Written by: Leo Babauta
Revised by: Jonathan Zayan
We have all been there: we have signed up for the gym, signed up for a class, bought an eBook… and then not used it.
We had hopes of learning how to draw, to program, to play a musical instrument… and then, promptly failed to do so.
Our plans fall apart. We fail to live up to our hopes. Why is this? What’s wrong with us?
4 Key Obstacles:
1. We are overly optimistic. We think that we are going to be able to do about 2-5 times more than what we can actually do. We only have so much energy, only so much time in the day; we are not very good at estimating any of those. We think that things are going to take way less time than they will actually take. Optimism beats us every time.
2. We do not account for the little things. This goes hand-in-hand with the optimism, but when we are thinking about our plans, we do not think about all the tiny things, like maintenance tasks, that need to be done in order to accomplish our plans … or even just to live. We don’t think about showering, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, cooking, eating, cleaning up, doing laundry, driving, getting gas, answering a thousand and two emails, taking phone calls, using the bathroom, and so on. We are not wired to be able to calculate all of that.
3. We fail in the face of resistance. When we have the choice to focus on what we hoped to focus on, or do some busywork or go to one of our comfortable distractions… resistance comes up. Our habitual, conditioned, response is to shy away from the resistance. Sometimes we have the motivation to overcome it but, most times we put things off because, beating the resistance is not easy.
4. We do not have the right environment. A big part of whether we succeed at overcoming the resistance is whether we have an environment that’s conducive to keeping us on task. An example is: if we are part of a team, and they are counting on us to get a project done by the end of the day then, we will be more motivated to overcome resistance because, we do not want to let others down. Let’s say that no one will know if we procrastinate for an entire day then, we are less likely to get things done. If people in our lives are actively against us taking a class or learning an instrument, we are less likely to do it. Accountability, supportive people, and the presence of distractions are some key parts of the environment that we are in.
These obstacles affect everyone; there is not a single person who is immune to these problems.
So what can we do? It turns out there are Four Solutions to the Key Obstacles, and some of them are going to seem obvious now that we have identified the causes.
4 Solutions to Key Obstacles:
If you want to actually put gym pass to use, complete your personal project, or read that eBook you bought, then here are four suggestions that are powerful for accomplishing your goals:
1. Know that you probably only have 3-4 hours a day of productive time to complete projects, work, read books, and to learn. The rest of our time is spent sleeping, eating, personal maintenance, transportation, meetings, calls, email, distractions, shopping, cooking, errands, taking care of kids, and hanging with friends.
2. Block out what you can do in that time. Exercise, writing, reading, learning, and a few important tasks.
Now cut out half of those. The things you want to do are going to take twice as long as you hope. If you have some time left over, then use it to complete the tasks that you cut out. If you want more productive time, cut out some distractions like TV, and social media.
3. Set up a good environment for each project that you want to complete. Have some accountability and someone who will be supportive, even if that means finding someone online. Set deadlines and have people who count on you to get your project done. Go somewhere for 30 minutes where you will not have any distractions.
4. When you are ready to focus on the thing you hope to get done, face the resistance; instead of running from it, stare it in the face. Know your deeper reason for wanting to get this done, and remember that this reason is worth facing the resistance and pushing on despite that discomfort. -Get Comfortable with being uncomfortable-
You can understand how long it actually takes you to do certain task, and you can have clear visual goals by using the Serenity Schedule app. By using the app, I have found time to start a company, run it, and to create this blog series. Hopefully these tips have helped, and you are on your way to achieving your goals.
Want to reach your full potential? Sign up now for Serenity Schedule.