Short – term goal vs long – term goal: which is better? – the third part

When it comes to goal setting, have you ever thought about if the goals you set are short-term or the long-term? And how are they going to affect you and your life? Short – term goal vs long – term goal: which is better?

In my opinion, both the short-term and long-term goals are important, and we need to set our goals in both time frame in order to move forward and live a better and more fulfilling life.

Short-term goals are anything that you want to achieve within a year, while long-term goals are the things that you want to achieve after that.

Long-term goals can be anything ranging from a year to ten or even twenty years. They may be vague, but that is exactly what long-term goals are meant to be – to serve as a vision for your future.

On the other hand, the short-term goals can range from weeks and months. Usually, most people will set their short-term goals within months. For example, to lose 10 pounds within 3 months.

Both types of goals have their own functionality, benefits, and drawbacks. And in order to achieve the goals you truly desire, learning how they work can be a great help because once you understood their powers, you can leverage them and unleash the true power of goal setting.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

1. Specificity vs vagueness

One of the best advantages of setting short-term goals is that they are short, meaning to say that you will be able to see the results faster. It is more like a result-based goal than a future-based goal.

A short-term goal is powerful when you are extremely specific and you understand exactly what it is that you want. For instance, if you want to lose 10 pounds within 3 months, you know exactly what you need to do and how to do it.

You can hit the gym twice and jog three times a day, and watch your consumption of unhealthy food and control your diet. If you are able to follow your plan, then your chance of achieving your short-term goal will be high.

Short-term goals are usually straightforward and they are crystal clear. Plus, highly likely, you already know the how-to and have a rough idea of what to do to accomplish them.

On the other hand, long-term goals can be vague. This is because you have to imagine the things that you want years into the future. And this creates vagueness. Long-term goals can never be specific because anything can happen as the time progresses forward. You can never guarantee what your future can be like, right?

Although you can have a clear direction in life, when it comes to envisioning your life ten or twenty years down the road, it may still be a challenging task.

2. Results vs motivation

Short-term goals are good in getting you the results you want because they are specific and can be achieved within months. They give you the results you want faster and you are able to act on them immediately.

Long-term goals are totally different. Long-term goals are not really about the result, they are more about your motivation.

For instance, when you think about driving the dream car, living in your dream house, and traveling overseas, you feel excited, and these are long-term goals.

Long-term goals are good motivators because they allow you to imagine the future life that you want. You can visualize and see yourself living your dream lifestyle and enjoying all the fun.

Short-term goals are completely opposite because short-term goals focus on getting the results. When you stand on the weighing machine and see yourself losing 0.5 or 1 pound, yes, you may feel great and satisfied, but the result is still far from reaching the final target that you want.

This makes short-term goals less impactful when it comes to motivation. Let me ask you, do you think that earning additional $1,000 (short-term) sounds more excited, or do you think earning $10 million (long-term), running your own business, be your own boss, and living your dream life sound more excited? You know the answer.

3. Viability vs creativity

One of the major drawbacks for short-term goals is that they are specific and the time frame you have to achieve them are relatively short, they limit your creativity.

They are not giving you enough time and space to think outside the box and to do something different. This forces you to think about the current resources you have at hand rather than helping you come up with a long-term plan to achieve your ultimate goals.

Conversely, long-term goals encourage you to think outside the box and do something different. This is because long-term goals are usually way bigger and bolder; hence, they force you to think creatively and outside the box.

Let me give you a great example. Usually, for people who set a short-term goal, they may ask, “How can I make $100,000 this year?” However, if you focus on the long-term, you may ask, “How can I make $100 million in 10 years?”

Can you see the difference? Short-term goals limit your thinking to what lies in front of you. And they are usually less bold because there is only so much you can do within a year or even months.

Bill Gates has a great quote about goals, he says:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”.

4. Effectiveness vs purposeful

Having short-term goals can be very effective. This is because you already know what to do and you can go through each day without wasting much time figuring out what to do. Short-term goals make you more effective and they help you in getting things done.

This is because short-term goals are more task-specific. You can break down the entire goal into actionable tasks. For example, filing your tax return or hitting the gym.

On the other hand, long-term goals may not be as effective as the short-term ones, but long-term goals are purposeful. Meaning to say that they decide the direction you are heading in life.

It can be an extremely challenging task if you want to break down your long-term goal say your twenty-year vision into actionable pieces. However, you already have a long-term vision and have a rough idea of what you want in the future, long-term goals give you a glimpse of what you want on the long road.

How to make the best of both short and long term goals?

Now that you understand the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of short-term and long-term goals, what should you do?

Should you set the long-term goals only and ignore the other, or should you do otherwise?

Obviously, we need to have both long-term and short-term goals to help us in our journey to success.

We need long-term goals to set a clear direction where we are heading in life and we need short-term goals to focus on our day-to-day operation.

The problem is that most people have only the long-term goals. They dream about what they want, but they never bring those goals into a solid plan where they can execute in the short-term.

There are also people who never want to think far into the future because they have succumbed to life and believe that whatever they do, they are not destined for success. And hence, they only have short-term goals that make them productive but may not be traveling in the right direction.

Working hard on the wrong thing is one of the worst things that can happen to you.

This is why you need to have long-term goals to ensure that you are efficient in working at the right thing, and short-term goals to make sure that you are being effective in getting things done.


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If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

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Long – term goals vs short – term goals – second part

By now, you know why goal setting is important. But, where do you start? How do you set goals and make your life a better place?

Long – term goals vs short – term goals? Let’s start with long-term goal setting.

Long-term goals are targets that you plan to achieve over the long-term, for example, 5 years and above.

Long-term goals are usually goals that are over 5 years, while short-term goals are goals that can range from days, weeks, months, and even up to a year or two.

There is no such thing as which one is more important than the other. I believe that you need both long and short-term goals in order to unleash your potential and achieve the best success.

How to set long – term goals?

Long-term goals are your intention for the future. How do you see yourself living in the next 10 years? Where would you be? What will you be doing?

The $100 million question?

This technique is simple and it is one of my favorite daydreaming techniques. Just ask yourself this question:

If you have $100 million in your bank account right now, what will you do?

Many people are pursuing money and financial freedom because they lack financial stability. Plus, they think that when they have all the money in the world, they can then go on to live the life they want.

Now, what if you take away the financial limitation and you’re allowed to live your perfect life at this instant? What if you have a hundred million dollars in the bank? What would you do?

You want to really daydream and think about all the possibilities. How are you going to live your life? What are you going to do with all the money? Below are some questions to consider:

  • Are you going to distribute the money? How?
  • Will you share a portion with your family members?
  • Are you going to donate some to the charity?
  • Now that you have $100 million, will you still work in the same company you used to work for?
  • Are you going to start a business? What business?
  • Will you take a vacation to Hawaii or visit Hokkaido in Japan?
  • Will you visit the car showroom tomorrow and buy yourself your dream car?
  • Are you going to start a blog and share with the world your travel experience?
  • Do you want to become a YouTuber and an online celebrity?
  • Will you continue to stay where you are or move to another city or remote location?
  • Will you still cook yourself dinner because you love doing it or are you going to hire someone to do it?

The key is to get the financial constraint out of your life. People often don’t dare to dream or set big goals because they are not financially well off. And because they don’t dare to dream big.

They choose to think about their future based on their current situation. And this limits your potential.

So, imagine money isn’t an issue, what will you do? How will you live your life? How your future is going to be like?

Begin with the end in mind!

The second technique is about beginning with the end. It is about reverse engineering your life from the end to the now.

In his best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey shared this idea as one of the 7 habits. I recommend you read this book.

To show you how to begin with the end in mind, I want to share with you a real-life example of a highly successful entrepreneur who practiced this principle and went on to build a multi-billion dollars business empire. His name is Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM.

Here’s a speech from Thomas Watson where he explained how he began with the end in mind and brought IBM to a successful international business:

“IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream — my vision — was in place.

The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.

The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.

In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.

From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference.

Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not doing business.

We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one”.

Speech from Thomas J. Watson

So, begin with the end. What end do you want to create?

How to set short – term goals?

Now that you have your long-term goals and you roughly what kind of future you want to create. It is time to turn your long-term goals into your short-term targets so that you can focus on them and work on them.

How to set SMARTER goals?






To set SMARTER goals, you just need to remember these 7 key attributes:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Actionable

R – Risky

T – Time bound

E – Exciting

R – Relevant

This is how it works…

S – Specific

Yes, you want to be specific with your goals. You don’t want to be vague.

