How to get stuff done

A journey of 10,000 steps begins with 9,999 steps.

I named my car Success several years ago. That way, I nearly always have the keys to success in my pocket.

On a more serious note, we all have goals, individually and shared. For a while, I had no idea how to accomplish mine, but I've recently learned that there are a few tools we can pack to make our journey towards success more likely to succeed.

I wrote about them several times over the past week, but I figured I'd jam them all into one post and throw in some quotes and saccharine, empty proverbs for good measure and future reference. Also for generative learning.

Writing your goals down

You know what they say... writing goals down makes you 40% more likely to achieve them. Or something.

Maybe it's just that the people that bother to write their goals down are the ones serious enough to do something else about them too, and it's just correlation – not causation.

Either way, there's just one way to be certain you're the kind of person that's likely to achieve their goals: write 'em down.

Build systems and standards

“We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

Setting a goal is not enough to accomplish it: rather, it is merely the determination of a destination.

The next step we must take is to figure out the path the journey to that destination must take us on. This path is made up of our systems and our standards.

A standard is something we must consistently do in order to achieve our goal. The system is the means we use to accomplish that standard.

Without them, we won't take a single step in the right direction, and it's all just wishful thinking. So we need to build them and adhere to them.

But how do we figure out what these systems and standards are? Simple: we use...

Reverse engineering and inversion

"Avoiding stupidity is easier than trying to be brilliant." – David Perell

Reverse engineering goals into plans is a form of inversion operating at a macro level. It's where you start with the end point and work the steps out backwards until you arrive at the present moment, coming up with standards and systems to support those standards by asking what will prevent you from achieving our goals until you've come up with every blocker and a means around it.

I picked this up from David Perell in his post 50 Ideas That Changed My Life.

Okay, great. We know what we have to do. But is that enough?

No, of course not. How can we know where we are on our journey if we have no clue where we were yesterday or where we're going to be tomorrow?


"You can't manage what you can't measure." – Peter Drucker

Tracking is how it's possible to know whether or not you're, well, on track to achieve your goals.

The simplest, most effective tracking system is a simple spreadsheet: seven columns, one for each day of the week, and a row for each goal.

As you go through the week, mark each day in your spreadsheet when you meet your standard for that day.

At the end of the week, count how many points you got out of the maximum possible. Divide the actual score by the potential score, and this is your success percentage.

Your entire goal in life is to raise this score. Success is when that score is at 100% all the time.

If you want to succeed, you must get deadly serious about meeting 100% every single week. Unless you're at 100%, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. Only dead fish go with the flow.

That's assuming you track everything, of course – if you don't, you can be almost certain you won't improve.

Bonus tip: improving is as much about removing unrealistic goals as it is about meeting realistic ones.


"An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." – Sir Isaac Newton

Sometimes success is simply a matter of building momentum. This is what the vast majority of goal achieving and habit building consists of: slowly picking up the plates from where they got knocked down by the last thing life throws at you.

But true excellence comes when we are able to keep the plates spinning long enough, to keep building momentum, because then compound interest comes into play.

Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it.” – Albert Einstein

The best way to become successful is to preserve your momentum at all costs.

Realize that the journey is all there is

With all that said, there is no true destination when it comes to achieving our goals, even when it seems like there is.

The moment we reach the end of one journey, we discover a new destination and must begin again.

It's important to realize that, because if we don't we risk becoming like the many men and women, who, upon having reached their goals, realize that what they have striven for does not satisfy them, and all they have sacrificed to reach that point seems to be more desirable than what they have attained.

So it really is important to enjoy the journey along the way. To stop and smell the roses. To be satisfied with where we are, where we're going, and what we're doing right now.

In every moment that we do not try to improve, we have lost. In every moment that we do try to improve, we have won.

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