Do you want to know what the secret to time management is?

Working backwards.

The reason so many people fail with their goals is they put their goals at the end of their list. First, they put sleeping, waking up after three alarms, calling their best friend, going out for lunch, hanging at the bar after work, doing their laundry, cleaning their stove, etc.

Without even realizing it, this is what you do--this is what everyone does. They have their daily routine already set in stone, and then promise themselves that "somewhere" in there they will work toward that goals.

The real question though is when? "Somewhere" isn't specific enough. It doesn't come with a sense of urgency. Saying "I'll get to it as soon as I can" means you're already too late.

Instead, you need to work backwards.

What's your goal for 2017? I have been writing a lot about this because I believe so firmly in reflecting and setting positive intentions at the end of the year. This is your time to audit the past year of your life, look at where you went wrong, look at where you succeeded, and then make the proper adjustments to your course to ensure more success this next year.

Whatever goals you set for yourself this coming year, put them first.

You want to write a book? Before you set your alarm for tomorrow morning, you need to have exactly when tomorrow you are going to sit down and start writing.

You want to get better at making YouTube videos? Block off two hours every single day to do nothing but that. Every day. No exceptions. If you don't have the time, get rid of something that's taking up two hours and make the time.

You want to get your startup off the ground? Write down the hours you plan on working toward that goal, and schedule everything else in your life around that one thing.

This is the step everyone avoids because it reveals the truth. Making promises to yourself is easy. Setting goals is easy. What isn't easy is changing every other aspect of your life to fully align with your vision.

A perfect example here, and what really drove this lesson home for me was weightlifting. For five years, I scheduled my entire life around the gym. So much so, that back when I was a senior in college I specifically asked the creative agency I had an internship with if they would allow me to eat my meals every 2-3 hours. They said sure, and had no idea they were signing up for years of brown rice, chicken, and broccoli, every single day, five days a week.

I built my entire life around going to the gym. And the results were everything I wanted and more.

Most people can't do this. And they can't do it for two reasons:

1) They don't really want it that bad. They say they do, but they don't.

2) They've never experienced the results before.

I promise you, once you live your life by putting your primary pursuits first, your vision first, and scheduling everything else around it, you will never go back. It is the defining choice that turns everything you want from an "if" to a "when." It is the winning process, the guaranteed recipe. But it means taking a hard look at your schedule, day by day, hour by hour, and shifting all the puzzle pieces so they're all moving in the same direction. Minimize distractions. Get rid of pointless activities. Ditch negative friends and pointless social events. Only keep the things that bring you true fulfillment and benefit you in some sort of positive way.

If you can structure your life this way, you will exactly in the direction you desire.

And the funny thing is, all you have to do move forwards is to work backwards.