A couple of years ago, one of my friends asked me, “What’s your number one goal?”
That question made me nervous. I didn’t want to answer. I was afraid that if I said my single most important goal, I’d be closing doors to all of my other goals. Of which there were many.
I said this: “I want to be a bestselling author, but I also want to generate revenue, and I want to do this and publicity and blah, blah, blah.” He cut me off and said, “Cut the BS. What’s your number one goal?”
Again, I hedged. But he pushed me and forced me to get crisp. He said, “The number one goal.”
I said, “I want this book to be a New York Times bestseller.”
We hate giving ourselves constraints because it feels limiting.
It seems like we’re giving something up, and that’s exactly what it felt like in that moment.
However, it’s also freeing at the same time.
Once I decided (declared out loud) that I wanted to become a New York Times bestselling author, I eliminated about 70% of my marketing plan. It became crystal clear what I needed to do in order to achieve my goal. I focused all of my attention on those things.
Once my book became a bestseller, then I could do a lot of the other things that I wanted to do.
This was a classic case of moving up gradually, but of course, like we talked about in Part 3, our natural inclinations are to go big.
What we need to do is to get crisp. Crisp about what exactly it is we want.
The dating world is another example.
Let’s say you’re single and you’ve had a few boyfriends or girlfriends. You meet someone and they ask you, “Hey, what kind of people are you into? I know a lot of people, maybe I can set you up. What kind of person are you looking for?”
Most people would be super generic about that answer. “Oh, well, I like girls who are smart and nice.” A girl might say, “Oh, I like guys who are nice, maybe a little taller than me, and older.”
That’s super generic — and a super generic answer will get you a super generic date.
In reality, you know exactly what kind of person you want. If you were being honest you’d say, “I am looking for an Asian girl who’s 5’5”, between 25-33 years old, has a beyond entry-level job at a big tech company, has lived in other countries, and is into endurance sports.”
But nobody wants to say that because they’re afraid to limit themselves. We worry about closing the doors on other opportunities, but it’s like we’re worried about not getting 100%, when if we don’t choose, we won’t even get 1%.
If you want something big, it’s critical to make that initial choice to commit to a tangible and specific outcome.
If you want to achieve something big, it’s critical to commit to a SINGLE tangible and specific outcome.Tweet this
The good news is that once you do that, you apply that winning principle to the next item.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview I did with my longtime friend Noah Kagan. He’s the one who called me out on my number one goal.
Noah is a master at helping people (and himself) get laser-focused on achieving their goals. Pay special attention at 3:53 where he talks about the strategy that has made him the most successful, financially and otherwise.
I want to challenge you to do what Noah said.
Pick the biggest goal that you want to accomplish in one year. Maybe it’s to get 10,000 people on your list, run a marathon, finish your first Ironman, do 5 dead hang pull-ups, or lose 20 pounds. Whatever it is for you, declare it. And then mark your calendar for one year from today.
Next, break it down on a monthly and daily basis. By doing this, your big, hairy, audacious goals become manageable and by having daily accountability built in, you can use it as a filter for all of your decisions.
I work with a lot of people who want to start an online business. It’s a very exciting time for them — but it’s also challenging to know what to focus on, who to listen to, and what bright and shiny objects are worth their time.
So I ask them, “What’s your number one goal?” If they say, “I want to get 5,000 people on my list in one year,” then we have something very concrete to work with.
When they come to the group and say, “I was doing such and such on Twitter the other day,” the group will immediately call them out and say, “Is Twitter going to help you get to 5,000 people on your email list?”
In 95% of the cases, the answer is no. It might be more fun than doing what it takes to get to 5,000, but it’s not going to get them there.
Having that kind of focus is what has enabled me to grow my business from nothing 11 years ago to now being a multi-million-dollar business with 30,000 students all over the world.
Limiting your options may seem scary, but if you do it, your chances of achieving your goal increase exponentially.
So, get laser-focused on what you want and then be willing to let everything else take a backseat. If you get it right, you can bring them back to the front when the time is right.
Want to learn how to set and always achieve even your biggest goals? Get an additional 12 minutes of my interview with Noah Kagan. Just tell me where to send it.