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Goals: 6 Tools that Actually Work

In Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art, he discusses in depth the concept of resistance. We all encounter resistance (external, internal or the combination or both). Our goals become accomplishable when we learn to manage and overcome this resistance. Below are 6 tools that can be used in daily life to overcome resistance, to set, progress, and accomplish goals!

1. Success List and Celebrate - make a list. Crush it! Celebrate! Many of us may do a fist pump and move on. I’m guilty of not celebrating, like I’m terrible, that is really code for I don’t celebrate success. I finished my master’s degree the spring after I graduated from chiropractic school, I didn’t walk at graduation. I created all the excuses in the book for not walking. Hindsight being 20/20, that was not my best move. The celebration of an achievement is important. Apparently, I didn’t learn, when I was awarded the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, yup you guessed it, I didn’t celebrate. For me, my journey to that achievement spanned the time during post-bachelors course work, a masters degree, a chiropractic degree, marriage, and development of a practice. A total of 14 years to go from white belt to black belt. That’s a tremendous amount of time dedicated to a single task, and I regret not marking the occasion and my achievement more profoundly. What does the celebration do? It allows you to ride the high of the achievement no matter the "size" (yes, celebrate the littlest of accomplishments!). This momentum will propel you forward, allowing you to make the accomplishments a habit and achieve even more.

2. 80/20 Rule - Many of you may be familiar with the power of the Pareto Principle. This concept was established by a philosopher, Federico Damaso Pareto in 1848 after he noticed an important pattern with his pea plant yields. 80% of your results are accomplished from just 20% of the action. This "universal truth" is seen throughout business and economics which the imbalance of inputs and outputs show the exact 80/20 ratio. That’s crazy! To apply this principle identify:

  • Which projects are important? This allows you to choose which projects to focus on and to delegate (or drop) the rest.

  • Your highest paying projects or clients to focus on. Too much diversification and energy splaying will create burn out fast!

  • What 20% of your work yields 80% of your outcomes? Spend more time doing that!

3. Complete a Time Audit - What does your week look like if you were to break it down? There are 168 hours in a week. Breaking that down: 56 hours are spent on optimal sleep, 7 hours eating lunch, 10.5 hours eating dinner, and 7 hours eating breakfast. In addition, there are 7 hours for physical activity a week (should/ could be more but this is a great start), and 60 work hours including commute. This still leaves us with 40+ hours a week TO BE A HUMAN! You probably use a device or two, that have metrics of your usage data. Some of those devices have health data, such as when you go to bed, heart rate, steps and the like. Point is, you have an impartial (-ish) third person observer that can be exploited for the data they collect. While often seen as a toy, technology can be a tool. Our relationship with technology can change with some perspective. Knowing where our time is going allows us to use our time more constructively. Dissecting the day is a commitment, and it can be hard to be honest about where you’re bleeding time. Taking a brutal, deep introspection of your time is the first step to maximizing it. Take each event, even down to phone time, TV time, etc and ask yourself what do you really want to accomplish? Can you carve our the time in your week to work on this.. then go do it. You got this!

4. Allow your mind to slow down - Why do many of us bring home our work? A blacksmith does not bring home his anvil or hammers despite having time sensitive work, orders to fill, and custom orders. They leave it all behind at the end of the day. The differences are vast, but illustrating the point, if we left the "anvil" at the office, you’d be less likely to use it. Setting time constraints on apps, internet use, auto-responders to emails, and “do not disturb” settings are invaluable to the sanity and productivity - tools used by many high achieving and busy individuals. Often, it is the separation from the bombardment of information that allows the mind to process, blend information, and learn creative new lines of connectivity. A relaxed mind will allow for new and improved solutions. Maximizing the day allows an opportunity for your mind to slow down and be present with your loved ones, that will fill you up rather than leave you feeling more drained. How you maximize your free-time is essential! Being in the present moment is imperative. Just as you have a morning routine, set an after hours routine that is sacred for you.

5. Smarter Goals - As you work on creating your goals, both personal and professional, use this acronym for making SMARTER goals (you can find a resource here):

S -Specific: Is my goal narrow enough?

M- Measurable: Determine how you will measure and track progress

A - Actionable: Can I visualize how to execute?

R - Risky: Is my goal on the edge of what I think it possible?

T - Time Bound: Set a realistic end date to motivate action

E - Exciting: Does this goal bring excitement? This will push you to achieve it

R: Relevant: Is it appropriate for your current life situation?

6. Nanoscopic Changes - A very common saying goes: “You don’t eat the elephant in one bite, instead, you must eat it one bite at a time." Imagine your goal in place of the elephant. This is how we accomplish everyday tasks, yet many of us fall short of what we deem "large" goals or tasks because we see them as galactic. In Atomic Habits, James Clear goes into detail on how to break down these concepts into digestible pieces. We tend to be completely enamored with the magnificence of the goal, rather than breaking it down into digestible chunks. If your goal is to be writing a novel, obtaining a degree, losing weight, and training for an ultra marathon, you will not be able to achieve the goal by focusing on it as a whole. It is manageable when we look at the present moment, the nanoscopic tasks of the day. Check into your small choices: soda, beer, or water? Salad or snickers? Train or nap? Read, insta-tok-chat or Netflix? Ask yourself, does this choice lead me closer to accomplishing my goal? Tiny incremental choices accelerate your progression toward achievement- "Will it make the boat go faster?" (watch video here) Maybe you won’t see results day-to-day, and it will be easy to quit, but you’re doing the thing that no one else is doing, SOMETHING! The results only are tangible to those that stay the course and remain unfettered by distraction.

Take these 6 tips one at a time and integrate them as habits. These are not daily practices, but rather life shifts that take time. You will be able to insert breath in your life, optimize your goals, provide an opportunity for your mind to settle, strengthen personal connections, and make clearer, beneficial choices.


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