When you give a vague order to your mind, you can’t execute it because your mind doesn’t know exactly what outcome you’re looking to achieve.

For example, “to learn photography” is a vague goal.

Instead of saying setting your goal to learn photography, state it in a more specific manner, such as “to finish photography course.”

Now, that is more specific, isn’t it?

M – Measurable

Make your goals measurable. You cannot achieve something you can’t measure.

Take losing weight as an example. How do you know if you have achieved your goal?

You can’t unless you know what your weight is before and after. This is why you need to make your goals measurable.

Make it quantifiable. Include a number to your goals so that you can measure and track them.

Don’t say that your goal is to invest in the stocks market this year. Make it measurable.

How much money do you want to put into your investment portfolio? How much do you want to invest by the end of the year?

That’s being measurable.

A – Actionable

I believe you have heard about this over and over again, you have to make your goals actionable.

This is where most people set the wrong goals and fail to create the results they want.

Setting a goal like “to be happy” or “to make more money” doesn’t help. They are vague and they are not actionable.

Actionable goals are something you ACT on – something you can DO to get it done.

For instance, don’t set a goal like “to build a profitable blog”, instead, make it actionable.

Your goal can be like “write and publish 1,000 words articles every Monday and Thursday.”

Building a profitable blog isn’t actionable.

It is not something you can act on. But writing and publishing article is.

And when you focus on writing and publishing good quality content on your blog, eventually, you will have built a profitable blog.

Can you relate to that now?

When your goals are actionable, your mind knows what it needs to do.

R – Risky

Yes, your goals need to be a little risky. Your goals need to be risky because you want to force yourself to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where growth happens.

If your goals are not something risky, or if they are something easy to do, you’ll never feel the motivation.

Just like how the Goldilocks’ Rule works, when something is too easy, you don’t feel motivated to do it.

And when something is too difficult to do, you feel uncomfortable and you don’t want to do it.

And the solution is to make the difficulty level just nice.

This is why your goals need to be risky.

T – Time bound

Again, you have heard this a gazillion times. Your goals need to have a deadline.

Without having a time frame for when you want your goals to happen, you will take forever to achieve them.

Plus, having a deadline makes you feel the pressure. It drives you to achieve the goal.

You can’t say that you want to lose weight someday, or you want to be successful someday.

When is that “someday”? Is it the end of the year? Is it next year?

Hence, have deadlines for all your goals.

E – Exciting

If your goals are not exciting to you, guess what will happen? You will only work on them and pursue them when you’re feeling like it. And when you don’t feel like it, you will never want to work on them.

Your goals are not exciting, so why bother pursuing them and working on them, right?

This is why a lot of people procrastinate on their goals and they choose to do something else that is more comfortable rather than working on their goals.

Set goals that you look forward to achieving that you wake up each morning and can’t help but to think about them.

Make your goals exciting. Make them something you want to achieve right now.

R – Relevant

This is where you want to make your goals connect with your purpose. You want to make them relevant to you and your life.

You see, when you set a goal that isn’t relevant or isn’t something that you wanted, you will never have the inner drive to achieve it.

In the working world, many people hate their jobs. They don’t like what they do. They choose to leave the office on time because they want to enjoy their lives. Their work isn’t something they want.

For most people, they work because of the salary. They want to survive, to pay bills, and to put food on the table. Hence, they feel like they have been forced to work.

This is why most people don’t want to improve themselves in their careers and their workplace.

It is irrelevant to them.

If you want your goals to be empowering, inspirational, and life-changing, you must make them relevant to you.

This is how you set SMARTER goals. Remember the 7 acronym and key attributes.

Use the principle of SMARTER goals to set your short-term goals.


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If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

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How to stay focused on your goals?

We have to face it! One of the most important reasons people fail to achieve their goals is that they fail to stay focused on course.

Steve Jobs knew this too. He took Apple from a company with hundreds of products to one with a simple 10 products when he returned to the company in 1998.

When you try to do too many things at the same time, you are spreading yourself too thin. More importantly, when it comes to achieving your goals, if you do not focus on them, you will be distracted and tend to do something else.

It happened to everyone. I know you feel and think the same way too. We tend to set a goal whether it is to lose weight or to work on our blogs, but at the end of the day, we lose our focus and we ended doing something else.

And when we remembered that we need to publish a post on our blog or exercise in the gym, it usually will be too late for us to do anything about it. Guess what happens after that, procrastinate. We choose to delay the work, to put it until tomorrow or someday later.

This is why focus is important. If you want to achieve your goals, you must stay focused and keep them in your mind at all times.

How to stay focused on your goals?

The Warren Buffett’s focus

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men in the world, has a personal airplane pilot, Mike Flint, who has worked for Buffett for over 10 years.

One day, Buffett jokingly said to Flint, “The fact that you’re still working for me tells me I’m not doing my job.”

So Flint asked billionaire Buffett for his advice on his career. While doing that, Buffett shared with him the importance of focus through an exercise of writing down his goals.

First, Buffett asked Flint to write down his top 25 goals in life. They can be anything that he wanted to achieve when he thinks about his career and success. So Flint follows Buffett’s advice and then wrote down his top 25 goals.

Next, Buffett asked Flint to review his list and choose his top 5 goals from the list of 25. These 5 goals should be things that were important to him and that he wanted the most. It was a tough time for Flint to decide on the top 5 goals, but at the end, he managed to come up with his top 5 goals.

At this point, Flint has had two lists, one was his top 5 goals and another was the 20 goals that he wrote down earlier.

Now, Buffett asked Flint when he planned to work on his top 5 goals and what was his plan. Flint said, “Warren, these are the most important things in my life right now. I’m going to get to work on them right away. I’ll start tomorrow. Actually, no I’ll start tonight.”

And then came the second list of 20 goals that Flint wrote down earlier. Buffett asked him what he should do about them. Flint said, “Well the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in at a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit as I’m getting through my top 5. They aren’t as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”

To which Buffett’s replied surprised Flint. Buffett told Flint:

“No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

Learn to stay focused on what you want?

If Warren Buffett emphasized so much on focus when it comes to goal setting, don’t you think that it is a principle that we all should learn? After all, Buffett is the real deal who has made billions from his businesses and investments.

In a nutshell, the focus is what gets the things done. The focus is what helps you achieve your goals and realize your dreams. Focus allows you to work in the flow and become more productive to perform better.

If you are not convinced and think that you should spread out yourself and try to accomplish everything, you are guaranteed to fail.

Take multitasking as an example, when you multitask, what actually happens in your brain is that you are switching your focus from one task to another. If you don’t believe me, try to read and talk at the same time. You can’t do that.

When you talk, you will stop reading. When you read, you will stop talking. This is especially true for works that require your full attention and creative power. This is why an accident happens when people try to use their phone while driving.

Human beings are not created to multitask, we are created to focus like a laser beam. When you focus all your concentration on one place, you can produce an outstanding result and perform with extraordinary effort. When you try to do two or more things simultaneously, you can never deliver world-class results.

Below are some effective and powerful techniques how you can stay focused on your goals. Use them wisely and apply them right after this.

No multitasking allowed

Like what I have just mentioned above, no multitasking is allowed. If you truly want to produce remarkable work, you need to focus and do only one thing at a time.

If you read the book, The Four Disciplines of Execution, the authors suggested you focus on JUST ONE or two goals (at maximum) at a time. The more you are trying to accomplish, the more you are not going to achieve.

More than a century ago, a lion tamer named Clyde Beatty brought in a chair into the circus ring, he would use the chair and a whip to tame the lion. Every time when we see a circus performance, the lion tamer holds a whip and we thought that the whip is what the lion scared of. However, the whip is just for show.

In reality, it is the chair that does the important work. When the tamer holds the chair with the four legs facing the lion, the lion tries to focus on all the four legs. This is what gets the lion distracted, confused, and not sure what to do next. When this happens, the lion will stay freeze and wait for the tamer to act.

This is what is happening when you are trying to multitask. You become the lion and try to focus on all four legs, not sure what to do and which leg to handle first.

The first thing you need to do is to avoid pursuing too many goals at the same time. Like what Buffett suggested his personal pilot Mike Flint to do, focus on the top 5 goals, and then ignore the rest.

Now, you don’t have to stop at just 5 goals, you should focus on just one goal. You have to identify the MOST important goal and concentrate all your energy to achieve it.

