Bite Sized

It’s amazing how much you can get done in a really short period of time when you break it into smaller pieces.

A big lesson I’ve learned relatively recently is that putting your goals into very small, very regular, and very intense time blocks works really well.

It’s natural to want to put our goals down in terms of milestones or accomplishments. “Clean the basement on Saturday.” Or maybe “Write a chapter this week.” Or even “lose 20 pounds by May.” We focus on the goal; the thing we want to be different in the world.

And then we never get there. The goals stay firmly wishes. We’re bad at estimating how long they’ll take – so we think we can clean the basement on Saturday, but even with the best of intentions we’re only a third of the way done by midnight and we’re not only exhausted, we feel guilty and down on ourselves. You try to write a chapter by the end of the week, but something keeps coming up and you never have enough time to sit down and write a whole chapter. And it turns out “until May” isn’t enough time to lose 20 pounds, so you’ve only lost half that by then and you feel horrible.

It doesn’t have to be like that!

Your goals need to exist in your daily life. They also need to not consume your daily life.

The way to balance those two needs is to focus on time, not on milestones. Don’t say you’ll clean the basement on Saturday. Say that every Saturday, you’ll clean the basement for 2 hours until it’s done. Don’t write a chapter a week; say that you’ll write for 30 minutes every day, regardless of how much or how little you write during that time. And don’t worry about losing any specific amount of weight by any specific time; set a daily diet plan and say that you’ll exercise for 15 minutes, twice daily.

When you commit to those, you can do them with tremendous intensity. You can block out other distractions for the amount of time needed, and be satisfied with yourself when their time is over for the day. You can reclaim your life, guilt-free, as you do whatever else you want. You’ll know you’ve moved towards you goals.

Instead of being mad at yourself for only partially accomplishing a goal, you’ll be proud of yourself every single day for moving closer. You’ll build habits and satisfaction.

These chunks can be well and truly bite sized. Even ten minutes of writing is more than zero. Even a dollar saved is more than no dollars. There is no increment towards your goal that is shameful, pointless, or “not worth it.”

No matter what your goal is, there is a bite you could take out of it today. If you’re not willing to, then it’s not really your goal – and that’s all there is to it.

The Bear

Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.

You don’t necessarily fall behind just because you have a bad day. If you’re relentless about your goals normally, you’ve gained ground every day. A day where you gain less ground isn’t the same as a day where you move backwards.

The bear got me today. I’ll get him tomorrow. And my scorecard is still way better than his.


My head hurts.

The nature of having young kids is that they do a phenomenal job of collecting germs. Germs to which they seem shockingly resilient, but which none the less lay waste to this poor old man’s immune system.

It’s not that bad. I’m more tired than I otherwise would be, and I have the standard suite of symptoms that accompany a head cold. But miracles of modern science abound, and I have plenty of medicines and chemicals to treat these symptoms and a safe environment in which to recover.

It did give me reason to reflect, as I recovered comfortably and safely, on how important it is to have a framework of goals, actions and principles that you establish in advance of these more difficult moments.

This morning I went to my eldest daughter’s karate belt test, despite the fact that in the moment I had very little desire to do so. But I have a firmly-held principle, written in the high times, that says “Attend as many of your children’s important milestones as you possibly can; only let actual inability prevent you from doing so.” Being tired and sick isn’t actual inability, so I went. The principle carried me when my immediate motivation wasn’t there.

Likewise, today would be a lousy day to start a blog or writing a book or a workout routine or a reading pattern or any of my other daily goals. If I didn’t already have those things in place, I wouldn’t find the motivation to start them today.

That’s why you can’t rely on motivation in the moment. No one is motivated every single day; some days just suck. And those are the days where you need that framework the most, because those are the days that have a tendency to turn into weeks, months, or the rest of your life if you let them.

That’s a headache far worse than this one.

No Status Quo

“You never use that mixer. Those things are pretty expensive; you could sell that one for $200, easy.”

“I might need it, though.”

