You never know how your year is going to go. I often try to predict mine, and my predictions are usually nowhere close to what actually happens. Nearly inevitably, though, I make a bunch of progress in one way or another. If that wasn't the case, major alarm bells would be ringing. Major major alarm bells.
Setbacks happen to everyone. It is totally possible that something so major happened to you that you were unable to make progress. I know people who have gotten cancer or have lost a close family member or something like that. Yes, those and others are reasons that you could have justifiably not made progress in a year.
If nothing like that has happened to you, and you haven't made progress on things that are important, it's time to ring the bell.
So the alarm bell is rung. What can you do about it? First is the hard part—admitting that you are doing something wrong. None of us want to believe that. We all want to think that we're doing everything right and that eventually it will all work out... but sometimes we're not. If you haven't made progress in a year, the odds that you're doing something fundamentally wrong are huge.
First I'd check fundamentals. They're not sexy, but the difficulty of doing things right if your sleep, diet, and habits are way off is multiplied. Spend a week and get those things back to reasonable.
Then look at where your time and effort are going. That examination should begin with a heavy bias towards assuming they are being misspent. Maybe you will eliminate every other possible scenario and realize that you are on the right track but have had a number of totally random setbacks. Probably not, though. Go in assuming that you are spending your time and focus incorrectly.
What are your goals? The ones that matter and have massive leverage on your life? Are those the ones you're working on? Lots of people are scared of failure or success, so they work on other goals.
Are you actually working on the most direct plan of attack towards your biggest most important goals? You wouldn't believe some of the obscure roundabout ways in which people approach their goals. Don't sneak up on them, hit them will a full frontal assault.
Identify which parts of you are getting in your way. Not external circumstances, not bad luck, not the natural obstacles we all have. How are you getting in your own way? Are you giving too much of your time away? Are you allowing yourself to be distracted? Are you spending all the money you're earning? Do you sabotage every relationship you enter into?
Humans have an impressive ability to minimize our own contributions and magnify external factors. Don't allow yourself to do that, or you are simple converting yourself into a passive bystander in your own life. Control the factors you can, exert massive pressure on them, and trust that the factors outside of your control will pale in comparison to your actions.
Whether you think life is short or long, a year is a nice chunk of time. You can do a lot in a year. If a year passes and you haven't gotten closer to what's important to you, it's time to make some adjustments.
Photo is the insane view at sunrise on E'mei Mountain in China. I think as westerners we tend to overlook some of the incredible beauty of China.
Just hit 200 days in a row of completing the NY Times Crossword puzzle on the day it comes out with no hints or cheating. It's still one of my favorite joys in life.
I'm going to be doing another Superhuman event soon. Maybe November/December, or early 2019 if that's too hard of a time for people to travel. Email me if you want to be involved in the scheduling, otherwise an announcement will come soon when I see what days work best for the most people.
I am reading your blog for a year and this is my favorite article so far. I am surprised there aren't more comments on this gem. The path to success you outlined is extremely simple, but not easy:
Step 1: Fix your fundamentals (diet, exercise, meditation, sleep).
Step 2: Critically analyze your current resource allocation in terms of time, money and energy.
Step 3: Ask yourself: What's my main goal in life? Be honest with yourself.
Step 4: Reallocate your resources accordingly.
Step 5: Identify current and potential roadblocks, which are holding you back.
Step 6: Execute towards the goal without sabotaging yourself.
Rinse and repeat. It's a process you can always come back to in case you get distracted. I moved to Medellín recently and I did the rookie mistake of throwing the fundamentals (healthy food, regular exercise, meditation, etc.) out of the window for the first two weeks and as a result my output went downhill rapidly. I just had to correct my habits and I was back on track again. The important part is that you are mindful enough to recognize when you are going off track.
I also think people don't give themselves enough time to succeed. One year is a nice time frame to work towards a goal. It seems that your coaching is based on these principles and it's nice to read some inside baseball about your coaching methodology. Keep up the good work!
This post really resonated with me. After reading Tim Grahl’s Running Down a Dream a few weeks ago (where he tracks his time to see where it’s all going, because he’s not making progress, even when he feels he should be) I started tracking my time 2 weeks ago.
Oh, boy. It is without a doubt the single best change I have made in my life.
I’m a private music tutor by day, and I love it, but there are other things that are important to me (my own original music, writing fiction, starting my own music teaching business) that I am making no progress on, year after year. One period of 6 weeks at the end of 2016 (dangerously ill fiancée) is the only legitimate reason I have had for not making progress in the last 3 years or so - I couldn’t work on anything. The rest of the time I just plain didn’t.
The last two weeks have been so fucking eye opening. The main change has been that Ive stopped pulling my phone out of my pocket compulsively, usually to Google something I don’t truly need to know at that second, to check email, or just to look busy. I would often do it whilst in the middle of a more important activity, but now that I have to write down every time I do something, I seem to have automatically cut a lot of the bullshitty things out of my day.
And as a consequence, I’ve started to make genuine progress on what I feel are important things to me.
Love your work man, my life wouldn’t be the same without it.
I'm always amazed at just how much happens in a year. At the end of each year, grateful for a gimme topic to write about, I sit down to write this post. And each time my first thought is, "Yeah, but not that much happened this year." Then I go through my archive for the year and look at the titles of my posts, and I realize that the previous year's farewell post seems to have been forever ago, and that tons has happened since then.
Some quick highlights of the year:
1. I bought an island with nine great friends. I've already written about this ad naseum, but it's one of those ridiculous life goals that you hope might actually come true, worry that it might be too farfetched, and then is every bit as good as you had hoped when realized. I'm really grateful to all of the people bought in and trusted me to make it happen, and for the sellers who were great to work with. This upcoming year is going to be an exciting one for the island.
2. We made some huge progress on Sett. We opened it up to the public and now have over 4500 blogs hosted, growing at a steady 10% per week. We're still in our infancy, but I'm really proud of the platform we've built, and I'm humbled every day by the great blog posts people host with us. Even if your only interaction with Sett has been reading my blog, you've been a part of the process, and I'm grateful for that.
It's particularly challenging with tasks that require intense bursts of time and energy. Coding, writing, inteking strange new behaviors and worldviews. These are things that require intense focus, energy, and enthusiasm and just the right mental state. That can be very hard to maintain, and in fact, is often not even beneficial to maintain in other areas of your life that you have a higher degree of mastery and require less arousal to reach your optimal performance. So I think it's natural to fall into and out of this "high-energy" mode, which many of us associate with exponential productivity.
But there are some easy traps to fall into here.
One of the biggest is ignoring the skill of putting yourself in this mode at will. There is not actually a magic genie in your walls. You need to be able to say, tomorrow morning I have time to write, and I will write, and a part of that is getting yourself into "the zone." If you are failing to get yourself into "the zone," then you need to step back and work on that skill independently. Maybe that means re-awakening your original inspiration (thinking about all the people you will help with this book) or maybe it is preparing your vessel (low-fat, high fiber diet the day before, 6 hours of sleep, wake up, run, then get right to work... or whatever ritual ends up working). But these are factors that need to be evaluated.
I think another big one is denial. Thinking that you can maintain this state longer than you can, physio/psychologically or just within the constraints of the rest of your life. It's important to "pump yourself up" to the very high levels necessary to achieve your goals. It's also important to deal with the realities and interruptions and diversions of life as they come, then be able to return to that state.
Anyway, with regard to myself and my major goals, this week was largely a wash.