To Accomplish Your Goals, Do Something Insignificant Right Now
How Doing One Push-Up Can Make All the Difference.
Accomplishing a goal is no easy thing, and our attempts often look like this:
Step 1: We begin with a desire to change or accomplish something.
Step 2: We think about it, research it, think about it some more, and maybe invest in something that we believe will help us get there (gym membership, anyone?).
Step 3: If we’re lucky, we make a detailed plan.
Step 4: If we’re really lucky, we take action.
Even for those who get to step 4 and take action on their plan, many will not accomplish their goal, some will only arrive long after they planned to, and others will accomplish their goal only to regress and return any gains made.
Accomplishing a goal is not an easy thing.
Where The Path Goes Wrong
In those first few moments, we’ve taken our immediate desire and translated it into a long-term plan of future actions. In a sense, this is justified. Many goals are only truly accomplished over a long period of time. We don't lose weight, gain muscle, read 100 books, get a promotion, or heal a disease overnight.
But by translating our immediate desire into a long-term plan of future actions, our fear of failure has sabotaged any accomplishment we could have made. We’ve robbed our desire of power and decreased our chances of making a real change.
By translating our immediate desire into a long-term plan of future actions, our fear of failure has sabotaged any accomplishment we could have made.
Instead, it would be more powerful if we were to translate our immediate desire for change and achievement into immediate actions. The best time to make a change is when you most want to make that change.
This simple, unconventional model looks like this:
Step 1: We have a desire to change or accomplish something.
Step 2: We take immediate action, however small that action is.
For example, we can translate the immediate desire to gain strength or lose weight into the immediate action of dropping and doing one push-up, or however many we can.
The action is unimportant. What’s important is to choose an action that, at scale, can lead us to accomplish our goal. Again, this action cannot be passive — researching a workout routine wouldn’t count.
What’s important is to choose an action that, at scale, can lead us to accomplish our goal.
According to Michael Hyatt, starting with easy tasks (over difficult ones) is ideal, as they help us get started (often the hardest part!), boost our mood, and build momentum. These are the same reasons that make starting with small, immediate actions so powerful for accomplishing goals.
By starting immediately, we associate our desire with action and we’ve already put it in motion. Getting these immediate “wins” gives us a rush of dopamine and a positive, confident outlook toward accomplishing our goal. The motion and the mood boost both help to create momentum, a string of small actions compounding to create our habit.
As we gain momentum, we’ll naturally start doing some planning. We’ll research workouts, hire a trainer, or sign up for a gym. The important part is that we will have already begun building the habit. We de-prioritize these things early on because, although they might get us to our goal faster, they won’t get us there on their own.
We’ll still fail at these insignificant actions.
We’ll sit down on the couch and desire to become the person who reads 100 books a year and, after a moment of reflection, we’ll switch on Netflix. We won’t be perfect, but because the unconventional model focuses on small, immediate actions, bouncing back will be simple and fast.
Steps to Success
Accomplishing a goal is not an easy thing, but we can increase our chances of success if we ditch the common path of translating our immediate desires for change into long-term plans of future actions and, instead, adopt this simple, unconventional model of translating our immediate desires for change and achievement into immediate actions.
If you find yourself frustrated and unable to move forward with your goals, try this:
- Notice your desire for change when it comes. For example, “I want to lose weight.”
- Instead of translating this desire into a list of future actions, translate it into immediate action. For example, instead of planning to join a gym, immediately drop and do one push-up.
- This action might seem insignificant, but one action, successfully completed, will start a chain reaction of small wins, dopamine spikes, and the compounding motivation to accomplish your goal.
- Continue to prioritize these small, insignificant actions. Focus on what you can do right now over planning for the future and meet any failure with another immediate win. Little by little, you’ll build your habit.
- Once you have enough wins under your belt (and the confidence that comes with them), long-term plans like joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer can help you accomplish your goal even faster.
So don’t let yourself sabotage your dreams by translating your immediate desires into long-term plans of future actions. Instead, when you feel the desire to change something, do something immediately — even if it seems insignificant!