Personal development gurus preach all the time the importance of focus in reaching your goals. I found an “unfocused” way to achieve many different goals at the same time. I don’t know if my approach is best, but it has one huge advantage: it works.
4½ years ago, I wanted growth and progress.
I not only wanted to lose some weight or get a 20% salary raise, I wanted to turn my life around in every area.
Read carefully — it’s the exact process. No fluff — no chanting affirmations — no “attracting what you desire.” It’s very simple, but it’s not easy.
You don’t need to take a gigantic effort to change your life.
You know the usual:
· Spending hours in the gym to lose weight,
· Getting a PhD or getting a dozen professional certificates to get a better job,
· Spending hours on your knees in prayer to deepen your spirituality.
A Way for Common Mortals
I’m not some superhero who singlehandedly could turn his life around.
For about 16 years, I avoided dreaming, planning, and self- analysis. I lived only to get by — from one life challenge to another.
My girlfriend got pregnant; we got married. I was a student and had no income. We took out a meager student loan. It was barely enough to pay for accommodations.
We lived that way for years — from one emergency and quick patch to another. It was a reactive life; not a proactive one.
When the prolonged period for student loan forbearance ended and I actually had to start paying it back, I asked for a salary raise.
When my wife got pregnant with third kid, within a few months of emergency mode we bought an apartment. We spent all our savings back then.
Now you get why I was frustrated with my life 4½ years ago.
Then after 16 years of neglect, I began to change my life. It happened within 15 minutes or less (I didn’t observe a timer).
- Step 1. I picked the areas of my life I wanted to improve.
Actually, I used the advice from the book I read, “The Slight Edge,” and focused on 6 areas that encompass a balanced life: health, relationships, spirituality, finance, education and career.
For each of those areas I set 1–3 goals. Usually just one.
An important thing to keep in mind: your goals are not set in the stone. I gave up on most of them or changed them along the way.
For example I picked learning German in education area. I quit that goal after several months.
But you have to set some goals in the beginning to have the end in mind.
- Step 2. For each of my goals I designed one daily discipline.
I answered one question: What can I do daily to bring me closer to achieve this goal?
The answers are in you. They were in me. During these 15 minutes I came up with 15 disciplines (I know, because I wrote them down). I tried and quickly abandoned 5 of them, but the other 10 — I practiced daily; some of them for years.
All of them without the slightest hesitation:
· Want to learn German? Learn vocabulary for 10 minutes a day.
· Want to eat better? Eat at least one vegetable or fruit a day.
And so on.
Set the goals. Design the daily disciplines.
A Word About Disciplines
When coming up with your new daily habits, the foremost thing is to make them sustainable.
Take the “daily” part in the question above very seriously. None of my initial disciplines were “too hard” in my mind. The most time investment for each was 10 minutes and only a few (3–5?) were as “big”. Everything else was easier.
Another way to think about the scale of your habit is: could I do it even if I was very sick?
Because you will get sick; life will happen; accidents happen; you will have bad days.
You must be able to do your discipline every single day without a fail.
- Step 3. The Hardest Part
Figuring out your disciplines is a matter of 15 minutes or so.
Doing them is a matter of years.
Once you know what you want (goals); how to get there (daily habits); you need to execute them every single day!
Every. Single. One.
Over and over again.
Very quickly, it will cease from being exciting. Very quickly, it will become boring. You will be frustrated by the pace of your progress.
You cannot achieve big results by doing so small things.
Guess what? It will take you infinity if you STOP doing them. You have a destination. You have a road map to get there. I tell ya’ what, you won’t get there by standing in place.
Keep going. Each step and each execution of your small disciplines — will get you closer to your goal.
Maybe You Will Be Stoked?
After a month of 10-minute speed reading practice sessions, I almost doubled my reading speed. I was like a “kid in a candy store.” Suddenly I could read twice as much in the same time. What a joy!
The power of small disciplines is tremendous.
But only if you leverage their power with time.
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” — Archimedes
With your daily habits, each passing day makes your lever longer.
Some of My Results
I crushed my initial goals.
For example, my career goal was to become a master in my trade of database administration. I definitely improved. The main habit I cultivated to reach that goal was studying professional documentation. I continued it only because my initial momentum carried me forward. I passed a few exams and got two certificates.
This confirmation of my theoretical knowledge was nice. But when I got a new job in 2015 — and the project of auditing a live database — that was the real confirmation. We also won a support project for that system, so I was personally responsible for implementing our audit recommendations. We shortened the main business process by more than 50%.
My income doubled. I bought our first home and second car. I have about eight of my salaries in savings.
I beat over 170 personal fitness records.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” — Jim Rohn
Pick goals. Figure out daily habits. Do them every day.
Originally published at www.quora.com.
Originally published at medium.com