Define a Small Daily Action for Your Biggest Goal in 3 Minutes

It's stupid math, but it works

If you want to achieve your biggest goal, all you have to do is transform it into a number and divide by 365.

If you want to write a book, make it 365 pages and write one per day. If you want 10,000 subscribers, start manually reaching out to 27 a day. If you want to be a director at your company, email one new person each day for a year.

The point of this overly simple, naïve napkin math isn’t to nail the plan for your journey. The point is to get moving. 

The main reason most people don’t achieve their big aspirations is that they never map out a path towards them. Even if the map is poorly drawn, not the fastest route, or flat out wrong, it’ll still help you get there because now, finally, you can start walking.

Without a map, you can’t go from A to B. When you don’t know which step to take next, you won’t take a step at all. No map, no departure from A, let alone progress towards B. Your car just stays in the driveway.

“I’d love to write a book someday!” That’s vague. Don’t settle for vague. If you’re satisfied with the mere idea of it, your dream is dead in the water. Don’t let your dream die in the water.

What will it actually take for your book to come to fruition? How does someday become October 2nd, 2022? Break it down! Whip out a napkin.

A book has lots of pages. Let’s say yours has 365. That’s one per day for a year. See how easy that was? From super-vague to ultra-specific in two seconds. Now, you have something to do tomorrow.

This off-the-cuff calculation won’t answer all your questions, but it doesn’t have to in order to be valuable. The point is to get a clear-enough picture of the road from A to B. The point is to get your car out of the driveway.

As soon as you sit down to write your first page tomorrow, you’ll realize you don’t know what your book is about — but for the first time, you’ll actually think about it. You’ll take notes, brainstorm ideas, and be on your way.

You’ll also realize you don’t know how to write one page a day. Immediately, your simple equation breaks. That’s fine. Adjust it. New goal: Write half a page for two years instead of one. There we go! The pressure is off for today, and tomorrow? Tomorrow, the plan will adjust once more.

The highest-certainty path to achieving any goal is to define a small, daily, repeatable action — and do it every day.

You’ll have to change the size of the action many times, maybe even the action itself, but none of that matters once your car has left the driveway. You’ll keep driving.

Smart people know that achieving goals has little to do with planning and a lot to do with doing. 

Plans change all the time. They must. Life happens. Obstacles occur. But objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and despite this law coming from physics, humans may be its most powerful example.

If you want 1,000 followers, ask 3 people to follow you today.

If you want a platinum record, write half a song today.

If you want to meet someone special, reach out to one person today.

Turn your biggest goal into a number, break it into 365 chunks, and pin those chunk on your calendar. 

This is stupid, gullible math. That math, however, acknowledges both the futility of planning and the fact that, every day, you must keep moving.

Don’t let the fog stop you from achieving your dreams. It only takes minutes to clear it away. You won’t catch every bit of it. You’ll still stumble and fall. 

But, maybe for the first time, you’ll be on your way — and that feeling is hard to put in numbers.

-Nik

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