Goals Update: 2 Months Later

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post saying New Year’s Resolutions are BS. You should do goals instead.

Soooo…. how’s that going? It’s important to check in on your goals now and then and make sure you’re actually making progress. If not, let’s revise the goal and move forward.

Here were my goals:

  • Write a book
  • Make a major change in my life – move, dog, gf, etc
  • Learn about BioInformatics
  • Get down to 10% body fat

How am I doing?

Make a major change in my life: done! I randomly met an amazing girl. We’re moving so fast it’s scary, but it feels right. I’m going to keep holding on to this roller coaster. This is an awesome change in my life, but it also has downsides…

Write a book: not even started! I can blame this on not having as much free time as I used to (see the above goal), or I can blame it on not having a system in place (write for an hour a day when I get up, for instance). I think I need to revise this goal anyway: the point is to achieve something big and difficult. At the time I wrote this goal, a book seemed like the thing. But it could also work for a large software project, or actually completing several short stories. I’m going to revise this goal: finish a first draft of a short story by April 1st.

Learn about BioInformatics: in progress! I’m planning on starting an online series of courses starting March 9th (The BioInformatics Specialization on Coursera, for those interested).

Get down to 10% body fat: in progress! I’m still tracking my diet daily; still recording my weight daily and my bf% weekly. For those interested, on Jan 1st I was 180lbs, 15.7%bf. Today (Feb 26th) I’m 170.8lbs, 14.3%bf. It seems like a lot of weight lost, but in actual fact I’ve just returned to where I was before Christmas. My challenges here are that I’m working through an injury and am having difficulty exercising, as well as the usual social pressures to eat out and have junk food at parties.

What have I done to stay on track?

This year, I wrote down my goals on a sticky and put them on the mirror in my bathroom! Every time I go in there I’m reminded that I have yet to start writing a book, but I’m also reminded to step on the scale and make my daily diet plan.

What are you doing to stay on track with your goals? Leave a note in the comments.

Advertisements

Priorities Revisited

I’ve had a tough few weeks.

I’ve been facing burnout. I went on vacation this weekend and blew my diet. My schedule has been in flux, meaning it’s hard for me to maintain a morning routine or schedule a productive block.

I recently read an article that seems to fit. Forget To-Do Lists. Focus on This Instead. The focus, the author argues, with quotes from James Altucher, should be themes rather than todos. Do I have themes? Or do I have a giant list of shit to get done every day without any mind towards what the purpose of each thing is?

It’s time to revisit my priorities. I have so many habits, so many projects, and I’m skipping so many things I need to ask myself what’s really important? What are the goals I’m working on?

Here are my top priorities:

  • Mental – stay balanced, stay focused, and stay motivated to improve
  • Physical – continue to get into better shape, and maintain an excellent diet
  • Relationships – invest in my relationship with my girlfriend, my close friends, and grow my casual friend circles
  • Finance – continue to save money, spend money frugally, and live with an eye towards being independent
  • Career – grow my skills, and take on projects that are outside of my comfort zone

All decisions I make should fit into one or more of these buckets. All habits I’m building should contribute to these, and they shouldn’t crowd out more important habits.

This means some of my daily habits, once so important, are, for now at least, extra. When you’re trying to do too much, you end up spinning around and doing nothing at all.

Where does rejection therapy fall? Mental – but I’m not trying to overcome fear – so I’m not going to worry about it.
Where does night flossing fall? Physical – but this is pretty low on the totem pole.
What about that cooking Meetup? Relationships – but I need to focus on the friends I have.
Where does that side project fall? Career – but I need to focus on killing it at the job I have.

What are your top priorities?

The Importance of Taking a Break

I’ve been on fire to absorb everything I possibly could about personal improvement. I listen to podcasts whenever I’m running or washing dishes, I read blogs and success books, and watch videos produced as part of courses.

But I’m feeling full; I’m at capacity. I’ve been bombarding myself with too much information. I need a break to make sense of things, to recalibrate and remember what areas I was trying to improve on and how.

Some ideas I’ve turned into habits, other’s I’m still working on, and yet others I’ve missed the mark on and have to recommit to. And even while the concrete is still wet, I’m trying to grab onto more. I can’t build a house if my foundation is still soggy.

Here’s to stepping back for a minute, taking a few breaths, and taking a look at the map again to see where I am.

The. Most. Important. Thing.

Take Action.

When you realize that you need to stop fucking around in your life, you’ll find a deluge of information about things to master.

  • find your mission
  • define and track your goals
  • increase your confidence
  • meet people to date
  • meditate
  • build a morning routine
  • journal daily
  • wake up early
  • exercise daily
  • improve your nutrition
  • use supplements to boost your IQ and fitness
  • hang out with better friends
  • generate ideas
  • manage todo lists
  • get better sleep
  • reduce your anxiety
  • (insert your personal list here)

Here’s the thing: none of what you learn matters unless you put it into practice. It is more important to take action than to learn first. You can spend years sucking in information, but you are wasting your time unless you take action.

You are wasting your time unless you take action.

You are wasting your time unless you take action!

You will never be ready. Take action now. 

One of the most important books I’ve read this year is What To Do When Its Your Turn (and its always your turn) by Seth Godin.

This book was filled with important lessons. In fact, I’m going to read it again. But the key point is: take action. Do it now. Don’t let fear hold you back, don’t let not knowing what to do hold you back, don’t let failure hold you back, don’t let peer pressure hold you back. Do it.

