Reverse Engineering Your Goals

The best way to accomplish anything is start with the end and work backwards. It’s called reverse engineering.

  1. Close your eyes. Imagine where you want when your goal is accomplished as if it is real today.
  2. Write out your goal like this: Goal by date.
  3. Get out your calendar.
  4. Write your goal down on the date it will be accomplished.
  5. Back up to the date halfway between today and the goal date. Write down where you need to be at that time.
  6. Do the same for the three quarter point and the one quarter point.
  7. Fill in all of the gaps until you have a daily plan for the first 1/4 of your goal.
  8. Wake up do what you planned.
  9. When you get 1/4 of the way there, plan the next 1/4.
  10. Repeat until you have accomplished your goal.

Note: Here is what to do when you don’t feel like it.

Feeling and Doing

I bounced out of bed this morning. I hadn’t been able to run for the last week due to my schedule, so I was optimistic about how well I was going to perform with fresh legs. Halfway into my run, though, my attitude began to change. I running about 1:30 per mile faster than my goal pace, and all of the overly optimistic feelings gave way to reality of the work ahead of me.

Each step was a chore. Pain from sore muscles shot through my hips and hamstrings. The feeling of defeat and unmet expectations consumed my brain. All I could think about now was how bad I felt, and how much I wanted to quit.

There are going to be days when you feel great. Your energy levels will be high. You will be excited to embrace the days challenges. There will also be days when you don’t feel like doing the work. You are tired, uninspired, or, if you are honest, scared.

The best piece of advice I have ever received about progressing towards a goal is this:

When it comes time to do the work, it does not matter how you feel. It only matters that you do.

Simple right? The greatest thing about this idea is it works on any goal, whether it’s finally mowing the lawn after your wife has been asking you for the last 2 weeks or earning $3 million in the 12 months.

Decide what needs to be done, and then once it’s decided, do it. Don’t worry if you feel like doing it or not. Just take action.

I promise you, take this advice and apply it right now. What’s the next thing you have to do? Do it. Then do the next thing, and the next thing.

It’s crazy to me how often we overestimate the impact our emotions have on our performance. I do this all the time. I did it this morning. I went out too fast because of how I felt.

I ended up finishing my run, but I only beat my goal pace by 7 seconds per mile. I had to slow down a ton to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I never felt better about doing it. I wasn’t even successful in beating a goal by huge margin.

But I finished which is what I originally set out to do.

Ego and Expecting Too Much

Sometimes ego overestimates what can be achieved in a day. Other times it talks us out of trying so it can “protect us” from looking dumb or feeling inadequate.

On the other side of this intentional, daily action compounds. It makes slow progress over time until one day you look like you are an overnight success.

Ego wants wants shortcuts, hacks, notoriety. Ego doesn’t want to struggle or persevere. It just wants the spotlight.

Ego also expects constant progress, and if it doesn’t get the results, it will try to talk you out of taking action.

This is the battle of anyone wanting to make any kind of progress…to kill the ego and embrace the action.

If you can do it, you will improve over time. If you can’t, you will live a life where the only way to cope is to lie to yourself about all the reasons the goal wasn’t possible or worth it to begin with.

The Spectator or the Main Character

People love living vicariously through the stories of adversity and discomfort of others. We are attracted to it because we desire to do the same, but fear keeps us back. So, we get 90% of the emotional benefit from experiencing the story secondhand, and we get to stay in our comfort zone.

The problem is we don’t grow as a result, and we don’t get to reap the benefits of the reward that hangs in the balance of overcoming the adversity and high risk. Facing risk and embracing risk…even if it results in failure, is the only way to grow. And everyone watching isn’t necessarily watching in order to see you succeed or fail. They just want to see what happens. People love to look through a window to see it all unfold.

It’s why we watch movies and vlogs, read biographies, get addicted to consuming the stories of the lives and struggles and drama of others. We want to see what happens without getting messy ourselves.