Once you have accomplished your one goal, you are free to set the next most important goal and work at your maximum to achieve it.

The to – do and not to – do!

It is normal for people to come up with a to-do list. In fact, you should get your to-do list done every night before you sleep. You need to know what you have to do the following day so that you can jump straight and focus your effort without spending the time to think about what to do.

Most people are reactive instead of being proactive. A to-do list will make you proactive. When you know what you need to do, you will do it without wasting time.

On the other hand, if you have no idea what to do, you will be reactive and respond to whatever tasks that come to you at that moment.

Think about it, how would you spend your weekend if you have no plan? You may end up oversleep, waste time on social media and YouTube, or perhaps waste all your weekend on watching TV.

Now, what if you have a clear and specific plan? When you know what to do, you can follow your plan and get things done. Clarity is power, my friend.

Consider creating a NOT to-do list for yourself too. Like what Buffett has suggested Flint, write down all the things that you are not going to do anymore and stop doing them.

For instance, your not to-do list can be something like:

  • Don’t check email on the weekend
  • Don’t use Facebook before 10am
  • No hard liquor or beer on the weekdays
  • No coffee after 1pm
  • Don’t use social media when working on computer

I believe that many people understand and know what they want to achieve in life, but the problem is that they choose to do what not to do even when they have crystal clear goals. This is why you need a not to-do list.

Perhaps, Steve Jobs put it best by saying:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

High achievers are not peopled with the most goals and dreams, but rather, they are people who understand how to avoid distraction in order to focus on accomplishing things that truly matter to them.

Create a pregame routine

We have to face it, human beings are emotional creatures and there will be days when we feel totally exhausted and no motivation to work on our goals.

These are the times when your willpower and focus are at the lowest level. You will be easily distracted and rather than working on your goals as scheduled, you will end up procrastinating and doing something else that does not move you toward your goals. So how can we handle this situation?

The answer is to create a pregame routine. A pregame routine is something simple and easy to do before you jump into doing your habit.

For example, I write articles every weekday morning. I chunk out content after content, usually at a minimum of 1,000 words each day. There will be times when I’m bored and totally feel no motivation to write. However, I have developed a pregame routine that kept me going, and it is to drink a cup of coffee.

Each morning before I start to sit on my chair and start my writing, read the newspaper and play a quiz on the internet!

Just like what James Clear wrote in his blog, “the difference between the highly successful and the unsuccessful all comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and do the same thing over and over and over again.”

Most people lose their focus and motivation because they think that successful people have unlimited drive, passion, and willpower that they seem to be missing.

High achievers are just like you and me, they are normal human beings who will feel bored, tired and no motivation to work on their goals.

The difference is that they have developed a pregame routine to make sure they do what they have planned and at the end of the day, it becomes their habit that they will never miss out doing.

Thus, develop your pregame routine now. Your pregame routine should be easy to carry out and something you don’t need motivation to do. Plus, you need to follow the same pattern every single time to make it a habit.

For instance, you can start your weightlifting routine by putting on your sports shoes. Or start doing your house chores by playing your favorite songs in the background. Or perhaps like me, before I start writing, read the newspaper and play a quiz on the internet!

Manage your energy!

When I first started out in the personal development industry, I wanted to be productive and thought that if I can manage my time better, I can become more productive. While this is true and this is also what most people understand about productivity, but what I and most people ignore is energy management.

If you want to be productive and get more quality work done, you must learn to manage your energy, not so much about your time.

We all have 24 hours a day and no matter how much we learn to manage, we can’t have an extra hour. We can only learn to be effective by doing the right thing. And to be effective and productive, we need to perform in our peak state.

To put it simple, when you don’t have the energy, you will never have to motivation. And when you don’t have the motivation, it will be difficult for you to focus on your goals.

And this is where energy management comes into the picture. A lot of people have the wrong perception and think that if they want to get more done, they should work long hours. And working longer hours does not necessarily mean better productivity.

Try to sleep for just 2 hours tonight, and see if you can concentrate and perform at your best tomorrow. The answer is obvious, you can’t.

When you don’t have the energy, you cannot perform in your peak state. And if you cannot perform at your best form, there is no way you can be productive.

It is better to work and produce quality results for 4 hours than to work 10 hours and produce lousy results. It is your efficiency, the quality of your work and times that count, it is not about how much time you get to spend on a task.

Do you want to spend 10 hours producing an hour worth of result? Or do you want to spend an hour and produce 10 hours worth of result? The choice is yours.

This is why the Pomodoro technique and power nap work so well. They replenish your energy and refresh you. Make sure you get the optimum sleep your body needs, and rest to recharge whenever you are feeling tired.

When you are able to manage your energy, you will be able to focus more on your goals and accomplish more than ordinary people.

Actively condition your goals to your subconscious!

In order not to lose focus on your goals, you must learn to program them into your subconscious mind. Why do you think most of the success gurus suggest their students practice visualization, create vision boards, write down their goals, and practice affirmations, and so on?

This is because when you do all those things, you are conditioning your mind about what you want to achieve.

You are actively telling your mind your goals and what is important to you in your life. This is why these techniques are important. When you visualize and see yourself achieving the goals you set, you are telling your mind, “This goal is important and I must achieve it.”

The same goes when you choose to write down your goals daily. When you do so, you are preparing your mind for what’s coming. You are telling your mind to aim and go for these things in life.

Hence, the reticular activating system in your brain will work its way to move you to your goals or brings the results you desire into your life.

If you have practice visualization, create vision boards for your goals, write them down, practice affirmations, but you still fail to realize what you want, there are a couple of reasons for this.

First, you need to give your goals enough time. It is not like you write down your goals tonight and tomorrow they will come to you. No, success requires time.

Second, ask yourself if you take massive and consistent action each day? Are you doing something and work hard to make your goals a reality? If you don’t, stop asking why things are not working for you, instead, ask yourself why are you not working for them.

Third, you have to constantly think about your goals, each and every day. You will become what you think about most of the time. If you are thinking about watching TV and playing games, you will end up watching a lot of TVs and playing a lot of games when you are free or at night when you back to home.

Thoughts are things. They have the power to shape your life, unconsciously.

I love what Tony Robbins once shared in his seminar. He said that goal setting is a skill. Just like going to the gym. You don’t go to the gym for a day and expect to have a slim and fit body the next day. You go to the gym regularly to work out and after some time, you will have the body you desire. The same goes for goal setting. It is a skill you must practice regularly.

Do you expect to read a book and success will be yours? Do you expect to hit the gym once and you will have the perfect body? Do you expect to publish an article on your blog and it will be successful?

You know it very well that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to work at it and pour in the necessary effort to achieve your goals.

Therefore, actively condition your goals into your subconscious mind, not just once, but regularly, through visualization, affirmations, setting goals, creating vision boards, think about them, talk about them, breathe them, sleep with them, and more.

Focusing on your goals despite all the whirlwind of your everyday distractions and work is not an easy task. The moment you want to work on your goals, there will be other things that will require your attention and take your focus away. This is why learning how to stay focused like how Warren Buffett did is extremely important.

Use the methods and techniques shared above to build absolute focus on your goals. Keep your eye on the prize and never lose your focus to the surrounding distractions.

When you focus and work on your goals, things will move the way you want it to be. And success will be yours.


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How to set goals and achieve them?

Goal setting is one of the most underrated success tools. When it comes to setting goals, a lot of people take it lightly and are not serious about it. They treat their goals with no commitment, and they don’t even consider writing down their goals, even when they know they should.

How to set goals and achieve them?

We will find out together in the following text!?

What is goal setting?

If you truly want to master goal setting, you need to understand how it works. And that begins with answering the question: what is goal setting?

The theory of goal setting was first developed by Dr. Edwin Locke in the 1960s. It was based on the premise that human action is purposeful and intentional. And when we structured our actions and behaviors toward an objective or goal, we can greatly improve the performance and reach the results we desire.

But I’m not going to talk about the history of it because it will bore you down. Instead, I’m going to share with you why setting goal works.

Goal setting is intention – setting!

When you set a goal, you are setting an intention for what you want. And because of that, you can then create a plan, make the decisions, and take conscious actions to produce the outcome you want.

On the other hand, when you have no goals or clear objectives in life, you don’t know what you want, and you will have no idea what to do. As a result, you will be drifting in the river of life, making unconscious decisions, going wherever the current leads you.

