How you can reach almost any goal by working hard

First things first, you will need a plan. We already talked about the phenomenon of small steps. The big goal that we want to achieve consists of many small stepping stones. We need to define them. And we need to do it with a sense of urgency, in order to get quick results. 

Before I discovered the power of hard work, I used to be a specialist in planning. Boy, did I plan. I created Excel files, sticky notes and to-do lists and planned my whole life. But the problem was: I was too busy planning and didn’t work hard on achieving my goals. The fun was in making the plan and not in working hard to achieve it. And, frankly, being caught up in the act of planning is nothing else than documented dreaming. If you don’t walk the talk, your plans are nothing else than a dream-map which will never come true.

So it is essential that the planning part is being taken seriously but not too seriously. We want to have a rough plan of what we need to achieve in order to reach our final goal. For once, this is easy if you have goals that are related to your body. If you want to lose weight, you know what you will have to do: sports and healthy nutrition. For business ideas, it is usually a bit more difficult, but should neither be rocket science. 

Let’s say you want to create a new kind of cosmetic product and don’t know what official permissions you need to do to get it on the market. It would be quite difficult to make a plan based on this. So you will need to answer all the questions you have. And that easily be done by just asking the authorities in your country. They are surprisingly helpful and will usually respond to you with detailed information on what you need to do. With this information, you can then make your plan. 

I would recommend that you create an Excel table, write down your goals for the week and keep daily track on what you have done. If you have the Excel knowledge, then feel free to work with colors and diagrams. When I wrote this book, for example, I had the target amount of words I wanted to write displayed in a red graph and the amount of my actually written words in a green graph. At the beginning the red graph was at 50.000 and the green graph at zero. On day three, the red graph had shrunk to 44.000 already and the green graph risen to six-thousand. I could see how the amount of work would shrink from day to day and with every word I wrote, the green graph got bigger and bigger. 

I also included conditional formatting in the cells where I entered the amount of words I had written on that day. If the word count of a day was below one thousand, the number would show in red. If it was one thousand, it became a light green and the closer I got to three-thousand, the greener the cell became. 

These kinds of visualizations really do work for me, because you can see how the sheer unbearable, and totally overwhelming, mountain of work shrinks and shrinks. And the further you get, the more motivation you have to reach the goal. 

I know that I set challenging and stretching targets as my minimum goals and then multiplied them by three to have an even higher spur of finishing them. But always be careful with doing more than what you planned to do. While it is obviously something that is desirable, doing too much on one day might also give you an excuse for doing less the next day. And like this, you might find yourself in a situation where you just stopped working on your plan completely. It is better to do a little every day, than doing a lot on one day – but then never continuing with it. Five minutes of jogging each day are better than thirty minutes of jogging on day one and then quitting it because you are too frustrated and your muscles are sore. 

For each day, identify the hardest and most uncomfortable tasks and do them first. Not only will this help you to conquer fear and hesitation, it will also set the stage for the day. Remember the chapter about energy drainers in the last section? The longer you will procrastinate on the uncomfortable task, the less energy you will have. So if you get the uncomfortable tasks out of the way at the beginning of each day, you will have much more energy for the other tasks. And you will be relieved the whole day. Whereas if you delay them, they linger around there and automatically influence the way you deal with the other, easier tasks in a bad way.