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Setting Goals

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.” – Viktor E. Frankl

A Surprising Thing I Learned About Setting Goals

By Mark Ford

Why is it, I kept asking myself, that nobody follows my advice on personal productivity?

Every January, I write an essay bragging about all the things I got done the previous year, urging readers to use my personal productivity program.

But it seems like I convince no one. We get no emails from readers saying they are going to get on board. Nor do we get notes at the end of the year about all they’ve accomplished.

I’ve pitched it at business meetings, dinners, and family reunions, but I have yet to convince a colleague, friend, or family member to do it. What the heck am I doing wrong?

I got tired of asking those questions last month and decided to find out. I invited a small group of people to participate in a year-long project, during which I would teach them my system and coach them to follow it.

We just had our first meeting. And I have already discovered something important.

An idea I had about goal setting was wrong.

I began the meeting by talking about how my life changed when I decided to get rich. I always use that phrase — decided to get rich — to emphasize what was for me the most important part of that experience. I spent 30 years wanting to get rich and never did.

And then, one day, I decided that getting rich was going to be my top priority, and that’s when the money started piling up.

So, that’s one thing: the difference between wanting and deciding.

Deciding implies intention and purpose, not just volition. (That was not my discovery. I’ll come to that now. But keep that thought in mind.)

Next, I told them that when I retired for the second time and began writing Early to Rise, I had the opportunity to think about that experience and assess what was good and bad about it.

I came to the conclusion that making one goal your only goal is very powerful. It changes the way you think dramatically. Your mind becomes shark-like in its ability to make both big and small decisions. Such clarity means the likelihood you will achieve that goal becomes a near certainty.

That is good. But there is another effect of having only one goal that is bad. It means you will inevitably sacrifice other wants you have listed on your mental desiderata. In my case, for example, I sacrificed my health, my hopes of writing fiction, and my desire to be happy.

So, in developing a goal-setting strategy for Early to Rise readers, I offered a choice: If you want the best possible chance of achieving one goal, make it your only goal. But if you want a well-balanced life, create four goals: one financial, one health, one personal, and one social.

That’s what we did at last week’s meeting. I asked everyone to think about whether they wanted to choose one goal or four. And then I asked if anyone wanted to share a major goal. Bob Irish (a friend and colleague) said that after he retired, he decided he would get into the best shape of his life. And then Joe shared his goal: having passive income of $150,000 in five years.

Now, if you have read anything about goal setting, you are already thinking that Joe’s goal was better than Bob’s because Joe’s goal was very specific. It was specific in two ways: a particular objective in terms of how rich ($150,000 in passive income) and a particular time frame (five years). Bob’s goal, in contrast, was vague on both counts.

In writing about goal setting in the past, I had, like most others, advocated specificity. And yet, I knew in my gut that Bob’s vague goal was actually a good and achievable goal, whereas Joe’s was not.

Because of commitment bias, I felt like I should commend Joe for making his goal so specific. But I knew, because I knew his personal situation, that it was a badly designed goal and that it would lead to frustration and self-doubt rather than success.

And then it hit me: The goal I set for myself 30-odd years ago, the goal of “being rich,” was a vague goal, just as vague as Bob’s.

So, I’m writing to you now to tell you that I think this whole idea of being very specific when setting big goals is wrong. I do believe in specificity when it comes to identifying shorter-term objectives. But when it comes to the big goals, I’m now saying make them vague.

There are two big benefits in doing this.

First, when you make your big goals doubly specific (quantifying the objective and setting a time frame), you may be setting yourself up for failure. In Joe’s case, as I mentioned, there was no way I could imagine him achieving that goal unless he quit his job immediately and took the risk of becoming an entrepreneur. But to do that, he would have to put the financial security of his family at risk. And knowing him and his core values, I was certain that was a bad idea.

Now, if Joe’s goals were considerably more modest — say, doubling his salary in five years — then his chances of success would have been very good. But that would be a small goal, not a big goal. To set and accomplish big goals, you should make them vague.

Second, the true reward you get by setting and accomplishing goals is not in the final accomplishment, but in the process of moving forward. In Bob’s case, he would begin to feel better about himself the very first day he began to get into better shape.