Anthony Robbins shared a powerful metaphor about having specific goals in life. In his best-selling book, Awaken the Giant Within, this was what he wrote:

Too many of us don’t make the majority of our decisions consciously… in so doing, we pay a major price. In fact, most people live what I call ‘The Niagara Syndrome’. I believe that life is like a river, and that most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges.

When they come to forks in the river, they don’t consciously decide where they want to go, or which is the right direction for them. They merely ‘go with the flow’. They become a part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control.

They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them, and they discover that they’re five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, ‘Oh shoot!’. But by then it’s too late. They’re going to take a fall.

Sometimes it’s an emotional fall.

Sometimes it’s a physical fall.

Sometimes it’s a financial fall.

It’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by making some better decisions upstream.

The benefits: why do you want to set goals?

You have to understand the main function of setting goals – it is to bring your future to the present so that you can do something about it now, not 20 years from now.

The future you want is created today, not tomorrow!

And this is what makes goal setting such a powerful tool.

Just like a crystal ball, instead of predicting your future, setting goals allows you to create your future.

Yes, you are the one who can create your future. Whatever dream life you have, you can achieve it if you are willing to work on it right now.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see yourself achieving all the success you want, you feel good about it, and you start working on it, which eventually, leads you to the future you envisioned in the first place.

That’s what will happen when you set a goal and work toward it.

Below are 2 common scenarios where one person starts his day without an objective, while another starts with a clear goal:

Think about it, what will you do on a weekend when you have no plan and no goal? For instance, you will most likely wake up late. You will then waste a couple of hours checking Facebook and Instagram. You might also spend most of your time binge-watching Netflix or YouTube. And before you knew it, your weekend is gone just like that.

Now, what happens when you have a clear objective and you have a goal to accomplish? Say, you set a goal to finish reading a book you just bought over the weekend. When you wake up, you remembered your goal, so you get up straight without snoozing your alarm. You then make yourself a cup of morning coffee and start reading.

Can you see the difference? One person goes through his morning without a clear goal while another starts his day with a specific goal. And both have gone through a totally different morning because of the goal.

This is why you need to have goals.

Your goals determine your objectives. Your goals give you intention and direction. Your goals create the future you want.

In short, here’s why goal setting is important and the benefits that come along with it:

Goal allows you to better plan for the future you want!

As I have explained above, your future is created now, not 20 years from now. Hence, when you set goals, you are bringing your future to the now. You are creating the future you want at this present moment so that when the future comes, which it definitely will, you will arrive.

Like the “river of life” example given by Tony Robbins, when you know where you want to go, you can then make conscious decisions right now and make the right choices so that you will get to the destination you want.

They follow wherever the crowd goes instead of following their heart and plan for the future that they want.

Never let this happen to you. Start making conscious decisions and make the future you want possible, starting with goal setting.

Goal makes you proactive rather than reactive!

Yes, when you know what you want to do, you become proactive and you don’t have to wait for things to happen to you.

Imagine if your goal is to start an e-commerce business selling computer gadgets. Now that you know what you want, so you can then dive in and work on it.

If you already have the technical know-how, you can then proceed to register a domain name, build your e-commerce website, and list your products, and start getting people to your website.

If you have no idea how to build a website, you can then start with learning how to do so or hiring someone to do it for you.

By all means, you know what you should do to progress toward your goal. It makes you proactive.

But if you don’t have a goal, you become reactive. Since you have no idea what you want, you will just wait for things to come to you. You will waste time playing games, binge watch Netflix and YouTube, checking updates on Facebook and Instagram, etc.

Until an idea or an intention or a goal lands on you, you will always be reactive by responding to your life.

This is the core benefit of having goals. When you know what you want to go, you can then work your way there.

You can’t get to your destination without knowing where you want to go in the first place.

Goal motivates you and inspires you to take action!

You want your goals to be exciting and motivating. Hence, don’t set something that you don’t feel inspired to achieve.

And one of the most common goals that most people set is none other than income goals. They set a goal like, “I want to make $10,000 per month by end of the year”, but little did they know that what they truly want is not the money, but what the money brings.

You need to make your goals meaningful and impactful. You can’t just blindly chase numbers. If you do that, you will never feel motivated because numbers are nothing but digits.

Think about it, what makes Billionaires like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Mark Cuban continue to work every day? Well, they are not inspired by monetary rewards because they are already a billionaire.

Instead, they are inspired by what their goals bring them. They associate a strong meaning with their goals and when you are doing something meaningful, you will be pulled by it.

Just like how Steve Jobs put it:

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.

Steve Jobs

Your goals are meant to be exciting and meaningful. They are meant to pull you. The drive should come from within.

Thus, set goals that excite you. Let your goals motivate you to achieve greater results and reach higher success in life.

Goal shows you the way and gives you direction!

Another important reason you want to set goals is that they can work as a lighthouse and give you the right direction.

There are so many things people want in life. And there are so many opportunities out there. If you are not focused, you will quickly forget about your goals and become distracted.

Your goals work like a north star, always showing you the direction you want to get to. And all you need to do is to work in that direction and eventually, you will get to the place you wanted to go.

I bet you have had the experience where you try something out but it didn’t work, and then you decided to jump ship and start another project.

Like in the internet marketing industry, people start a website and hope they can make it successful. But there are too many ‘shiny opportunities’ distracting them. After a few days or weeks when things don’t work out, they decide to start another website or try something else.

And it goes on and on. They continue to search for the ‘next big thing’ and continue to hope that things will work out for them.

Of course, if they have a goal and stick to their original project/plan in the first place, they would have succeeded.

Therefore, set goals and stick to them. Let your goals be your guide.

Goal allows you to pivot and measure the way!

One of the key benefits of having a goal is that it allows you to pivot and measure yourself to your destination.

For instance, if you want to achieve success, having a goal forces you to be specific and make it measurable. And because it is measurable, it allows you to quantify your progress and understand your performance.

You can set a sales goal like to increase your sales by 20% for your company. And having this goal allows you to understand where you are and what you need to do to get there. In other words, your goal allows you to pivot your current condition and so you can work on your strategy to achieve the goal.

Without having the goal in the first place, you will never know where you are and where you want to go. Furthermore, you can’t tell if you are making progress and move forward or are moving backward.

This is why you need to have goals.



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A story of love, vanity, faith and hope!

A monk once told a wise story and it is transmitted over the years. Everyone should read these words and remember them well.

A story of love, vanity, faith and hope!

It reads as follows:

On a distant, lonely island, in the middle of the ocean, they lived beautifully and in harmony Love, Wealth, Sadness, Vanity and Knowledge. They lived peacefully on that island away from all worldly worries and events. But after many centuries, they noticed that their island was slowly disappearing, faster and more certain. They quickly realized that the island was sinking rapidly. Upset, they pack their things and slowly leave their beautiful, magical, but sinking island, which has provided them with happiness for centuries.

Only Love, enduring by nature, decides to remain. She was the only one who believed and hoped that it was all temporary and that better days would come when everything would be as beautiful and cheerful as it used to be. However, in time, Love also realized that there was no hope and that she too had to leave her home. He packs nicely those little things and a lot of memories with him, but … now there was no way to leave the island. All the boats, ships and rafts had already sailed and there was no more time to make new ones. Love began to call for help.

Somehow at that time, the road there brought Wealth. Love rejoices at the happy coincidence and asks Wealth to receive her on his ship:

Please accept me, the island is sinking, I will drown – said Love.

Sorry but my boat is full of gold and gems. There is no place for you yet, Love. If you come in too, I’m afraid we’ll sink – said Wealth and left.

Love was beginning to panic. The island sank more and there was more water. In a panic, Love kept calling for help. Then Grief came upon her raft. Love rejoiced old friend:

Sad, please save me. I will sink together with this island of ours. It would be a shame to leave the world without love.

I feel sorry for Love – sadness answered – I am so sad that I can’t take you with me. I want to be alone. And leave love far behind.

On the island, Love is already despairing. She sees no way to save herself from the awkward situation she found herself in because she believed in a better tomorrow. However, a glimmer of hope, or perhaps a matter of faith, still drove her to continue to call for help. Her summonses attract the attention of Vanity, who happened to pass by.

Take me with you. You are my only hope – ask Love.

No way! Look how dirty and wet you are, you want to wet my boat. It’s your own fault! Now it bears the consequences. I told you nicely to leave while you still could. – And still offended, she leaves and leaves Love with her sad destiny.

