Definitive Guide to Goal Setting

We all have things we want to achieve, desires we want to fulfill, lofty dreams & ideas — like winning a championship, getting a raise, building a successful business, raising wonderful kids, writing a book or earning a million dollars.

And we often start with writing them down in journals and starting out our grand schemes with full motivation.

And then, life happens.

Days will be filled with responsibilities of running a home, taking care of family, work pressure and so on. And our goal journals sit in a corner, gathering dust.

Sounds familiar?

Setting and achieving goals itself isn’t rocket science. But we do have specific and strategic action plans and strategies that help us achieve our goals and reach success.

This guide is all about that. Let's get started. (The table of contents below will help you navigate your way through the guide.)

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Table of Contents

1. Setting & Achieving Big Goals
2. Life Goals
3. Commitment to Excellence
4. Whys and Whats
5. Writing your Goals down
6. Focus on dos, not don'ts
7. Planning
8. Execution
9. Positivity - Not so positive!
10. Implementation Intentions
11. If-then Plans
12. Daily Rituals
13. Routines of the Ultra Successful
SPECIAL BONUS !

Setting BIG and scary goals 

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Most people are too afraid to set huge goals for life because they don’t believe in themselves or they have a very low self-esteem. (And perhaps you are one of them)

However, when we look at people who have set and achieved big and impossible goals, the fact is that they are no different from you and me!

This reminds me of a Steve Jobs quote...

Let’s take a look at some people who set impossible goals.

Bill Gates:  In 1980, started Microsoft with a powerful goal

“A computer on every desk and in every home.”

People underestimated Bill Gates, because having a computer in every home was nothing short of a miracle in those days when half the world didn’t even have proper power supply. But a decade later nearly every home, office and school operated using a computer and we still continue.

John Kennedy:  Had a passion for space program: One of his goals was to send a man to the moon and return him safely on the earth.

In 1962,  he spoke publicly about his goal. “By the end of the decade, we will put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth”. That was a nearly impossible thing in the 1900s. Many people regarded the whole thing as a joke.

However, he accomplished his goal 7 years later when 3 astronauts went to the moon and safely landed on the earth.

Steve Jobs: His goal was to put a dent in the universe, which is translates to make a noticeable difference in life for a lot of people!

Now all of these achievements were mere desires at some point of time, but none of these people sat and waited for life to give them results. They supported their desires with laser focused-dedication, strong determination, patience, great deal of discipline and properly directed goals.

And they changed the way world works.

Once again:

Don’t think you are any different from any of the people mentioned above. That’s the main mental block to overcome.

All of these people started as ordinary people and some of them had very humble beginnings. They only became extraordinary after consistent hard work and with laser focused goals.

Achieving goals is a process. Most people give up too soon because their goals seem very far fetched. Its not because of failure that people quit, its because they lose the drive

And that's why its important to set the Right kind of Goals - Goals which keep us going in the right direction and give us a sense of fulfillment. 

Lets look at how to set right goals.

Life Goals

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Life Goals: These are goals that provide us with utmost fulfillment and satisfaction. These are goals that will give a real meaning to ourselves and our lives. They give us a sense of purpose. 

Life Goals are the goals that satisfy our psychological needs.

Just like we all have basic physical needs like food, shelter & clothing, psychologists say that we also have some psychological needs which are as important as physical ones, and which make us keep going in our lives.

When we set goals that satisfy our psychological needs, we can have more fulfillment, happiness and drive to succeed.

Psychological Needs are: RelatednessCompetence and Autonomy. Lets look at each of them in detail.

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1. Relatedness: We humans are very social creatures, with an innate need to foster good relationships and contribute to our communities. We have all carried very deep instincts in our DNA which enable us to create relationships, support each other and aid in mutual survival since ages.

This psychological need is what makes us spend lot of time on social media or join communities and clubs, attend parties and invite our friends to our homes.

