be as hard as it is now.
If you want to become a millionaire, the plan would not be saving $50k per year for the next twenty. Your money starts working for itself as it accumulates. Although it’s not the same mechanics as the interest on money, your effort begins to multiply at a certain point.
Your first gig, fan, or follower (outside of family and friends) is always the hardest. Keep on grinding, and the hard work pays off exponentially.
Everyone sets big goals, and only a tiny percentage achieve them. The difference between success and failure comes down to one thing, resiliency. If you get in the ring, expect to take a few punches. When you get knocked down, and we all do at some point, get up quickly, dust yourself off, and keep fighting.
Take care, even down there.
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