You can notice from productivity experts’ videos that they actually don’t do a lot in a day. They don’t finish one book from scratch in a day nor do they create a Leonardo da Vinci-esque painting within a month.
They just don’t and yet, they have so much accomplished that you find yourself wanting to mirror them (some of them exaggerate their success, of course).
So where do we go wrong?
It’s often observed that those who pursue their goals one at a time have better chances of achieving them than those with a laundry list of goals. The latter drop by the wayside too soon, they say. However, I don’t feel that is entirely correct.
I am going out on a limb here: most people have a number of goals they want to hit every year. They just don’t know how to go about accomplishing them.
A majority of the population gets caught in the dirty middle when it comes to prioritizing their goals.
What’s the solution?
I think there is no definitive solution. You can choose either of the two routes:
- the Atomic Habits route or
- the Mastery Route.
Of course, I named the two approaches after two eponymous books.
The Atomic Habits Route
When you go down the first route, you try to tick off all the boxes every day with some progress against each. The idea is to get a start on all your goals on daily basis. This in turn would motivate you to return the next day.
Currently, I am practicing this path. At any time, I am pursuing 15 big and small goals – from writing 500 words every day to learning advanced excel to reading five essays every week. Every day, my endeavor is to make some bit of progress on all these goals.
The problem with this approach is that when you fail to hit all or most of the goals every day, it starts to overwhelm you and you start procrastinating on some goals. Gradually, you cherrypick the goals or tasks with which you are more comfortable and skip the rest.
I don’t know what sets off this chain reaction, but I can’t be alone here. I am sure a lot of you also face the same issue.
Coming back to point, when you take the atomic habits route, ensure you hit 75% of your goals daily. Those that are left should be the priority the next day or they will be forgotten.
The Mastery Path
The second path is what I would call the Mastery path. Named after Robert Greene’s eponymous book, this approach goes in the opposite direction to the first.
This is where you don’t hustle, rather patience becomes your biggest virtue. You learn to stay laser-focused on one goal.
If you have a list of 15 goals for this year, just zero in on one and proceed to strike it off. Let’s say you want to lose 10 kg in three months. Every morning when you wake up, the focus should be on that one goal.
Once you have set your mind to it, you stop going helter-skelter after other tasks. Every waking hour, how to lose weight should play on your mind.
You figure out nuances of losing weight; research famous books, podcasts, and videos; take the help of coaches. You decipher the best weight-loss diets. In short, you take on a perfectionist’s role and make sure that no ingredient is left out.
The flip side of this approach is that if you are not focused, you can remain stuck on one goal for longer than you imagined.
Non-accomplishment can be hugely disappointing in this case. It’s hard to move on from something that you invested so much in, only to see yourself giving up on it.
On the other hand, if you do become a master or a craftsman of your domain, then the sky is the limit. You can become famous as you teach others about how you hit that goal.
Take this path to attain outsized goals. The ones which can turn your life around forever. Yes, pinning so much on one goal is always a gamble, but the payoff can be huge. Let’s say you are eyeing to win a half-marathon next year.
You practice for it the entire year, all your thoughts, dreams reflect on that only. When you do win the marathon, you become famous in the local circle, you are on social media, with news outlets and other people writing about you. Such wins can be a huge trigger, giving you a platform to build your future on.
Finally, which path is better for you is something you have to decide. Both can work well, both have their own pay-offs. If staying at one goal bores you, you can try the atomic habits route. It’s more eclectic and you can keep making small progress against each goal. For exceptional goals, that require your 100% effort in a small time, I would suggest the Mastery route.
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