Here are some examples of goals around relatedness. 

  • Community support like sharing knowledge and skills with people,
  • Creating mastermind groups or seminars,
  • Being an inspiring CEO or team leader,
  • Contribution and charity related goals,
  • Mentoring or teaching,
  • Developing emotional intimacy with your kids.
  • Providing positive influence to your society, family or children. etc

These goals allow you to feel a sense of fulfillment that comes from being a valued member of a community or an organization.

2. Competence: Competence is about gaining mastery of a certain tasks or skill. It is what motivates us to learn new things. Competence is desire to grow, it’s the desire to achieve mastery in something we have always loved.

Here are some examples of goals around Competence. 

  • Growth and progress related goals…
  • Learning and mastering piano, swimming, painting or
  • being a better listener,
  • learning public speaking,
  • mastering leadership skills,
  • being a person of integrity etc.

3. Autonomy: Autonomy can loosely translated to freedom. It's the need to have the freedom of choice and making your own decisions.

The freedom to choose your own careers, the freedom to experience things, freedom to create their own goals, the freedom to design or build our own lives.

Autonomy is the feeling that you are in total control of your choices, consequences, goals and life.  self-directed activities, cultivate a sense of control, address your drives and passions, and strengthen your sense of self.

Now we obviously can’t have 100% autonomy in our lives. There are certain times where we should compromise and adjust. Autonomy is not being careless or irresponsible. Autonomy is not about being a dictator.

It's the freedom to pursue the goals and move towards the kind of experiences we would love to have.

Lets look at some examples of goals around Autonomy. 

  • Choosing the kind of lifestyle you want to have.
  • Traveling around the world.
  • Starting your own company and choosing your own work schedules.

Ultimately, it’s all about the three things: Relatedness (connectedness and contribution), Competence (mastery and growth), and Autonomy (freedom of choices & experiences).

When our goals are set around these themes, we can have more fulfillment and happiness.  These kind of goals tend to provide us with a lot of internal motivation and drive within us…

So here's are three questions that can help you with setting Life Goals. These questions can help you determine your true desires and help you create goals that are worth pursuing.

  • How would you want to contribute to your society? It could be money, time, food, knowledge etc.  
  • What skills do you want to master?
  • If time and money were not a question, what kind of experiences would you want to have?
  • How would you like to influence the life of others in a positive way?

Committing yourself to Excellence

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Oh yes, those are Big & scary words, I know, but don’t be worried. 

But I would say one thing. Never commit yourself to mediocrity. Commit yourself to excellence. Take on big goals for a change. 

Why?

Because Scientific research says it is better to opt for difficult and challenging goals instead of easy and boring goals.

I won’t go too much into the research part, here’s a short synopsis.

Two exceptional psychologists called Locke and Latham that spent most of their careers on the subject, came to the same conclusion - the more difficult the goals are, the better you’ll perform.

(Ok, we aren’t talking about fantasies, but within the realm of possibility. Sure, we should set BIG goals but we should be sensible enough to be realistic and practical.)

Locke and Latham performed a series of studies involving employees from various careers and various places. They found that employees who said their jobs were difficult were those that ranked highest in annual ratings. These employees had peak performances, better commitments, increased efforts and longer persistent levels.

Another study that took place in Germany, had similar findings - people who said their jobs were difficult were those that ranked highest in satisfaction and job enjoyment.

Why is this?

Because challenging yourself is a key factor in growth, and growth satisfies our psychological needs. Satisfaction increases job performance, which in turn increases your satisfaction - it’s a great cycle to be in.

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Just remember - It won’t be easy. Rarely does anything of value come with ease. But if you were given a choice to be an average Joe or an exceptional person, which one would you choose?? 

So here are another set of questions for you. Three questions that help us set big and worthy goals.

1. How do you want to be remembered after you die? What’s your legacy going to be? Before you pass away, what’s one mark you want to leave on the world?

