Make fewer goals, get more done.

Last year, I made a list of everything I wanted to accomplish in 2019. Every idea was recorded, highlighted, categorized, and sub-categorized. I was like the Marie Kondo of organizing goals, and knew I could accomplish most of it by December. 

2019 was my year. 

There were a few normal items on the list: 

  • Learn Spanish
  • Go skydiving
  • Eat vegetables

And some wildcards:

  • Hike Kilimanjaro
  • DJ a wedding
  • Dress less like a slob 

All in, I wrote out 52 different ideas.


How many of them did I accomplish in 2019? 


For those of you following along at home, that’s 15%, which is about the same grade I pulled on my college Accounting final. A failure then, a failure now. 

This is especially true considering that a few of the goals I missed were things I committed to accomplish no matter what. If all else failed, I would get those right. Today, I have little to show for the other 44 neglected dreams. 

Was the year bad? Absolutely not. All sorts of incredible things happened. 

I accomplished a few big goals and had more exciting opportunities than ever. 

But I know I can achieve more in 2020 with one simple change. 

This year, I’m making fewer goals than ever.  

Instead of dreaming about 52 different possibilities, I have a list of 9 goals and habits to pursue, and three that I’ll focus on above the rest. Everything I’m doing is subordinate to those three things.

Plenty of other ideas could have made the list, but cutting them out created space to focus on what’s most important to me.

Truth is, I don’t have the time or focus to pull off much more than three major achievements in a year. Especially ones that require completely new systems and habits. 

That’s why dreaming about the future is so easy in January, and reflection often feels so pathetic in December. 

We’re trying to do too much. 

Building significant change in your life requires you to eliminate the good goals and focus completely on the best goals. Don’t make stupid goals based on other people’s Insta-lives; use your wiring and passions to accomplish a few incredible things you’ve dreamt of doing forever. Dreams that light a fire inside of you. 

Build habits that support your success in the most important things. Wake up every day and remind yourself what you’re committed to. Refuse to allow any distractions to creep in without your permission. Be ruthless about reaching the destination you see in your mind. 

The other day, a wise friend said:

“We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.” 

If you hit just three major accomplishments each year, you’d reach at least 30 in ten years (wow math!). 30 of your biggest goals accomplished is a huge deal. Not only that, but your consistent efforts would compound into a reality you can’t even imagine today.

As we step into the 2020’s, sit back for a minute. Where do you want to be in 2030? Let those dreams inform where you start today, and figure out a small number of big things you can do this year to get you there. 

That’s the way to get more done. 

Do less. 

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