“If you didn’t have a mixer, and you saw one just like that for $200 right now, would you buy it?”

“Probably not.”

“Why? You might need it.”

“Yeah, but I could spend that $200 on other stuff.”

“Exactly. Let me put it another way – if you didn’t have a mixer or $200, and I offered you one or the other as a gift, which would you want?”

“Definitely the cash.”

Do you see what happened here? The other person went from not wanting to sell the mixer (in other words, to valuing the mixer much higher than $200) to ‘probably’ not buying a mixer (in other words, valuing the mixer at somewhat less than $200) to definitely preferring the cash (in other words, absolutely valuing the mixer far less than $200). Each time, they were implicitly asked which they valued more, but three different answers were given.


It’s called “status quo bias,” and it’s ruining your life. Fortunately, once you know about it, it loses a lot of its power over you – if you’re smart enough to beat it.

“Status quo bias” means that you over-value stuff you own or your current situation, even if the post-change state would be much better. You see this manifesting most often when people are faced with a decision whether or not to change something.

A fellow reached out to me recently looking for advice on a difficult situation he was facing. He had a good job and a nice home situation. But he also had a really spectacular offer for a new job he was considering. There was nothing wrong with his current situation; he was happy. He was trying to figure out if the possible disruption to that was worth the probable (but of course, always uncertain) improvement to his situation by taking the new offer. He’d rattled off lists of pros and cons but his biggest impediment to the decision was that both potential scenarios were good; he was just trying to figure out which was better, for him and his family. That’s a tough decision, and I certainly couldn’t make it for him. But I was able to help him make the decision a lot easier.

I asked him simply: “Imagine you didn’t currently have either job. You currently live in another state and you’re unemployed, looking for your next role. You get two offers at the same time – one for your current job, one for this new one. Which would you take?”

His response was instantaneous. He’d take the new one.

You see, when laid out like that, almost everything about the new role was better than the current one. Almost all the points in the “pro” column for the current job were facets of the fact that he was already there. He wouldn’t have to relocate; he already knew the role; etc.

He wasn’t fairly evaluating the two options against one another, he was evaluating changing versus not changing.

Unfortunately, our brains are wired to be risk-averse and afraid of change in far greater proportion than they should be. Change requires effort and risk; but far less than we expect. And change and risk are by nature temporary; if you don’t do something because of them, you’re trading a lasting benefit for mitigation of a temporary cost, and compounded over time those decisions are making your life so much worse than it could be.

Any time you’re faced with a decision between an inactive and an active choice, such as “should I quit my job for this new role” or “should I move to a new house or stay here” or even “should I sell this thing I don’t use or keep it,” re-frame the choice as being between two active options. Ask “if I didn’t live in either house, which one would I pick,” and you’ll find an easier answer. The human brain is lazier than you realize, but it’s great at comparing two things and picking the one you want if the effort for either was roughly equal. So you have to trick your brain a little, but the end result is better decision-making.

Sometimes the decision will go the other way, and of course that’s fine. Sometimes you might say, “I actually would like the new house better, but they’re so close I don’t think it’s worth the challenge and hassle of moving,” and that’s both fair and okay. Sometimes you’ll say, “You know what, even if both were on the table, I would take the mixer, and thinking about it this way has helped me realize that I want to set more time aside to pursue baking because I love it so much.” The point isn’t to always pick the change (if that were the lesson here, we wouldn’t be talking about how to make good decisions at all, because the decision would be automatic), but to know which one you really want and to not let your lazy brain trick you into the call that will make you less happy in the long run.

Don’t give your current status any additional weight just because it’s grandfathered in. You can make your life from scratch, over and over again, as often as you want. You can make it better each time.

Starting Over

Have you ever thought about what advice you would give yourself 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

If you could talk to yourself when you were at the start of the journey you now consider yourself to be further along in, what advice would you give your past self?

That question has a million answers. You probably think you have some damned fine advice to offer your younger self, perhaps advice that you’d repeat to any other younger people who will listen.