Having lost even the last hope, Love surrendered to destiny. She sat on the only unsinkable stone left of their once large and beautiful island and waited for him to disappear under the water and take her with him. Out of nowhere, a stranger appeared in the boat.

The stranger came very close and extended his hand to Love. She got into the boat and he transported her to the neighboring island. There, Love got out of the boat, thanked him and went on. Only a few meters away, she realized that she did not know who saved her. She turned and ran back to shore, but the boat with the stranger was already lost on the horizon.

Then Love just noticed Knowledge sitting on the shore. She approached and asked:

Tell Knowledge, who is the stranger who saved me from certain death?

Knowledge looked at her, smiled, and said to her:

How, don’t you know? That was Time.

Time? Love asked confused.

Yes, Time – answers Knowledge – Because only TIME is able to realize how great Love is.


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The beginner’s guide to deliberate practice

In some circles, Ben Hogan is credited with “inventing practice.”

Hogan was one of the greatest golfers of the 20th century, an accomplishment he achieved through tireless repetition. He simply loved to practice. Hogan said, “I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it.”

For Hogan, every practice session had a purpose. He reportedly spent years breaking down each phase of the golf swing and testing new methods for each segment. The result was near perfection. He developed one of the most finely-tuned golf swings in the history of the game.

His precision made him more like a surgeon than a golfer. During the 1953 Masters, for example, Hogan hit the flagstick on back-to-back holes. A few days later, he broke the tournament scoring record.

Hogan methodically broke the game of golf down into chunks and figured out how he could master each section. For example, he was one of the first golfers to assign specific yardages to each golf club. Then, he studied each course carefully and used trees and sand bunkers as reference points to inform him about the distance of each shot.

Hogan finished his career with nine major championships—ranking fourth all-time. During his prime, other golfers simply attributed his remarkable success to “Hogan’s secret.” Today, experts have a new term for his rigorous style of improvement: deliberate practice.

This is the beginner’s guide to deliberate practice!

What is deliberate practice?

Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focusing attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance. When Ben Hogan carefully reconstructed each step of his golf swing, he was engaging in deliberate practice. He wasn’t just taking cuts. He was finely tuning his technique.

While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focusing attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

The greatest challenge of deliberate practice is to remain focused. In the beginning, showing up and putting in your reps is the most important thing. But after a while we begin to carelessly overlook small errors and miss daily opportunities for improvement.

This is because the natural tendency of the human brain is to transform repeated behaviors into automatic habits. For example, when you first learned to tie your shoes you had to think carefully about each step of the process. Today, after many repetitions, your brain can perform this sequence automatically. The more we repeat a task the more mindless it becomes.

Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice. The danger of practicing the same thing again and again is that progress becomes assumed. Too often, we assume we are getting better simply because we are gaining experience. In reality, we are merely reinforcing our current habits—not improving them.

Claiming that improvement requires attention and effort sounds logical enough. But what does deliberate practice actually look like in the real world? Let’s talk about that now.

Examples of deliberate practice

One of my favorite examples of deliberate practice is discussed in Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. In the book, Colvin describes how Benjamin Franklin used deliberate practice to improve his writing skills.

When he was a teenager, Benjamin Franklin was criticized by his father for his poor writing abilities. Unlike most teenagers, young Ben took his father’s advice seriously and vowed to improve his writing skills.

He began by finding a publication written by some of the best authors of his day. Then, Franklin went through each article line by line and wrote down the meaning of every sentence. Next, he rewrote each article in his own words and then compared his version to the original. Each time, “I discovered some of my faults, and corrected them.” Eventually, Franklin realized his vocabulary held him back from better writing, and so he focused intensely on that area.

Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.

Here are some more examples

Cooking: Jiro Ono, the subject of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is a chef and owner of an award-winning sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Jiro has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of making sushi and he expects the same of his apprentices. Each apprentice must master one tiny part of the sushi-making process at a time—how to wring a towel, how to use a knife, how to cut the fish, and so on. One apprentice trained under Jiro for ten years before being allowed to cook the eggs. Each step of the process is taught with the utmost care.

Martial arts: Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, is a martial artist who holds several US national medals and a 2004 world championship. In the finals of one competition, he noticed a weakness: When an opponent illegally head-butted him in the nose, Waitzkin flew into a rage. His emotion caused him to lose control and forget his strategy. Afterward, he specifically sought out training partners who would fight dirty so he could practice remaining calm and principled in the face of chaos. “They were giving me a valuable opportunity to expand my threshold for turbulence,” Waitzkin wrote. “Dirty players were my best teachers.”

Chess: Magnus Carlsen is a chess grand master and one of the highest-rated players in history. One distinguishing feature of great chess players is their ability to recognize “chunks,” which are specific arrangements of pieces on the board. Some experts estimate that grand masters can identify around 300,000 different chunks. Interestingly, Carlsen learned the game by playing computer chess, which allowed him to play multiple games at once. Not only did this strategy allow him to learn chunks much faster than someone playing in-person games, but also gave him a chance to make more mistakes and correct his weaknesses at an accelerated pace.

Music: Many great musicians recommend repeating the most challenging sections of a song until you master them. Virtuoso violinist Nathan Milstein says, “Practice as much as you feel you can accomplish with concentration. Once when I became concerned because others around me practiced all day long, I asked [my professor] how many hours I should practice, and he said, ‘It really doesn’t matter how long. If you practice with your fingers, no amount is enough. If you practice with your head, two hours is plenty.’”

Basketball: Consider the following example from Aubrey Daniels, “Player A shoots 200 practice shots, Player B shoots 50. The Player B retrieves his own shots, dribbles leisurely and takes several breaks to talk to friends. Player A has a colleague who retrieves the ball after each attempt. The colleague keeps a record of shots made. If the shot is missed the colleague records whether the miss was short, long, left or right and the shooter reviews the results after every 10 minutes of practice. To characterize their hour of practice as equal would hardly be accurate. Assuming this is typical of their practice routine and they are equally skilled at the start, which would you predict would be the better shooter after only 100 hours of practice?”

The unsung hero of deliberate practice

Perhaps the greatest difference between deliberate practice and simple repetition is this: feedback. Anyone who has mastered the art of deliberate practice—whether they are an athlete like Ben Hogan or a writer like Ben Franklin—has developed methods for receiving continual feedback on their performance.

There are many ways to receive feedback. Let’s discuss two.

The first effective feedback system is measurement. The things we measure are the things we improve. This holds true for the number of pages we read, the number of push ups we do, the number of sales calls we make, and any other task that is important to us. It is only through measurement that we have any proof of whether we are getting better or worse.

The second effective feedback system is coaching. One consistent finding across disciplines is that coaches are often essential for sustaining deliberate practice. In many cases, it is nearly impossible to both perform a task and measure your progress at the same time. Good coaches can track your progress, find small ways to improve, and hold you accountable to delivering your best effort each day.

The promise of deliberate practice

Humans have a remarkable capacity to improve their performance in nearly any area of life if they train in the correct way. This is easier said than done.

Deliberate practice is not a comfortable activity. It requires sustaining effort and concentration. The people who master the art of deliberate practice are committed to being lifelong learners—always exploring and experimenting and refining.

Deliberate practice is not a magic pill, but if you can manage to maintain your focus and commitment, then the promise of deliberate practice is quite alluring: to get the most out of what you’ve got.


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The three stages of failure in life and work – and how to fix them?

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.

On the one hand, perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field. Anyone who masters their craft will face moments of doubt and somehow find the inner resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great marriage or learn a new skill then “sticking with it” is perhaps the most critical trait to possess.

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot They quit As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

One way to answer this question is to use a framework  the the three stages of failure in life and work!

The three stages of failure in life and work

This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

  1. Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
  2. Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
  3. Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don’t set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn’t fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.

In the rest of this article, I’ll share a story, solution, and summary for each stage of failure. My hope is that the 3 Stages of Failure framework will help you navigate the tricky decision of deciding when to quit and when to stick with it. It’s not perfect, but I hope you find it to be useful.

Stage 1: a failure of tactics!

Sam Carpenter became a small business owner in 1984. Using $5,000 as a down payment, he purchased a struggling business in Bend, Oregon and renamed it Centratel.

Centratel provided 24/7 telephone answering service for doctors, veterinarians, and other businesses that needed the phones to be answered at all hours, but couldn’t afford to pay a staff member to sit at the desk constantly. When he bought the business, Carpenter hoped that Centratel “would someday be the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States.”

