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the most important "hack" to achieving your goals

the most important "hack" to achieving your goals
Photo by Isaac Smith / Unsplash

One "hack" to achieving your goals matters most...

I learned it recently on a podcast. The podcaster shared how peer reviewed research shows people are most successful at achieving their goals when they have just one.

That's the hack. Have just one goal.

Simple. Yet my mind was blown. Yeah, this is why I find achieving goals so hard - I usually just have too many!

This year, I've worked a lot at having fewer goals. So I have tips.

Consider the following in keeping to/achieving your one goal:

  • Sleep on your goals for a week or a month before setting them. This helps me avoid setting goals I'm not fully motivated by.
  • Make your one goal specific, measurable, inspiring, etc. OKRs work.
  • Set a "Goldilocks" timeframe for your goal that is just right. I recommend three month periods (quarters) in the long run, and one month periods if you're starting out.
  • Don't say no to your other interests, simply snooze them. For example, I tell myself I can learn Korean next quarter, but not this quarter. This makes having a single goal a lot more palatable for me.
  • Identify "good enough" for your back burner activities. I find it hard to achieve my goals if I also have a high bar for my "back burner" activities e.g. if I'm meditating an hour a day, exercising 5x a week, and cooking elaborate meals.
  • Avoid renegotiating your goal during the goal period. Stick to your goal, dammit!
  • It's easy to accidentally set goals outside your goal setting framework. Avoid that. Any new habit is ultimately a goal. So is following a new piece of life advice (e.g. saying yes more).
  • If you struggle with committing to goals, maybe you just need more life experience. At 22, I gave too many fucks about everything, and I couldn't prioritize. I'm now 26 and find it a lot easier. I realized over time (or rather, while backpacking in Mexico) that I don't need to do anything in particular in this lifetime - and overall stopped giving a damn. Ironically, this made it a lot easier for me to prioritize, and commit to goals.

What I love most about having just one goal is the ability to summon "unstoppable motivation." It's that drive to accomplish something, no matter what it takes. It's hard to do that for more than one goal at a time.

That said, personally, I like setting one fitness goal and one personal goal on top of my 9-to-5 job 😬

Anyway, happy goal setting :)