And that good feeling would motivate him to continue working toward the goal. And all the while he’d be feeling that goodness.

That’s what happened to me with my vague “get rich” goal. I began to feel “richer” the very next day when I was making decisions at work that I knew would eventually make me richer. I then felt good about every step I took along the way: when my salary doubled from $35,000 to $70,000, when I paid off my debts, when I made my first million, and so on. But the pleasure of achieving that goal came mostly from the process of moving forward, not from the accomplishment of it, which would only have come once at the very end.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Your big, long-term goals should be vague or at least somewhat vague (if you want to make the objective specific, leave the date out, or put the date in and make the objective unspecific), because that vagueness will allow you to enjoy every day along the path, not just the final day when you reach the destination.

And enjoying the process is about living well and happily in the here and now. And that’s really the most important thing, isn’t it?

I feel very strongly about this core idea of setting and attaining goals — and the goal-setting project I’ve begun to that end. In fact, I’ve tentatively named the group “The Goaltenders.” I’ll continue mentoring the participants, and we’ll meet monthly to track everyone’s progress. Look for updates about how the Goaltenders are doing in future issues of The Palm Beach Letter.

 

About the Editor: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes thePalm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.
HEALTHY

Breaking the Addiction to Your Phone

From The Atlantic

Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google, is the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience. As the co‑founder of Time Well Spent, an advocacy group, he is trying to bring moral integrity to software design: essentially, to persuade the tech world to help us disengage more easily from its devices.

While some blame our collective tech addiction on personal failings, like weak willpower, Harris points a finger at the software itself. That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.”

“You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.” In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us.

Read about Harris’ movement to rally product designers to adopt a “Hippocratic oath” for software that would check the practice of “exposing people’s psychological vulnerabilities.”

 

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How To Face Your Problems

“Set your alarm to go off 10 minutes earlier than usual. By getting a 10-minute earlier start, you tend to remove the ‘urgency’ many of us experience as soon as we wake up. You’ll feel less harried, less hurried and a bit more peaceful.” – Gary Halbert

How to Tackle Your Problems Head On (4 Steps)

By Leo Babauta
We are, all of us, amazing at avoiding things.

Our minds are less “thinking machines” than they are “avoiding machines.” And the incredible thing is that we aren’t even usually aware that we’re avoiding thinking about something.

I’ll give you a few examples:

  • Right now you’re reading this article but probably avoiding the difficult thing you don’t want to think about.
  • We are constantly checking messages, news, feeds, notifications … to avoid doing something we don’t want to face.
  • When we’re facing difficulties in life, we try to tell ourselves that’s it’s OK because (fill in the blank), or get busy with some activity or numbing agent (like alcohol) so we don’t have to face the difficulties.
  • When a problem comes up, our reaction is to want to go do something else, put it off.
  • We put off paying bills, doing taxes, dealing with long emails, dealing with clutter, because we don’t want to face these difficulties.
  • We put off exercise because it’s uncomfortable.

In fact, there are thousands more examples, every day, that come up and that we don’t even notice, because our minds switch to thinking about something else.

Try this right now: pause for a minute and think about what difficulty you’re avoiding thinking about right now.

You will either notice a difficulty you don’t like, or your mind will quickly turn to doing something else before the minute is up.

What you’ve done is part of what I call the Face Everything Technique … which I’ll explain in a minute, after we talk about why avoiding everything is an ineffective strategy.

Avoidance Doesn’t Work

Our minds want to run from whatever discomfort, pain, difficulty we’re facing … and this is a good strategy for temporarily not having to deal with difficulty and pain. So in the present moment, we might feel some temporary relief.

But what it does is relegate us to a life of running. A life of distraction and never facing what ails us. We keep ourselves busy, but never learn to deal with what’s inside us, what’s in front of us.

This means we are at the mercy of our fears, of our discomforts. We are like little children who don’t want to do any hard work, but want the latest shiny fun thing.

This results in not working on the important work (or at least putting it off until it starts to get painful). The same is true of exercise, healthy eating, finances, clutter, relationships, and more.

In the end, we usually have to deal with these things, but they’ve just gotten worse. It would have been better to face them early on, when they weren’t such a big deal.

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The Face Everything Technique

This technique is based on the idea that it’s better to be aware of things, and to deal with them like an adult, instead of running.

