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One of the Best Goal Setting Exercises

One of the Best Goal Setting Exercises

Someone very smart once said, “How we spend our days is how we spend our life”. Life doesn’t usually change overnight (as much as we would often hope it would). It changes, because we make little tweaks in our daily habits. Sometimes we do it intentionally. But a lot of times we just kind of start doing something differently, considering it to be insignificant minor change, but these small actions add up to huge life changes over time.

This partly explains why the goal setting exercise that we’ll talk more about in this post is so effective. But before we get to it, let me explain what I mean by “minor changes” leading to huge results.

Small steps matter

Nutritionists say that it’s enough to eat 250 calories less per day to lose 26 pounds a year. 250 calories are 2/3 of a Chocolate Chunk Cookie at Starbucks. This means that by not changing anything else in your daily routine except for eating 250 calories less a day will get you much bigger results than fad diets or irregular gym workouts.

The same is true for the finances. According to the Money Mag’s Millionaire Calculator there is no need to win a lottery in order to become a millionaire. It’s enough to save $5 a day for 40 years and you’ll hit a Millionaire status!

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When you think about it, putting aside a tiny part of your salary a day or passing on a cookie is do-able. And it pays off in the long run. But for some weird reason very few people actually do it.

The way we pick, set and pursue our goals is largely to blame

When we decide on what is it that we want to achieve in life, we rarely think ‘small changes over the serious period of time’. Usually it’s the other way around – ‘massive action, over the next two weeks’ (usually followed by the long breaks of inactivity and procrastination).

However, there is one very simple, yet powerful exercise that helps us to shift focus from short term-gain to smooth and steady long-term results. And no, it’s not the usual – picture what your life will look in 5, 10 and 20 years visualization.

The goal setting exercise I’m about to share with you is much more realistic, effective and creative. It’s called…

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The “Average Perfect Day”

The name gives the game away really. All you have to do is sit down, turn the soft lounge music on and ask yourself one question – What I want my Average Perfect Day look like?

perfect-day

    Take a piece of paper or open a blank document on your computer and write down your perfect schedule for the day.

    • What time do you wake up?
    • What do you do once you are awake?
    • Do you kiss your beautiful spouse?
    • Do you open the windows and head to the beach to do your 20 minutes of Sun Salutations and 10-minute meditation?
    • Do you say “Thank you” for all the blessings that you’ve been given?
    • Then what do you do?

    Write it down as detailed as possible, following your average perfect day step by step. Another key here is to focus on the word “average”. It shouldn’t be a day where you go on vacation, get married or bump into Johnny Depp while shopping at an antiques flea market.

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    It should be a day that you would re-live over and over again, without getting bored, exhausted or overwhelmed.

    If you dig deeper, you’ll take away quite a few insights from this exercise. First, you’ll clearly see little habits that you can start instilling today to get yourself closer to your vision of Average Perfect day.

    Some of the changes may seem bigger and more overwhelming. It’s okay. Just by having a clear goal of what you want your day to be like, will have your subconscious mind working to get you there. You’ll notice the opportunities that you haven’t seen before, you’ll do things a little differently and your set of circumstances will change, creating different, more positive outcomes.

    Start with the smallest changes and work your way up

    Pick something simple, that doesn’t require you to move to a foreign country or change your career. Begin by saying thank you for your blessings. Spend 10 minutes meditating. Read a bedtime story for your kids.

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    We all have enough time, motivation and determination to stick with one tiny habit for 30 days (that’s the time it takes to make it automatic). Then you can move on to the next little goal and so on.

    Go ahead and do it right now! This is one of the most powerful goal setting exercises ever and it can be eye-opening in terms of setting the right priorities. Why? Because how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. It’s really as simple as that.

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    How to Fight Information Overload

    How to Fight Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

    1. Set your goals.
    2. Decide whether you really need the information.
    3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    The Nature of the Problem

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

    Why information overload is bad

    It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

    1. Set your goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. What to do when facing new information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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    If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

    3. Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    In Closing

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

    Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

    (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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