Things did not go as expected. In a 2012 interview, Carpenter described his first decade and a half of entrepreneurship by saying,

“I was literally working 80 to 100 hours a week for 15 years. I was a single parent of two kids, believe it or not. I was very sick. I was on all kinds of antidepressants and so forth…

I was going to miss a payroll and lose my entire company. If you can just imagine a nervous wreck, physical wreck, and then multiply that by ten, that’s what I was. It was a horrible time.”

One night, just before he was about to miss payroll, Carpenter had a realization. His business was struggling because it completely lacked the systems it needed to achieve optimal performance. In Carpenter’s words, “We were having all kinds of problems because everybody was doing it the way that they thought was best.”

Carpenter reasoned that if he could perfect his systems, then his staff could spend each day following best practices instead of constantly putting out fires. He immediately began writing down every process within the business.

“For instance,” he said. “We have a nine-step procedure for answering the phone at the front desk. Everybody does it that way, it’s 100% the best way to do it, and we’ve taken an organic system and made it mechanical, and made it perfect.”

Over the next two years, Carpenter recorded and revised every process in the company. How to make a sales presentation. How to deposit a check. How to pay client invoices. How to process payroll. He created a manual that any employee could pick up and follow for any procedure within the company—system by system, step by step.

What happened?

Carpenter’s workweek rapidly decreased from 100 hours per week to less than 10 hours per week. He was no longer needed to handle every emergency because there was a procedure to guide employees in each situation. As the quality of their work improved, Centratel raised their prices and the company’s profit margin exploded to 40 percent.

Today, Centratel has grown to nearly 60 employees and recently celebrated its 30th year in business. Carpenter now works just two hours per week.

Fixing a failure of tactics

A Failure of Tactics is a HOW problem. In Centratel’s case, they had a clear vision (to be “the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States”) and a good strategy (the market for telephone answering services was large), but they didn’t know how to execute their strategy and vision.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics:

  1. Record your process.
  2. Measure your outcomes.
  3. Review and adjust your tactics.

Record your process. McDonald’s has more than 35,000 locations worldwide. Why can they plug-and-play new employees while still delivering a consistent product? Because they have killer systems in place for every process. Whether you’re running a business, parenting a family, or managing your own life, building great systems is crucial for repeated success. It all starts with writing down each specific step of the process and developing a checklist you can follow when life gets crazy.

Measure your outcomes. If something is important to you, measure it. If you’re an entrepreneur, measure how many sales calls you make each day. If you’re a writer, measure how frequently you publish a new article. If you’re a weightlifter, measure how often you train. If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working?

Review and adjust your tactics. The fatiguing thing about Stage 1 failures is that they never stop. Tactics that used to work will become obsolete. Tactics that were a bad idea previously might be a good idea now. You need to be constantly reviewing and improving how you do your work. Successful people routinely give up on tactics that don’t move their strategy and vision forward. Fixing a Failure of Tactics is not a one time job, it is a lifestyle.

Stage 2: a failure of strategy

It was March 1999. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had just announced that his company would launch a new service called Amazon Auctions to help people sell “virtually anything online.” The idea was to create something that could compete with eBay. Bezos knew there were millions of people with goods to sell and he wanted Amazon to be the place where those transactions happened.

Greg Linden, a software engineer for Amazon at the time, recalled the project by saying, “Behind the scenes, this was a herculean effort. People from around the company were pulled off their projects. The entire Auctions site, with all the features of eBay and more, was built from scratch. It was designed, architected, developed, tested, and launched in under three months”.

Amazon Auctions was a spectacular failure. Just six months after launch, management realized the project was going nowhere. In September 1999, they scrambled to release a new offering called Amazon zShops. This version of the idea allowed anyone from big companies to individuals to set up an online shop and sell goods through Amazon.

Again, Amazon swung and missed. Neither Amazon Auctions nor Amazon zShops are running today. In December 2014, Bezos referred to the failed projects by saying, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Literally billions.”

Undaunted, Amazon tried yet again to create a platform for third-party sellers. In November 2000, they launched Amazon Marketplace, which allowed individuals to sell used products alongside Amazon’s new items. For example, a small bookstore could list their used textbooks directly alongside new ones from Amazon.

It worked. Marketplace was a runaway success. In 2015, Amazon Marketplace accounted for nearly 50 percent of the $107 billion in sales on

Fixing a failure of strategy

A Failure of Strategy is a WHAT problem. By 1999, Amazon had a clear vision to “be earth’s most customer centric company.” They were also masters of getting things done, which is why they were able to roll Amazon Auctions out in just three months. The why and how were handled, but the what was unknown.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly,

Do it cheaply,

Revise it rapidly.

Launch it quickly. Some ideas work much better than others, but nobody really knows which ideas work until you try them. Nobody knows ahead of time—not venture capitalists, not the intelligent folks at Amazon, not your friends or family members. All of the planning and research and design is just pretext. I love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven’t really started working on [your idea] till you’ve launched.”

Because of this, it is critical to launch strategies quickly. The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works. Note the timeline Amazon operated on: Amazon Auctions was released in March 1999. Amazon zShops was released in September 1999. Amazon Marketplace was released in November 2000. Three huge attempts within 20 months.

Do it cheaply. Assuming you have achieved some minimum level of quality, it is best to test new strategies cheaply. Failing cheaply increases your surface area for success because it means that you can test more ideas. Additionally, doing things cheaply serves another crucial purpose. It reduces your attachment to a particular idea. If you invest a lot of time and money into a particular strategy, it will be hard to give it up on that strategy. The more energy you put into something, the more ownership you feel toward it. Bad business ideas, toxic relationships, and destructive habits of all kinds can be hard to let go once they become part of your identity. Testing new strategies cheaply avoids these pitfalls and increases the likelihood that you will follow the strategy that works best rather than the one you have invested in the most.

Revise it rapidly. Strategies are meant to be revised and adjusted. You’d be hard-pressed to find a successful entrepreneur, artist, or creator who is doing exactly the same thing today as when they started. Starbucks sold coffee supplies and espresso machines for over a decade before opening their own stores. 37 Signals started as a web design firm before pivoting into a software company that is worth over $100M today. Nintendo made playing cards and vacuum cleaners before it stole the hearts of video game lovers everywhere.

Too many entrepreneurs think if their first business idea is a failure, they aren’t cut out for it. Too many artists assume that if their early work doesn’t get praised, they don’t have the skill required. Too many people believe if their first two or three relationships are bad, they will never find love.

Imagine if the forces of nature worked that way. What if Mother Nature only gave herself one shot at creating life? We’d all just be single-celled organisms. Thankfully, that’s not how evolution works. For millions of years, life has been adapting, evolving, revising, and iterating until it has reached the diverse and varied species that inhabit our planet today. It is not the natural course of things to figure it all out on the first try.

So if your original idea is a failure and you feel like you’re constantly revising and adjusting, cut yourself a break. Changing your strategy is normal. It is literally the way the world works. You have to stay on the bus.

Stage 3: a failure of vision

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Massachusetts in 1803. His father was a minister in the Unitarian Church, which was a relatively popular branch of Christianity at the time.

Like his father, Emerson attended Harvard and became an ordained pastor. Unlike his father, he found himself disagreeing with many of the church’s teachings after a few years on the inside. Emerson debated heavily with church leaders before eventually writing, “This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me. That is reason enough why I should abandon it.”

Emerson resigned from the church in 1832 and spent the following year traveling throughout Europe. The travels sparked his imagination and led to friendships with contemporary philosophers and writers such as John Stuart Mill, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle. It was later written that his travels to Paris sparked “a moment of almost visionary intensity that pointed him away from theology and toward science.”

Upon returning to the United States, Emerson founded the Transcendental Club, which was a group of New England intellectuals like himself who wanted to talk about philosophy, culture, science, and improving American society.

Emerson’s deep questioning of his life and values, which began with his work as a pastor, intensified during his international travels, and continued with his Transcendental Club meetings helped him realize the desire to become a philosopher and writer. He spent the rest of his years pursuing independent ideas and writing essays and books that are still valued today.

Fixing a failure of vision

A Failure of Vision is a WHY problem. They happen because your vision or goal for what you want to become (your why) doesn’t align with the actions you are taking.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

  1. Take stock of your life,
  2. Determine your non-negotiable,
  3. Navigate criticism.

Take stock of your life. People rarely take the time to think critically about their vision and values. Of course, there is no requirement that says you must to develop a personal vision for your work or your life. Many people prefer to go-with-the-flow and take life as it comes. In theory, that’s just fine. But in practice, there is a problem:

If you never decide on a vision for your life, you’ll often find yourself living someone else’s dream.