And if we do, none of it’s that big of a deal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create awareness by asking, “What am I doing right now?” Throughout the day, set reminders or put little notes that remind you to ask, “What am I doing right now?” The answer might be, “Checking Facebook,” or “Switching to a new browser tab,” or “Eating some chips.” Something simple and mundane like that, but just ask yourself what you’re doing, to start to bring awareness.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding?” When things get difficult or uncomfortable, we automatically switch to something else. We run. We avoid, like crazy. You’re doing it all day long, but not realizing it. Ask what you’re avoiding: some fear, some difficult task, some difficult emotion, some discomfort, or just staying present in the current moment? Name what you’re avoiding.
  3. Now face it. Just stay with this fear, discomfort, difficulty, in the present moment. Not your story about it that you’re telling yourself in your head, but the actual physical feeling in your body in the present moment. How bad is it? You’ll find that it’s No Big Deal. Stay with it for a little longer. And a little longer after that — challenge yourself.
  4. Take appropriate action. Now that you’ve faced it and have seen that it’s not such a big deal, you can act like an adult rather than a little child: you can decide what the best action is right now. If you’re afraid of doing some task, but you’ve faced it and seen that the fear is not such a big deal … you can remind yourself that the task will benefit you and others, and is much more important than your little fear. If you’re avoiding a difficult conversation with someone because you’re angry, you can see that the anger and offense is not such a big deal, and you can talk to the person calmly and appropriately, with empathy and compassion, and figure out a solution.

Of course, not all problems will just evaporate using this method, but I can tell you that you’ll be able to face many more things as you practice this method. You’ll get better at dealing with discomfort, instead of running from it as most people do. You’ll get better at not procrastinating, and doing uncomfortable tasks. You’ll be more present and more willing to stay in the moment rather than needing distractions all the time. Not overnight, but with practice.

You might have the urge to dismiss this article, to avoid practicing this technique. That too is avoidance, and I urge you to face it this moment.

About the Author: Leo Babauta is the owner of ZenHabits.net, a website devoted to providing clear and concise wisdom on how to simplify your life. He’s also the author of, “The Power of Less.”

Tip To Loss Weight

HEALTHY

How Walking May Be Your Key to Weight Loss

By Missi Holt

Here are 7 points to remind you of the Power of Walking:

  • It’s Easy and Natural: The human body is designed for daily movement. It is essential for optimal physiological function and contributes to total health and wellbeing. Walking is one of the most fundamental movement patterns requiring coordinated and integrated use of our arms, torso, and legs. If you’re doing nothing, this is an obvious place to start. It can be done just about anywhere – no equipment needed.
  • It Helps You Avoid Constipation, Indigestion, and Illness: Each of these undesirable states keeps your system sluggish, pulling energy away from your potential healing and weight release. Walking involves rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the muscles stimulating a cascade of positive effects that mobilize and massage internal organs (aids digestion and assimilation of nutrients), support lymph fluid movement (removal of toxins), and boost immune system function.

    Click here for 5 more reasons why you should start walking more.

The Truth About Luck and Success

“I shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me. Or I can be lost in the maze. My choice. My responsibility. Win or lose; only I hold the key to my destiny.” – Og Mandino
 
 
The Truth About Luck and Success
 
By Craig Ballantyne
Luck has been in my corner since day one back in 1975.

I was extraordinarily lucky to be born in Canada into a lower-middle class family. Lucky enough to have been educated in the years of the first home computer, to have come of age with the first Internet generation, and to have stumbled across Internet Marketing before everyone and their uncle knew about it.

When I was a child I was also lucky enough to have an alcoholic, underachieving, embarrassing father who gave me the first chip on my shoulder, one that compelled me to work harder, achieve more, and go further so that I could escape his shadow.

I was also lucky my mother had dropped out of high school and spent the rest of her life working for barely more than the minimum wage, never earning more than $28,000 in a year (an amount that I’ve made in a single day on several occasions). I was lucky, because of her mistakes, that she would never let me make the same ones.

