When I was in my thirties, I had a multitude of ideas, projects, life goals and things I wanted to do. By the time I had reached the end of my thirties I still had a multitude of ideas, projects and life goals and I had made little to no progress on any of the goals I had ten years earlier. Why was that?
With age comes wisdom and the wisdom I gained during my thirties was that it really doesn’t matter how many goals, dreams and aspirations you have or how determined you are to achieve them. If you do not focus on those goals or dreams one at a time, you are not going to achieve them. To really get down and achieve your goals and dreams you need to focus on them one at a time. If you don’t, you too will end up with a long list of started, incomplete and failed goals and you will blame yourself or some other outside force or person.
The good news is all you need to do is make a tiny adjustment and take one goal at a time. It really is that simple.
Tony Robbins has a brilliant quote:
“People overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”
This quote really uncovers the core problem why so many people fail at achieving their goals. I guess it is the human condition that we want everything now and we don’t like waiting. But if you really want to achieve the long list of things you have written down as your goals and dreams you are going to have to decide which ones you are going to go for first and which ones can wait until another year. If you only focus on two goals or projects each year, at the end of the decade you will have achieve twenty amazing things!
Once I started focusing on just one or two goals a year my life turned around. I started achieving things. In 2011, I got my first book published here in Korea. It was a book about presenting in the twenty-first century. After that I developed a number of workshops to go along with the book, started my own communications company and wrote two additional books, and started a second company. I had all these dreams and goals in my thirties, but never achieved any. That was because each year I started out trying to achieve all my goals at once. Now, I have a much more realistic time line. Each year I write a book, grow my business and usually begin a new project. Last year was my YouTube channel, this year it is my online course business. My life has simplified and at the same time I am achieving so much more. All it took was a tiny adjustment and a realisation there is plenty of time to achieve things, so you can take you time and pick and choose which goals you want to achieve each year rather than trying to complete everything all at once and finishing nothing.
I have never written or recommended writing out a ten year plan, after all life is extremely unpredictable. But you can always hold a list of the things you want to accomplish in Evernote or a notebook. Then, each October or November take some time out, have a look at the list and pick two big projects you want to accomplish next year. Decide which one you will focus on in the first half of the year, and which one you will focus on in the second half of the year. Once you have done that, you should list down all the action steps you need to take to make the goal or successfully completed project a reality. Once you have that list of action steps you then bring them in to your todo list manager of choice and make sure you are doing something every day, or at least once a week, to make that goal or project complete.
I have been following this structure for over five years now and I have accomplished so much. I do not always hit the deadline, last year’s book (Working With Todoist: The Book) was published a month late, at the end of January instead of December. But I do complete the projects. It does not always mean the projects are successful or I achieve everything I expect of them, but they get completed, which is a huge improvement on having ideas, projects and goals incomplete or never started. The thing is; my goals, plans and dreams are now becoming a reality and all it took was a tiny adjustment.
When I was a little kid, I remember my mother telling me “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” what she meant was I frequently put far more on my plate than I could realistically eat, and that is what most people do with their projects and goals. They have far too many projects and goals going on at any one time, which means they either fail in their goals or they never get started or completed.
So, if you want to stop failing at achieving your goals, if you want to get projects completed, then you need to reduce the number of projects you work on each year. Focus on two big projects each year and assign one to the first half and one to the second half. When you start doing that, you will accomplish far more in one year than you ever did in ten years. It really is all about focus and you can only focus on one thing at a time.
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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.