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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 November 11, 2020

The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It

The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It

This is the seventh and final article describing The New Lifehacking. In this series, I described the need for you, a Lifehacker, to focus on making fundamental changes to your habitual methods, rather than chasing the latest gadget or tip. The best way to accomplish this change is to gain an understanding of your current systematic methods, and to use this knowledge to set new targets.

However, using this approach by itself, as logical as it sounds, could close the door to future improvements.

If you only focus on your own methods and keep your head down, you could miss opportunities to improve. The fact is, inspiration to change often arises from the stories, examples and insights of other people, and in order to keep things fresh, you need to be open to these new, possibly contrarian, concepts.

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How Do You Look for New Ideas and Gadgets?

If you are a new Lifehacker, you search cautiously. There are new books, blog posts, lists and gadgets coming out all the time, and there’s no way to cover every possible improvement–you simply can’t keep up. You can trust, however, that there are others on the Internet who will curate these concepts for you and continuously share them until they start to resonate.

After an idea or shortcut gets mentioned a few times in an intelligent way by people that you respect, it’s probably time to pay attention and add the new resource to a list of items to research. This is one way to crowdsource the job of sifting through new ideas in a way that saves you a lot of time and effort.

How Do You Evaluate New Ideas and Gadgets?

While you need to be open to new suggestions for possible improvement, you need to adopt an entirely different process in order to evaluate them. A healthy dose of skepticism is required if you are to escape the trap of grabbing the latest-greatest-hottest “thingy,” only to see it fail. The fact is, a particular improvement may help one person and at the same time hinder others. You need to look at your current habits and practices, plus your own evaluation and ask yourself if the investment in time, energy and focus is worth the payoff at the end.

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For example, I had to make some cost/benefit decisions when I considered switching over from a Palm T PDA to a Blackberry a few years ago. I tried my best to make the change slowly, aware that some of my habits needed to change in order to accommodate the new device.

Here are a few that I had to alter:

New Habit #1.

Recharging the device became a nightly requirement, versus a bi-weekly option. This meant plugging in the device each night. Therefore, I always needed to be near a charger and a power source.

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New Habit #2.

I switched from carrying around a paper pad to capture new tasks, to typing them into my Blackberry with its small keyboard. This meant I had less to take with me from place to place, but it also meant that ideas took longer to record. Also, when I’m on a call and need to record an appointment or phone number, the process of switching over from one function to another is fraught with danger. I still drop the occasional call.

New Habit #3.

Replacing a feature phone with a smartphone means switching from an inexpensive, robust device to one that’s expensive and more fragile. This requires me to be more careful, learning how to protect against theft, physical and adverse physical elements. I had to learn to treat my phone as if it were a precious device that simply couldn’t be just left anywhere.

New Habit #4.

As a Palm user, I was never tempted to use the device while driving. Today’s smartphone user is afflicted with the temptation to break state laws and commonsense rules of thumb by attempting to multitask in moving vehicles. Fortunately, I never developed this particular habit but that’s only because I try hard to be vigilant against all forms of distractions, especially when I’m driving. It takes mental effort to be that vigilant; it’s an entirely new habit.

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How Do You Implement New Ideas and Gadgets?

Once the decision has been made to adopt a new improvement, it’s important to make the switch consciously, with a high degree of awareness. There are likely to be a few surprises that require extra attention, and some new habits that turn out to be harder to learn than you thought. For example, I had a hard time learning to plug in my smartphone each night.

The point is maintain as many old, productive habits as possible while implementing the handful of new ones that you believe will make a difference. Unfortunately, it’s devilishly easy to make things worse, and even *much* worse. People who jump from one technology to another can attest to this fact–witness those who fail to switch to large screen smartphones that don’t comfortably fit in a holster. The size of the device forces them to abandon a trusted old habit, in search of a new one. Some simply switch back to their old devices because the “improvement” makes things worse for them.

The New Lifehacking is all about executing intelligent, individual change management. This transformation might not happen at a pace that the author of a book or an inventor of a gadget might want, but at the end of the day we, the new lifehackers, answer only to ourselves, deciding whether or not an improvement makes the deep difference that we want.

Featured photo credit: Emily Park via unsplash.com

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