How To Automate Your Life
In this letter, we get down and dirty. We focus on New Year Resolutions and how to actually become the person you want to be next year. I call this the 2021 Lookahead.
It's important to do this exercise after you answer the reflection questions we talked about in part 2. You want to think about your last year's happy times, sad times, and bottlenecks to determine what will make the next year better.
Here are the 5 Steps to Achieve the Best Year of Your Life.
- Write blue sky what I hope to accomplish. Describe it as vividly as possible (w/ your 5 senses).
2. Using the bottlenecks from the reflection. Ask: What are the lead dominos to happiness and success?
3. Define this year's SMART KPIs (ideally 5-10).
4. Write down: What's the good that I will sacrifice for the great? What will I have to give up (in terms of stories, habits, opportunities mindsets, etc.)?
5. Create necessary lazy resilient systems to achieve KPIs.
These steps are pretty straightforward, but let's break them down... so you know exactly how to do them.
- Write down your wildest dreams and hopes for the next year. Get it all out there. It doesn't matter if it's impractical, stupid, or overly ambitious. Write it down as if you are actually living it, smelling it, feeling it, tasting success. This will allow you to vividly understand what you want to achieve.
2. The lead domino is the thing you have to do first that sets all the dominos in motion. What are the things that will set all your goals into motion? This is related to the bottleneck concept we talked about in Part 2. This along with the bottlenecks from part 2 will help you prioritize what you should actually be focusing on this year. For example, maybe one of your wild dreams is to walk on Mars. To do that, you have to be psychologically able to deal with the ride to space, have to be physically fit, have the right knowledge + qualifications, etc etc. If you weigh 400 pounds, your lead domino is going to be losing a bunch of weight.
Some of the wild dreams you write about in part #1 might be things you don't care about on second glance. Maybe the bottleneck to your greatness and happiness is time spent with loved ones. In that case, maybe walking on Mars is not actually something that will make you happy or great.
3. It's time to use the answer from #2 to come up with 5-10 things you want to focus on for the next year. It's important to focus on as few things as you can. If you try to get good at everything at the same time, you won't get good at anything.
Then make those things SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time frame). For example, don't write, "I want to look good next year." "Look good" is not specific. It's not measurable. It's not attainable (since we don't know what it means). And it's not bound by a time frame. Make it SMART by saying I want to lose 15 pounds by June 1.
4. It's going to be hard to focus on less than 10 things to work on, but to be great you must be focused. It's helpful to ask What's the good that I will sacrifice for the great?
You might not think it, but this is the most valuable part of the lookahead. Writing it down now helps you prioritize later in the year. It's important that you write down the good that you will have to sacrifice.
If your goal is to spend your evening time hanging out with your kids, reading to them, and tucking them, that means you will sacrifice stuff that in any other context would be good. You will be sacrificing solo bonding time with your wife, time spent on your career, etc. If your job gives you a new promotion that will provide amazing career opportunities, but also means you will be coming home too late to read to your kids will you take it? Or will you sacrifice the good for the great?
5. SMART Goals in of themselves are useless. How are you actually going to achieve it? How are you going to create the habits that make them happen?
To lose weight, you have to exercise every week. To become emotionally fit, you will have to build daily habits like meditation.
These habits have to be lazy (aka easy enough so that you will actually do them all year instead of just for the first few weeks of January). And they have to be resilient, so that you will continue to do despite life's changing challenges and demands.
If you want to know more about how to create these habits, read this.
And there you have it!!!
That's your annual reflection and annual lookahead done in just a few hours.
Next, take a paper (you can do this electronically in Notion or Word if that's easier for you) and divide it into four quadrants.
Here are the titles for each of your quadrants:
The 5 Systems for This Year
The Bottlenecks From Last Year
Lessons From Last Year
What Good Will I Have To Sacrifice for The Great?
In each summarize, what you wrote about in your annual reflection and lookahead. Then put this one pager somewhere you see daily. It will remind you of who you are and who you want to become.
If you follow my steps, I have NO doubt that you will have one of the greatest year of your life in 2021 (unless God orders another pandemic or crazy disaster). Good luck and let me know how it goes.
Be More Alive
I did a podcast about the meaning of life last week. I was reminded of this quote.
"If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility!" -Kierkeegaard
This is my last newsletter for the year. Thank you so much for taking this ride with me. It's been so fun and so meaningful.
The possibility that awaits us in 2021 is the sweetest wine of all.
I'll see you next year,
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