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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

The One Strategy to Achieve Your Goals With Minimal Effort

The One Strategy to Achieve Your Goals With Minimal Effort
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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.

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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.

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[1].

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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.

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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 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.

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If you want to be happy and successful, accomplish your goals with these simple tips.

More on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life
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Why is it important to be goal-oriented? If you make goals without asking yourself what your true strengths and values are first, you could put yourself on the fast track to disappointment. On the other hand, if you don’t set any intentions at all, you could bounce through life like a pinball doing what others want without accomplishing what’s really important to you.

Fear not. Here are 8 powerful ways to be goal-oriented using the ENVISION method (Endgame – Nesting – Value – Inspiration – Superpowers – Intimates – Openness – Nourishment) that will help you create a successful, meaningful life:

1. Start With the End in Mind

To ensure that you make goals that matter, stand back and examine your life from a broader perspective. Think about the happy ending you would like to achieve, the “E” in ENVISION, and work backwards to determine how you’ll get there.

For example, if you’d like to generate goals for yourself over the next five years, write down where you’d like to be professionally and personally five years from now.

Where do you see yourself in relation to work? What’s your family life like? What type of friends and social support group do you have? What are your hobbies? 

Next, ask yourself where you would like to be one year from now relative to what you’d like to accomplish in five years. Write the answer out in enough detail so that it seems real to you. Then, ask yourself where you’d like to be three months from now. Be specific.

What about one month or one week? What one small action could you take this week to come closer to achieving your master plan?

This exercise is a fun and eye-opening way to line up your goals with the bigger picture of your life so that you won’t waste your precious time on passing fancies and other people’s agendas.

2. Create Nested Goals

The most efficient way to achieve your goals is to nest action items inside them, the first “N” in ENVISION. Goal-oriented people get specific about when, where, and how they’ll reach their objectives by breaking them down into sub-goals.

Make your aspirations challenging but not too hard. Each one should be measurable. Instead of writing “I’d like to write a book,” try setting an intention such as “I’d like to write two hours a day, four times a week” and mark space on your calendar for it.

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Make your aims positive and keep track of your progress. Instead of business goals like “I’d like to quit my stinking job,” think about what a desirable career would look like. Try “I’d like to develop educational toys with like-minded people in a virtual office,” and then send out your résumé to companies with matching job openings.

Come up with alternative pathways to your goals so that if one doesn’t work, you’ll already have plan B in place. It’s normal to fail and experience setbacks. This goal-oriented strategy will help you move forward on the pathway to your dreams no matter what happens.

You can learn more on creating effectively goals here:

3. Get Clear on Your Values

Before you start setting goals, it’s important to ask yourself what you really value, the “V” in ENVISION.

The number one regret of people on their deathbed is that they did not live their dreams. Don’t let that be you. To avoid living a life full of “shoulds” and obligations, make a wish list. Jot down what you really want, and put all the reasons you think you can’t have it aside.

These aspirations can range from the material (such as a new car) to the psychological (high self-worth), to the spiritual (inner peace), to pretty much anything you can think of. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy.

Giving yourself permission to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to getting it. Be sure your goals speak to your soul.

4. Make Time for Inspiration

As you put your goals together, think about how you can find downtime to become goal-driven and receive inspiration in your life, the first “I” in ENVISION.

Americans put in the longest work hours and get the shortest paid vacation time in the developed world. Those of us “lucky” enough to have jobs have added another day to our work week because we now check work emails and calls from home. It’s easy to see why it’s hard to stay motivated toward specific goals in the long-term. 

However, the second regret of the dying is that they wished they didn’t work so hard. Research shows that people who engage in creative hobbies and side projects are happier and flourish more in life because they can generate new ideas and express themselves uniquely.[1] Feeling energized and playful, they get more done in less time, become better problem solvers, and receive better evaluations at work.[2]

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5. Form Goals Around Your Superpowers

Research shows that people are more likely to succeed when they develop their natural strengths, the “S” in ENVISION, than work on their weaknesses.

You can find your superpowers by answering these questions.

Each of us has a unique purpose in life. Most of us don’t realize it, though, because we’ve been pressured to conform to someone else’s idea of who we should be. Fear of change and staying in our comfort zones stunts our growth. Stretch yourself and take a risk if you want to find out what makes your heart sing.

