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Warren Buffett Says Most People End up Being Average Because They Don’t Keep This List

Warren Buffett Says Most People End up Being Average Because They Don’t Keep This List

Sitting down and setting your life goals can be exciting and motivating. It gives us purpose, sets clear intention, makes us feel productive and creates the feeling of moving forward.

But have you ever started out making a mental or physical list of your goals only to end up with quite a few? Then when you start acting on them, they either end up cast aside or only half achieved? Having goals has been drummed into us from an early age but are having all these goals actually hindering us?

Warren Buffett, one of the most successful businessmen in the world today, questions the need for having so many goals. Instead he puts his success down to eliminating, sometimes important goals, in order to focus on the few that will bring the success we desire.

Warren Buffett asked his pilot to list 25 priorities in his life

To illustrate Buffett’s idea, there’s a great story involving his personal airplane pilot of 10 years, Mike Flint, and how Buffett helped him to focus and prioritize his goals using a 2-list strategy.

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Buffett asked Flint to carefully think about, and write down his 25 top career goals. Once Flint spent time doing this he came back and presented them to Buffett. He then asked Flint to pick out the top 5 most important goals.

So at this point Flint now had two separate lists – the list of 5 goals and the list of 20 remaining goals.

Like many of us, Flint concluded that he would focus primarily on his top 5 and work towards the other 20 as and when he could find the time.

However, Buffett stopped him and said that this is actually the path of becoming unsuccessful because really he should now throw away his list of 20 altogether – no matter how important many of them may be – and focus solely on the top 5.

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Why? Because that list of 20 is essentially a distraction.

Average people don’t know they should AVOID seemingly important things in their lives

The reason we often never succeed with our goals is because we don’t prioritize, focus and therefore, complete, the important few.

It’s human to get demotivated and distracted – two feelings that can be the death of our goals. The bigger the list of goals we have, the more chance there is to give up and move on to the next one in the hope that this one will succeed.

If what Malcolm Gladwell claims is true, to become an expert in any field we must spend 10,000 hours of deliberate practice towards gaining knowledge in that area. That equates to 20 hours each week for almost a year, for a total of 10 years.

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So imagine Flints original list of 25 goals – that would mean it would take him 250 years to fully master his complete list. You can see how having too many goals can lead you down the path to a less successful and fulfilling life.

Make sure you keep the “Avoid-at-all-cost list”

Minimizing has become a hot topic when it comes to living the best life we can and this also applies to our life goals. Like our physical stuff, it can be hard to make a decision to throw certain goals out of the window when they feel important to us. But the process itself allows us to work out our priorities and what’s truly important.

Try writing out 25 goals – whether it’s long term goals or even short term weekly or monthly goals – and start the process of prioritising in order to discover your top 5.

Now, instead of literally throwing the list of 20 away completely, label this your avoid-at-all-costs list to serve as a reminder of what not to focus on. This is the list that will decrease your time and focus and ultimately your success. In other words, if you start working on this list you are in danger of having 20 half-finished goals instead of 5 completed ones.

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Whatever your top 5 goals are, whether you want to learn a new language or skill, or work towards a particular career goal, make a conscious effort to stick to these. Keep motivated to achieve these goals and don’t wander onto your second list. Remember, your time investment is key to success and this time will be compromised the more goals you take on.

Get the success you want: prioritize efficiently, focus intently and stick to it.

Featured photo credit: Fortune Live Media via flickr.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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