So here’s the better question – if you know what you should have done when you were younger, why don’t you do those things now?

“Oh, if I could go back and do it all over, I’d definitely get into/out of this or that industry.” So why not now?

You can start over any time you want. Don’t be a slave to what you think you’ve earned, especially if it’s keeping you from doing so much more. The fact is, you almost certainly are smarter now than you were then. It was smart of your younger self to make a plan. Now it’s up to you to improve on it. You don’t have to take your marching orders from someone who had the same dreams as you but ten years less experience.

It’s never too late to take the advice your future self wants to give you.

Head Bus Boy

My first job where I was an actual employee of someone other than my family came when I was sixteen years old. There was a local catering hall in my town that employed a fair number of youths in basic positions. I approached the owner, made my case, and was hired on the spot as a bus boy. I was told to show up that Saturday at 6 AM, to wear a white button-down shirt, black pants and black shoes (a black vest and black tie were provided by the establishment from a large supply of cheap versions they kept on hand; smart of them).

I showed up early and worked from before 6 AM until just after 2 AM the (technically) next day. Despite the 20-hour shift, I felt wonderful. I was treated very well; plenty of free food (the family-owned-and-operated hall always made plenty of extra for the employees), lots of good music, and many of my co-workers were people I knew from school. Like any workplace of mostly teenagers, the environment was fun. Unlike many, the management actually encouraged that fun as long as the customers were happy and we worked as hard as we laughed.

The owners were a local Italian family (because this was a catering hall in New Jersey… who did you expect to run it?), and so the crew spent the after-hours cleanup time singing Frank Sinatra songs as we worked. Most people were told they could go home when the last party ended; the few that volunteered to stay longer for cleanup were compensated extra. I had worked over 20 hours (obviously with breaks and such, but not many), but I also left with over $250 in cash from my first night of work, ever. I was over the moon.

But that’s not all I left with. At the end of that first night, the owners called me into the small adjacent office and told me they’d never seen a kid work as hard as I did and not have a word of complaint or ask to go home even after all that time. They asked me if I wanted to be “head bus boy.”

Thinking back on it now, I laugh and laugh. “Head bus boy!” What a concept. It turns out they just wanted someone to coordinate getting the appropriate number of teenagers to show up for work each weekend, and it was easier for me to do that since I went to school with most of their employees. They offered me an extra dollar an hour and more hours during the week after school (most people only had the option to work weekends) to take on this responsibility. I eagerly accepted.

(It turned out to be a great move for me, socially. Suddenly I had the hookup, and word quickly spread that if you wanted to make the best money a sixteen-year-old high school kid could (legally) make, you needed to talk to Johnny Roccia. It also quickly got around that our after-work parties were the best, so that helped too. That’s not the point of this story – but it’s a nice reminder that there can be a lot of non-compensation benefits to your job!)

When I got home, my father was still awake. His son was at his first day of work, and he was eager to hear how it went. We stayed up even later and I told him everything, including the part where at the end of my very first day in the workforce, I’d earned a promotion.

My father has never, in all the years and accomplishments since, been more proud of me than he was that night. Nothing has ever topped it. I’m not sure anything ever will.

It was years before I first realized that some people were ashamed of their jobs, based on their relative social status. I was well into my 20’s before I came to understand that some people used the phrase “flipping burgers” in a derogatory way, instead of just as casual slang. For my father, that was such a ludicrous concept that I never even came up against it. There were no bad jobs inherently. There were bad bosses, and there were plenty of people who were bad at their jobs (my father had plenty of examples of each from stories of his own youth), but no work that needed to be done was inherently a “bad job.”

He taught me that respect (including self-respect, the most important kind) didn’t come from what you did. It came from how you did it. The way my dad talked about me, I could have been a Nobel-Prize-winning astronaut president. It didn’t matter that I was a bus boy. Because I was head bus boy.

