Many people create goals for themselves, yet few achieve them.
Life is short. Stop wasting your time and your life and either achieve the goals you set for yourself or just don’t bother.
There are basically two types of people who create goals for themselves:
- Dreamers: People who have romantic notions of how life would be if X. If I had more money, if I were better looking, if I could play the guitar, if I were in better shape, if I wrote a book, etc. These people are hobbyists who want these things and set goals for themselves in hopes of achieving them.
- Achievers: People who have a very specific goal in mind with a strong conviction for achieving their goals.
The first step in achieving your goals is to be realistic about which kind of person you are with respect to your goals.
Are you a Dreamer or an Achiever?
What separates Dreamers from Achievers?
Stop here and think about this before continuing on. What do you think the difference is?
<Seriously. Pause for thinking and self-reflection>
Achieving Goals Requires Commitment and Focus
Two primary factors differentiate Dreamers from Achievers:
If your life depended on losing 50 pounds would you actually do it? If you had a rash the size of a basketball on your face, would you go to the doctor?
Without a strong reason and motivation to achieve your goals you’re likely not going to make it.
First, try to understand why? Why is the goal you specified important to you? Is it really? Really understand because otherwise, you won’t be able to motivate yourself to achieve it. You need to understand and rationalize to yourself why the goals you set are so important to you. Again, nice to have will not cut it.
Hence the first and most important step is to understand the motivation and rationale behind setting your goal. This creates conviction and purpose which is the most important factor in setting your goal.
Raise the Stakes
Further, if you need greater commitment, then raise the stakes. For example, create penalties or rewards for yourself for achieving your goals. Also, the best rewards and penalties are those that occur more immediately rather than at the end goal time frame.
If you wanted to try to wake up at 5AM every morning then the reward or punishment should occur on a daily or weekly basis.
Reward Example: At the end of every week, if I wake up at 5AM every morning, I reward myself with a chocolate milkshake (or whatever).
Punishment Example: For every time I don’t wake up at 5AM I’ll donate $200 to charity X.
Longer timeframes like monthly reward/punishments are not as effective. The more immediate the feedback and repercussions, the better.
The reward or punishment and timing whether daily or weekly or monthly should obviously be situational. Take the situation into context for whatever you are trying to achieve.
The second factor to achieving your goals is about focus. If you have 3, 4, or 5 goals you are simultaneously trying to achieve do you even remember what they are? Don’t delude yourself. People aren’t smart enough to operate and think in parallel.
1 Single Goal
Just focus down to 1 single goal that is easy to remember and that you can laser focus on.
If you want to work on multiple goals over a longer time period let’s say 3 goals for a year, then work on them serially rather than in parallel. In other words, work on your goals one at a time, not multiple at the same time. Increased focus will dramatically increase your chance of achievement!
Focus also means specificity. You can’t achieve ambiguous bullshit. Hence, make sure you know exactly what it means to achieve your goal.
“I will lose 15 pounds by the end of March” is easy to understand and very clear. “I want to be healthier” is ambiguous bullshit.
So remember, to have focus in your goals you need to:
- Focus on a single goal only!
- Make sure your goal is very specific and can easily be tracked
My New Year’s Resolutions
Let me walk you through application of these principles in my personal life. In particular, with respect to New Year’s resolutions.
This past December, I noticed I have not been fully achieving New Year’s resolutions I had created over the previous 3 years. This differed markedly from work and career goals.
Upon reflection, I realized the difference in effectiveness between personal and career goals stem from the reasons outlined above in this post. Time for a change!
Therefore, in developing New Years resolutions for this upcoming year, I decided to apply the principles discussed above.
First, I started with an overall framework for improving my life. I used the Ben Franklin concept of Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise (inspired from listening to Tim Ferriss podcasts) to frame my NY resolutions:
- Healthy: Lose 15 pounds
- Wealthy: Invest in real estate in the Pacific Northwest
- Wise: Write 3 chapters of a fiction book
Most of my life I’ve weighed about 150 pounds but over the past 5 years as my old body and metabolism slows down, I weighed 170 pounds just before the New Year. After my wife let me know that I looked pregnant and after reading about the health risks from being overweight, I wanted to make sure I lived healthier by getting back to a healthy weight.
I was also very encouraged by research around intermittent fasting and longer term health benefits from that approach as a method to lose the excess weight.
New Year’s Resolution #1: Lose 15 pounds (to 155 pounds) by end of March, 2018.
What’s the best way to build wealth over the long-term future? Stocks have appreciated significantly and despite Trump policies mortgaging the future for near-term growth, there’s potentially risk there.
I felt the least risk approach to build wealth is to focus on key macro-trends that are most likely to manifest over time. These trends include:
- High inflation based on current economic policies: Best to acquire and hold on to real assets, debt
- Global warming: Increases the value of property in the Pacific Northwest
- Urbanization: Bet on major cities as continuing to increase in population
See here on impact of climate change on human migration: Connectography.
Without going into the specifics of my Wealthy goal (I’m not that rich but I also don’t want to be an ass), based on the above trends my goal is to invest in real estate in Portland, Oregon.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Invest in real estate in Portland, Oregon by June, 2018
As the brain ages, it becomes more brittle. Yet, our brains can continue to grow at any age! See this article.
