A few days ago, my dad asked me how I’ve been able to write so consistently for the past three years and never “run out” of ideas. I wanted to say something profound to him about inspiration, or intuition or “feeling the flow.” I wanted to tell him that it was all about finding my spirit animal and listening to the muse who calls me from my sleep.
But the reality is much grittier: It’s hard work. Every single day. Nobody wants to hear that, but it’s the truth. Which got me thinking… Have you ever tried to undertake a massive project, but just couldn’t seem to summon the willpower or discipline to follow through? Umm yeah…I definitely have. We all have.
In fact, I’ll take it one step further: I’ll assert that the number one reason most people don’t get what they want out of life (relationships, careers, money, etc) is because they don’t have any systems in place for accomplishing the big goals they set for themselves. You know the guy who begins an episode of House of Cards and ends up binge-watching the whole thing in three days…? Or the guy who says that he is going to workout after the holidays to lose the extra weight…before every holiday?
Or the guy who always talks about big projects and impresses everybody with the amount of BS excuses he finds to delay it? Are YOU that guy (or gal)?? Hey, I’m not judging. I was too.
As soon as I had to implement the steps necessary to get to my goal…it all just seems to sort of fall apart… It doesn’t have to be that way. One day, I had enough, and I finally broke up with this attitude in a radical, hyper-effective way. I decided that if I wanted to start living the life I wanted, I needed to start owning up to a process.
I set myself the goal to write and post 100 articles on my blog Rich20Something. Here is the step-by step breakdown for how I started writing so consistently, which you can apply to just about any goal:
Step 1: Write down your goal.
When you write down a crazy goal down on paper, you feel excited and a bit naughty (in a good way) for aiming so high. You’ll see the task in front of you and then you can reverse-engineer your tasks. My original goal: Write 100 blog posts in two years.
Step 2: Reverse-Engineer (and decide on a daily target).
I decided that to produce enough GOOD writing, I’d need to write, on average, 1000 words a day. That way, after editing and scrapping all the bad stuff (yes, I throw away most of what I write), I’d still have enough.
Daunting, yes, but doable. You have to face the challenge!
Step 3: Accountability.
I knew I needed PRESSURE. Yes, setting a deadline is pressure enough, but on a day-to-day basis having some far off goal will never force you to actually care. You need to feel the HEAT. Having an accountability partner instills that pressure every single day. Annoying? YES. Essential? Absolutely.
Step 4: Enforce a punishment system.
I decided on a stake if I failed to deliver (the “pressure” part of the system), and came up with “I will pay you $200 if I fail to deliver, even if it’s just one day.” No little, weak stakes allowed. Commit to your goal by putting something real on the line! Maneesh is $1000 richer because on five separate occasions I thought sleeping in would be a good strategy. DUMB!!
Step 5: Provide proof.
A stake alone can be sufficient to get really psyched and motivated, but sometimes, for the hardcore procrastinator, you need more than that. If you implement what I’m going to tell you, you can be 99 percent sure that you will achieve your goal. But remember — you have to provide proof.
Every day, send your accountability partner something that will prove that you’ve worked. For instance, every day, in the two first months, I sent Maneesh a screenshot of a document, with the number of words displayed.
You’ve got plenty of big goals you want to accomplish in 2016.
As the holiday season tries to sweep us away, use this method (which is kind of like the Seinfeld Solution on steroids) to anchor you in the present, and you’ll magically stop over-thinking the big picture. You’ll KNOW that you’ve got a system that will lead you towards your goal, no matter what.