I read a quote…
“Mentally I’m already on my 2020 vision”.
And while it could have been meant as sarcastic, I don’t think so. It’s simply the pride of being forward thinking and one step ahead, looking into the future.
Except… it’s wrong.
This is because if you have the energy to worry and focus on what will happen next year or even next month, you’re ignoring what you need to do right now. Or whatever you need to do right now is too easy and it will not make a big enough difference.
Truth be told, if you set real goals, goals which will advance your life, you’re a bit over your head. You have a lot of hard work ahead of you and you may not even know how to do it properly.
You’ll struggle to keep on track because writing stuff to do on a piece of paper is easy. Doing them is hard. It seems little for me to define five daily goals when I could have ten or twenty. Yet, it is a rare event at this moment to accomplish all five, and usually, even with my best efforts, I’m doing 3 / 5 or 4 / 5.
So this is the point… if you’re future oriented, then you’re either not putting in the effort or you’re not focusing on the right things to begin with. If you were, you’d be too absorbed by your current challenges to care about what will happen in the future.
Let me give you an example.
Today I’ve went to the gym. And my trainer decided that my life is too simple so he upped the weights on all exercises. So a 60 minute routine that would usually be acceptable, a bit hard but not that hard, became quite challenging. By the end of the session, my arms were aching, I was extremely tired and I was feeling again a beginner, because I had to work hard to finish my current workout.
Thinking about what will happen the next day or next week or month would have been a mistake. My sole objective was to finish my current workout. I will deal with tomorrow’s workout, mentally and emotionally, when tomorrow comes. Until then, I have things to do today and I don’t have time to worry on stuff I can’t even control.
Navy Seals have the same rule. In training, in the so called Hell Week, if you look at everything that needs to be done, it is impossible to finish it. It is simply a mountain too high too climb. So the advice is to take one evolution at a time. To focus on finishing the next exercise and nothing else. Once you finish that, you can take the decision to do the next. Once that is done… you get the point.
So at this point in my life, I have a few key rules. I suggest you take notice of them.
RULE 1 – Just focus on doing today. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. Unless tomorrow you need to be in a very specific place that requires preparation, don’t worry about it. You focus on what you can control now.
RULE 2 – It’s supposed to be hard. Challenging goals are positioned almost at your breaking point. You’re supposed to struggle to achieve them. This doesn’t mean that you suck as a person. It simply means that you’re climbing a high mountain. I could achieve goals ten times easier, by making them ten times easier. I don’t. I’d rather struggle with a challenging goal because that makes a difference.
RULE 3 – Even if something in the future is important, I can’t control the future. Time doesn’t flow this way. To get to tomorrow, I have to go through today. And today I have shit to do. Check rule 1. A good example is when I need to renew my passport. When the last six months come, I’ll go renew it. There’s nothing I can do about it now so why even bother with it?
RULE 4 – Results are usually not visible short term. What you’ve accomplished today will not impress you when it comes to changes in your life. But take one week or one month or one year of things you’ve accomplished and you’ll be blown away at how much you’ve made a difference. The truth is that each hour, you’re moving inches. And an inch isn’t much. But combined, they make a huge difference.
RULE 5 – There should be some alignment between strategy and tactics. Your yearly goals should be aligned with your monthly. Your monthly with your weekly. Your weekly with your daily. What you do today should be a direct contribution to what you want to accomplish this year. Sure, it doesn’t always work but life is easier when there is a straight line between today and a point ahead. The secret here is to not try to align everything with everything else. I just focus that my daily goals accomplish my weekly ones. That’s all. But my weekly ones should accomplish my monthly ones and so on. If you do this, like through magic, you’ll end up with alignment but it must always be in pairs.
RULE 6 – Dots do connect. The grass will grow. Even if what you’re doing doesn’t seem to work, it will work in some manner. It’s hard to explain but nothing is really wasted. It took me at some point dating seven different girls until I’ve found a girlfriend. Without the previous experiences and connections I’ve made, I would have never ended up with the eight one. It would have been impossible as I’ve “expanded” my strategy with every new person I’ve met, until I’ve reached an optimal one. Maybe the feedback mechanism is not perfectly clear, but each time you’re progressing on your goals, you’re getting closer to what you want.
RULE 7 – Sometimes it is best to stop the plan for an hour or a day. I live a very structured life. But at some points, I just feel too much. Sometimes I can’t hold the feeling of being lonely inside anymore. Other times, I’m just too stressed. In those moments, I put aside my goal list and I watch a movie or relax or let myself express my emotions. I have learned that any goal that is so tight, so restrictive that missing one day or even one week will means it is failed, it’s a bad goal to begin with. You’ll have many times when you won’t be able to work on your goal and that’s fine. The idea is not to be perfect. You’re not supposed to be a robot keeping a perfect constant speed of execution. It’s to make reasonable progress however you can in your circumstances. This means that some days you’ll do amazingly well. Others, not so much.
RULE 8 – People who don’t have goals, don’t understand goals, will make fun of yours. I’ll keep this short. For people who don’t live a goal oriented life and don’t aggressively pursue to make them happen, this is STUPID. Stay away from those people or don’t share your goals with them.
RULE 9 – Failure is kind of irrelevant unless time runs out. I’ve learned that I usually need to be right just once. This means that I can try 50 different things and see them fail, but if I still have the time and energy and money to try 51, I’m good. Life is not brain surgery. Honestly. If you make mistakes, the stakes are usually very small. It’s hard to keep yourself clean and succeed at the same time. You must be willing to go through rejection and disappointment until you get to what works. And you can’t avoid them even if you try. It’s like impurity in gold. In whatever you do, a certain percentage will be made of negative events and emotions. Just accept them, move on.
RULE 10 – Sometimes you’ll make bad decisions. These are either good decisions that turned bad (yes, this is a thing – when you do something, it’s supposed to go right, it goes very wrong) or decisions you’ve taken with a lack of maturity or experience which end up costing you. It’s fine. Pay the price where it is due and move on. People lose a lot more treading on what they’ve done wrong than the actual wrong decision.