2. If you were the highest version of yourself, what would you be doing?

3. What is the one thing you would want to relentlessly pursue day and night with intense passion and burning desire? What is the one thing that wakes you up early and doesn’t let you rest until you’ve done it.?

Having Strong Whys and Whats

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Answering the whys of your Goal.

Having strong and clear reasons for why you want to pursue a goal will help anyone avoid the seemingly inevitable land of excuses, procrastination, and utter laziness.

You should have clear answers to :

  • Why you want to achieve your goal?
  • Why is this goal important to you?
  • At least three ways this goal will improve you and help you be a better person, whether you succeed or fail.
  • And what you stand to lose if you don’t give 100% or if you quit your goal?

Not only answer to these questions will serve as motivation, it also gives you a reason to pursue them in the 1st place.  

These are the things that will serve you as a reminder of your Big Goal on the days you feel that you suck at life, and just want to hide in your bed and do nothing.

Answering the whats of your Goal.

It means, we are going to be very clear and specific about what our goal is. It surprises me when I see vague goals being set.

Specificity is key to goal setting. Vague goals lead to vague results. You need to have your goals, paths, with intense clarity.

It's very important to define your goals in clear and mathematical terms.

For example -

I want to lose weight” is a poorly phrased goal.

I want to lose 20 pounds” is a much better one.

I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of this year” is a very specific goal.

It is easily tracked. You will  know whether you have reached your goal or not. There’s no in between - either you lost 20 pounds or you haven’t.

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Now… some goals are naturally specific - like starting a business, writing a 10,000 page book, travelling around Europe… etc.

These are objective goals. You’ll know where you stand and you know whether you have reached the goal or not.

Other goals, however, are not so easily defined. These are subjective goals.

Things like “reduce stress levels” or “achieve personal excellence” cannot be so easily defined in concrete terms. You cannot easily know whether you have achieved the goal or not. They can mean next to nothing as goals.

So, how can you make them specific?

You have to define them by asking yourself what these goals mean to you. You have to get little bit creative here and make them in more concrete terms.

So for instance, “reducing stress” can be made more concrete goal by changing it to something like Find three sources of stress and reduce/remove them from my life”,

Another example could be “pick three areas of my life that I’m sloppy at and find ways to improve them”, or “Take meditation classes for 6 months in order to become more patient”.

These can be concrete and trackable.

Remember:

Being specific is important. Never ever make your destination blurry.

Writing your Goals down

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People make this mistake all the time. They don’t write their goals.

When you have a specific goal, write it down. Give as many as details as possible. Box yourself in. Don’t leave any wiggle room. Give dates, numbers, deadlines, timetables, a measurable frame of reference.

Avoid words like “probably”, “should have”, “could have”, “might” or “may” when writing out your goals. These words invite an element of doubt in your abilities. Don’t wreck yourself before you even get started.

Be as specific as you can about what you want to achieve and by what time. And write them down.

For example - “I want to write a 100 page book on battling depression by June 30th of this year” or “My goal is to start my own painting gallery online with 70 paintings by the 31st of January”. You get the point.  

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Focus on the dos, not don'ts.

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We occasionally come across goals that focus on what not to do. Eg: Don't smoke, don't eat junk, don't oversleep etc.

But science says recording your goals in a negative way would be counter intuitive.

Because when you focus on a what you don’t want instead of what you want, you are strengthening the negative aspect of your goal. For instance, if I say, don’t think of white monkeys, all you’ll end up thinking about is - White Monkeys!

Let your goals focus on the things you will do, not the things you won’t.

Focus on the action steps and strengthen the positive sides of your goal.

Instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, you would be better off with “I will weigh 130 pounds by the end of July”.

Planning - Making a rough action plan

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No matter how wonderfully you set goals, you are not likely to reach anywhere unless you start taking determined action.