Sometimes I drive by where that catering hall used to be. It’s not there any more and the staff have all moved on. I lost track of them years ago; I’m not sure where the owners and managers are now. I worked there for almost four years, and I loved every second of it. Sometimes when I drive by, I think of Mario, the owner (of course his name was Mario); his daughter Maria who ran the kitchen; and Gary, his right-hand man and general manager. The people who gave me my first promotion, who showed me that when you hustle and smile, there are people who notice.

Whatever you do, do it well. Do it with pride and with respect, especially for yourself.

Head Bus Boy.” Still cracks me up. And also makes me feel very, very grateful.

Yes First

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite word is “yes.”

I try to have a “yes first” philosophy in life. What does that mean, exactly? It means that I try very hard to cultivate “yes” as an instinctive, first answer. I want it to be my first impulse. You build those kinds of habits over time, but you can make the decision to start today.

It’s not just about the words you use. It’s about making those words true. Often I start with the “yes” and then work backwards. If I’m having a bad day, and my daughter asks if I want to play, some part of me can want to say no. To say I’m too busy or too stressed. Instead, I say “yes,” and then find a way to make it true.

It might be “yes, if you’re okay with it being just for a little bit before I have to get back to work.” Or it can be “yes, but the game has to be ‘help daddy clean the living room,’ and then we can do something else,” or even sometimes, “yes, I do, but I’m in the middle of a project, can we play in 20 minutes?”

“Yes, if” is still a perfectly valid version of “yes.” I started with the default that I would say yes, and then I looked for ways to fit that yes into my day or my life.

Try it with any type of goal. Ask yourself if you can accomplish some particular thing you’ve always wanted to do, and instead of listing reasons why you can’t, start your answer with “Yes, if…”

Assume the answer is yes, and then work out the details. The details are incidental; they’re minor compared to the core belief that you can do it.

“Yes, if” is a great way to stay positive while also respecting your time and other commitments. It also gets rid of sounding like you’re making excuses. If someone asks you for a favor, and you really would like to do it for them except you’re super busy right now, that can be true but still sound like you’re not willing to help or that you’re making an excuse. Instead, consider a rephrase: “Yes I can, as long as it isn’t time sensitive; but if I can help you with this after next Thursday I’ve got you.” (This is assuming, of course, that you legitimately did want to do the favor! But in general I think we could all stand to do a few more favors for others, and probably want to.)

“Yes, if” is also a great way to overcome your nervousness or anxiety about whether or not you have the ability to do something. Don’t worry about the voice in your brain that tells you that you can’t. Just say yes, and then figure out why you were right. Start with the yes. If you’re offered a promotion or a new task at your job, say “Yes! If I can take this task off my plate, I can completely commit to this new role.” Make the world fit to your yes.

All great things in life start with a “yes!”

Game Time

I love the way kids turn the most ridiculous things into games and contests. It’s never just “let’s play with sidewalk chalk.” It’s always seeing who can draw the longest line, or who can jump between two circles drawn far apart, or even “who can get the most chalk dust in their hair,” like my kids seem to do.

This is everything. “Look how far I can climb,” followed immediately by “wait, I can go even higher!” Breaking limit after limit, record after record. Turning it all into achievements.

It’s so good. They don’t wait for anyone else to impose standards on them, or tell them what the correct thing they should be measuring is. It’s totally ad hoc; they just take the thing they already wanted to do and then turn it into an accomplishment worthy of admiration. No one tells them “really great athletes could jump across that creek.” They jump across the creek, and then declare themselves great athletes for having done so.

Why in the world do we give that up?

Why would you ever trade that for the shallow approval of others, for the standards society sets for you? Don’t. Don’t ever.

Pick a thing you want to do and turn it into a game. Bet yourself that you can do better than before. Declare yourself great after each new thing you do. So what if it lacks direction? Direction doesn’t always equal purpose. “Down” is a direction, too.

So often as adults we forget how to even start doing stuff. How to get excited about things. How to embrace not being good at them right away. How to turn learning the basics into a game that’s fun to play, instead of a source of frustration we’re trying to get past.