And boy was I lucky to have went to grade school with patches on my knees, for this caused me great embarrassment and instilled in me the drive to do better, to excel in school, to get into the best program in college, to make the Dean’s Honor List three years in a row, to get accepted into a Master’s program, and to study until 10 p.m. on weekends so I could earn a scholarship to help me pay for 6 years of post-secondary education — so that I’d never feel embarrassed like that again.

It’s as though I’ve had a horseshoe made out of rabbit’s feet around my neck for these past thirty years.

I’ve also been lucky to make friends with entrepreneurs like Bedros Keuilian, a real-life American Dream. Bedros was lucky to have been born in Armenia (then part of the Soviet Union) and to have a father that gambled his family’s safety by bribing their way out of the USSR so they could arrive virtually penniless in America (legally).

Bedros was also lucky enough to arrive in America in 1980 without being able to speak a lick of English. He was fortunate that his family was so poor that he had to dumpster-dive behind grocery stores for food.

Without this luck, Bedros wouldn’t have the burning desire that has allowed him to succeed and create a better life. He calls this The Immigrant Edge, and claims it to be his secret weapon for success.

“Craig,” he often says to me, “My kids will never have to spend an hour of their lives in daycare thanks to my luck.”

And I’m lucky enough to be friends with Matt Smith, another lucky young man from my generation who, like me, grew up with a disappointment of a dad and a mother that spent the little money she had to take care of her children.

Among Matt’s lucky childhood experiences was the night when his mother scraped together a few dollars for a special Friday dinner of take-out pizza. That night, the Smiths were lucky to have mistakenly left the pizza on top of the car as they drove away. The pizza fell off the car’s roof into the middle of a busy intersection — where car after car drove over it — and this was a lucky break for Matt.

Why?

Because the Smiths’ had no money to go and buy a replacement pizza. And so Matt will forever remember that night — and that feeling — as something he will never want to experience again. It’s just another lucky motivator in his drive to do better and succeed so that his children won’t have to experience that great fortune.

That kind of luck leaves a burning desire that NOTHING — certainly not a life of iPhones,  TV’s in every room of the house, unending after-school activities, or 24/7 Internet and cable TV access — could ever top.

My luck continues. I’m fortunate to know Isabel De Los Rios, one of the world’s most successful nutrition experts, who herself was lucky enough to spend almost a decade as an unhealthy, overweight, and unhappy young woman, so that she could truly understand the troubles that her millions of female clients go through.

Isabel was also lucky enough to be downright broke when she applied to my Mastermind Group in 2008, having to borrow the money from her fiancé. Her luck caused her to work harder than almost any other person I’ve ever coached. This has allowed her to pull herself up from financial distress and into a business where today she has over 1,000,000 customers that have been lucky enough to get Isabel’s help as they change their lives.

Finally, we’ve all been lucky enough to learn from Michael Masterson, our mentor that was lucky enough to grow up in a poor household of ten children. He was lucky enough to have so little that it drove him to become the entrepreneur and mentor that we all came to know through Early to Rise.

This is the luckiest group of individuals you might ever meet. We were lucky to have had the experiences we did because they taught us so much and drove us to great action. Without our setbacks, what would we have achieved? We have been part of the luckiest generations to have ever lived.

What about your luck? Have you lucked out and been fortunate to have gone through similar struggles? Have you been given the inspiration to work harder than ever, to explore new opportunities to take control of your future, and that drive you towards financial independence? Are you one of the fortunate ones that were not born with a silver spoon so that you could learn the importance of adding value to the world in exchange for a fair return? Have you been lucky enough to fail again and again?

Never forget that failure isn’t bad. Failure isn’t final. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving the success you deserve. If you’re struggling, keep hustling. Keep taking at least one big action step each day.

Failure is good luck. Just listen to these experts.

“Problems are in your life so that you can discover potentials that you didn’t even know you had.” – Barry Michels

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” – Zig Ziglar

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” – Napolean Hill

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

“Everybody in your situation has the same choice: you can rue your situation or you can dedicate yourself to changing it. Accept responsibility for your future. Refuse to complain, criticize, or condemn. If you want us to help you achieve your goals, then trust in and follow our advice. Stop doubting it. Stop denying it. Have faith.” – Mark Ford

I can only hope you’ve been as lucky as I have over the years. And the old saying is true, you know, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” So take that luck that you get and press it. Keep on pushing. It only gets easier from here.