Moving rapidly toward your goals can be difficult. In fact, it is impossible until you make fundamental changes to your life.
The truth is, we’ve been raised to be ineffective. We’ve been trained to be inefficient.
We’ve been sold a lie.
We’ve been taught to live far beneath our potential. We’ve been taught to play life small. We’ve been taught to spend all of our time furthering other people’s agendas.
However, we have the power within us to stop this cycle of insanity right now.
Yes, you have the power to change your entire life right now. You may feel stuck. You may feel like you’re spinning your wheels a thousand miles an hour and yet are moving backwards.
But this no longer needs to be the case.
The following 8 steps are intended to shift your approach to life. If diligently applied, you will quickly see your goals become accomplished. You will quickly see your time free up. You will be able to create a life of freedom and success. A life of simplicity and happiness.
1.) REMOVE EVERYTHING FROM YOUR LIFE THAT ISN’T CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR GOALS
This is first because 1) it may be the hardest one, and 2) because none of the other stuff really works until we get good at this.
People love to be distracted. We do things far too often that we are only slightly stoked about.
There are so many thing vying for our attention. So many things we could be doing with our time.
Until we clear that crap out, and are able to focus in on the few essentials, we will never reach our goals quickly. We’ll always be spinning in 100 directions. We’ll always quit things premature.
Look at your life and determine what you really want. How much of your schedule is sucked up in things that don’t really matter to you?
How much of your time is sucked up in things that are not moving you toward your dreams?
Remove those things immediately.
Remove those people immediately.
As hard as it initially is, it’s way harder long-term to continue living incongruently.
It requires delayed gratification to say “no” to things that don’t matter in order to succeed at those things that do.
2.) SET UP YOUR LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS
This one builds off #1. Once you’ve removed the distractions from your life, you can begin by setting your life up to speed toward your goals.
But first… scope out your life and ask yourself:
How much time have you spent today furthering someone else’s dreams?
Most people have very little time to move forward their own needle because they haven’t set their lives up to do so. Instead, they have only a few hours each day to do what they really want. Exhausted from all their responsibilities, they usually have enough energy to simply eat and watch Netflix or hangout on Facebook.
However, when you structure your life so that everything you do is to move you toward your own ideal, you’ll have way more energy and capture insane amounts of momentum.
This will undoubtedly require saying “NO!” to lots of stuff that other people will try to put on your plate. Saying no becomes fun and empowering. Only say “Yes” to stuff that really makes sense for your long-term vision.
3.) WORK 12 HOURS PER DAY
Okay, let me explain. This may sound crazy, right? It’s not.
Those 12 hours are not doing the same thing, all day. Living a life of balance allows us to do multiple forms for work. For example, I woke up today at 5 a.m., pitched a few blog posts, responded to some tweets, and then went to the gym. I consider all of these things as part of my 12 hour work day. All of these activities build toward my over-arching vision. When you’re working toward big goals, everything is training.
After my workout, I came home and worked in my yard for 3 hours. One of my big goals is to beautify my home with my wife. It is excellent work. Gets you moving. And research has found that people who work with their hands in the dirt are more mentally healthy. It also allows me to engage in a project with my wife.
Then I went about my other activities related to my goals. There is an art to working. True achievers love working hard. It makes you feel awesome. You accomplish epic stuff and learn tons. Our work becomes our leisure. Our life is organized so that we are doing activities we love toward outcomes we are super pumped about.
4.) CONNECT WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Some goals may take 10 years if you go it alone. However, if you get the right people to help you, you could accomplish them in a matter of months.
Most people are afraid to ask for help. But asking is one of the quickest ways to getting where you want to go.
I wanted to get into graduate school but was late applying. Applications were due in December but it was March.
Should I just wait til next year?
That would take too long.
So I started asking different graduate programs if there were any other options so I could get in this year. It turns out there were. I got in.
I’ve told this story to several people and most have said, “Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought to ask. I would’ve just waited til next year.”
Don’t wait. Don’t struggle on your own. Just make big asks. Find the people who can help pull you up the ladder rather than trying to shimmy up it yourself.
5. Purposefully Procrastinate The Urgent Stuff
Stephen R. Covey has explained that most stuff in life is urgent and non-important.
Other stuff is important and non-urgent. That’s the stuff we should be spending most our time on.
For example, working for 3 hours in the yard today was not urgent. Neither was going to the gym, or reading for 30 minutes. The stuff of vision and big goals and dreams will never be urgent. We can make it urgent. But it’s stuff we can procrastinate, which we often do.
Instead, we should purposefully put off the stuff that is urgent (like writing that term paper) until we absolutely must do it.
Parkinson’s Law states that work increases based on how much time we have. If we wait til the absolute last minute to do those things which must be done, but really aren’t that important, we’ll get them done
6.) SPEND TIME RELAXING AND RECOVERING EVERY DAY
Winding down is so crucial. So are relationships. And relationships require investment just as much as our business goals.
We need to truly enjoy our time with those we love. And make time to be with them every day. My work has meaning because it has its place in my life. It isn’t the only thing there. It’s a means to my ultimate ends — which is to connect to and serve people.
I love playing with our foster kids every night before they go to bed. I also love watching Netflix and eating snacks at night with my wife. It gives me the needed regeneration to crush it the next morning while not feeling out of balance.
7.) EAT HEALTHY, EXERCISE, SLEEP 7+ HOURS PER DAY
This last one is so simple yet so crucial. Being healthy and well rested is crucial for working hard and focused. When we’re healthy and rested, we can accomplish as much in a few hours as most do in a full day.
It also helps us gain a better self-esteem. When we’re healthy, we feel better, and we feel better about ourselves. This gives us the confidence we need to connect with the right people on a high level. If we have low self-esteem, we struggle to connect deeply with others and be vulnerable and honest.
When we feel healthy and happy in our own shoes, we will be more bold and powerful.
8.) DON’T CLIMB LADDERS VERTICALLY, SWITCH LADDERS LATERALLY
Speaking of ladder climbing, don’t get caught doing it. It’s a very slow path to the top. Shane Snow, in his book, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, explains that the most successful people in the world didn’t climb the traditional ladder to get there.
Using all of the Presidents of the United States as a case study, he found that the most popular and successful Presidents generally spent the least amount of time in politics. Rather than climbing that ladder, they jumped from a different ladder horizontally into the political ladder — skipping the “paying dues” process.
Shane Snow used this process to become a writer for WIRED magazine in 6 months. When he first reached out, he had little experience writing. They said it would take him 3 years of solid experience to write for WIRED. He cut that 3 years down to 6 months by switching ladders laterally. He wrote for a lower tier outlet for a while, then switched over to one a little higher, than to another a little higher. After 6 months of gradually switching ladders, he reached out to WIRED and was able to laterally jump onto that ladder without the 3 years of “paying dues.”
No one cares about your success more than you do. When you take control of your life, you’ll quickly realize the amazing opportunities that are just beyond your fingertips. You’ll have the energy and confidence to seize those opportunities. You will become the person you have always known you could be. Anything you want in life can be yours.
If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to my personal blog. You will get a free copy of my eBook Slipstream Time Hacking, which blends ideas from astrophysics, psychology, and entrepreneurship. This article was originally published at the Observer and has been republished here with permission.
BY BENJAMIN HARDY