Five Ways to Accomplish ANYTHING
Posted by Michael Vacanti
You know there are things you should do. Heck, you even want to do them.
So why can’t you?
Lose 20 pounds. Be debt free. Write a book. Earn passive income.
Do you lack self discipline? Are you destined for a life of mediocrity? Is greatness only attainable by an elite few?
No. No. And absolutely not.
Are you a Dreamer?
I know there are times you have perfect vision. You can see future you conquering a goal. You feel and taste everything about it – it’s real. But as effortlessly as it appeared, the vision fades and you’re left with the everyday grind.
There is a reason you aren’t currently living your vision. It is because your daily actions are not aligned with your long term goals. Even worse, many of them are completely worthless.
Rather than write two pages per day, you play on Facebook and Jezebel.
Rather than pay down your loans, you buy pull tabs at the corner bar.
Rather than maintain a calorie deficit, you binge on ice cream.
Speaking of ice cream, let me tell you a story.
There is a mirror in my new apartment, and it’s magic. I’m serious; like Disney movie, Sorcerer and the Stone meets Cinderella, hulk-mode magic.
When you look in the bathroom mirror, it ain’t you looking back. The mirror morphs your body by doubling muscle and stripping all fat.
And while this makes great selfies (for real, just ask my friendz on Snapchat), it also makes cheating on your diet a nightly occurrence. Why? you ask.
Well, I didn’t know the mirror was magic; I just thought I was jacked. And I spent every night the last three weeks getting served up a pint by my guys Gerald and Benjamin. Yes, a whole pint. Every. Single. Night.
Actually 26 pints in 21 days to be exact.
Before bed, after reaching my total macros for the day, I opened the refrigerator door (because that makes sense). Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a peeled body with my head on it. Then my attention reverted to my friends Mr. Cinnamon Buns and Ms. Strawberry Cheesecake.
I thought to myself…
1160 calories? That’s, like, not even 1/3 a pound.
[glance up at mirror]
Wow, I’m a mutant.
[glance at B&J]
This is gonna taste so good.
[glance up at mirror]
Alright, let’s go.
Fifteen minutes later the pint is in the garbage can, and I’m either sound asleep or dragging my low-testosterone body to the grocery store for round two.
It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself atop the steps in downtown Philadelphia, posing like Rocky, that I realized I was FAT. Not omg-diabetes-obese fat. But I was fat by july4th-abz-boating-summer fat standards.
And it’s my fault. I know the tricks for consistently taking short term action and nailing long term goals. I just wasn’t using any of them.
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE?
What separates the doers from the dreamers? Those always in control, always one step ahead – physically, financially and emotionally. What separates them from the people fighting to survive – out of shape and unhappy, choking on their credit-card debt and miserably battling through unhealthy relationships.
Dreamers like to think about what they’d do IF. I would live on the beach with my supermodel girlfriend IF. I would lose 50 pounds, so I can play with my kids IF. I would quit smoking cigarettes IF. I would stop playing video games all day IF.
Doers take daily action. Luckily, if you aren’t a natural doer, there are strategies to force yourself into consistently taking action.
Five Ways to Accomplish ANYTHING
Every big accomplishment is preceded by thousands of small actions. It can be hard to keep your head down and grind when there is no immediate, visible result produced by your effort. Some days you may even feel yourself drifting further from your goal, but it is critical to maintain continuous effort.
Here are five ways to ensure short term action.
1. PUT SOME MONEY ON IT
- Long Term Goal: Lose 20 pounds
- Short Term Action: Cut out ice cream
Bet your friend $100 bucks you won’t eat a single bite of ice cream for a month. Cash money incentive will combat those moments of weakness in front of the freezer. Better yet, give them a freeroll (a bet that only pays out on one side) “Mom, I’ll give you $100 if I eat any ice cream this week.”
When you have a clear vision but fear your future self will lack the will power to behave, put some $$$ down to control future-you’s actions.
2. ELIMINATE TEMPTATION
Only buy junk food if you are going to eat it that day. There is no reason to keep chips and cookies in your cupboard; you will spend more time snacking out of boredom than hunger.
Eliminating temptation will let you do two things:
- You markedly decrease the chance of failure. It’s easier to cheat while staring at a full pantry than to make several consecutive conscious decisions: Find your car keys, put your shoes on, open the garage door, drive to the super market, etc.
