I’m a good little self-improvement boy.
I’ve spent 1000s of hours reading about all the formulas you can use to achieve goals, progress in life, and reach your potential. I’d have to be stupid by now not to see the patterns.
Patterns turn on easy mode.
All self-improvement boils down to these things. Forget the rest.
Break down big tasks into smaller tasks
This is 101 of growth.
If something feels too hard, the steps you’ve mapped out are too big.
Don’t set a goal to write a book. Set a goal to write the book title. Don’t set a goal to start a business. Set a goal to start a 1-hour a day side hustle. Turn it into a business once you’re deep in the game.
Life feels easy when the steps to take are tiny.
Motivation is for losers
This point can literally change your life.
Motivation requires willpower. It’s intangible. It depends on how you feel. Don’t bet your life on how you feel. You’ll likely go nowhere.
Think differently and understand this formula…
Habits make goals possible. Systems make habits a reality. Consistency makes habits compound over time to produce extraordinary results.
Habits turn big goals into tiny steps. Tiny steps produce momentum. Momentum leads to more execution.
Execution leads to eventual success.
Beliefs shape what is possible
Open your mind, expand your potential.
Program your mind to believe wild thoughts.
Ditch the programming from school that taught you to memorize useless facts and follow the rules to become one of the sheep with zero creativity.
What you believe shapes your decisions.
If life is limitless then so are opportunities. You can brainwash yourself to think anything. Brainwash yourself to be optimistic. Brainwash yourself to believe in the impossible.
Time expands to the hours you allocate
Parkinson’s law is a golden formula.
Whatever time you set aside for a goal, the tasks will oddly fill up that time.
Get smart about how you allocate time. If you give yourself too much time, you’ll procrastinate. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you’ll constantly get stressed by brutal self-imposed deadlines.
Expect bumps in the path
Entrepreneurship taught me one thing: failure equals success.
Many people cannot handle failure. When failure happens they think something is wrong.
But failure is the way.
I wasted tens of thousands of dollars on websites. I lost money investing. I paid money yesterday for a logo that I had to throw in the bin. I bought a software tool that cost $300 USD and then had to trash it.
These are tragedies to most. To me, they make me smile.
When you fail you’re experimenting.
Experiments are real education. What you learn through experience holds more power than solely absorbing other people’s lessons that may be based on a best-case scenario or a set of hidden advantages you’ll never know.
Get in the game. Fail. Acquire experience points.
Luck is bullsh*t
Look at baseball. Most batters miss the majority of the pitches that come their way. This is hardcoded into the sport.
Eventually, if a batter swings at enough balls they’ll hit one.
It’s the same with online writers. Luck doesn’t exist. If you publish enough work over a period of time, something will go viral.
Execute the same task consistently. Iterate as you go. Then you’ll make your own luck and look like a hero. Really, it’s just execution times a hundred.
Use flow states to increase results
Easy mode in life is where work happens effortlessly.
Flow states are the enabler. You’ve heard about them before. It’s where you sit down with zero distractions, break through the resistance, work on one problem/task, and time starts to disappear.
8 hours can feel like one hour.
That’s a flow state.
Amplifiers of flow states:
- Make the task slightly harder each time
- Relax before entering a flow state with a warm shower
- Take breaks when in flow by walking around your workspace but don’t take your attention off the task. If you do it takes ages to get back into a flow again.
- Schedule times to be in flow states. Try to be in flow at similar times to automate your brain’s ability to access this superpower.
- Breakthrough the first 5–10 mins of work and you’ll likely enter flow. It’s painful to start. It’s easy to keep going once you’re moving forward.
Goals produce anxiety.
When you find a problem it appears big in your head. The problem in real life is much smaller than your mind makes out.
Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
Whatever the problem is you’ll figure it out. There’s always a way. It’s not the end of the world. A goal doesn’t determine your entire life.
Make problems smaller in your head, then they’ll be tiny in reality.
Master these two superpowers
One: Energy management
Life is energy. Energy is needed to achieve any goal. Businesses don’t go bankrupt. Nope. Business owners run out of energy. Makes sense.
Be careful where you spend energy. Look for energy leaks — people, places, activities — that drain you.
Two: Dopamine management
Social media and apps on your phone are dopamine manipulation.
They seek to give you short bursts of rewards in the form of dopamine to make you addicted. Once your dopamine gets drained it’s hard to have the willpower to work on a goal.
You’re not lazy. You’re dopamine-depleted.
The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
When I bought a white Honda, I saw white Hondas everywhere the next day. Previously I’d rarely noticed them. I was a General Motors car guy before.
This is the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon at play. When you want to achieve a goal you do research. Suddenly, when you notice patterns or see the same thing repeatedly, you start to see a trend when there’s no trend.
Just because you’re thinking about an idea or thing a lot, doesn’t mean it’s wildly popular and suddenly a trend.
Your experience is 0.001% of reality.
Don’t be fooled by randomness. Don’t be fooled by your brain that wants to feel smart by joining dots that don’t exist.
Fall in love with deep work
Most people spend their lives doing shallow work.
It’s work full of distractions and surface-level thinking. It holds the least value. Don’t multi-task.
You can’t juggle twenty balls simultaneously. You don’t work at the circus. There’s a better way.
Master the power of doing one thing.
One thing at a time is slow. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Brick by brick. Same task after same task.
The trick is to minimize context switching.
I see it with writers. Editing, writing, and finding pictures require different skills and parts of the brain. Don’t mix them all together.
Batch allocate tasks.
Every goal has a set of skills.
Self-improvement repeats the same tripe. Read books. Go to events. Do online learning. Not to look smart but to learn skills.
Each skill by itself is pretty meaningless. But when you build a skill stack you can slay big goals.
Become a learning machine.
Learn skills then teach others the same skills. When you reteach a skill it helps to identify any misconceptions or flawed assumptions.
Be aware of fantasies
Every goal has a series of online fantasy dealers. Be wary.
You don’t need fake fantasies telling you that it’s possible to make $1M trading crypto in 24 hours. These lies only mess with your reality.
If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Focus on execution that generates evidence you can trust.
Patience contains all the rewards
A goal worth achieving takes time. Read that again.
90% of so-called problems would be solved if people were more patient. Impatience makes you:
- Look stupid
- Loose with words
Easy mode in life is reached when you obtain hard goals.
Choose your hard.
Nothing worth achieving is easy. But when you understand the common formulas above most progress makes sense. Suddenly goals have paths you can take to achieve them.
Self-improvement is nothing more than patterns. Study these patterns to understand what those you idolize have practiced for years.