Like many children, Emerson followed the path of his father to the same school and the same profession before opening his eyes and realizing it wasn’t what he wanted. Adopting someone else’s vision as your own—whether it be from family, friends, celebrities, your boss, or society as a whole—is unlikely to lead to your personal dream. Your identity and your habits need to be aligned.

Because of this, you need to take stock of your life. What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to spend your days? It is not someone else’s job to figure out the vision for your life. That can only be done by you. My suggestion is to start by exploring your core values. Then, review your recent experiences by writing an Annual Review or doing an Integrity Report.

Determine your non-negotiable. Your “non-negotiable” is the one thing you are not willing to budge on, no matter what. One common mistake is to make the non-negotiable your strategy, when it should be your vision. It’s very easy to get fixated on your idea. But if you’re going to get obsessed with something, get obsessed with your vision, not your idea. Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

The key is to realize that nearly everything is a detail—your tactics, your strategy, even your business model. If your non-negotiable is to be a successful entrepreneur, then there are many ways to achieve that vision. If Amazon’s non-negotiable is to “be earth’s most customer centric company,” they can lose billions on Amazon Auctions and Amazon zShops and still reach their goal.

Once you are confident in your vision, it is rare to lose it in one fell swoop. There are so few mistakes that lead to the complete annihilation of a dream. More likely, you failed at a strategy level and felt demoralized. This crippled your enthusiasm and you gave up not because you should, but because you felt like it. Your emotions caused you to turn a Stage 1 or Stage 2 failure into a Stage 3 failure. Most of the mistakes that people assume are Failures of Vision are actually Failures of Strategy. Many entrepreneurs, artists, and creators get hung up on a particular version of their idea and when the idea fails they give up on the vision as well. Don’t develop a sense of ownership over the wrong thing. There are nearly infinite ways to achieve your vision if you are willing to be flexible on the details.

Navigate criticism. Criticism can be an indicator of failed strategies and tactics, but—assuming you’re a reasonable person with good intentions—it is rarely an indicator of a failed vision. If you are committed to making your vision a non-negotiable factor in your life and not giving up on the first try, then you have to be willing to navigate criticism. You don’t need to apologize for the things you love, but you do have to learn how to deal with haters.

The 4th stage of failure

There is a 4th stage of failure that we haven’t talked about: Failures of Opportunity.

These are WHO mistakes. They occur when society fails to provide equal opportunity for all people. Failures of Opportunity are the result of many complex factors: age, race, gender, income, education, and more.

For example, there are thousands of men my age living in the slums of India or the streets of Bangladesh who are more intelligent and more talented than I am, but we live very different lives largely because of the opportunities presented to us.

Failures of Opportunity deserve an article of their own and there are many things we can do as individuals and as a society to reduce them. However, I chose not to focus on them here because Failures of Opportunity are difficult to influence. Meanwhile, your vision, your strategy, and your tactics are all things you can directly control.

A final note on failure

Hopefully, the 3 Stages of Failure framework has helped you clarify some of the issues you’re facing and how to deal with them. One thing that may not be apparent at first glance is how the different stages can impact one another.

For example, Failures of Tactics can occasionally create enough havoc that you mistakenly believe you have a Failure of Vision. Imagine how Sam Carpenter felt when he was working 100 hours per week. It would have been easy to assume that his vision of being an entrepreneur was the failure when, in fact, it was merely poor tactics causing the problem.

Sometimes you need a few tactics to create enough whitespace to figure out your strategy or vision. This is why I write about things like how to manage your daily routine and how to figure out your priorities and why multitasking is a myth. No, these topics aren’t going to create a world-changing vision by themselves. But they might clear enough space in your calendar for you to dream up a world-changing vision.

In other words, you might not be walking the wrong path after all. It’s just that there is so much dust swirling around you that you can’t see the path. Figure out the right tactics and strategy—clear the dust from the air—and you’ll find that the vision often reveals itself.



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The downside of work – life balance

One way to think about the downside of work – life balance is with a concept known as The four Burners Theory. Here’s how it was first explained to me:

Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner symbolizes one major quadrant of your life.

  1. The first burner represents your family.
  2. The second burner is your friends.
  3. The third burner is your health.
  4. The fourth burner is your work.

The four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”

Three views of the four burners

My initial reaction to The four Burners Theory was to search for a way to bypass it. “Can I succeed and keep all four burners running?” I wondered.

Perhaps I could combine two burners. “What if I lumped family and friends into one category?”

Maybe I could combine health and work. “I hear sitting all day is unhealthy. What if I got a standing desk?” Now, I know what you are thinking. Believing that you will be healthy because you bought a standing desk is like believing you are a rebel because you ignored the fasten seatbelt sign on an airplane, but whatever.

Soon I realized I was inventing these workarounds because I didn’t want to face the real issue: life is filled with trade offs. If you want to excel in your work and in your marriage, then your friends and your health may have to suffer. If you want to be healthy and succeed as a parent, then you might be forced to dial back your career ambitions. Of course, you are free to divide your time equally among all four burners, but you have to accept that you will never reach your full potential in any given area.

Essentially, we are forced to choose. Would you rather live a life that is unbalanced, but high-performing in a certain area? Or would you rather live a life that is balanced, but never maximizes your potential in a given quadrant?

What is the best way to handle these work-life balance problems? I don’t claim to have it figured out, but here are three ways of thinking about The four Burners Theory.

Option 1: Outsource burners

We outsource small aspects of our lives all the time. We buy fast food so we don’t have to cook. We go to the dry cleaners to save time on laundry. We visit the car repair shop so we don’t have to fix our own automobile.

Outsourcing small portions of your life allows you to save time and spend it elsewhere. Can you apply the same idea to one quadrant of your life and free up time to focus on the other three burners?

Work is the best example. For many people, work is the hottest burner on the stove. It is where they spend the most time and it is the last burner to get turned off. In theory, entrepreneurs and business owners can outsource the work burner. They do it by hiring employees.

In my article on The 3 Stages of Failure, I covered Sam Carpenter’s story about building business systems that allowed him to work just 2 hours per week. He outsourced himself from the daily work of the business while still reaping the financial benefits.

Parenting is another example. Working parents are often forced to “outsource” the family burner by dropping their children off at daycare or hiring a babysitter. Calling this outsourcing might seem unfair, but—like the work example above—parents are paying someone else to keep the burner running while they use their time elsewhere.

The advantage of outsourcing is that you can keep the burner running without spending your time on it. Unfortunately, removing yourself from the equation is also a disadvantage. Most entrepreneurs, artists, and creators I know would feel bored and without a sense of purpose if they had nothing to work on each day. Every parent I know would rather spend time with their children than drop them off at daycare.

Outsourcing keeps the burner running, but is it running in a meaningful way?

Option 2: Embrace constraints

One of the most frustrating parts of The four Burners Theory is that it shines a light on your untapped potential. It can be easy to think, “If only I had more time, I could make more money or get in shape or spend more time at home.”

One way to manage this problem is to shift your focus from wishing you had more time to maximizing the time you have. In other words, you embrace your limitations. The question to ask yourself is, “Assuming a particular set of constraints, how can I be as effective as possible”?

For example:

  • Assuming I can only work from 9 AM to 5 PM, how can I make the most money possible?
  • Assuming I can only write for 15 minutes each day, how can I finish my book as fast as possible?
  • Assuming I can only exercise for 3 hours each week, how can I get in the best shape possible?

This line of questioning pulls your focus toward something positive (getting the most out of what you have available) rather than something negative (worrying about never having enough time). Furthermore, well-designed limitations can actually improve your performance and help you stop procrastinating on your goals.

Of course, there are disadvantages as well. Embracing constraints means accepting that you are operating at less than your full potential. Yes, there are plenty of ways to “work smarter, not harder” but it is difficult to avoid the fact that where you spend your time matters. If you invested more time into your health or your relationships or your career, you would likely see improved results in that area.

Option 3: The seasons of life

A third way to manage your four burners is by breaking your life into seasons. What if, instead of searching for perfect work-life balance at all times, you divided your life into seasons that focused on a particular area?

The importance of your burners may change throughout life. When you are in your 20s or 30s and you don’t have children, it can be easier to get to the gym and chase career ambitions. The health and work burners are on full blast. A few years later, you might start a family and suddenly the health burner dips down to a slow simmer while your family burner gets more gas. Another decade passes and you might revive relationships with old friends or pursue that business idea you had been putting off.