This idea is powerful because it means I can drop the facade of having it figured out. I get to show people the real me. But…this only works in pursuit of something. It does not work if the “story line” is look at me try my best at average.

The more cringe-worthy the story the better. The more your reaction is, “I would never do that,” the more attracted you are to seeing what happens.

And with so many people who are unwilling to face the adversity, discomfort, and risk really just makes the chances of those who are willing to face them higher. Nothing is as unattainable the fear in your head tells you it is.

You have to embrace discomfort if you want to achieve things you have not achieved. You have to keep doing things you’ve never done.

You can either be the spectator or be the main character.

Disabling Notifications

I shut off almost all of my notifications on my phone, tablet, and computer over the weekend.

One of my themes right now is creating more than I consume. I have noticed my habits trending towards being less intentional, and even realized some of this was a result of good intentions.

I have read about people deleting everything off of their phones, which doesn’t work for me. I use my phone to make things. I work from my iPhone…a lot. I publish to my blog from my iPhone. I do most of my content distribution and sharing from my iPhone. I don’t want to cripple my device.

I have just found that when I start working, I will turn away from the task I am working on with every buzz and ding. My attention span has suffered considerably.

So the only thing I have notifications for now are:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails from by VIP list
  • FaceTime calls.

Everything else gets a notification badge and that is it. I keep any consumption prone app off of my home screen. This way I have to go to it to check it vs. be distracted by the little red numbers on the icon.

The lack of distraction is pretty freeing. I hopeful I will be able to stay focused on a task longer.

The Destructive Switch from Search to Social

This article was a great find today. I did find it from an article in a feed, but that feed was Medium. I guess that’s better.

I have been battling this feeling that my memory is worse, my interest in new topics, and even other people is worse, my attention span is worse, and as a result, my self-satisfaction and mood are low.

I used to think all of the time. I was full of ideas. Full of things to say. I loved to learn. And somewhere along the line, this has shifted to consumption.

I remember the first time I fully understood an RSS feed and started using Google Reader. It was a game changer for me. You see, I only finished one semester of college. Becoming a father at 20 forced me to choose between starting a career or taking on debt. I chose to make money. And Google Reader opened the door to a world of information and education. I could find a writer teaching about sales or leadership or copy writing or whatever I wanted to learn, and it would get delivered to me every time they did something new.

Writers like Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin, Darren Rowse, and Jason Fried taught me what I needed to know in order keep improving and excelling at my job. I found everything I couldn’t learn from their writing in books. I had built a learning system and had access to anything I needed to learn in order to fulfill my dreams. And…all of it was available to me in a moment.

Then over the last 13 years, something switched. It’s been so gradually that I literally did not realize what it was until now. My technology has improved. The apps are better. The software is better. Blogging became more popular. And today I woke up to realize I have not been actively seeking out information. While my intentions to learn have remained the same, I have only been reading the stream that comes my way. The quality of the information has degraded. The articles are shorter. They are more shallow. I can’t get through long form content without checking another app or my email, of the phone. All of these apps that feed information to me are only giving me what will hold my attention. Not what will make me better.

And this morning, I realized I was reading headlines in Feedly (my blog reader), and I was only paying attention to the headlines before marking an entire feed or category as read.

As my tools have gotten more powerful, I have grown less reliant on my own ability to seek out education around my interests. I have grown intellectually lazy. I have developed habits that will not let me sit alone in boredom and my own thoughts.

I am so thankful this article found it’s way to me today. It pointed a huge finger at the problem…me. Armed with this realization, I have no choice but to take action to change my behavior.

All of this goes back to intentionality. The more we automate. The more we assign to others or rely on tools or leave up to chance, the less likely we are to achieve what we are after.

And I am not blaming tech or apps or these more powerful tools. Granted, the pace of information and distraction is higher, but the problem of passive consumption vs action self-education is something that’s been around for all of time.

The difference now is the distraction is greater…AND…the opportunity to learn and grow is also greater. More content leads to more distraction if you are passive with it. But…it leads to more access to information if you choose to be intentional about it.