One of my biggest problems is that I’m a consumer of information. I’ll waste hours, days, and weeks learning about something before doing anything. I’ll sit on my couch and read about how to declutter my house and how to structure the perfect diet.

But here’s the thing: nothing is going to happen if I don’t start. Starting is going to fix 80% of the problem. You think my house is cluttered because I don’t have the right organization system? No – it’s cluttered because I chronically bring in more than I get rid of. Am I overweight because my macronutrient ratio is wrong or because I’m not doing the right kind of exercises? No, I’m overweight because I’ve eaten too much fast food and I’ve gone years without doing any exercise.

I’m not saying that there’s no benefit to learning about things. Certainly when you’ve picked the low hanging fruit you can benefit from fine tuning your model. However, if you’re picking higher fruit, you’ve already taken action! You’re in motion.

What are you trying to convince yourself to do? Figure out the first step you need to take, and do it now! Do some pushups now! Meditate now! Throw away your cigarettes now! Start that new book now! Create that Meetup now!

I think Godin’s book mentions this, but I’ve heard it elsewhere: Ready, Fire, Aim. Don’t waste time trying to figure out the best way to hit a target. Try to hit the target, and when you miss readjust.

Here’s the thing about trying and failing: you’ll learn more by trying and failing than you will by reading about it and never trying. And you’ll discover that failing wasn’t so bad after all.

Get in motion now. Take action.

Resources

  • Inspiration for this largely came from Andrew Ferebee’s common refrain on Knowledge for Men – “Take massive action.”

I Have 1000 Goals

“Setting goals is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

That’s great, but how do you decide which goals to go after?

Some people have too few goals. My problem is too many.

I want it all. Lose weight, get strong, play all the sports, win races. Meditate daily, read spiritual books, find my inner authenticity, feel better mentally. Become awesome at my job, find a new career, ignore my work to focus on my hobbies, start a new business. Master a new instrument, spend time scuba diving, learn Spanish, travel the world.

It’s taken me 35 years, but I’ve finally figured out that I can’t do all of things, at least not at the same time. How to choose which ones to pursue has weighed heavily on my mind for some time now. I want to share the strategies I’ve learned.

1. Warren Buffet’s 2 List Strategy

Write down your top 25 goals. Rank them. Now, separate that list into your top 5 goals and the rest. You top 5 goals are the goals you work on immediately.

The remaining 20 are the ones you ignore at all costs.

Don’t try to do all the goals; this way leads to madness. Focus on the ones that matter the most.

I’ve seen this strategy written about in several places, but most effectively by James Clear: Buffet Focus.

2. Playing to Your Strengths

My coach, Heidi, suggested choosing my goals based on my strengths. It doesn’t do me any good to have a goal that doesn’t align with what makes me tick.

According to StrengthsFinder 2.0, you’ll improve more when you focus on what you are good at. Ignore your weaknesses.

You can figure out your top 5 strengths by buying the book: Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0

(Here are my top strengths:

  • Harmony
  • Consistency
  • Intellection
  • Input
  • Restorative)

3. Aim for a Balanced Life

Andrew Ferebee runs a mastermind group focused on studying The Four Pillars of Life: health, wealth, relationships, and personal growth. You can find out more at Knowledge for Men.

Chalene Johnson recommends setting goals for 10 areas of your life: learning, joy, romance, friends & family, spirituality, office/home environment, profession/purpose, financial, fitness, and mental wellness. Chalene Johnson explains this in much more detail in her appearance on The Art of Charm podcast.

Do an internet search for “health, wealth, and” and you’ll find other lists. The point of every one of these is that your goals must be balanced. If you neglect part of your life in pursuit of a single goal, you’ll find yourself burnt out on your main goal and in debt elsewhere.

Having an overarching goal in each area also helps you focus and achieve what you set out to do! A recurring problem I have is that I’ll pick a goal, work on it for a while, and forget about it or change it after it gets stale. I’ve failed to achieved it!

For example: a general goal I have is to improve my fitness. I have goals to get a personal record in a race, lose weight, get a more muscular look by hitting the gym, eat a Nutritarian diet, improve my cardiovascular fitness to lower my disease danger, start Intermittent Fasting, etc. If my goal is, instead, “achieve excellent health,” it’s clearer what I should work on. Some of these are possible side effects, not goals. Others are part of a something larger — and I’ll achieve my goal only by working on them together.

4. Push Goals

A Push Goal is a larger goal that, once aimed for, topples the other goals like dominos. Bigger than a single area that your life, you can’t achieve it without achieving many of your other goals. Do you have an epic in your life, one which will take mental health, physical stamina, an uncluttered environment, supportive relationships, and more to achieve? This is your Push Goal.

Read more from Chalene Johnson: What is a Push Goal?

5. Finding Your Mission

None of your goals mean jack if they don’t help you fulfill some higher purpose. Without purpose, you’re going to wonder why you’re working so hard on something that doesn’t resonate with your true self. Without purpose, you’re going to find that you’ve toiled for weeks or years to achieve something that was a waste of time.

Some people are lucky enough to know their purpose. If you’re one of those, you have an advantage, and you can work on fitting your goals into this larger framework.

For the rest of us: try picking a mission and starting from there.

  • Be the best version of myself possible, always growing and achieving
  • Live a life of authenticity, compassion, integrity, and joy
  • Be a force of positive change in the world, and help as many people as possible

If a goal doesn’t fit snuggly into your purpose, why is it your goal?

Let me know what your mission is in the comments.