What's the most important thing on which you could spend your time right now? Really think about it, don't just keep skimming. Maybe it's a work thing, maybe it's an errand, maybe it's spending time with someone important, maybe it's finally starting a new important habit. Or maybe you don't know?
It's not always obvious what you should be doing, especially when you consider multiple areas of life at once. How do you compare investing in a relationship to building your business?
Before you can know what your most important thing is, you must know what's important to you. That's not as easy as it sounds, because we've all been influenced so much by society that it's hard to know what we care about and what we're just expected to care about.
If you don't know what you actually want and why, it will not be motivating enough for you to get it, so there's no point in trying. For a long time I wanted to build a big company. Why? No idea, really. It's what you're supposed to do when you're in tech, but I had no personal connection with the goal, so it never happened.
Once you figure out what it is you really want, ask yourself if there's a better way to get it than to go down the path you're planning on going down. Maybe you want to be rich so that you can travel all of the time. But do you really need to be rich to do that, or is there any easier way? For example, I wanted to be rich to buy an island, but then figured out how to do it without going through the hassle of getting rich first.
It's easiest to commit to a task when you know that the end result is something that you really want, and that you're on the most efficient path towards it. If you have a vague purposeless goal and haven't thought about the best way to get it, it is very difficult to find the most important task to work on.
Once you've committed to a path towards a goal that matters, think about what could happen which would most effectively bring that goal closer. If you wanted to be a photographer because that would allow you to have the best lifestyle you can imagine, maybe having a great portfolio would be the biggest leap forward. Or maybe it's getting a good camera. Or making friends with an instagram model who would promote you.
When you figure out what that thing is, come up with a daily task that will guarantee that you get there eventually. If you can't think of one, choose the next biggest leap you could make and come up with a daily task for that.
So if you needed to make a great portfolio, maybe your daily task would be to take and edit 10 photos, compare them to the best 50 photos you have now, and replace any of those 50 with any new ones that were better. If you did that for a year, your portfolio would be the top 1.5% of the 3650 photos you took in a year. I'm not a good photographer, but I bet I'd have a pretty good portfolio if I did this.
The important factor here is that there's a chain of accountability linking your goal to your daily task. You know why you want to be a photographer, you know what you can do to give yourself the biggest advantage, and then you know what you can do every day to ensure that you gain that advantage.
Then you just do that one thing every day. Almost no one finds it easy to do the most important thing every day, but this process will make it as easy as possible. And, of course, this isn't the only thing you do all day. You might have several most important things for different areas of life. Or you may take 50 photos one day because you're in the zone. Or you can just use the rest of your time working on other useful stuff because at least you know that the number one thing is getting handled no matter what.
I love having bursts of inspiration and hardcore productivity days/weeks/months. There's nothing like the feeling of making major progress in a short period of time. But the best way to ensure long term progress is to come up with a daily most important task that guarantees making huge progress on your most important task. It's not a comprehensive life strategy, but it's part of one.
Photo is a cool platter for serving fish that I saw at the Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon
I'm thrilled that Tynan is coming to you with two things -- first, he's offering a breakthrough session through GiveGetWin. It's geared around doing more of the kind of excellent work you want to do, becoming more internally focused with your emotions, having a more enjoyable life, building great habits, and producing a lot of value in the process. There's five spots, so check it out now.
Second, we have this wonderful tour-de-force interview: it starts by covering how Tynan made the shift from unfocused to focused, how to derive internal enjoyment from things, useful actionable exercises you can do right now, Tynan's method and mindset for producing creative work consistently, how to set up great habits and an excellent mental and physical work environment, and how to make blogging work and similar endeavors work for you.
Total Focus; Total Enjoyment by Tynan, as told to Sebastian Marshall
When I turned 30 and I had a minor freak out… I thought, "I'll be 40 in not long, and then 50… there's things I want to do in my life, and they're not happening at this pace."
Before that, I had a general idea of things I wanted to do and have in my life, but I went about in an unstructured way. It was good in a lot of ways. It made be a broad process, but not much depth.
Edit: I gave up on financial goals in late 2011 after some huge financial and artistic wins... money shouldn't be taken too seriously. For the record, they were all basically on track, some were being massively exceeded, others were a bit behind schedule, but were all happening.
I set my next 10 years of financial goals on June 28th. That was exactly a month ago.
1 year - Critical Thinking [my first book] out. Blog income trickling. Some info products. Some freelancing. Something else, some X-Factor thing bringing in cash. Net monthly income positive. Health insurance. $50,000 in the bank. Expenses = income per month minimum.
3 years - 3 to 5 books out, many products out, blog income robust, some working on big exciting deals. $10,000 per month total, $5000 passive at least. First property owned. $300,000 in the bank.
5 years - 7-10 books out, many many products out, many passive income internet properties, working on big exciting things, $50,000 per month total, $40,000 passive at least. $1,000,000 in the bank.