The one thing that separates goal-setters from goal-achievers

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I always used to think that people who achieved their goals were experts at setting goals.

They knew exactly what goals to pick and how to structure them so they could achieve them. As if there was some “right answer” to goal-setting. That, just like business, it was a game that could be won by whoever had the fanciest Instagram post about achieving their goals.

What I eventually learned is that goal-setting and goal-achieving are completely different things.

And the people who achieve their goals aren’t any better at goal-setting than those who don’t.

Rather, the people who achieve their goals all have one or two thing in common.

The first commonality is luck. And these tend to be the people who claim to be experts at goal-setting... using their luck as some post-hoc justification of all the ways that they knew they would be successful.

So let’s ignore this group and focus on what you can replicate. Which brings us to the second commonality…

The One Thing is one of my favorite books. It was written by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. And it frames a question that helps simplify everything in life. The question is:

“What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

This question is usually applied to life, business, finances, etc. to find points of leverage. And once you find these points of leverage, you uncover a short list of priorities. One or two things to focus on every day to achieve your goals.

But things get interesting when you apply The One Thing to itself and ask:

What’s the one thing that will make achieving my one thing easier or unnecessary?

I’ll give you a couple of hints:

  • It’s not waking up early. Although that might help you.
  • It’s not losing weight.
  • It’s not building a business partnership.
  • It’s not going viral.
  • It’s not any of the typical year end reflection or planning advice either.

It’s discipline.

Discipline is the one thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary.

Like we discussed yesterday, habits and goals will always be hard. But discipline makes habits unnecessary.

As it turns out, goal-setting is a lot less important than goal-achieving. The people who are good at achieving goals have discipline. They get the work done every day.

This is the ugly face of the goal-setting industry that the gurus don’t want you to see. The truth is, you’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before if you want to achieve your goals.

You don’t need me to tell you this. You know it.

But we all have that little hope in the back of our heads that it can be easier. That we could get lucky. That we don’t have to bear the burdens that we’re faced with.

Maybe you’ll get lucky.

But until you do, you’ll be faced with your daily duty.

Some days will feel easy. You’ll be inspired. You’ll be focused. And other days you’d rather get a root canal.

Will you keep the discipline or will you let it slip?

This is what separates the goal-setters from the goal-achievers.

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