Hacks for getting what you want

There are two kinds of things that are important to getting what you want.

One is what are sometimes called soft skills: knowing how to choose which desires are most important, how to move past fear to a place where you can deeply commit, even knowing how to identify what you want in the first place. The other, which I talk about much less, is the practical side: hacks and tips to make the process of getting what you want go more smoothly, and I think it’s time to talk about these things a bit. So without further ado, some of my hacks for getting what I want.

One thing at a time. I spent a lot of my life trying to give my focus to everything. There were times when I did this with relative success, but in the end, I was exhausted and burned out, and it took me many months to get my mojo back. When I look at a list of twenty-five goals, it reminds me of how I felt when I was trying to do it all: depressed and depleted. So instead, I’ve been using the question what one thing would most improve my life right now? Sometimes I’m surprised by what that is, but following my own answers to this question has invariably been helpful.

Autopilot is your friend. Not the friend of your creative process, where being present and attentive fuels your work, but the friend of the kinds of goals that require lots of small actions over time. When you integrate steps towards your goals into your routine, it takes your emotional energy away from thinking “am I going to go to the gym today?” and leaves it available for that creative process or your family or whatever is most important to you. It also means that these goals aren’t taking up your focus, leaving it available for whatever your one thing is.

Keep the end in sight — literally. I like to use visual reminders of the goal that has most of my focus. I often do this with collages: you can hang these on your wall, put them under plastic on your desk, or even make them into a mug for your coffee. This keeps the goal on your mind and in your awareness, and it turns out that attention is powerful.

As always, these hacks are things that have worked for me, and different people are different. Maybe you’re someone who feels secure knowing the next six things you want to do, or who prefers to multitask. Best hack ever: knowing yourself.

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