In our first post in this series, we discussed the fundamental importance of goal setting on the way to achieving our highest selves. In the second, we took the time to understand which goals are worth setting. In our third edition in this 4-part series, we will better understand how to stick to those goals we have now committed to.

Motivation is overrated

“Getting better is a campaign.”- Jocko Willink

Motivation only gets us so far. You can watch all the inspiring YouTube talks you want (here is a great one), but at the end of the day, we must have a commitment to an ideal which surpasses the fatigue and rigor of our daily lives. Discipline is always difficult, but many of us can muster the strength to perform well today. Few of us, however, can maintain that sustained effort for a lifetime. And it is only sustained effort that allows us to achieve anything of value. Forget motivation. We need to build the daily habits that will lead to us becoming our highest selves. We must use each day well.

Making a List

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.”- Annie Dillard

I have found immense value in list making. Before I go to bed each night, I make a list of all the tasks I need to perform the next day. I sit quietly in a room and purposefully design the next day in accordance with my goals and the context of the week. This is invaluable. Setting aside five minutes each night allows me to save far more wasted minutes the next day in decision making. And with the day mapped out, I don’t have to rely on willpower. That list is a commitment to myself to use my time well, and it is that contract which keeps me focused and diligent the following day.

Making that list and holding myself to a preconceived standard saves me from spending idle time in means subordinate to my goal. Social media will rob you of your productivity if you let it. Some of our smartest minds are devoting their lives to figuring out how to get people to keep clicking and swiping. People we have never met are vying for our attention; we must not cede our finite time to other people’s priorities.

Zooming Out Further

If I spend five minutes a night working on tomorrow’s list, I spend closer to half an hour planning the next week. On the weekend, I set aside time to plan what the ideal next week would look like, mapping out every aspect of my life: my business, my relationships, my health, and my study. I ask myself, What would I have to do this week to feel that I used my time well toward worthwhile ends? I then make my master list which serves as the reference material with which I determine the best use of each individual day.

Call To Action

  1. Take some time each weekend to map out the next week. What do you want to achieve? Write it all down.
  2. Then each night before bed, make a list of the things you want to achieve the following day. Stick to the list. Discipline in the evening can save us from lack of will power the following morning.

By designing great days we build a great life. I have found this practice life-changing. May you do the same.

One final note:

The list is not a tyrant. The list is meant to serve you, not the other way around. Use the list each day as a guide while still living organically. One of the greatest obstacles to personal development is becoming so task driven that we become robots. Do not lose your humanity in an attempt to improve that humanity. If we spend our whole lives being disciplined in personal development, but are so driven that we miss out on the beauty of the ride, was it worth it?

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