“I set goals on New Year’s Eve and reach all of them year after year”– no honest man, ever.
You need to build a system to reach a big goal.
Most of us can’t just announce a goal and then magically achieve in the end. Life is busy, and if you are not careful, time flies by, and the goal is still untouched.
What you need is a system that gets you to your goals.
Let’s have a look at my system and how you can build your own.
1. Finding Purpose
Life gets really exciting when you live it to your calling.
Let’s start with the big picture – what is your purpose for life? Do you want to be a musician, or do you want to make an impact in your local community?
Finding your purpose is not an easy one. I struggled a lot with this question until I learned about Ikigai. Ikigai is a helpful technique with which you can find your true calling.
This is how my Ikigai sheet looks like:
I boiled down all the answers to my Ikigai; you can see in the middle of the sheet.
My purpose is “Helping people, to be happy!“
What is yours? Take your time and use the template.
2. Define your Big Five
The big five for life is a concept of the bestseller, Quelle surprise, “the big five for life” from John Strelecky.
What are the five things you want to accomplish in your life?
Have you ever thought about that? You should.
Knowing what you want to achieve in life is the best motivation for your daily life.
It is the exact reason why some people jump out of bed in the morning while the others are complaining about life.
The Big Five for Life are your Why.
Here are my Big Five:
- I have created a home where my family feels comfortable.
- I enjoy & appreciate the little things in life.
- I earn enough money to be financially independent.
- My family and I live a healthy lifestyle.
- I make the best out of all situations and do not take life too seriously.
Let’s check how you can find your Big Five.
Take a pen and paper and write down your thoughts that come to mind when you read the following questions:
- If I could, I would…
- If I were braver, I would…
- If I dared…
- Before I die, I want…
- If I had a year to live…
- If I could start over, I would…
- If I loved myself more, I would…
- If I was candid with myself, I would…
Aim for around a 50 (!) answers in total. Take your time and come back here.
What you just did was to write down your desires. If nothing could hold you back, you could fulfill your deepest desires.
Now you have a massive list of things you wish to accomplish in life.
Chose your top five from the list and feel free to combine items. It is okay to end up with six or seven, but make sure you don’t have more than 8 things.
Audit your life
At this point, you wrote down your purpose (=ikigai) and created a list of your Big five for life.
Now it’s time to have a look at your current life.
How much does the status quo of your life fit your purpose?
Is your ikigai to live in harmony, and you work in the internal audit department of a large company? (Hint: they are popular like foot fungus)
Then you know you probably don’t live life according to your calling. It’s time for a change.
Okay – let’s go through the different pillars of your life.
Rate the following pillars of your life according to the fit of your purpose: [0 = no fit at all, 10 = perfect fit]
- Work [0-10]
- Family [0-10]
- Hobby [0-10]
- Friends [0-10]
Where do you see the need to change the most? Pick the pillar you want to start to transform with.
Maybe one of your Big Five for Life is to have more time for your kids. But because you do spend a lot of time at work, you rated “Family” with a 3.
Ask yourself: “What can I do to increase the time with my family?”
- Start working one hour earlier to be at home for dinner
- Talk to your boss to start working remotely 1-2 days a week
- Reduce the time you work
Those are often hard decisions. But after all, you named it as one of the top 5 things you want to achieve in life.
So it is probably worth to make hard decisions.
I once heard a quote from Jerzy Gregory:
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life! – Jerzy Gregory
You have to choose.
Let’s say you want to add something to your life.
Maybe you want to read more books, but your calendar is full up to the roof.
There are only 24 hours a day for everybody.
Since you can’t add time to your day, the task is deadly simple:
To add a new habit to your life, you have to cut something else.
Simple but tricky.
Imagine your average day
Let’s have a look at your average day. You have 24 hours.
Subtract the amount of time you sleep – e.g., 8 hours.
24-8 = 16 hours left.
How do you spend those hours? How much at work? How much binging on social media? How much commuting? Chores? At Starbucks? On Toilet?
2. Create your “new” day
Now that you see your average day in front of you let’s add something to your day.
We stay with the book example from above. Let’s imagine you want to read one hour a day to pay towards your Big Five goal.
Have a look at your average day and decide which 1-hour-activity to ditch to make room to read.
Ditching one hour shouldn’t be that hard.
Let’s say you want to start a side business because you want to be self-employed in two years.
You have crunched the numbers and found out that you have to put in 20 extra hours a week to really hit your goal.
20 hours / 5 (work)days = 4 hours per day.
Now it gets trickier. You have to ditch 4 hours of your average day to find time for your dream. What will you erase out of your calendar?
This is a point in life when you realize that chasing the life you want isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
It is all about focus. It is about sacrifices.
You have to be willing to make things different than before.
The good news is: As soon as you found your purpose and your Big Five, it get’s easier because you know WHY you’re doing it.
Sacrifices become more comfortable to handle when you know why you are sacrificing.
This is why you have to start with why. Thank you, Simon Sinek.
To wrap things up:
Map out your average day and think about what you want to do to move towards your Big Five.
Then make room in your average day and ditch time-eaters.
Create a hookable system
A system is a defined framework of repeatable actions to automatically bring you to your goal.
What is a hookable system?
Don’t make the mistake and try to build Rome in one day.
It is not about crazy hustling hours, it is about consistency.
I call it hookable system.
A hookable system contains routines and actions.
First, you have to create your routines. The best-known routine is the morning routine. It is just a set of actions you repeatedly do every morning.
The cool thing with routines is: As soon as you established them, you can hook new actions to it.
After all, that’s why I call it hookable. 🙂
How to create your hookable system
Starting small is the key to success. Aim for 30 minutes in the morning to build your first routine.
What do you want to repeatedly do every morning?
Do you want to live a healthier life? Add a short workout or 15min run to your morning routine.
Do you want to write a book? Cool – commit to writing one page every morning. No matter what.
A page takes too long? No problem. Just commit to writing 200 words.
As I mentioned before – consistency beats short-time hustling every time.
Starting small has two advantages:
- Easy to stick with: The resistance to writing 200 words is way lower then if you would try to write one complete chapter every day. The idea is to make the task so small that you feel stupid if you think about skipping.
- Progress is motivation: Since you raise the odds to finally be consistent, you’ll experience the feeling of making progress every day. For me, this is the best motivation I can get.
Building routines takes time.
The first month or two is all about showing up. If you do, you are already making progress.
Your 30 minutes morning routine contains 15 minutes of hygiene and 15 min writing.
Always keep the order the same. Over time, you’ll automatically walk from the bathroom to the notebook to write.
You don’t have to think about it anymore. It is your routine.
Once you’ve established your routine, you can start to hook in new actions.
If you’re ready, add another little action behind the last action in your routine. This is called habit stacking and helps you keep momentum.
I highly suggest you start with one routine. As soon as you feel comfortable, create the second one.
Your hookable system to reach your goals contains routines and actions. Those actions are directly derived from your Big Five for Life.
Once established, this is a system to consistently make progress and ultimately reach your goals.