What game will you play today?

Head Start

Some things are in our nature. That doesn’t mean we have to yield to our nature, but it’s always good to know what direction your natural inclination pulls.

For instance, one of the reasons I set so many goals and checklists and daily habits is because it’s actually in my nature to be quite lazy. It’s so easy for me to procrastinate. So easy for me to lose my motivation.

If it weren’t, then it wouldn’t be necessary for me to build all these systems to keep me on track. But it is, because I can’t let my base nature win out over what I want in the longer term.

Even in the short term, a day’s laziness makes me miserable. I don’t enjoy days off and I’m terrible at “weekending.” I recognize the need to take breaks in order to preserve my efficiency but I’m pretty awful at actually taking them. When I do have “time off” from my main task, I usually fill it with smaller productive activities. That’s because I can feel the grip of inertia pulling on me any time I slow down, whispering in my ear how nice it would be to just quit.

That voice is a liar, but it knows how to lie well.

A lot of the point of life is to rise above our base natures. To do more than just survive. Sometimes that means you have to give yourself every advantage you have, and use every trick in the book to beat that tempting voice that tells you it’s easier to do the bare minimum.

Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I know I’m not at my strongest. Sometimes stress and fatigue wear on me and hurt my ability to make good choices. Those are the times when it’s so important that I’ve built this structure, given myself these rules to live by. The rules were made by me at my best, so that they would be there when I’m at my worst.

That’s my head start. My advantage over my worst impulses. They try to catch up to me in the weak moments, but I’ve already got the jump on them, because by the time they get here, I’ve still got my best self with me in spirit, telling me what to do.

Don’t slack when you’re at your best. Don’t coast. Take the time to put some of that into a structure you can use later when the going gets tough. That can mean saving money when you have it. It can mean writing a schedule when you’re in a good place mentally to do so. It can mean meal prepping. It can take a lot of forms, but you’ll be grateful for it no matter what form it took.

Every day is a race against your worst inclinations, and some days you’re in top shape and some days you’re not. So give yourself a head start as often as you can.

Ten Years

There is absolutely nothing you can’t do in ten years.

We put a man on the freakin’ moon in less than ten years. It’s a ridiculously long time from the standpoint of getting stuff done. It also has the amazing advantage of being a tremendously short time from the standpoint of your overall lifespan. If you don’t think of yourself as “old” right now, you probably also don’t think of (your current age) +10 as “old” either.

So ten years is the perfect time span to accomplish major, life-changing goals. You could become literally anything in ten years, starting from complete scratch. This isn’t just about professional goals, either – ten years ago I was single and childless; now I’m married with three kids. Whatever you want to be different, it can be completely different in ten years.

Now, here’s a caveat: it’s not ten years from today, it’s ten years from the day you start. Those could be the same day! But it’s not automatic.

Here’s another caveat: it won’t happen because you wish it so. It’ll happen with a plan.

Now, I could end this blog post here and the advice would be sound. “Plan for the future and don’t just run along the hamster wheel” is good advice, but it’s not very actionable on its own. So I’m going to lay out a method for you to actually make those plans and execute on them. It’s time to stop saying “I’ve always wanted to…” and start doing it.

Phase One: Set the Goals

In this phase of the method, you’re going to put down in words your actual goals. Here’s how: you’re going to imagine four separate “snapshots” of your life. Quick summaries of your life as you want it to be – one at the 6-month mark from now, another at the 1-year mark, another at the 5-year mark, and a final one at 10 years.

For each snapshot, write about what makes you happy in your life at that time, what things are better than they are now, and what things you’re doing to contribute to the world around you.

It’s okay to take your time on these, but it’s also okay if they’re not perfect or complete. You’re writing them in a notebook, not carving them in stone. Goals will evolve over time, and that’s okay – it’s part of this process, as you’ll see. For now, just put something down.

It’s also extra okay to talk to other people about this. No one is an island, and not being sure about your own goals is natural at any point in your life. Draw inspiration from others and talk to people you respect as you do this if you feel you need to.

