Journal Revengineering

The “One Weird Trick” of Successful People? WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS.

Am I a loser? Let’s be realistic. Nobody views themselves as a loser. I’m not. At least I don’t think I am.  But let’s engage in a little thought experiment.

If I looked at someone matching my exact description and resume, and knew all the things they’ve started and knew all the things they’d talked about doing, and never did them, I’d be at least a little disappointed in them, wouldn’t you?  He needs to work out.  He needs to eat better.  He needs to pin down some stuff. It hasn’t happened yet.

Then why doesn’t it happen?  We’ve all got potential. I bet somewhere in your life somebody has said something that made you think you could do something great. After all, the only reason you haven’t hit the Billboard top 100 is you just haven’t got time to stand around all day at those American Idol auditions just for some assistant producer with a cool haircut to tell you they’re “looking for something different this year.” Or there’s that great idea for a book you’ve got stirring around in your head.  You’ve been thinking about how cool it would be and mapping out all the interesting things your characters would see and do, but you just haven’t written any of it down yet.

You would totally be a YouTube Star if you only released that viral video you keep telling your friends you should do.  You would be a movie star if the system wasn’t rigged.  “One of these days,” I say. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” I say.  But is there any evidence outside of your own mindset that you are accomplishing the things you set out to accomplish?

Let’s cut to the chase. I’ve been doing a ton of prep work for this site and I’ve found myself stalling yet again. Perpetually in that preparation loop, just trying to get everything perfect. Why? Because I’ve ignored the crystal clear advice that almost every successful person has been dishing out.  The secret to their success is not weird, it’s not unusual, and it’s not anything you haven’t heard before.  Here’s a quick rundown:

Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Make a list of what you need to do and classify if it’s Important, Urgent, both, or neither.

Dave RamseyTotal Money Makeover –  Before every month begins, write out your income and your outflows, assigning every dollar to a section of your budget with nothing left out. Anything not assigned will inevitably be wasted.

Daymond John The Power of Broke – The absolute first item of John’s Shark Points:  Set your goals and write them down.

Zig Ziglar Born To Win – Take stock of where you are in every spoke of your life and where you plan to be.  Scale them 1-10 and write down what you want to improve.

Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich – Verbalize or write your monetary goals and contemplate them for 30 minutes every day. (NOTE: This guy’s got some weird ideas, but he qualifies as “successful”).

Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Workweek – Define what you want and eliminate anything that doesn’t help you get that.

Tony RobbinsAwaken The Giant Within – Visualize where you want to be, write it down.

Are you catching a common thread in all these systems? Take a look again if you’re not familiar.  Every last one of these people have sold millions of books, and a lot of them started with nothing.  They have drive and probably come up with a million great ideas a day. The difference is they write it down.

But why would writing it down matter? Surely we all know what we want.  Do we forget what we want? Does writing it down cause something to crystallize the idea in their brain? Does it cause focus?  There are some people that believe that verbalizing a goal pushes it out into the universe and literally sets some kind of intangible wish machine in motion to get you what you want.  I don’t know that I could ever agree with something like that, but I’ve heard plenty of successful people ascribe to this kind of mentality.

Maybe it’s something simpler, like keeping your focus in check.  If you write it all down, perhaps it helps you to realize that you aren’t going to have the number one movie at the box office, the Grammy for best spoken word album, and the extended-family camping trip all pinned down by Labor Day.

Here’s what I think it is. It gives you a target. A reminder of what you’re going towards. Something to meditate on that calibrates your mind so you’re always pointed in the right direction.

That’s what I need.  And that’s what I’ve been working on.  I’ve put together what I’m calling The Master Plan.  It’s an ever-updating list of goals encompassing the major parts of my life.  These aren’t little goals.  These are the “big goals.”  These are the ones I will keep pointing to in deciding where I spend my time, my money, and my energy.  You can take a look here.  Take look and let me know your thoughts.

So here’s the big question.  What are your big goals?  What would go on your Master Plan? And, in the words of Pee Wee Herman, what’s your big but?

Let me know in the comments.

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