This re-loved and updated post was originally published in March 2013.
Everybody loves their goals: big projects, bold revenues, new products – the stuff Jim Collin’s famously tagged as BHAG’s.
And it makes sense…
In the corporate world, goals drive product development, marketing and sales pushes and the giant gains fame and fortune are built on. In entrepreneur-land, goals get you out of bed, drive that extra effort and push you to make one more sales call.
All good stuff, but in reality putting a poster up in the lunch room, creating a vision board or adding motivational screensavers is not how stuff gets done or how to achieve your goals.
It’s like going to the gym.
HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT?
Picture this: you’re fired up and heading to the gym. It might be a change in season, maybe you’re tired of feeling everything you own is a size too small, or you’ve been watching Oprah reruns and now you know for sure if you want something to happen it starts with Y.O.U.
So, you’re going to the gym.
In fact, you’re so committed you’ve bought a 12-month membership. Goddammit, this time will be different.
Already you’re envisioning friends you haven’t seen for a while stopping to take a second look at your transformed figure. They want to know your secret.
Sure, you haven’t actually been to the gym, but already it’s clear that the before/after transformation will be so epic Morgan Freeman should narrate it.
So you pack up the old Adidas, take one last glance in the mirror at the old you and off you go.
Stair master, stationary bike, free weights – you’re working up a sweat. Muscles that have been sleeping for a decade are alive and tell you they want more! As you grimace through one more bench press you silently repeat your new mantra: “No pain, no gain.”
Yes, sir! Today is the beginning of a whole new you!
After a respectable 45 minutes, you grab your stuff, head to the change room to check out the results. After all, exercise is all about progress – right?
You find a mirror and begin your inspection: front, back…a quick glance with the shirt pulled up.
What!?!…nothing has changed.
Other than tired and a sweaty shirt, it’s same-old-you staring back in the mirror. You’ve been here before – gave it your all, but no passing Go, no $200. Exercise, you conclude, is overrated. And you never go back.
Maybe your goal is hiring a new assistant, building sales, writing your first book or saving money. Whatever your goal is, you know you can’t eat an Elephant all at once.
Introducing the Miracle 10 Minute Solution.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD
Let’s face it:
Warren Buffet didn’t become one of the most idolized investors of our time over a weekend. It took Michael Jordan three years to even get on a varsity team. Bono and U2 didn’t become famous until they’d played smokey bars for eight years.
Achieving your goals happens the same way—small bites every day, over time. Like 10 minutes a day. You see, we are all more likely to find 10 minutes a day (or 20 or 30 minutes), rather than an hour here, or an hour there. And those 10 minutes add up.
In fact, here’s a simple formula that could rock your world (it did mine):
10 minutes a day equals one week a year
If you work on something for just 10 minutes a day, five days a week, by the end of the year you’ve committed the equivalent of a full work-week (40 hours) on that project.
It’s pretty simple math: 10 minutes every day, Monday through Friday, is 50 minutes per week. And at 50 weeks a year, that’s 2500 minutes a year, or about five eight-hour days, or the equivalent of one week focussed on just one goal.
Imagine what you could accomplish with a full week of effort. Pick any goal on your hunt list and I’m guessing in one week you’d have it shot, skinned, butchered and cooking for dinner.
It never looks like much – 10 minutes. Heck, you could waste 10 minutes clearing emails from your InBox, shuffling papers on your desk, or searching for the Sanskrit root of Namaste. Or you could actually move one of your goals forward.
Just 10 minutes every day – used wisely – can change everything.
JUST A FEW MINUTES A DAY
Here’s some quick 10 to 20 minute daily rituals I use to achieve my goals:
1. Client follow up. Every morning I review a list I keep of clients I’m chasing down for a signed contract, reply to a proposal or they’ve gone AWOL for a month. Those are usually the most profitable 20 minutes of my morning.
2. 15-minute morning workout. When I’m travelling I rely on a 15-minute hotel room workout to fire up my muscles and get ready for the day. It’s fast, convenient and I don’t have to pack runners and gym clothes.
3. Fast walk around the block. On days when I’m working from my office I break up the afternoon mental fog with a quick 10-minute walk around the block.
4. Blog browsing. I use www.feed.ly (a free tool) every day for about 10 minutes to connect with some of the dozen bloggers I follow, learn something new, and stimulate my thinking.
5. Review my Plan. Every morning I take 10 minutes to review my Flight Plan (plan for the week) and to clarify my Action Plan for the day.
6. Cut clutter. Before I wrap up at my office I wipe my desk clean of clutter (memory sticks, business cards, orphan computer cords, paper, and files), blast through important emails I’ve highlighted and updated my Flight Plan. Total time: 10 minutes, value: priceless.
Let’s look at ways you can use the Miracle 10-minute solution.
THE MIRACLE 10 MINUTE SOLUTION
If you’re reading this blog, it tells me something about you:
You have lots of ambitions. And you’ll never have enough time. The trick is to focus on the most valuable goals and to keep them rolling, 10 minutes at a time.
Here’s what I recommend:
Choose one goal that has high leverage (if you get it done, other good things happen), then chunk down the steps you need to take until you reach something you can do in just 10 minutes a day.
Here are examples of goals and matching 10-minute tasks to move them forward:
- More sales: research one client you want to work with and connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Referral business from clients: create a list of clients you haven’t worked with in over a year. Every morning choose one to mail a relevant article to.
- Updating your website: once you have a shopping list of changes, commit to working on them, one block of 20 minutes a week. Just like a garden: with a little maintenance your site will produce better results.
- Referral business from colleagues: email a colleague and volunteer to connect them with one of your past clients.
- Write a book: Every morning, for four mornings, spend 10 minutes adding content, on the fifth morning, edit. Repeat this cycle until you have a chapter.
- Learn a new skill – like how to build an online course: Buy the course you want on Udemy, watch 10 minutes a day.
- Unload low-value tasks: First, research and hire an assistant on Upwork (create a short-term contract to test the relationship) for book research, graphic design, social media, finding sales leads, Facebook advertising, or editing blog posts. Allow 10 minutes a day to assign tasks and review work.
The flip side of the Miracle 10-minute solution is, of course, how fast you can waste 10 minutes (the Mystery of 10 minutes of stupidity?). As fast as you can think “Oh! Look an email for me!” 10 minutes has slipped away never to be seen again.
Our brain can only handle one thought at a time (as much as we pride ourselves on multi-tasking, we are actually single-tasking creatures), so the first trick to achieving your goals is to focus on the best next step first.
The second trick to stop thinking you need hours of free time (which never happens) to “finally” attack what you’ve been procrastinating about for months. Start with 10 minutes a day and watch the miracle begin.
By the way, I wrote this blog in four, 10-minute chunks.
Want to learn more about achieving your goals and getting a grip on your time? Here’s more good stuff:
— How to (finally) get your To Do list out of your head, organized, and done.
— My ultimate productivity hack – do the hardest 50 in the first 90
— Kill Your To-Do List – surprising secrets I use to get more done