To ensure I keep sharp in my old age, I’ve decided to develop a new creative skill: writing fiction. Writing a complete book is too much for me especially as a newbie and given time constraints but creating the first few chapters of a fiction book should be achievable.
New Year’s Resolution #3: Write 3 chapters of a fiction book by the end of the year.
As stated before, although I have 3 New Year’s resolutions I will only focus on 1 goal at a time. I have thought through each goal and rationalized with myself why they are important and the potential impact of each on my life.
I’ll start with my Health goal, then shift to my Wealth goal, and then end the year with my Wise goal. All of the goals are very specific (I kept #2 purposely vague but the actual goal for me is very specific), and easy to measure.
My New Year’s Resolutions: Updates
Will I actually achieve my goals this year?
I’ll update this post with status updates.
Join me! I’ve shown you the path, there’s no excuse not to. Stop wasting your time and your life. Do it now!
January 25, 2018:
Less than a month and through intermittent fasting and more exercise I was able to drop roughly 10 pounds so far.
February 8, 2018:
March 15, 2018:
Boom! NY Resolution #1 Completed. On to my next goal…
August 3, 2018:
On July 11, 2018, I completed purchase of a new house in LA. The original goal was to purchase a rental property in Portland, OR, but I moved to LA for a new job and so buying a place in LA and renting out my SF Bay Area house wound up making more economic sense. Further, I’m waiting out the big earthquake that will come hit the Pacific Northwest before buying up there.
Here’s a picture of my new house:
NY Resolution #2 completed!
I’ve also largely kept off my weight, although I’ve been cheating quite a bit in the mornings with coffee + creamer and will eat breakfast when I travel. This is a pic just after dinner:
December 31, 2018:
Well it’s been a full year but I’ve managed to still maintain my weight loss.
Still under 155 despite dropping off of intermittent fasting for the past couple of months.
Unfortunately, earlier in the year I had an accident where I had a complete tear in my Achilles heel (coincidentally injuring the same foot as my cat) and right after that I stopped intermittent fasting. My foot is a lot better now and I’m picking up fasting again in 2019.
Finally, I’m very disappointed to say I missed my last goal. Rather than writing 5 chapters of a fiction book I spent a lot of time learning about writing: reading books, taking Master Classes, and focusing more on background and character development. Further, once I injured my foot I was a whiny baby and used that as an excuse to procrastinate.
Having said that, the positive view is that I did complete 2 out of 3 of my goals which is more than I have completed in the past.
For 2019 I’ll have to figure out a better way to more strongly incentivize myself to complete all of my goals!
Looking Forward to the Next Year
Well folks, it’s January 1, 2019. Another New Year. This time, I want to make sure I achieve all of my New Years objectives for this upcoming year.
Looking back and thinking more deeply, I realized that while I had very good Focus, I did not have enough Commitment (see above). Hence, I did not Raise the Stakes!
Let’s start with my new goals for 2019:
I’ve suffered from allergies (mainly skin related) for most of my life. Exercise and yoga have significantly mitigated my allergies but since my foot accident a few months ago I haven’t been able to exercise at all. Since then my allergies have exploded especially with the massive inflammation from my foot.
Hence, my first goal will be very ambitious: Eliminate my allergies! According to my dermatologist this is not possible. However, I will try to implement this using a 3 pronged approach:
- Breath: Research studies have shown that through the Wim Hof Method of controlling breath and exposure to cold, people have been able to influence their immune response.
- Back: I started to see a chiropractor last December especially after I tore my Achilles. The theory with respect to allergies is that the brain is connected to every part of the body through the back and that a misalignment in my back is causing inflammation with my endocrine system.
- Diet: Testing whether I can impact my allergies through reducing inflammatory foods and ensuring that I’m not eating anything i’m allergic to.
The specific New Years resolution to eliminate my allergies this year will be to do so via:
- Complete Wim Hof 10-week training program by end of March
- Complete 6 months of chiropractic care 2-3x per week by June
- Try the Anti-inflammatory diet for 1 month by end of February and the Whole 30 diet by end of April
The 2 diets I’m going to try are shown below:
- Peace of Cake: The Secret to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Jenny Carr
- Whole30 Fast & Easy by Melissa Hartwig
I’ve had great success with positive outcomes from having started a gaming blog back in 2013 called GameMakers. In 2018, I co-hosted a podcasting segment with a friend of mine (This Week In Games on Deconstructor of Fun).
Although it’s not directly tied to increasing wealth, I believe that building my personal brand through a YouTube channel in 2019 will have strong wealth building effects eventually in the future.
Hence, my wealth goal is to build a YouTube channel of some significance. So I’m trying to get to 50K subscribers for my channel. And eventually, hopefully to 100K subscribers by end of the year.
I failed at my 2018 goal of writing 5 chapters of a fiction book. Let’s get it done in 2019!
Now that I have new goals for 2019, here’s how I’m going to ensure I achieve them:
- I will specifically create incentives for achieving or failing to achieve the objectives: Raising the Stakes!
- I show a framework below that shows #1. Focus and #2. Commitment
Good luck in achieving your goals. Don’t make the same mistake I made and remember you need both #1. Commitment AND #2. Focus.
Happy New Year!