Doctors know that maintaining ideal weight is very important for a healthy body. However, did you know has 45% of doctors in the US are overweight. Knowing isn't doing.

If you are serious about your achieving your goal - Get a basic plan, and start! You can modify, revise, or re-work your strategies as you go. But it’s important to start first.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan at all and just drift aimlessly, hoping through some miracle to achieve success. But too much initial planning leads you to assume that success is imminent, and no unexpected situations or obstacles will arise. It is extremely important to be flexible and dynamic - especially if you have a huge project.

The bigger the project, the higher the likelihood of unexpected situations arising.

We’ll now address the slippery slope of planning - how to make a rough action plan.

We first identify our main goal. Then we break them down further into possible steps. Then we chunk them down to Weekly  mini-goals or milestones, and finally there’s an actionable to-do list.

Main Goal → Road Map → Weekly Mini Goals → Actionable to-do list

For example, imagine that you are now pursuing your goal - let’s say that it’s writing a book.

Your list of steps could read like this:

  1. Define your genre or topic.
  2. Do a basic research, if applicable to the topic
  3. Create Your Characters.
  4. Make an Outline.
  5. Create your initial draft.
  6. Edit and rewrite
  7. Get a Proofreader to check on everything
  8. Launch the book
  9. Market it.

Now, none of the above steps are any small feat. Each step itself could take weeks or months depending on how big you want the book to be. But now you have a basic road map of what it takes to write a book.

Next we break down the steps into weekly Mini goals. The idea is that you can break down the steps of your project into weekly chunks, things that you can reasonably accomplish within a week's’ time.

For instance, in week 1, you research the web and books for the topic you want to write about and collect all possible resources.

At this point, it is natural to break down the weekly mini-goals into even more tiny chunks that fit into your daily to-do schedule. But that’s where people make a few repeated mistakes.

Mistakes of Planning:

  1. Micro-managing every hour of the day: Planning your life so minutely and intensely can be very stressful. Routines are not always fixed. Some tasks take more time than expected, you may encounter obstacles that you face. There may be social obligations; steep learning curves that take time or an unexpected bout of flu.  That’s why we all need to allow some flexibility in our schedules.
  2. Planning daily routines way ahead: There’s absolutely no need to create a daily routine for September in the month of August. Plan your days as they come. You’ll be having a more realistic to-do list. More on that in a moment.  
  3. Overestimating your abilities: People tend to vastly overestimate what they can get done in the short term i.e; in a week, a day, or even an hour. With this idea, people make their daily schedules and even weekly mini-goals way too challenging and crammed up. This will result in another added layer of stress - you may eventually even feel like quitting because your routines seem so stressful.

There’s a simple solution on how to create good daily goals, without making them a pain in the butt.

1. Plan your days as they come.

Every morning, pick the top 3 tasks for the day - and give them the top priority.

And at least, one of the 3 tasks should be related to your mini-goal; I would suggest spending at least 150 minutes (or 2 and a half hours), on this one goal-related task. The specifics are up to you, but that’s what works best for me.

Accomplishing these three top tasks will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and move you forward in your pursuit of your overall Big Goal.

2. Set realistic timelines:

Your personal timelines will depending greatly on your personal commitments - everyone’s life, and therefore schedule, is different. Leave some flexibility in your week.

If you’re not sure, try a schedule and see if it works. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, dial it back a bit.

Also, I suggest leaving at least 30-35% of your day unscheduled, just to account for any changes in schedule, delays, and just some extra time to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Execution

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Have you ever wondered why, even after a lot of careful planning, people fail to reach their goals?

Doesn’t it happen every new year? We all make powerful resolutions but by the end of January, the well designed weight loss journal or our half-finished project report is starting to gather dust.

That’s because we often ignore our careful planning, and we don’t account for the possible obstacles we might face.

We are in so much hurry to wear the superhero cape that we miss out on the realistic & harder aspects of reaching our goal. Once the reality kicks in, challenges appear a hundred times more magnified. Because we tend to think everything is too easy. Or in other words, we become optimistic to the point of foolishness.

