On the drive back to Colorado from visiting my family over the Christmas holidays, I listened to an interesting Tim Ferriss podcast where he interviewed Gary Keller, the founder of Keller Williams Realty. Considering they're the largest real estate franchise in the country, I figured I should pay attention. Gary boils everything down to one question...
When approaching all areas of life, he encourages people to ask themselves, "What's the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
Sounds simple right? I'll show you how I used this process to reverse engineer setting my 2020 goals for personal development.
After spending New Years Eve doing my annual "Vision Day" process where I reflect on 2019, I realized there were sections of the year when I had little to no drive or energy to work towards my goals. I wanted to figure out what the root of the issue was. At first glance, I thought it all came back to not making time for my morning routine before work. I've noticed over the past 5 years when I make time for my morning routine, I am uber productive throughout the day. I won't get into what my morning routine is in this article, but if you'd like to learn what I've compiled, open this link in a new tab and read it when you're done with this article.
For the sake of you staying on this article, trust me when I say that I've tested a lot of different morning habits throughout the years, and the habits that have stuck help me to start the day off with a massive win. I wanted to figure out why I wasn't making consistent time for my morning routine when I know it has such a drastic effect on my productivity.
After listening to Gary's interview with Tim, I decided I'd take his recommendation and apply the question to my situation. What's the ONE Thing in my personal life can I do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? By asking myself this question, I realized the reason I wasn't completing my morning routine consistently was because I was snoozing my alarm and waking up late in certain time periods. "Ok, so focus on waking up early, Austin." Hold on. Let's go deeper and ask the question again. What's the ONE Thing in my personal life can I do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? "Hmmm... why would I not want to wake up early?"
Light bulb moment: Because I'm tired. Big surprise. "Well, okay Austin. Why are you tired?"Could be because I'm not getting enough quality sleep. Another light bulb moment. Cool, so I realized that rather than focusing on waking up early, I'm going to get to the root of the issue and focus on getting more quality sleep. Perfect, so I need to go to bed earlier. We're getting more clear here.
If I go to bed earlier, I'll have more energy to wake up at my target time of 5 am. If I wake up at 5am, I'll have more time to complete my morning routine. If I complete my morning routine, I'll create a win for myself to start the day. If I create a win for myself to start the day, I'll have momentum to get my workout in before work. If I get my workout in before work, I'll be more confident and energized for the work day. If I'm confident and energized for the workday, I'll crush my goals at work! See, it's easy. We just reverse engineer the process of what it takes to crush goals at work.
There's only one problem in my case....
Ever heard of the monkey mind? If you haven't, this is where endless thoughts pour into the mind about what needs to be done on the to-do list. The continuous self-sabotage of what hasn't already been accomplished. My monkey mind seems to kick in right about the time that I want to wind down for bed. Makes it really convenient for falling asleep... So, I've just created a problem for myself. I'm subconsciously telling myself "it's hard to fall asleep because of the monkey mind." One of the most important lessons I learned from a mentor in 2019 was, "Most people create problems. Create solutions and you'll always be in business." So, let's apply this principle and go back to Gary's question to brainstorm a solution to my problem.
What's the ONE Thing in my personal life can I do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? "Hmmm, how would I give myself a better chance of shutting off the monkey mind?" Something to relax the mind and body could do the trick. I've read about Chamomile tea as a tool to "wind down" in the past, and the couple times I've used it I've fallen asleep within the hour. "So, what if I created a habit of drinking Chamomile as an evening routine to help me fall asleep early?" Boom. Now we're getting somewhere.
Considering I'd like to get 8 hrs of sleep, my goal bedtime should be 9pm. Therefore, I just came to my answer for Gary's question, "What's the ONE Thing in my personal life can I do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? Make a cup of chamomile tea @ 8 pm every night. It's worth a try at the very minimum.
Easy as that. Problem solved. Creating a recurring google calendar event w/ a reminder now.
My 2020 personal development goal is to make a cup of chamomile tea every night at 8pm. Now, on to asking this same question to reverse engineer my business and health goals.
Would love to hear you thoughts on this. let me know what you think on Twitter.
If you're obsessed with being productive, join the hundreds of other individuals who have claimed my free 5 Step Daily Routine template for Roam or Notion. As a bonus, I’ll also include the exact Productive Cycle routine to help you achieve more Deep Work in less time so you can feel accomplished about your day before lunch time.
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