Attempting to change life-long habits and pursue the path of self-improvement is enduringly difficult. In order to achieve your goals, you not only need to maintain your motivation and enthusiasm, but set up an action plan and stick to it. With so many other things going on in life, how is one expected to find the energy to devote to big and small goals?
What if we told you that there was a strategy that could make self-improvement goals fun, stress-free, and entirely attainable? In fact, with a few simple steps, you can achieve all of your big goals while completely redefining your outlook as a person.
The Minimum Acceptable Day Strategy
The strategy itself was 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, making it a great method to help you achieve your goals.
What is the main issue you have experienced when attempting to pursue the path of self-improvement (whether at home or in the workplace)? You’ve likely struggled with the pressure of setting lofty and often unattainable goals before being thrown completely off course after several days of perceived failure. This can be disheartening and also impacts negatively on your levels of confidence and self-belief as an individual.
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.
1. Put a Large Calendar Somewhere You’ll See It
The style of the calendar doesn’t matter much. What matters is that it’s big enough to notice and positioned somewhere that you’ll see it each day as you work to achieve your goals. This could be in your home office, above your coffee pot, or on your bedside table.
2. Establish an Action You Want to Achieve Each Day
This should be related to the goal you want to achieve. For example, if you’re preparing to run a marathon, your daily action could be to run for a set period of time. If you want to learn how to cook, your daily action could be looking up a new recipe to prepare for dinner.
3. Each Day You Complete the Action, Put an X on the Calendar
The psychology behind this is simple. When you start seeing a chain of X’s, your mind will become more dedicated to the idea of not missing a chance to put another X on the chain, thus helping you achieve your goals. That’s why this method is also known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method.
Seeing the X’s line up can be a great way to avoid procrastination with each of your goals. However, if you find you’re already stuck with this particular problem, check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination.
How This Strategy Can Work for You
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.
More specifically, this strategy makes allowances for the fact that humans are incapable of achieving 100% performance every single day. So, rather than encouraging you to set objectives that require your maximum effort when working on how to achieve your goals, it focuses on establishing a minimum performance threshold. This instantly removes the pressure from specific goals while helping you 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 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.
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 Bottom Line
This simple, positive strategy to achieve your goals 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 setting and achieving goals. On the path to self-improvement, this may make the difference between long-term success and demoralizing, sporadic failures.
If you want to be happy and successful, accomplish your goals with these simple tips.
More on How to Achieve Your Goals
- How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them
- 6 Golden Rules to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals
- How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals
Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com
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