I hope your New Year is off to a good start. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably made some goals or resolutions for the year. The sentiment behind resolutions is a good one: How can you become a better version of yourself? The difficulty arises with the follow through. It’s tough to change, create new habits and overcome years of inertia in certain areas of life.
So today I want to give you two simple ideas to help improve your odds of success. I didn’t come up with either idea. I’ve heard versions of each from multiple authors, including Greg McKeown (Essentialism), Jim Collins (Good to Great) and Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek). While I didn’t come up with either idea, I’ve used them extensively in my life, to great benefit. And I’m confident you can too.
Idea #1: Focus on your easiest, most valuable problem first.
Progress is hugely motivating. That’s why when paying off debt, financial advisers often recommend that you start with your smallest liability first, pay it off, then roll that payment into your next biggest payment until that is gone and so on. It’s usually referred to as the debt snowball because your momentum builds, just like a snowball rolling down a hill as it gathers snow and speed. This idea of quick progress and increasing momentum can work with pretty much any area. You solve a small problem, which frees up resources and adds motivation. You apply your added resources and motivation to the next biggest problem and so on. Your momentum builds and you eventually start dealing with major problems and making enormous progress. Give it a try.
Idea #2: Look for the one decision that removes hundreds of other decisions.
What decision can you make that, by the simple act of making it, will keep you from having to make tens, hundreds or even thousands of other decisions? Maybe it’s making a decision to downsize or minimize your possessions, thereby eliminating the many inevitable maintenance related tasks and decisions associated with those things. Maybe it’s simplifying and automating your investments so they just happen every month. Maybe it’s making a decision to outsource a particular chore or task. Maybe it’s deciding to give something up, like drinking. Maybe it’s buying a particular tool or piece of technology that simplifies or automates a task. Maybe it’s deciding on a rigid set of rules for potential time wasters like email, meetings or television. Maybe it’s choosing to purge your life of a high maintenance person or time-consuming technology (e.g. social media). Maybe it’s doing a better job at identifying what you want out of life, so you can stop spending so much time and brainpower on things that aren’t important to you. Whatever it is, look for the domino decision that simplifies your life and improves your odds of success.
Two simple ideas, but they can make a huge impact on your life. How could you use them?