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How to Make the “Impossible” Happen

How to Make the “Impossible” Happen
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Many people have what they call a “bucket list”: namely, a list of things they want to experience or accomplish before they die. Sometimes, a bucket list just doesn’t cut it, however, which is why making an “impossible list” is the way to go. Following the rules of Joel Runyon’s impossible list, learn how to accomplish the things that you think you’ll never be able to do, and how to drive yourself to do more.

What do you believe to be impossible?

The first step in this process is to figure out what you believe to be impossible. Some common activities include:

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  • Running a marathon
  • Going skydiving
  • Going a whole year without fast food
  • Reaching a million Twitter followers
  • Learning how to play piano
  • Learning a foreign language fluently

These are the things that you don’t think that you could accomplish in 100 years, yet you want to do your best to achieve them.

Bucket Lists

An impossible list isn’t a bucket list. It’s not a guide for you to accomplish things that you think are possible and that you want to do before you do; an impossible list is what you think is IMPOSSIBLE. It’s important to separate the two very different types of lists and focus on the impossible.

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The reason why it’s called an impossible list is because you find the activity to be impossible to accomplish, while a bucket lists suggests a list of things that you know you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. The main difference between the two is that an impossible list not only requires a strong mind, it also requires a strong body, sense of self, and passion to always do more.

What’s next?

Once you’ve configured your impossible list, the next thing that you should is this: go. The only way to really get started is to pick something, and really go after it. For example, if your list contains running a marathon, you should get off your couch and go for a jog. Every week, you should be doing more. Your focus should not only be the run, but what you need to do to be successful in completing a marathon. This means fixing your diet. It means finding great resources on running. It means running a 5K and then a 10K and then a half-marathon; it’s as if you’re climbing a ladder to get to the length of a marathon. 

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See, it’s not just about trying to go from 0 to impossible, it’s about the steps that you have to take to get there. Most of the time, this requires focus and attention to accomplish the impossible. But you didn’t expect anything less, right?

Adding/subtracting

Your list can be dynamic; it can be ever-expanding and evolving into whatever you want it to be. This means adding things to your list, or even subtracting some things (for overlying circumstances that prevent you from accomplishing one of your goals). The main idea is to get to you work harder than you even have and ultimately, to get you to get rid of the word “impossible” so that you can become the best person that you believe you can be.

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This isn’t about anyone else, this is about you.

Last, but not least

It’s important to note that you must have a strong desire to accomplish the things that you think are impossible. If you don’t possess this, chances are you’ll come up short and you’ll begin to lose the motivation, drive, and inspiration that is necessary to accomplish the impossible.

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This is no easy feat. In fact, most people may give up. They may get discouraged and want to stop doing it altogether, but if you’re still reading this, chances are you’re not one of those people. You’re someone who will accomplish the extraordinary and maximize your growth.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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