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How to Really Achieve Goals

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How to Really Achieve Goals

Sometimes I wish I had a Life-GPS that would help me achieve goals. It would instruct me on my way, recalculate when I don’t take the suggested turn, and visually show me where I am all the time, including the distance left. Sadly, we usually don’t have the map of our lives, but there are important lessons to learn from that picture.

Life-GPS

What is the most important aspect of a GPS you may have in your car?

Think for a minute.

It’s telling you exactly where you are. You probably don’t even start driving without knowing your location. This is super important in our lives also. You can have a detailed map and a very clear goal in your mind, but when you don’t know where you are, you simply can’t get there.

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Before trying any goal-setting, motivational speeches and progress tracking, the most important thing is to sit down and honestly answer the question “Where am I right now?”

  • What is the vision for my life? Do I have it?
  • What do I have? What can I use?
  • What’s unique about me?
  • What’s important for me?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What strengthens me? What drains energy from me?
  • What habits do I have? What habits I would like to have?
  • What are my values?
  • What did I already try? How many times? (As Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”)
  • What aspects of my life are neglected?

When you are lost without directions, sometimes you need to look around, observe, maybe ask others to tell you, but without that knowledge you won’t get to your destination even if you precisely know where it is.

Goal Setting

When your internal Life-GPS is warmed up and you know where you are with some accuracy, you can precisely set your goal. There are three important aspects of goal setting that are described by Pareto Principle, Flow and SMART goals.

20% of your goals will usually define 80% of your outcome. This is why you need just a few clear, energizing goals. According to Wikipedia, Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.. You know it, right? And it is good to learn how to make that a conscious choice. SMART goals will help you being precise and avoid wasting energy.

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With that knowledge, you are ready to start your journey. You know where you are and you know your destination. Turn on the engine and start moving!

Hints on your way

Many things can happen when your journey has already begun. This is why you need signs and signals on your way.

Inspect and adapt. When there is “road construction” in your life and you can’t take the turn you wanted, don’t be angry. Simply “recalculate” and move on. Life is all about being flexible. Smile and just take a different road.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” wrote ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It’s amazing that you can drive hundreds of miles during the night, when you only see less than 1% of the road in front of you. You don’t have to know all the details to start moving.

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Don’t hurry. It kills your creativity. And it drains energy from you.

Get rid of the garbage. In your computer. In your life. Habits. Relationships. Time. It won’t go away on its own. And it smells.

Don’t forget the fun. You are not a machine and you will achieve goals faster and with greater energy when you make things fun. Just an example how fun can change your behavior for better:

Fasting. When you take the same road over and over again, it starts to be boring. Also when you eat the same thing every day, you are losing the taste of it. Take breaks. Stop doing something—eating, drinking, reading, and meeting—for a period of time, just to get the fresh taste after the break. You will be more aware of where you are and will achieve goals faster.

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Turn off distractors. You can’t drive very fast and talk and text at the same time. If you want to be fast, you really need to focus. Your phone, social media and sometimes even other people can wait for some time. When you lose your focus, you need to slow down.

Be grateful. Another red light and you may start complaining. But do you do the opposite? If there is a series of green lights on your way do you silently say ‘Thank you’? Gratitude can open your eyes and you may fully enjoy the view while driving toward your goals.

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Piotr Nabielec

Author, CEO, Consultant

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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