By the time you read this I’ll be 29, probably. One last year of my 20s. It’s settling on me like the realization that five compartments were flooding settled on Thomas Andrews, my 20s will be over. I will become 30…
I wished that I had developed a better vision for what I wanted my life to be like when I was 30. If I had I probably wouldn’t be broke & living in my parents’ house in west Michigan. Maybe not majoring in Philosophy would’ve helped too.
But this article isn’t meant to be self-depricating or depressing! If you want to change your life, if you want to kick ass and take names, build on the shoulders of giants, and leave your mark on the world you’ll need more than hollow platitudes and tautologies, you’ll need vision.
In his book Total Recall (and on this podcast with Chris Hardwick), Arnold Schwarzenegger says that for someone who’s unmotivated, who’s stuck, or who doesn’t know how to get what they want out of life has one duty: develop a vision.
If you want to kick ass and get a powerful vision for yourself, here’s a few pointers:
Think big: Don’t hold your vision back, you want to be a billionaire? Why the hell not!? Maybe it’s a big dream, but fall short with a few hundred million and you probably won’t be disappointed. Don’t just limit yourself to money, think about life situation; where you’ll live, things you’ll do in your daily life. Want to have a dozen live-in male-model boyfriends waiting on your hand and foot? You owe it to yourself to at least try!
Write it down, make it sound beautiful: Part of what keeps people from achieving their vision is how boring it usually is. What you want to do is get your juices flowing! For each of the things you imagined before, write them down, make a list. Then for each, write a little sales pitch that is going to get you excited. Be your own salesman and write awesome copy. This will serve to get you back into the game when you start feeling disillusioned later.
Work backwards, break it up: If you see yourself living in Paris in your vision, then naturally you’ll have to get over there. This isn’t really a “plan” but is simply trying to figure out what must happen in order to make your vision a reality. If you want to be a millionaire you’ll have to have a net worth of one million, so something has to happen to make that come into being. These will become milestones in your future plan.
Divide your milestones up: Here’s where things start getting complicated, but bear with it. Your milestones/goals will beak down in two different ways – those that fall under your control, and those that don’t. Put those that you control into one category, and those you do not into another. For example, “have a million dollars” in the bank isn’t something you directly can control, unless you happen to have a million one-dollar bills lying around your apartment, you drug dealer. So you’d put that goal into “don’t control.” However, if your vision is “get ripped” that is something you directly control, so write it into another category.
Choose a date you want realize your vision by, be unreasonable: The great Peter Drucker once said that chunking giant goals into 18 month increments was the secret to success. Pick a date, and do make it so far out that it’s unrealistic. You want to feel the sting of achieving that vision on your heels. Think it’s impossible to look like Arnold in 18 months? Ummmm… maybe it is, but working like you can do it in 18 months is going to get you a hell of a lot closer to making it happen than never doing it. And who knows? Maybe you’re a genetic miracle and you can!
Take the milestones and plan how you’re going to make them happen: Sit down, pull out a notebook and write down every little thing about how to make your milestones happen. “But wait!” I hear you thinking. “What about the ones I don’t control?” Good question hypothetical reader. For the milestones you don’t control you do something interesting – you write down your best guess based on what you know now. So, how do you become a space pirate? No idea, but probably it has to do something with SpaceX or Virgin Galactic. Then, write down things you know you’ll have to learn. Again, if you want to be a space pirate, you’ll probably have to know things about physics, which ones? Who knows, but probably how things leave the Earth.
Get MANIACAL with your detail: Stefan Swanepoel, a fascinating real-estate maniac, arranged one of the most successful and and lauded real estate conferences (http://www.t3summit.com/) in four months from the moment he decided to do it. He managed it through a ruthless attention to detail – where, when, and what needed to happen in order to pull it off. No detail seems to small if it helps flesh out your vision “At 11:28am Tuesday the 24th I’ll be completing my 172 pull-up of my 500 pull-up routine.” Your biceps will be cranked bran! If you can, get into these details. Even if you don’t end up following it to the letter, you’ll have necessarily created a much deeper vision to motivate you.
GET IT DONE!
There you have it. Get to work and start cranking out toward your goal.
All the work you’ve put into your vision so far will trigger two powerful internal motivators: the investment protection bias, and the consistency bias. Basically, because you’ve already put in this much effort, you’ll work to prevent losing it. The consistency bias is another strong force, causing you to continue the work you’ve started because you’ve already headed in that direction.
But of course, the biggest thing that’ll keep you working toward living your vision is the badass awesome vision you created!