Now, let’s deal with some scientifically proven facts here. Positive thinking may not be as helpful as you might think!

Positive thinking is not so positive!

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In the world of self-help, positive thinking is lauded as one of the most motivational things you can do.

“If you believe you can, you will!” and other such taglines appear on almost every cover of every semi-popular to outrageously-popular book or course you see on the shelves.

For example an affirmation I found online says "I lose weight effortlessly and easily". 

It may look like a great way to uplift your spirit and kick start your motivation. But, this kind of positive thinking is not as helpful as you would think. Unfortunately that a huge mistake people do. They get up early in the morning and repeat statements like these.

Ok, firstly let me make it clear. Believing you can reach your goals is a critical part of your success. But believing that you will succeed “easily” without effort will backfire on you. You see the difference?

This kind of visualization can be damaging to your goal & will lead to fantasies. 

Look at the life of any successful person. Do you think they attained success easily and effortlessly ?

Abraham Lincoln. He lost his mother at an early age, he was fired from his job, he became unsuccessful in two businesses, he lost his fiancee, he had a complete nervous breakdown and he lost 8 different elections before he became the president of United States in at the age of 52. Do you think that was an easy success?

Isaac Newton, didn’t discover the theory of gravity effortlessly and easily. It took 22 years of unimaginable struggle and hard work. It’s not as easy as repeating affirmations every morning!!  

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Psychologist, Gabriele Oettingen has done extensive research on this type of Positive thinking. In one of her studies, she had a group of obese women who were enrolled in a weight loss program.

All of the women in her study were asked to daily imagine themselves losing weight. However, half the women were asked to imagine themselves losing weight very easily without any effort.

And the second half was asked to imagine themselves encountering and dealing with different types of obstacles on their weight loss journey - like laziness, temptation, cheating on diets, etc.

To put it shortly, one set of women constantly fantasized about having the pounds miraculously melting away. The other half were imagining with a realistic eye.

And the results speak for themselves.

The group who engaged in realistic thinking lost about 26 pounds more than group who imagined no obstacles at all.

It’s OK to be positive, but its more important to be realistic. Don’t get rid of positivity. Its very important to believe that you can succeed, but be ready to have a realistic eye and work hard.

Implementation Intentions

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People often have trouble getting started, or maintaining their new action plans once they begin. It is way too easy for us to fall back into old behaviors, repeating patterns, and triggers. Things like procrastination, excuses, the urge to be lazy and do nothing, excuses - especially excuses - these are powerful traps that people fall into.

Fortunately, there is a very simple and practical strategy that has been proven to help us deal effectively with this problem - it’s called Implementation Intentions.

The concept was developed by Peter Gollwitzer, eminent psychologist who did more than 92 studies on the subject. Basically, implementation intentions is a method by which you decide precisely when and where you execute each steps of a plan.

The British Journal of Health Psychology actually did a study on this - a group of 248 adults were divided into three groups - the Control Group, the Motivation Group, and the Intention Group. The aim of this study was to understand what really influences people the most to perform a task.

The people in the Control Group were asked to keep track of how often they exercised the next two weeks. Before they left, the participants were asked to read two paragraphs of a novel. Just a bit of fiction, that had nothing to do with science of exercise.

The Motivation Group were also asked to keep track of how often they exercised the next two weeks. However, they were asked to read a leaflet about the scientific benefits of exercise - like how it can reduce heart disease, increase brain function, things like that. They were also told that people who exercised regularly had way lower risk of coronary heart disease. In short, this group was given enough motivation to get them to exercise.

The Intention Group was asked the same things as the motivation group - track your exercise, read the motivation pamphlet before leaving. However, there was an added bonus to the intention group - they were asked to formulate a plan for exercising, and to complete the following statement

“During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise of (specific day) at (specific time) at/in (specific place)."