You don’t have to give up on your dreams forever, but life rarely allows you to keep all four burners going at once. Maybe you need to let go of something for this season. You can do it all in a lifetime, but not at the same damn time. In the words of Nathan Barry, “Commit to your goal with everything you have—for a season.”

Furthermore, there is often a multiplier effect that occurs when you dedicate yourself fully to a given area. In many cases, you can achieve more by going all-in on a given task for a few years than by giving it a lukewarm effort for fifty years. Maybe it is best to strive for seasons of imbalance and rotate through them as needed.

What season are you in right now?

Work – life balance: Which burners have you cut off?

The four Burners Theory reveals a truth everyone must deal with: nobody likes being told they can’t have it all, but everyone has constraints on their time and energy. Every choice has a cost.

Which burners have you cut off?

What is your opinion on this topic?



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Willpower vs motivation

In the content “Willpower vs motivation”, I will show you what willpower is and what its relationship is with motivation?

Willpower isn’t something you have or something you lack. It rises and falls. And while it’s impossible to maximize your willpower for every moment of every day, it is possible to make a few changes to your day and your routine so that you can get the most of your decisions and make consistent progress on the things that are important to you. In this content, I will break down the benefits and science of willpower, explain why willpower fades, and arm you with some simple strategies to boost willpower.

What is willpower?

Let’s define willpower. Willpower is the ability to control oneself and the decisions one makes. It’s the ability to delay gratification and choose long-term rewards over short-term rewards.

Research supports the notion that willpower and the ability to delay gratification are vitally important for a successful, productive life.

Let’s talk about some of that research now.

The science of willpower

In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began conducting a series of important psychological studies.

During his experiments, Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children — most of them around the ages of 4 and 5 years old — and revealed what is now believed to be one of the most important characteristics for success in health, work, and life.

The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of them.

At this point, the researcher offered a deal to the child.

The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow.

So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.

The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.

As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.

Published in 1972, this popular study became known as The Marshmallow Experiment, but it wasn’t the treat that made it famous. The interesting part came years later.

As the years rolled on and the children grew up, the researchers conducted follow up studies and tracked each child’s progress in a number of areas. What they found was surprising.

The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.

The researchers followed each child for more than 40 years and over and over again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever capacity they were measuring. In other words, this series of experiments proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life.

And if you look around, you’ll see this playing out everywhere…

  • If you delay the gratification of watching television and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.
  • If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.
  • If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

… and countless other examples.

Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.

This brings us to an interesting question: Did some children naturally have more self-control, and thus were destined for success? Or can you learn to develop this important trait?

What determines your ability to exercise willpower?

Researchers at the University of Rochester decided to replicate the marshmallow experiment, but with an important twist.

Before offering the child the marshmallow, the researchers split the children into two groups.

The first group was exposed to a series of unreliable experiences. For example, the researcher gave the child a small box of crayons and promised to bring a bigger one, but never did. Then the researcher gave the child a small sticker and promised to bring a better selection of stickers, but never did.

Meanwhile, the second group had very reliable experiences. They were promised better crayons and got them. They were told about the better stickers and then they received them.

You can imagine the impact these experiences had on the marshmallow test. The children in the unreliable group had no reason to trust that the researchers would bring a second marshmallow and thus they didn’t wait very long to eat the first one.

Meanwhile, the children in the second group were training their brains to see delayed gratification as a positive. Every time the researcher made a promise and then delivered on it, the child’s brain registered two things: 1) waiting for gratification is worth it and 2) I have the capability to wait. As a result, the second group waited an average of four times longer than the first group.

In other words, the child’s ability to delay gratification and display willpower was not a predetermined trait, but rather was impacted by the experiences and environment that surrounded them. In fact, the effects of the environment were almost instantaneous. Just a few minutes of reliable or unreliable experiences were enough to push the actions of each child in one direction or another.


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How to stop procrastinating on your goals by using the “Seinfeld strategy”?

In this content “How to stop procrastinating on your goals by using the “Seinfeld strategy”?”, we will get acquainted with the technique of one of the best actors how it prevents procrastination!

Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians of all‐time.

He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All–Time” by Comedy Central. He was also the co–creator and co–writer of Seinfeld, the long–running sitcom which has received numerous awards and was claimed to have the “Top TV Episode of All–Time” as rated by TV Guide.

According to Forbes magazine, Seinfeld reached his peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998. (Yes, that was in one year. No, that’s not a typo.) A full 10 years later, in 2008, Seinfeld was still pulling in a cool $85 million per year.

By almost any measure of wealth, popularity, and critical acclaim, Jerry Seinfeld is among the most successful comedians, writers, and actors of his generation.

However, what is most impressive about Seinfeld’s career isn’t the awards, the earnings, or the special moments — it’s the remarkable consistency of it all. Show after show, year after year, he performs, creates, and entertains at an incredibly high standard. Jerry Seinfeld produces with a level of consistency that most of us wish we could bring to our daily work.

Compare his results to where you and I often find ourselves. We want to create, but struggle to do so. We want to exercise, but fail to find motivation. Wanting to achieve our goals, but — for some reason or another — we still procrastinate on them.

What’s the difference? What strategies does Jerry Seinfeld used to beat procrastination and consistently produce quality work? What does he do each day that most people don’t?

I’m not sure about all of his strategies, but I recently discovered a story that revealed one of the secrets behind Seinfeld’s incredible productivity, performance, and consistency.

Let’s talk about that what he does and how you can use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to stop procrastinating and actually achieve your goals.

The “Seinfeld strategy”

Brad Isaac was a young comedian starting out on the comedy circuit. One fateful night, he found himself in a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. In an interview on Lifehacker, Isaac shared what happened when he caught Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had “any tips for a young comic.”

Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

You’ll notice that Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about results.

It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn’t matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”

And that’s one of the simple secrets behind Seinfeld’s remarkable productivity and consistency. For years, the comedian simply focused on “not breaking the chain.”

Let’s talk about how to stop procrastinating by using the Seinfeld Strategy in your life…

How to stop procrastinating?

Top performers in every field — athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists — they are all more consistent than their peers. They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.

While most people get demotivated and off–track after a bad performance, a bad workout, or simply a bad day at work, top performers settle right back into their pattern the next day.

The Seinfeld Strategy works because it helps to take the focus off of each individual performance and puts the emphasis on the process instead. It’s not about how you feel, how inspired you are, or how brilliant your work is that day. Instead, it’s just about “not breaking the chain.”

All you have to do to apply this strategy to your own life is pick up a calendar and start your chain.

A word of warning

There is one caveat with the Seinfeld Strategy. You need to pick a task that is meaningful enough to make a difference, but simple enough that you can get it done.

It would be wonderful if you could write 10 pages a day for your book, but that’s not a sustainable chain to build. Similarly, it sounds great in theory to be able to deadlift like a maniac every day, but in practice you’ll probably be over trained and burnt out.

So step one is to choose a task that is simple enough to be sustainable. At the same time, you have to make sure that your actions are meaningful enough to matter.

For example, researching good jokes each day is simple, but you’re never going to write a joke by merely researching. That’s why the process of writing is a better choice. Writing can actually produce a meaningful result, even when it’s done in small doses.

Similarly, doing 10 push ups per day could be simple and meaningful depending on your level of fitness. It will actually make you stronger. Meanwhile, reading a fitness book each day is simple, but it won’t actually get you in better shape.

Choose tasks that are simple to maintain and capable of producing the outcome you want.

Mastery follows consistency

The central question that ties our community together — and what I try to write about every Monday and Thursday — is “how do you live a healthy life?” This includes not merely nutrition and exercise, but also exploration and adventure, art and creativity, and connection and community.

But no matter what topic we’re talking about, they all require consistency. No matter what your definition is of a “healthy life,” you’ll have to battle procrastination to make it a reality. Hopefully, the Seinfeld Strategy helps to put that battle in perspective.

Don’t break the chain on your workouts and you’ll find that you get fit rather quickly.

Don’t break the chain in your business and you’ll find that results come much faster.

Don’t break the chain in your artistic pursuits and you’ll find that you will produce creative work on a regular basis.

So often, we assume that excellence requires a monumental effort and that our lofty goals demand incredible doses of willpower and motivation. But really, all we need is dedication to small, manageable tasks. Mastery follows consistency.




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