Make an action plan to create a life in which you express your superpowers on a regular basis, whether it be through your vocation, a meaningful side project, a worthy cause, mindful parenting, volunteer work, or whatever else sparks your interest. This goal-oriented strategy guarantees you’ll thrive at work and at home.

6. Make Time for Intimates

When setting your goals, be sure to carve out time for your intimates, the second “I” in ENVISION. Intimates refers to close friends or people you have close relationships with.

The fourth regret of the dying is that they were too busy to see their friends much.[3] Make it a point to connect with real friends, people you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, confide in about most things, and be your true self around.

A new Cigna study shows that nearly half of Americans feel alone or left out.[4] According to Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University, the detrimental effects of loneliness is the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.[5] She warns that:

“Loneliness and social isolation are linked to around a 30 percent increased risk of having a stroke or developing coronary artery disease.”[6]

Become goal-driven to avoid loneliness

    Being with your friends is not only good for your soul, but it is also essential for your health and well-being[7]. Put it in your goals.

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    7. Open up Emotionally

    When crafting your goal-oriented life, be sure to include ways you can open up about your feelings, the “O” in ENVISION. The third regret of the dying is that they wish they’d had the courage to express their true feelings instead of stuffing their emotions down to keep peace with others.

    To lead a fulfilling life, it’s important to prioritize talking and behaving honestly with others instead of hiding your true feelings. According to Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps[8]:

    “Start with identifying your emotions (e.g. angry, hurt) and understanding what triggered you to feel this way.”

    She recommends you try to understand your feelings and practice self-compassion for having them. When you’re calmer, try to understand the person who upset you. This will help you respect and care about yourself and the other person.

    If there is someone you need to talk to or a situation you’d like to resolve, honor your feelings. Whether it be writing a letter, making a phone call, or visiting someone you haven’t seen in years, put it on your goal list.

    Be sure to meet in a safe environment if you’re confronting someone who has abused or harmed you. Tell the truth as you see it, and try to be kind.

    Sharing your genuine feelings may bring you closer together, and it may not. It doesn’t really matter how the other person responds. What matters is that you expressed your true self. Make emotional honesty a habit by adding it to your goals.

    8. Nurture Happiness

    To be more goal-oriented and succeed in life, nurture the people and activities that bring you joy, the final “N” in ENVISION.

    The fifth regret of people on their deathbed is that they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Instead, they stayed stuck in old patterns and pretended to be content when they weren’t.

    If you don’t like your job, make it a goal to look for a new position that aligns your paycheck with your purpose. If you are entrepreneurially-minded, think about turning your passion project into a business you love. If you have multiple passions, consider pursuing a slash career (e.g., copywriter/coder/career coach).

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    According to Forbes Magazine, many companies are beginning to see the value in hiring employees who have side gigs that differ from their main vocations. You’ll bring in multiple streams of income and experience more meaning and fulfillment in your life.[9]

    If you are unhappy with your marriage or romantic relationship, set a goal to do something about it. Do you need to go to counseling? Do you need to move on?

    If you’re on the fence about whether to keep a friend in your life, be goal-oriented about getting closure on the issue. Take care of yourself in the process by completing positive daily tasks, like taking yoga classes or getting a much-needed massage.

    Whatever you do, make it a goal to show compassion as often as you can because it will boost your happiness.[10] By helping others in need, you not only can decrease their suffering, but you can also make yourself happier than you could by directly pursuing activities to make you happy.

    Final Thoughts

    In summary, the ENVISION method shows you how to blend lessons from the five regrets of the dying with effective goal-setting techniques that center around your strengths to become goal-driven.

    It may seem like a lot of work at first glance, but, in truth, it should only take you about an hour to piece together a list of goals following these guidelines. Why not trade an hour of watching television or engaging in social media to do this instead? You can always get online and watch TV later to reward yourself for becoming more goal-oriented.

    You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring what would make your heart sing. It’s worth investing in yourself this way. You have the power to create a life that totally rocks by setting the intention to do so. As the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote,

    “What you seek is seeking you.”

    More Tips on Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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