It is the time of year that professionals review, plan and establish goals for the coming year.
As a business DTR has the opportunity to work with some of the best clients, businesses and people in the world. One of them is CEO/Co- Founder of Shine+ Drink Steve Chapman, see below his Methodologies for achieving greatness. You can also follow more of his details below:
Top 5 Methodologies for Achieving Ambitious Goals
1. Accept the Illusion of Choice
Once you've decided your big goal, and the plan to achieve it, stop thinking you've got a choice about what happens next.
Whatever your goal may be; lose weight, save money, run a marathon, start a company, read more books- there are so many successful models to follow. Find who's completed a similar goal before and break down their process, their system, and their plan to understand the steps involved going from where you are now, to where you want to be. If your goal sits within well-researched and understood topics like personal finances, health & fitness, or entrepreneurship/business, then there are even courses and coaches you can seek out to help you breakdown your goal into the plan. This is not the hard part. The hard part is following the plan.
For example, anyone can complete an Ironman endurance race... as long as they are willing to follow the coach's plan. Day in, day out. Even when it's raining outside and the last thing in the world you 'feel' like doing is a 12km slow hill run at 8pm at night. This is where people fall down in their pursuit of goals. People convince themselves they've got a choice at this moment- to train or not to train. At that moment they do calculations in their head about the potential of doing an extra session tomorrow, or perhaps pushing themselves slightly harder on the race day to make up for them not training today. This is unfortunately the beginning of the end.
There is no choice to be made. The choice was made when you decided your goal, and when you finalised your plan for how you will achieve it. Now is the time for compliance. Time to go through the motions and stick to the plan.
I think something we need to remember at this moment is it's going to be boring and repetitive. It's going to be hard and uncomfortable. Pursuing any form of progress (a goal) by definition is stepping into the unknown. It's about leaving the comfort zone and accepting pain for progress.
2. Embrace Social Accountability
There's a famous story of David Blaine who is one of my favourite examples of what human willpower is capable of… some of his highlights include holding his breath for 17 minutes, not eating for 44 days, standing on a pole for 35 hours, and buried alive for 7 days, etc.
A reporter goes to David's house to interview him when he's not actively performing a stunt and finds his house a mess, David looking overweight and he tells the reporter he is terrible at saving money. It's crazy to think someone who can muster more willpower than most humans alive, can't control his diet and personal finances. The reporter inquires further and asks David why this might be the case... David replies "No one is watching me now. My reputation isn't linked to my weight or my personal finances. But if I tell the world I'm going to hold my breath for 17 minutes and do it live on Oprah, my whole livelihood and reputation is on the line. I'm going to bring my A-game."
This story has always stuck with me, and I use the principle of 'Social Accountability' often when trying to achieve ambitious goals. As soon as I fully commit to a goal, I tell all the people close to me, my team at Shine, my wife, my family, and I'll usually post it everywhere on social media. Given our human desire to try to hold our reputation in-tact, it's an incredible driver for good if channelled properly.
If there's a choice between looking like someone who doesn't follow through on their word (a sacred thing) to people I care about or lacing up to go for a run in the rain at the end of a long day, I'll choose the shoes every time, as will most humans.
TIP: You need enough accountability and transparency on a daily and micro level, not just the macro. I try to have someone who will know as soon as I deviate from the goal/plan, in the smallest instance. This accountability means you'll be able to get back on track before you fall too far behind and the momentum is lost.
3. Have Bright Lines & Take Massive Action Immediately
I've always found you got to have crystal clear rules. It's black and white. No grey area or room for interpretation. Our minds are crafty lawyers and they can justify anything if you give them the freedom too. For example, it's always easier for me to say absolutely 100% no alcohol, then trying to balance my alcohol in moderation. Too often I found myself justifying "just one more" and ending up regretting my intake the following day.
The same goes for junk food, savings/investing goals, or health & fitness. Extreme and bright lines are easier to follow, and relieve you of having to decide at the moment what's allowed and what's not (linking back to point 1 - the illusion of choice).
Secondly, whenever I am starting a new goal, I'll take immediate and massive action to build momentum.
This could mean buying all the equipment needed for the sport/hobby/skill. This could mean creating the whole plan and starting it on the same day I decide I'm going to pursue it. It also links to Point 2 and it could mean telling the world about the new goal you've committed to.
Imagine a large and heavy boulder sitting on the road. If it's sitting idle on a flat surface, it's going to take a lot of effort and resources to get that boulder to move ever so slightly. However, once you've got it moving, it requires less and less effort to keep the boulder rolling in the direction you want. Consider your goal like this boulder.
This fast-start approach also works given the 'Sunk Cost' fallacy. It states if you invest time and resources into a project you are less likely to stop it given we don't like wasted effort. Use this human condition for good, and invest a lot upfront to increase your chances you'll follow through. The more reasons to keep going the better. The more logs on the fire, the hotter it burns and the harder it is to put out.
4. Trust Habits > Motivation
Never rely on motivation over the long term. It's nice when it's around. But it won't show up enough for you to follow through and achieve your goals.
There's always a lot of motivation at the start of a new goal. It's exciting, energising and you are seeing progress quickly so it feels rewarding. Dopamine is being released and it might even feel easy.
However, the day will come when it's not there.
I usually find after 24 days, motivation will start to fade or be completely gone by then.
This is when most people stop. They stop 'feeling like it'. They are not getting the immediate progress milestones and the incremental wins are less often and harder to achieve. You may have even encountered a challenge and a compelling justification of why to stop pursuing the goal altogether.
This is why it's more important to rely on and trust discipline more than motivation. Motivation will return, eventually. You can do things to spark it but it's not reliable enough for me. I trust in systems and habits.
Habits are repeatable actions that become automatic over-time. They eventually don't take willpower to keep them going. It's like the boulder analogy in Point 3- once the boulder is up and rolling, it's got its own momentum and requires little effort to keep moving.
Therefore I use the first 24 days of motivation to build my new habits around the goal and the plan. I modify my daily routine, I change my environment, I remove bad habit triggers and replace them with good triggers. I ensure I do all of this in the first 24 days when I have the motivation and energy naturally, so by the time day 24 comes around, I've got the systems and habits in place to follow.
If you haven't set up the plan and habits by day 24, I recommend resetting and recommitting to your goal and using that energy to turn short term motivation into long term habits and routines.
If you want to learn more about setting and starting habits, I recommend the books Atomic Habits by James Clear or Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
5. Don't Pretend
Lastly, this is a mental check with yourself. Are you pretending?
Don't pretend is a mental mantra I repeat in my head when things are getting tough.
It's a bullshit checker on ourselves.
At the end of the day, no-one else will really know if you're giving it your best efforts or not.
You can pretend to everyone else. You can't pretend to yourself.
It works on both sides of the coin for me.
Don't pretend you're too tired, busy, overweight to train.
Don't pretend you're too dumb, uneducated, or un-networked to start a business.
Don't pretend you're not capable.
Don't pretend you're giving it all your 100% efforts.
Don't pretend you're not taking shortcuts.
Don't pretend you're meditating, reading, and journaling.
If you've set the goal, get it done. Don't pretend.
I hope some of these methodologies and mental models help you achieve the goals you really care about. In the spirit of embracing social accountability, I would love to hear via email any of your ambitious goals for 2021 and I'll see if I can support and check-in throughout the year. Email me if you're willing to commit and see them right through.
Stay humble, stay hungry. Don't pretend.
All the best for 2021.