Yeah, yeah – there seems to be a pattern of ‘post that you haven’t posted in a while and then promptly produce an even longer gap between posts’.
Well, I’m posting now, darnit.
I’ve been listening to a couple of new podcasts, one of which is ‘Impact Theory’ hosted by Thomas Bilyeu. He’s an ex-screenwriter/director who now co-owns Quest Nutrition (the ones that make Quest protein bars). Impact Theory is a program that interviews highly successful entrepreneurs in an attempt to break down what strategies they used in order to change their own lives and become not only more productive, but exponentially more productive over time. The discussions most often cite scientific research into motivational strategies, planning strategies, as well as daily habits and habit-breaking strategies that these ridiculously productive people use in order to become superpowers and achieve their dreams (and more).
Anyway, I wanted to write a little piece to remind myself of one interesting lesson from Eric Barker’s interview. Enjoy!
Wishing and dreaming are critical, but they’re like alcohol: they feel good in the moment, but by themselves, they’re not practical.
Once you have a dream, the next step is to think about the outcome of that dream, the FINAL outcome, with plenty of specific details. I.e., this is what I want to be, this is what I want to do, in as much detail as is realistic. Think of it as if you’re imagining a scene of yourself in the future – what are you doing every day in this dream, what does your environment look like, what do you look like, and what kind of people are around you? What does your daily work look like? What kind of person would you be in order to be doing the work you would be doing and living this lifestyle?
After that’s as clear as you can make it, only then think about the obstacles that are keeping you from immediately becoming that person. Obviously, they aren’t all visible at the moment, so identifying the most immediate and obvious obstacles is practical. Specifically identifying the obstacles allows you to set up a clear and defined plan to spend time every day improving yourself and chipping away at those obstacles until they’re no longer in your way.
The plan should be simple, basic, and should have the following characteristics:
a) The activity of carrying out the plan should be directly reflective of the dream or wish you had. This allows you to spend time testing whether the joy in that dream is realistic. If the dream acted in reality doesn’t bring you joy, then that allows you to quit it and iterate faster to a dream and outcome that work for you without hesitation or regret.
b) The plan should mimic a lesser version of the outcome that you envisioned earlier as well to make sure that you can shape yourself into a person that lives that lifestyle you imagined. This might sound too similar to the above point, but the introspection is different: above, you want to consider the excitement and spark involved in fulfilling the dream or wish. Here, you want to consider the satisfaction in the change in environment, change in lifestyle, and change in your day-to-day activities and mindset that would require you to accommodate your plan. Above, you test the satisfaction of the dream, and here, you test the satisfaction of the reality.
c) The plan should directly attack the obstacles at their core, because behind those obstacles are more obstacles that you want to get to. This one is complicated, as many obstacles can be a mix of the specific and the abstract. For example: ‘I’m pretty lazy’, ‘My writing skills need improvement’, and ‘I’m easily distracted from my current activity’. All of these obstacles can be translated into a plan to spend a set amount of time every day in a distraction free environment writing in a way that would help you grow into your outcome-self. Daily activities like this can not only kill many birds with one stone, but also set you up to form habits that change your moment-to-moment mindset throughout the day.
Wish. Outcome. Obstacle. Plan.
The likelihood is that the obstacles will start out being tough to conquer, and perhaps you’ll accidentally skip some smaller obstacles that will trip you up while you’re trying to break down loftier ones. This is fine – worked into the planning stage (and plan execution stage) is something of vital importance: assessment of progress and reflection on the process itself. This activity not only helps you stay in the right mindset, but will also give you an idea whether or not your plans are working and whether you should consider changing your plans to battle different obstacles.
Do the wish and outcome energize you enough to iterate through such planning stages and finding ways to overcome the obstacle? If so, then failed plans are nothing to worry about – you can always reform your plan and fit it to overcome your obstacles.
Base the choice between ‘grit’ and ‘quit’ on how much your dreams and specific outcomes excite you and energize you towards activity.
Eric Barker interview:
Mel Robbins on the 5 Second Rule (and, more importantly, there’s a link to the Million Dollar Morning routine she hints at in the description of the video):