I once read somewhere that ‘ our life is a sum of how we live our days’. This sounds rather simple but profound. Life doesn’t usually change overnight (as much as we would often hope it would). It changes, because we make little tweaks in our daily habits. Sometimes we do it intentionally. But a lot of times we just kind of start doing something differently, considering it to be insignificant minor change, but these small actions add up to huge life changes over time.
This partly explains why the goal setting exercise that we’ll talk more about in this post is so effective. But before we get to it, let me explain what I mean by “minor changes” leading to huge results.
Small steps matter
Nutritionists say that it’s enough to eat 250 calories less per day to lose 26 pounds a year. 250 calories are 2/3 of a Chocolate Chunk Cookie at Starbucks. This means that by not changing anything else in your daily routine except for eating 250 calories less a day will get you much bigger results than fad diets or irregular gym workouts.
The way we pick, set and pursue our goals is largely to blame
When we decide on what is it that we want to achieve in life, we rarely think ‘small changes over the serious period of time’. What Dave Brailsford refers to as ‘aggregation of marginal gains‘.Usually it’s the other way around – ‘massive action, over the next two weeks’ (usually followed by the long breaks of inactivity and procrastination).
However, there is one very simple, yet powerful exercise that helps us to shift focus from short term-gain to smooth and steady long-term results. And no, it’s not the usual – picture what your life will look in 5, 10 and 20 years visualization.
The goal setting technique I am about to show share makes use of the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ to the fullest. It is called:
The “Average Perfect Day”
The name gives the game away really. All you have to do is sit down, turn the soft lounge music on and ask yourself one question – What I want my Average Perfect Day look like?
Take a piece of paper or open a blank document on your computer and write down your perfect schedule for the day.
- What time do you wake up?
- What do you do once you are awake?
- Do you step out of your house and run for 20 minutes or you do a stretching exercise and 10-minute meditation?
- Do you say “Thank you” for all the blessings that you’ve been given?
- Then what do you do?
Write it down as detailed as possible, following your average perfect day step by step. Another key here is to focus on the word “average”. It shouldn’t be a day where you go on vacation, get married or bump into Johnny Depp while shopping at an antiques flea market.
It should be a day that you would re-live over and over again, without getting bored, exhausted or overwhelmed.
If you dig deeper, you’ll take away quite a few insights from this exercise. First, you’ll clearly see little habits that you can start instilling today to get yourself closer to your vision of Average Perfect day.
Some of the changes may seem bigger and more overwhelming. It’s okay. Just by having a clear goal of what you want your day to be like, will have your subconscious mind working to get you there. You’ll notice the opportunities that you haven’t seen before, you’ll do things a little differently and your set of circumstances will change, creating different, more positive outcomes.
Start with the smallest changes and work your way up
Pick something simple, that doesn’t require you to move to a foreign country or change your career. Begin by saying thank you for your blessings. Spend 10 minutes meditating.
We all have enough time, motivation and determination to stick with one tiny habit for 30 days (that’s the time it takes to make it automatic). Then you can move on to the next little goal and so on.