Prioritizing Success

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Murderous self-doubt, painfully obvious flaws, no idea what to do or where to start, rampant criticism, and epic uncertainty.

Fear
I feel and see all of those things every day.

I have absolutely no idea where any of this is going or what will happen next year, much less next month.

I’ve read plenty of self-help and business books, from Awaken The Giant Within to Zero to One to Antifragile; trying desperately to find the education that doesn’t exist in the America’s Educational System

I know what needs to be done to ‘succeed’.

You have to take consistently massive action every day, meditate in the morning’s, be authentic, find your target market before your product, take cold showers, journal in the evening, learn from failures, get 8 hours of sleep, focus on the most important/painful/frightening thing each day, etc…

But getting all that done? It might be ‘simple’, but it definitely isn’t ‘easy’. It’s really freaking hard. You literally have to completely rebuild your habits, identity, interests, and skills for ‘success’.

It’s like tearing down everything. Ripping out everything that’s comfortable and putting splinters and sandpaper everywhere you step.

Test Taking

Speaking of pain…

Now there are a lot of things education in the U.S. gets wrong, but they do get one thing right, test taking.

If you focus on one thing, whatever that is, you’ll get better. Attention is like a laser, and when you focus all your attention on test taking you get pretty darn good at it.

But test taking is a single skill.

Success is the byproduct of a multitude of skills, habits, and thought patterns.

So how do you learn all of those skills, prioritizing for the most important ones first, and achieve success so fast it blows everyone’s mind (including yours)?

Easy, pick one.

Alright, easy to say, hard to do. How do you pick one?

Pareto

Easy, Pareto’s Law.

80% of your success will come from 20% of the work.

This 80/20 rule applies to a lot of things in life, and sometimes it’s even 90/10.

There’s always one thing that is at the core of what you do, or what you want to do. And if you just did that one thing, it’d put freaking jet fuel in your life and catapult you into the stratosphere. You’d go supersonic screaming through the next six levels of life.

Prioritize

Whether it’s writing that next chapter in your book or coding that new feature, there’s always something that, if you did it, you’d be miles ahead.

It’s that one thing that, if you actually did it today, you could go to bed knowing you really got the most important shit done.

So what do you feel most guilty about when you wake up? What do you dread doing the most? What do you put off with busy work?

Is it cold-calling? Or just writing those damn user stories?

Whatever it is, that’s exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning.

If it’s a big task, break it down, and keep breaking it down until it’s in at least 6 hour chunks, but preferably 45 minute bites.

Take it to down to the smallest unit possible.

Our education system does a great job of this. It prioritizes the one metric that is measured (you can’t improve what you can’t measure) to the exclusion of almost everything else. Tests.

That’s why the spend so much time and money preparing everyone for them. Because it’s the one thing they can (kind of) control that determines everything else they do.

So in the morning, when you start working, just do it. Do it until it’s done. Until you literally can do no more, do whatever the single most important thing is for you.

Interrupt This

Don’t allow interruptions. This is the most important thing you’re going to do today, that means it is priority #1. Treat it like that.

Unless there’s a life or death situation, it can wait.

You might miss a call, lose some money, or someone might get angry.

But guess what? You matter! You are the most important thing in your life, and that means what’s most important to you is what comes first.

So if you’re working on your #1 priority, that means everything else is secondary. Whether it’s FaceBook or someone wanting to chat about the weekend, ruthlessly eliminate and avoid all distractions.

Abject Terror

Every morning, before starting, I can feel the fear creeping up my spine. My brain is shutting down with doubt and I want to cry with pity for myself.

Why? Because I might fail. I’ll probably be ridiculed. Laughed at. Demonized. Treated like a pariah.

This is the internet. It’s brutal.

But every morning I tell myself, “Look moron, if you just get up and do this one little thing, work for an hour, tops, you’ll be done the most important thing and you can go back to bed” (I drive to work, so not really, but that’s what I tell myself).

Most mornings this works.

Closer…

Every day you follow this advice, you are getting measurably closer to ‘success’. It means doing the most important thing that can be done. The one thing that years from now is going to matter more than anything else you could be doing.

String enough of these days together, and suddenly it starts adding up.

Doing the most important thing, the most powerful action possible, each and every day builds that ever elusive ‘momentum’. If there’s one thing I learned from physics and business, it’s what’s in motion tends to stay in motion.

So stop hiding. Don’t run from it. Run to it. Decide.

Cut yourself off from every other possibility. Do the most important thing first. You’ll be glad you did.

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