Got your four snapshots written down? Awesome, on to the next phase!

Phase Two: Fill A Calendar

For this phase, you’ll need to have a calendar, and it needs to go out 10 years. That means you’re probably better off using an online calendar program, but if you’d rather buy ten physical one-year planners and stack them up, whatever works!

Step 1: Start with your 6-month snapshot. It should be fairly realistic, but this process will help tell you if it’s not. Starting from that 6-month snapshot, count backwards and break it down into monthly milestones; things you’ll need to get done by each month in order to get to that point. I’ll use weight loss because it’s an example that’s easy to understand: if your 6-month snapshot included you being 30 pounds lighter, then you’d need to be 25 pounds lighter when you’re at the 5-month mark, 20 pounds lighter at the 4-month mark, and so on.

For each of these benchmarks, commit to a specific date on the calendar and write it in. Title them as “BENCHMARK: 15 Total Pounds Lost” and put that on a specific day of the calendar. The benchmarks don’t have to all be identical; in fact for many goals that won’t be realistic. If your 6-month snapshot includes you having your house built on the plot of empty land you bought, then there are very different benchmarks at each month. No matter what they look like, however, put them on the calendar.

Next, step back from each 1-month benchmark and consider what needs to happen on a weekly basis for that benchmark to be realistic. What big steps need to occur? It could be “every Friday, go out to community events in order to meet new people,” because your goal is to eventually find a spouse. It could be “every Monday, make sure I get a positive review from my manager, in writing” because you’re trying to advance in your company. These goals might change each time you pass a 1-month benchmark, but they should generally be consistent within a given month. Again, put them on the calendar! Don’t just write “Every Friday…,” etc. Actually go into the calendar, and put that on every single Friday in the relevant period.

Now, break down those weekly goals. What has to happen every single day in order for that weekly goal to be met?

Goals that do not have a daily component will be MUCH harder to achieve!

Daily components keep you from procrastinating, they keep your goals in the center of your focus, and they build your goals into habits that pull you through the toughest times. They make sure that if you get tripped up, you only lose a day and not a week, month or year. You must have something you do every day towards your goal. Just like with every other step, this is going in the calendar! (This is another reason I recommend an online calendar – you can set tasks and reminders as “daily.” Otherwise you’re writing your daily checklist on every day of the calendar!)

The method I’ve described here also keeps you focused on what needs to happen: the action steps. By working backwards, you’re making sure each component is only directly serving the benchmark one “level” above it. You’re not trying to figure out the daily steps to get to the six-month goal, just the daily steps to get to each one-week benchmark.

So at this point you have a VERY full calendar for the next six months! You have something to do on literally every day for the next six months. If you’ve ever wondered how you can pursue your goals with so many other things vying for your time and attention, this is it. You put the Big Rocks in first. When someone says “hey, do you want to go out drinking and partying this Friday,” you’ll have an easier time saying “no” if it conflicts with the goals in this calendar. You won’t have time to lose hours on Facebook if you’re working hard to get your daily tasks checked off!

Each day you wake up, you’ll look at your calendar and it will tell you what you need to be doing. You can then translate that into the specific hourly layout you need that day (or maybe at the beginning of each week, like I do), and your focus will stay on the tasks at hand. You won’t feel guilty or burdened by the enormity of the big goal, because you know you’re doing the right things today to get there. When you know what you’re doing, your actions will have purpose and you’ll be less vulnerable to distractions.

Step 2: Now we’re moving onto the 1-year snapshot. This snapshot should have built somewhat on the 6-month version, and now we’re going to use the calendar to fill in the time between them. Instead of daily/weekly/monthly benchmarks, however, we’re going to go one level of macro up and create weekly/monthly/bi-monthly benchmarks. (There will eventually be daily tasks too, but we’re too far away yet for them to be accurate or helpful.)