- You will conserve mental energy by not agonizing over the decision. This energy can then be applied to productive tasks.
A girl I know takes leftover dessert home from every family gathering. She doesn’t want to, but her parents make her. So what does she do? She throws the entire tray in the garbage immediately upon walking in her door. You may find this wasteful – I think it’s awesome, smart and disciplined.
3. REWARD YOURSELF
This is a simple “If I do X, I get Y” system. If I mow 15 lawns this week, I get to buy a new skateboard. If I stay under 2000 calories every day this week, I get cookie dough bites and a movie on Sunday.
Reward systems foster productivity. It has been proven in scientific research repeatedly for decades. Rats complete the maze faster when a piece of cheese awaits them, and pro athletes perform better in contract years. This stuff isn’t rocket science.
Make your reward meaningful, and hold yourself accountable not to cheat.
4. WRITE IT DOWN
What exactly should I write down?
I’m glad you asked.
During the evening, write down every task you need to complete the following day. Rank them in order of importance or include the specific time you will do them.
Refer back to your list throughout the day. This way, when you feel lethargic after dinner, rather than mindlessly flipping on the tv as you fall into the couch, you’ll see: 8:00 Walk around the block. 8:15 Mobility work (10 mins). 8:30 Read new On The Regimen post.
You should carry this list with you because it is worthless if you don’t refer back to it regularly. A cell phone notes app works great.
Training and Diet Tracking
Write down the exercise performed, weight, sets and reps or time/distance run, biked, swam. You’ve been told this 1000 times, so I won’t harp on the benefits. In short, you WILL progress faster if you track your sessions.
Track macronutrients too. You don’t need to be super anal about this; make estimates if you aren’t positive about a meal. Tracking will force you to think twice before eating (p12/c148/f52 yikes!) that Ben & Jerry’s.
My Fitness Pal has a calorie counting app. And if you aren’t on Fitocracy, you should be for tracking training progress.
There is something psychologically satisfying about a streak of green check marks. The momentum will fuel your drive, and you won’t want to pull out your red sharpie for a big fat X.
Streaks are good for activities you want to perform every day like foam rolling or mobility work. Non-fitness activities too: practice guitar, meditate, help little sister or daughter with homework, study new language.
A reminder note can either be motivating or productivity inducing.
“HUSTLE LIKE BO TODAY!!” is a motivating reminder that I stuck to my apartment door after meeting a guy named Bo who grinds a 9-5 during the week and 9pm-6am bartending Fridays and Saturdays. It paints a specific picture of hard work in my brain at the very start of each day.
An affirmation is another type of motivating reminder. The insecure 7th grade girl writes “you are beautiful” on her bedroom mirror. After reading this every morning, she will start to build confidence. This causes her to act differently which forces people to treat her differently, beginning a positive upward spiral.
Productivity inducing reminders often gain their value through specific timing. If you set a reminder on your phone “Grocery Store – Steak, Eggs, Sea Salt” to go off at 7:00pm, the time you leave the office each day, you won’t drive past the grocery store in your exhausted state.
5. CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability means creating an expectation for a result. There are many forms of accountability; public declaration is one of them.
As human beings, we have a tendency to validate our accomplishments through the opinions of other people. Tell your 800 facebook friends that you will lose 30 pounds by summer; I guarantee you won’t show up to your June class reunion overweight.
I have an ***OFFICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY GOALS THREAD*** with a friend via email. We share short term goals and press each other to accomplish them. “Have you been grinding hands?!?” I remember receiving that text at 4 o’clock in the morning. He was waking up for work on the east coast; I was bellied up to a table in the Horseshoe Hammond poker room. Yes, I am grinding hands.
Friends keep you accountable. Family keeps you accountable. Coaches keep you accountable. Enemies keep you accountable.
You, yes you, are capable of achieving any idea your mind produces. The only thing limiting you is inaction. Whatever dream is floating in your forebrain right now, yes THAT dream – DO IT! Write that book. Learn to speak Mandarin. Move to Hawaii. Lose a 1st grader worth of bodyfat.
Plan whatever short term actions your dream requires, and apply these methods to guarantee results.
“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”