After this, all three groups left.

Two weeks later, the results psychologists found surprising results.

The Control Group saw 38% of its people exercising at least once a week.

The Motivation Group had 35% of its participants exercising at least once a week.

The Intention Group, however, was the most surprising. An incredible 91% of participants had exercised at least once per week.

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What the researchers discovered was - it isn’t your level of motivation, but your plan for action, that determines your success. A plan of implementation will pull the desire to the front, and turn it into real action.

If-then Plans

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Lets look at "if-then" plans, which are just a variation of Implementation Intentions.

According to psychologist Dr.Halvorson,

"Deciding where and when you will act on your goal increases your chance of achieving your goals by 300%."

She simplified this idea by creating “if-then” plans. It’s simple really - you create scenarios of “If X happens, then I will do Y”

By establishing your routines with if-then plans, there are two main benefits:

1. They create well patterned habits that support your goals:

Let’s say you want to write a book. So you should be making a routine of writing everyday at the least.

Here’s an example of  how you could plan it.

If it is 7 AM, then I will sit at my desk and write 1,000 words.

If I am off work, then I will write another 1,000 words

If I am waiting for my son to finish soccer practice, then I’ll take a book and read.

2. They help you dealing with possible obstacles that you may encounter:

Let’s say you want to lose 40 pounds. A possible obstacle could be your friends or coworkers offering snacks. Before you go to office, you could say to yourself,

“If my colleagues offer me donuts, then I will politely say no thanks, and go have a glass of water instead”

Another possible obstacle could be that you sometimes would crave for pizza in the evening. Like there’s a little pizza monster in your brain and it won’t shut up until it’s been fed. You could say to yourself:

“If I am craving pizza, I will have a healthy snack before I decide anything”

A fun fact here: Research has shown that if you are craving a particular food, be it chocolate, pizza, or anything, if you eat something small and healthy, the craving will subside, if not go away completely within 20 minutes.

You can plan not only routines, but also how to deal with obstacles.

If-then plans have a high success rate, regardless of what type of goal you have. It’s been particularly effective in goals that aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows - weight loss, smoking or social media addictions.

An important thing: Avoid negative terms in "if-then" plans. Words like don’t, shouldn’t, can’t, won’t may sabotage your attempts by making you crave it even more

For example -

“If I go to the mall, then I won’t go to Burger King” is a wrong if-then plan. It could backfire on you by making you think more about burger king.

"If I go to the mall, then I will bring my own food” would be a better alternative.

Daily Rituals

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And finally, be calm. Because that’s what success looks like.

Success isn’t chaotic. It doesn’t announce itself with a big bang and a flourish. It comes quietly. With a lot of patience and consistency. It comes with well-established and productive routines.

Many individuals who have achieved success had great & productive routines.

When you find a good groove, or a consistent routine, it allows your brain to turn on autopilot. It helps you shift your way of thinking, so you start thinking differently in your day to day life.

Instead of a temporary fix, like a fad diet, it becomes an integrated part of your life.

What you do, especially in the morning is very important, because it sets the tone for the whole day. If you start in a positive way, you are more likely to be positive all day long.

Creating the right system will get you closer to your goals. Healthy habits will support you. If you overwork yourself and ignore your health, you will suffer. This will delay or even prevent you from reaching your goal entirely.

Here is an example of a relaxed and reinforcing morning routine:

  1. Have some greens - juice or a smoothie. Fuel your body with antioxidants and vitamins. Don’t forget the protein, either!
  2. Exercise for 7 minutes - I know, I know… it’s boring. You know the benefits, but you still don’t want to. You dread the long hours on the treadmill, and you loathe the dusty weights in the corner. However, you don’t have to do a lot of preparation. Science actually says that 7 minutes of regular movement is enough. Put on some music, do light stretching. Just relax and move. You can increase your time if you feel like it later on, but you don’t have to. Just be consistent with your 7 minutes.
  3. Meditate - I can’t overstate the importance of starting off relaxed. It’s not the time to think about the obstacles, or the huge pile of work on your desk. Be calm. And remember that though there are challenges, you are capable of meeting and overcoming them. Believe in yourself.
  4. Plan your day - this will help you eliminate busywork. Do your best to accurately gauge what you can accomplish in a day. Try not to under or over shoot it. Plan your three big tasks and get started.

