June is a particularly productive time for me to work on my dreams. Here in Australia it’s winter. It’s hard to get up in the mornings when it’s still pitch black outside (at its latest, the sun rises after 7:30 am).
The coldness spurs me on because I wake up and I’m immediately hit with discomfort. Pain and discomfort have always driven me to work harder.
I love my summer. The heat is great, nothing’s better than sweating it out, watching cricket with a nice cold drink in your hand at the end of the year (remember, everything’s upside down down under).
I can’t help but feel guilty though if I didn’t earn that privilege, which is why I work hard during the winter months.
A third reason that June is a good month for work is because it’s the half way mark of the year. It’s a time of introspection and seeing the progress you have made so far on your goals since the beginning of the year.
Like most people, I’ve tried to stick to certain goals, but I gave up a couple months in when I didn’t see results. Old habits die hard, unfortunately.
However, if you’re anything like me, you want to succeed eventually. You want put in some hard work and see progress. A few months is usually not enough to see tangible results. A year is too long, especially if you haven’t done anything for that long before.
That’s where I’d like to introduce you to the concept of the 180 Day 180.
What is the 180 Day 180?
The 180 Day 180 was actually the subject of an email line from a marketing consultant based out of Chicago by the name of Perry Marshall. He’s written “80/20 Sales and Marketing”, which introduces how the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule) applies to sales and marketing. He’s also co-written the “Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords”.
He tells some fascinating stories of his time spent in the “Dilbert Cube” before he struck out on his own as a consultant. I’d thoroughly recommend signing up to his email list just for a good read landing in your inbox once in a while.
One of his emails is titled, My 180 Day 180. Around the middle of the year, he lands a new job (after being laid off the day before). He’s a salesperson who has had trouble making sales. He needs them fast, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.
Unsure of himself and constantly fighting off feelings of inadequacy and self-loath, he’s got to make this job work.
He discovers direct marketing and innovates by applying its concepts to the industrial space. Six months later, he’s working over he’s getting the biggest commission checks of his life, he’s able to breathe again and is confidently jumping from strength to strength, cutting his teeth in the trenches.
His boss is telling him:
“Perry, what can we do to keep you around?”
The 180 Day 180 challenges you to knuckle down, do deep, focused work and only look up 180 days later.
This may result in your life doing a complete 180 and going in the right direction.
I’ve used the concept two or three times, counting down the days and I’ve been able to:
- save up cash and pay off my credit card,
- start a blog and build a following,
- find freelance clients.
- I’m currently in the back end of one — it ends on July 30th — and am looking forward to seeing the results.
Benefits of working on projects 180 days at a time
I think the most exciting thing about these sorts of projects is that it’s very easy to visualize the end result. Being able to visualize where you want to be is a key factor that affects your chance of success. Not a lot tends to change within six months unless you’re actively trying to change it.
It’s also a comfortable length of time to manage. Six months is just two quarters. When you’re starting something, you can see significant results in that time. It forces you to evaluate your goal and see whether it’s realistic.
Some people intentionally leave their goals all airy fairy but don’t give themselves a concrete deadline or result. Building a blog with 1,000 readers a day within six months is more powerful than “become a popular blogger this year”.
Most importantly, it makes you familiar with the idea of working for extended periods of time on your goals. If you haven’t stuck with something for a year, it’s easy to get distracted.
That’s why starting with six months is good. It’s halfway and once you realize you can do six months, the second six months you do is a lot easier. Then before you know it, you have done a year.
1. Decide on start and end date
The easiest step. There’s no better time than today. If you like the days to line up nicely like I do, you might consider waiting until the start of a new month.
2. Decide on goal
The great thing about doing a 180 Day 180 is that it forces you to realistically evaluate what you can achieve in that time frame. It also makes you ponder how much you want something.
If you really want it, then this step forces you to face yourself and evaluate your approach to achieving it.
For example, let’s say you wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 30. You define this has having $1,000,000 cash in the bank by your 30th birthday. It’s six months until your birthday, therefore, assuming your current savings are negligible, you have six months to get $1,000,000 cash.
You can either go two ways at this point:
Path #1: take a “realistic” route and alter your goal so that it’s in line with your capabilities. If you aren’t particularly entrepreneurial and have never run a business before, this goal might need to be revised to $100,000.
Path #2: stick with your goal and remodel the way you think to achieve this. You will most likely need a dramatic change of lifestyle. I’d imagine you would have to quit your job and take up a high risk, high reward career. Perhaps you could specialize in selling multi-million dollar penthouses. Sell a few and you will hit your goal.
Again, if you’re determined to take Path #2, you have to really want it. If you aren’t afraid of hard work, then this Path could work out well for you.
How much are you willing to change to take this path?
3. Visualize goal
If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Cliched, I know, but it works. Let me tell you what I’ve found works when visualizing success:
for people who hit their goals, life doesn’t change that much. If you were doing the right things day in, day out, then the results of your hard work will come in due time.
with this in mind, instead of visualizing a “happily ever after” sort of goal,visualize — in detail — a day in the life of you post goal success. Get asgranular as you can. Which bed are you sleeping in? Are you in the same home? What day is it? What time do you wake up? What do you get changed in to? What’s for breakfast? Do it for the rest of the day.
Instead of visualizing material differences, visualize how you feel.Whether you’re aware of it or not, whatever we strive to achieve, we mainly do so because we want to change how we feel on a daily basis. Yes, we ultimately want to be happier, but how does the happiness manifest itself? Who does it affect?
4. Make milestones, work backwards
OK, so now we’re getting down to business. I have often talked about changing what you believe to never lose faith in yourself again. We’ll apply that mindset here now.
Let’s continue on with the previous example — you want to be a millionaire by the time you’re 30 and you have six months to do so.
If you approach this sensibly you would know that this sort of dream is what cripples everyone, since the result relies on criteria that is impossible to achieve. Refocus the goal on milestones that you have complete control over.
Instead of “have $1,000,000 in the bank by the time I’m 30,” change the goal to “meet a new CEO every day”. The assumption of course is that CEOs have the capacity to buy penthouses, network with other CEOs who may be looking to get into the market and so on.
5. Track progress
Finally, see how you’re progressing on a regular basis. Assuming your goal is framed in the right light, it should be challenging but not impossible for you to do.
To kick up the difficulty a notch, be accountable online or to someone you trust. To have someone track your progress introduces an external perspective less likely to be subjectively impacted. For example, if you have a bad day, you might try and take a day off. A harsh but fair taskmaster wouldn’t allow that.
What if you had the courage to only do the work you love?
How much happier would you be? What separates the people who have the courage and those who don’t? Vulnerability. Accepting that they’re good enough to do the work that gives their life meaning.