The 3 basic rules of achieving your goals
There are 3 basic rules for getting really good at anything:
- First up is learning how to do the thing you want to be good at.
- Secondly, you need to continually practise because repetition is the key to success.
- Finally, you need a way of focusing and staying motivated for the long term, because success, as I’m sure you’re aware, doesn’t happen overnight, and your motivation will begin to wane very quickly.
These 3 keys to success sound easy but actually doing them is obviously not. If they were easy, we’d all be superhuman and excelling at absolutely everything, which just isn’t the case.
In fact, if you ask a successful person how they achieved their success, they’ll likely describe how they worked their arse off for years and years.
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Success requires Hard Work
Look no further than Elon Musk as an example of someone that works insane hours to achieve his goals. So much so that he is very aware, working such hours is not good for his health. In an interview for Ted Talks Elon recently said,
“...every good hour or even minute of thinking about Tesla or SpaceX has such a big effect on the company, that I really try and work as much as possible. To the edge of sanity basically.”
Implementing The Rules To Achieve Your Goals
So how should you approach these 3 key skills to give yourself the best chance of reaching your goals? Let's try using an analogy. Think of riding a bike. When you’re a kid, the idea of balancing on two wheels is completely daunting, so you start by learning the theory on 4 wheels, using training wheels to keep you upright.
At this stage you’re not thinking about entering the Tour De France, you simply want to learn how to ride a bike, so that is what you do.
Eventually you graduate to 2 wheels and you're honing your skill of riding a bike because you’re taking it out every day to get from a to b. Now you’re combining learning with practising, and you’ll be rapidly improving your bike riding skill and gaining in confidence. You’ll be learning road rules, and maybe even trying a few tricks and flicks.
At this point you’re completely competent riding a bike. You’re likely riding to school, shops and round to your friends' houses. Learning the technique and putting in the houses has got you to the point. But if you want to go even further and take bike riding to the next level? What if you decide you want to enter competitions?
Now the stakes are much higher. To win a trophy or a medal, you have to focus, set yourself a goal, and put the effort into achieving your ambition. This final step requires combining learning and practise with goal setting, and it’s usually this additional step of goal setting where people fall down.
Best Apps for Learning
Thankfully, there are apps that can help you with all three stages of this process, learning - practising - and focusing on your goal. And whatsmore, for the most part, all these apps can be used for absolutely free.
First up, for learning the skill or subject you want to excel in, there’s YouTube. There are simply a tonne of videos on every possible subject on YouTube and for different levels of skill. You can learn the basics of riding a bike, but you can also learn off-road biking or road racing. It’s all there for you.
If your goals are more academic, then you’ve also got apps like EDX and Coursera. Both of which offer free and paid courses. Then there are specialist apps like MasterClass designed to teach you everything you need to know in specific fields, like television and sports. MasterClass unfortunately isn't free.
Best Apps for Forming Habits
To ensure you continue improving and working towards your goal, you need to turn the task of learning and practising into a habit. Our brains love habits because habits are routines, and routines become so ingrained in our psyche that we do them without thinking, like brushing our teeth.
Tiny Gains is a habit forming app that works by breaking down each task or routine into its fundamental steps using visual cards. This works best if you literally try to divide a task into its most basic components - ‘wake up’, ‘brush teeth’, ‘put on clothes’.
By breaking your task down into these individual steps you're more likely to start because each step becomes ridiculously easy and effortless. And once you start you’re more likely to complete your task.
Tick off each card in the TinyGains app as you progress through your routine and set reminders to repeat the task everyday until it stops feeling like a chore and more like a habit. For maximum benefit I recommend making sure the last card in your routine is always rewarding, to give yourself a pat on the back for finishing.
Best Apps For Motivation
Forming habits can take time, so if you find that your motivation is beginning to slip then I recommend reaching for an app called Mindset. Mindset is a collection of audio snippets of inspiring and motivational speeches guaranteed to focus your mind and renew your energy.
Honestly, listen to one of these every morning and you’ll be jumping out of bed ready to take on the world. Similar to Mindset is PepTalks which works in exactly the same way, albeit a lot of the content can only be accessed through a subscription.
Best Apps For Tracking Your Progress
Having programmed your brain to view your task as a habit and having mastered your motivation, the final piece of the jigsaw to achieve your goals is to track your progress. Tracking your progress is critical because it charts your success and provides proof that you are getting more skilled or becoming more knowledgeable. Not only will this give you a great feeling of personal satisfaction but it will motivate you to push yourself further and reach even greater heights.
To track your progress, I recommend using one of two apps - either Strides or Way of Life. Both apps work in much the same way. You add the event you want to track, and then record each time you complete the event. The apps then chart your progress, rewarding you with badges for longest streaks and completing your tasks.
I prefer Strides over Way of Life because it offers a variety of measurements such as number of reps, or reaching a goal by a certain date, and it charts your results. But, if you’re looking for simplicity, then Way of Life is easier to set up and use. Both apps allow you to set reminders, and both apps have lots of pre-made templates to choose from, or you can create your own.
If you found this post useful, you might also be interested in reading my favourite free Word Games and don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for lots of tips and tricks on all your favourite apps.