Use the exact same method, starting big and working down. First figure out what benchmarks would have to get hit every two months between your 6-month goal and your 1-year goal. Write them down at the appropriate spots in the calendar. Next look at what monthly goals would have to happen to get to those two-month goals (or quarterly, if that makes more sense for your timeline). Then look at what weekly goals need to happen to get to the monthly goals. Don’t go deeper than weekly at this stage.

In the same way that you don’t plan out your actions to the hour until you’re looking at less than a week’s worth of hours, you don’t want to plan out your actions to the day until you’re looking at less than six months’ worth of days. Appropriate levels of focus are important.

Step 3: Now take your 5-year snapshot and look at how it differs from your 1-year snapshot. Start at a high level and fill in the four-year gap, only this time we’re looking at monthly/quarterly/yearly benchmarks instead of weekly/monthly/bi-monthly. The same rules apply, though – actual dates need to go on the calendar! So at this point you’re putting actual dates on the calendar for September 2023, and that’s awesome. By now this is giving you a clear picture of how you’ll get from here to there, which makes there look a lot less distant and unrealistic, doesn’t it?

Step 4: Now go to the big one, the 10-year snapshot. Fill those five intervening years in, but go with quarterly/yearly/bi-annually for your benchmarks. Now you have a complete road map. And guess what? You’ve made mistakes. You’ve underestimated some things, and overestimated other things. You’ve forgotten stuff, and there’s stuff you don’t even know yet. All of that is okay. You have a plan, and a way forward. In the next phase you’ll see how to adjust it and perfect it as you go, but now you have what you didn’t before – something to do.

Phase Three: Execute and Evolve

Okay, so now you’ve got this big plan, this huge road map that leads you from here to there! Not only does it show what you should be doing at any stage, it actually has instructions to get there. You know what you get to do with it now? Ignore it!

Not forever, obviously! (Don’t worry, this wasn’t a trick!) But the only thing you have to pay attention to tomorrow is tomorrow’s action steps. You don’t have to stress about the “big picture” and whether you’re doing the right things. You are!

Tomorrow you tackle tomorrow’s goals. You might fail. That’s okay! The next day you get to try again, and in the grand scheme one day’s failure won’t matter. But these small failures feed big successes. You’ve got a weekly check-in coming up where you can look back at the past week and measure you performance against your goals. If you accomplished what you set out to accomplish, awesome! And if you didn’t, you can review your weekly and daily actions and change them in your calendar going forward – with no more than the loss of a week. Without this plan, you could have been grinding away for years without ever seeing whether you were getting closer to your goals.

So you tweak a little here and there, but always deliberately. If you change something, physically change it in the calendar. Always be committed to daily action. When you hit your first month’s benchmark, check in and review. By that point, you’ll have gotten your daily and weekly actions nicely polished, and if you didn’t hit your first month’s goals, you’ll have a much better understanding why and will probably hit your second. You’ll keep closing gaps and fixing things and getting better all the time.

And then before you know it, six months have passed.

Now it’s time to move the whole thing up! Get out the whole 9.5 year calendar again, and look at the next six months between where you are now and your initial 1-year snapshot. You might be making changes here, and that’s fine! But the most important change you’ll make is now you’ll take the weekly/monthly/bi-monthly goals you wrote and you’ll be adding daily action. You’ll be focusing on a more granular level because you’re close enough now for it to make sense to do so.

Once you’ve done that, you go back to daily execution and checking in at each benchmark. When you reach the 1-year snapshot, take your 5-year snapshot and revise it based on whatever may have changed in your life or plans, and then create another set of 6-month and 1-year snapshots from where you are now, following the same steps. Keep doing that every 6 months until you reach the 5-year snapshot. Then look at the 10-year snapshot, revise, and do it again.

Your goals may change. Even if they do, you’ll have done so much incredible work and personal development that you’ll be closer than you imagined, because you weren’t wasting your time.

Phase Four: Ten Years

Congratulations! But you know what? You’re not old now, and so you still won’t be old in ten more years. Time to set some new goals… and enjoy the trip.