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You Only Need To Put In Minimal Effort To Achieve Your Goals (With This Strategy)

You Only Need To Put In Minimal Effort To Achieve Your Goals (With This Strategy)

Let’s face facts; attempting to change life-long habits and pursue the path of self-improvement is enduringly difficult.

What if we told you that there was a strategy that can make self-improvement goals fun, stress-free, and entirely attainable? In fact, with a few simple steps, you can achieve all of your goals while completely redefining your outlook as a person.

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What is the Minimum Acceptable Day Strategy?

The strategy itself has been pioneered by the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who used it successfully throughout his stellar career. Referred to as the Minimum Acceptable Day (MAD) strategy, it is breathtakingly simple and turns the age-old concept of self-improvement on its head.

Before we get to that, however, we have a question for you. What is the main issue you have experienced when attempting to pursue the path of self-improvement (whether at home or in the workplace)? If you are anything like us, you will have struggled with the pressure of setting lofty and often unobtainable goals before being thrown completely off course after several days of perceived failure. This can be disheartening and it also impacts negatively on your levels of confidence and self-belief as an individual.

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This is where the MAD strategy comes into its own, as it triggers a complete change of outlook when establishing goals and attempting to become more productive. So how exactly does it work? Here is a brief overview:

  • Firstly, you need to place a large calendar in a prominent place in your home or workplace.
  • Then, you must establish a theme or an action that you want to do each day.
  • For every day that you achieve your goal, mark the relevant point on the calendar with a large red X.

How this Strategy Can Work for You

Now while the simplicity of this system is easy to see, some of you may also think that this bears an uncanny resemblance to many of the generic productivity strategies available online. There is one key difference, however, and one that shies away from the accepted logic that drives goal-setting and attainment in the modern age.

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More specifically, this strategy makes allowances for the fact that humans are incapable of achieving 100% performance every single day.[1] So, rather than encouraging you to set objectives that require the maximum effort, it focuses on establishing a minimum performance threshold. This instantly removes the pressure from specific goals, while helping you to celebrate each incremental step that you take towards realizing your objectives.

If you are looking to become fitter by running in the New Year, for example, you should set minimal, daily goals relating to the length of your workout. You may decide to work out for a minimum of 10 minutes per day, as this is a an attainable goal that helps you move closer to your goal. Once you have completed this brief, intense workout, you can mark off each day on your calendar and quickly reflect on your progress.

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Of course, there may be days when you complete 20 or 30 minutes workouts, which far exceed your minimum goal and should be considered as a significant bonus. Whether you increase your minimum goals over time is entirely up to you, as the key is to create a positive perception of change and build confidence by achieving incremental goals on a daily basis. Such an outlook also makes the process of building good habits far easier, without creating additional stress or forcing you to compromise on your daily schedule.

The Last Word

This simple, positive strategy can be applied in almost any scenario, whether you are writing a novel and set a minimum number of words to write each day or taking up running and looking to build your endurance over time. It works by challenging the accepted convention that we must exert the maximum effort to achieve our goals, and instead creates a template that is fun, practical, and easy to implement over time.

This strategy also reinforces the importance of progression and taking single steps towards the accomplishment of goals, so it is definitely something that you should try in the future. On the path to self-improvement, this may make the difference between long-term success and demoralizing, sporadic failures.

Featured photo credit: Pixels via pexels.com

Reference

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

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Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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