I can go on and on about this, but lets take a look at the daily routines of some of the most successful people.

Routines of the Ultra Successful

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There are many successful people around the world that have similar routines to this one - I’ll share some of them with you. Maybe you can gain some inspiration and help personalise your morning routine. You don’t have to follow each step exactly. Choose the best path for you.

Let’s get started.

Barack Obama: President of the United States

Family and physical fitness are two priorities in this routine - he starts his day by working out at 6:45, reads newspapers, has breakfast with his family. All very productive, positive and calming things. Then he starts his workday just before 9:00.

Steve Reinemund: Former Chairman and CEO of Pepsi

Starts his day at 5:00 AM. Runs 4 miles, followed by prayer, reading the news, and having breakfast with his children. Consistent, powerful, and reinforcing.

Michelle Gass: President of Starbucks

For the last 15 years, the coffee queen has began her day at 4:30. She gets up and goes for a run. Every. Single. Day. She believes that her morning routine has boosted not only her business success, but her happiness as well.

Steve Jobs: late CEO of Apple

Jobs spent his mornings reevaluating his work and aspirations. In a speech to the Stanford graduating class, Jobs said, “For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”.

He’s not the only one to adopt this method. Benjamin Franklin asked himself every morning, “What good shall I do today?”

You could do something similar like

“If I were the best version of myself, what would I do today?”

Matt Ouimet: President and CEO of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Formerly president of Disneyland Resort and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the current amusement park CEO wakes up early to get a head start on his day. He’s at the office by 6:00 AM when it is quiet. He responds to emails and mentally prepares himself for the day.

Jack Dorsey: Co-founder of Twitter and Square.

Wakes up every morning at 5:00 AM, meditates, and jogs 6 miles.

Arianna Huffington: unplugging evangelical, places a lot of emphasis on getting proper sleep. She puts her phone in another room before bed, and starts her mornings with 30 minutes of meditation. She even recommends it to her employees.

Bill Gates spends an hour on the treadmill, watches instructional videos to learn new things while doing so. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book on a range of topics from politics to current events.

Mark Zuckerberg goes perhaps the furthest in his quest for routine, even dressing the same way and having the same breakfast every day. When asked about it in an interview, he said “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community”.

All of these hugely successful people that we’ve heard, seen, and possibly even been affected by - they all have one thing in common - routine. They don’t waste energy figuring out how their day will start, it just starts. They’ve formed the necessary habits to remove unnecessary decisions from their mornings and nights. This leaves their day open to progress.

Some things their routines have in common are this - waking up early and meditation. Now, research does show that night owl are productive and creative. But there’s something magical about mornings. Don’t worry if you are not a morning person. Even if you do wake up a little late, make sure to have a productive start. You see, most successful people have incredibly productive mornings. All of these people have consistent, yet flexible, routines.

Some of these ideas may sync well with your new game plan, so take your favorite once and try them out. Make your mornings powerful and your nights relaxing.

Don’t worry too much in the nights or spend several hours with mobile phones or laptops. The day is done. It’s over. You did what you did, and you didn’t do what you didn’t do. There’s no changing it. Learn from today, make a short plan for tomorrow, and relax completely.

Sometimes your evenings may not be consistent - you’ll have to work late or have unexpected guests. But you can surely spare 15 minutes to plan tomorrow, power down your phone, take a few deep breaths, and go to bed.

Keep it simple.

 

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