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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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