Megatrends Notes

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Megatrends by John Naisbitt. The book is about 10 areas that are changing that will affect the future. Now…Megatrends was originally published in 1982…before I was born. Yes, my friend is much older than I am.

I am only a couple of chapters into the book and I am hooked. The concerns and behavior of the time mirrors the concerns and behavior of today. The only thing that changes are the technology and industries. I want to share my notes and thoughts.

Chapter 1 is all about predicting the change from the US being a manufacturing economy to an information economy. The concern that is being brought up is the US education system is not equipped to handle the change.

At the time, workers who embrace computers held the super-power of the time. This makes me wonder…what is the super-power skill of today?

I think it’s interpersonal skills, specifically face-to-face verbal communication and persuasion skills.

You see, we are on a 25 year run of tech, specifically computers and smartphones, being at the epicenter of our communication systems. This is not going to change, but, the people who remember working without these tools are retiring out of the workforce. With this exodus, interpersonal skills are leaving with it.

Yet, human behavior craves personal connection, even more so now that it is less common. Those skilled in speaking face-to-face and looking people in the eye are going to be more effective than their counterparts who are uncomfortable doing so.

This will be especially true in sales.

In fact, I just read a benchmarking report from one of my industries trade associations which found that while most people became aware of potential vendors through word of mouth or email, most buying decisions were made as a result of face-to-face meetings. Additionally, this same group listed email and software as the primary method of communication.

So basically, people are more comfortable communicating digitally, but buy based on face-to-face relationships.

What are you thoughts?

Finding Time

Man looking at watch

I am married.

I have four kids.

I run a company.

I coach baseball.

I attend my kids sporting events.

I volunteer at church.

I teach myself Spanish.

I read over 4 books a month.

I take training courses to level up on my strengths.

I play on a men’s softball team.

I am a part of a small group rom church that meets 3 times a month.

I am leading my oldest through a multiple month long mentoring group with 4 other dads and sons.

I know what busy feels like.

I get asked all the time, “How do you find the time?” The truth is…I still don’t think I am using my time well enough.

I was speaking at a conference earlier this month about making things better when you are too busy when I was asked this question.

How you find the time?

I told this person…You have to audit how you really work and be honest. I guarantee there is a lot of “work” you do that feels like work, when in reality, you are just complaining about work. Or you are “planning” or “thinking” about work. It may feel like work, because it’s about work. But…it’s not work. It’s just complaining and procrastinating.

I see it everywhere. People tell their coworkers, “I am so busy!” And then they proceed to them everything they are busy with. They spend 20 or 30 minutes doing this before they walk away and tell someone else.

Cut it out. It’s robbing you of a future filled with the progress you want in your life. And I am not even starting on the time wasters in other parts of your day. This is just the work day. You have the time. You just need to cut out all of the fake work.

Today is the day!

I am speaking at 10:45am, Phoenix, AZ time at the #RFMA2018 Annual Conference.

The topic is “How to make things better when you are too busy.”

Public speaking has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. It’s both exciting and intimidating to actually be doing it.

Almost 6 years ago, I was in a mentoring group where we had to give a 5 minute talk to 5 other people at a retreat. It was recorded.

I stood in front of the group. The camera started. I froze. Nothing came out of my mouth for what felt like the entire time.

In dealing with the embarrassment of the who ordeal, I learned something about myself and about speaking in front of people.

You see, I went up in front of that group with only myself in mind. I wanted them to think I was smart, insightful, and motivating. I bombed.

Speaking is about helping other people. It’s about teaching what you know. It’s not about the speaker. It’s about the audience. That monumental change in focus helped me take the fear out of getting in front of people and sharing what’s in my head.

That being said, I am nervous. I have never been in front of this many people. Yet this time, the nerves are exhilarating. What I am going to share changed my business. It changed my work ethic. It has made things possible that would not have been possible…including today where I am taking the first step towards a dream I have had for a very long time.

Let’s go!