Leaders, founders, and creatives are spending more time thinking about how they spend their time. Is it worth developing that new healthy habit? What about starting that new venture? How should I be taking advantage of this international pause so I can come out stronger?
Here's the answer: Choose one. Pick one thing to double down on at the moment. Trying to do everything not only may waste your time, but also will make all the things you pursue less effective.
Choose what will make the biggest impact in your personal or professional goal. What will influence not just one area but many? For instance, learning a new language may seem relatively superfluous, but not if you could communicate better with current or potential employees, serve your customers better, or expand your brand beyond its borders.
To paraphrase philosopher Archimedes, you want to find the lever that can allow you to pull the world.
Atomic Habits author James Clear says writing out your goal makes you more likely to reach your goal. According to scientific research, people who write down their commitment are up to three times more likely to follow through and reach their goal.
A commitment is specific, as in "I'm going to run for 30 minutes every day at 6:30 p.m." Scientists call these "implementation intentions."
That said, Clear notes these results are almost negated when we have too many goals. As in, more than one: "Research has discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one thing at a time," Clear says. "In fact, researchers found that people who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal."
Lastly, double down on the commitment, not on how often you're doing it. If you commit to reaching out to a new potential customer every day, then resist the temptation to go after four the first day, 12 the next day, and so on. You increase your chance of burning out early and beginning a vicious cycle: You become tired and unmotivated, skipping a day, and then feel guilt or shame about skipping a day, so you push yourself hard again, and it starts all over again.
When it comes to goals, strength comes in consistency, not intensity. As Simon Sinek puts it, you can't go to the gym for nine hours and get in shape. You have to show up regularly to make a difference personally and professionally.