We’re in the final stretch of 2017.  Have you accepted any invites to any end of year vision board parties yet?  One of my friends mentioned hosting one this year and, unlike times past, I noticed a little internal hesitancy.  Don’t get me wrong, vision board parties are great, but I feel that most of them aren’t as powerful as they could be.

It’s exciting to daydream about all the lavish experiences you want to enjoy someday. But how do you transform them into reality?  Vision boards are perfect for inspiration. But once we have a vision in place, we need to utilize tools to make our vision come alive.  The most practical tool available is a planner.

I’ve used a planner on, and off, for over a decade.  But in 2018, I want to tweak my methodology a bit.  Instead of using it as a time management tool, I want it to be the secret weapon that helps me achieve results like never before.
What I’d like to do is to apply some of the lessons from previous Monday Motivation articles to my daily planning and execution.  So here’s a compilation of some of the most relevant lessons and how I’ll apply it to my planning process.

I recently wrote a post on the power of Planning On an Hour by Hour Basis.  This method is great if you want to really drive a productive day. It’s the perfect strategy for people who are juggling lots of tasks or if you want to create massive results in a short amount of time. An alternative is to use a simple timer to time my activity. This helps me to ge hyper-focused. When I work single-mindedly on a task, for a limited amount of time, I get so much more done.

The other way I’ll leverage my planner is to use it as a means of keeping My Goals & Visions In Front of Me At All Times.  Too often, I’ll use it as a way of just writing down stuff that needs to get done. But what about all of the outcomes I want to create?  If you look at my planner from an objective standpoint, you wouldn’t know what my overall goals are.  I reflect back to the post where the girl manifested a huge contract as the result of wearing some affirmation bracelets.  Those trinkets basically served as a reminder for her to stay focused on her goals. I think a planner can serve as a great reminder that we are working on something bigger.

My plan is to create a miniaturized vision board that’ll fit in neatly in my planner.  But, to make it more powerful, I want it to reflect my quarterly goals.  That will force me to have to update my visions on the regular, which will keep me more connected. This is very different from creating a vision board at the start of the year then never looking at it again.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

But instead of generic message/quotes, I want to write something like “You Have Created XXXX Result.”

I‘ll utilize the planner is to accelerate my results by tracking and measuring my most important and high impact activities.  I’ve already purchased some goal tracker inserts that will help me stay consistent.  Then, I can go back and look at the results to see if I’m working on the right activities.

My planner is a place where I can capture all of the wins made in the upcoming year.  Sometimes I tend to focus mainly only what needs to be done.  This year, I’m combining my manifestation journal & planner into one place.  Purely to document my progress.

One of my past coaches encouraged all of his students to create 90-day goals but set up a list of bi-weekly actions that will lead to that goal. As I review my month at a glance, I’ll mentally break it up into two halves. From there, I set bi-weekly milestones that will ultimately take me to the 90-day outcome.  In the past, I worked from my planner on a day-by-day basis. Going forward, I want it to become a tool that I utilize to bring about all of my intentions.

Whenever December rolls around, I always make a bold declaration that the upcoming year will be even more incredible than the last.  So far, I’ve done a pretty decent job at meeting my expectations.

How?

I place much of the credit to my annual end of the year ritual that sets me up for an amazing year ahead.
This ritual began around the time when I wanted to pursue a life of freedom.  I knew that I needed a plan. Part of that plan involved forgoing all vacation related travel so I could utilize the time to work on my secondary income.

Each year, I would set aside 2 weeks to focus on creation related activities.

Here’s the thing, a lot of people use the end of the year to set new goals.  But setting goals wasn’t enough.  Instead, I worked diligently to create a clear line of demarcation between the current year and the one ahead.  If I wanted the upcoming year to be better, I would do things now to encourage and promote a better year.

So when Jan 1, 201X arrived, I was well into the heart of the creation process.  I was vibrating at a different level than someone who set some haphazard wishes for the new year.

Some of the activities I would engage in during my time of creation included:

  • Hiring web developers for website improvement projects or working on those projects myself.
  • Working long days on my side business.  Most of us are part-time hustlers who only dedicate a few hours a day or week to our dream.  We don’t get the experience real progress because of the limited amount of time dedicated towards its growth.  Time off during the holidays was (for me) a huge opportunity to put in a lot more focused time into building my dream.
  • One year, I conducted an experiment where I hyperfocused on my self-care and beauty rituals.  That experience was life-changing and really opened my eyes to how life becomes different when you present the best version of yourself to the world. 
Most often, I dedicate the last couple of weeks of the year towards altering my external environment.  This typically means daily decluttering and making cosmetic changes to my interior. I altered my environment in order to create a new and different energy than what existed before. People who live in abundance tend to invest a bulk of their money into upgrading and updating their living space.  There’s a reason for this.  The luxury environment adds to the feeling of abundance that fuels their reality.
Also, updating your space is the ultimate act of creation. You have a vision for your space then you bring it into reality. If you can master this on a small scale (your home) you can replicate it on a large scale (your life).  
This year, I want to try something new.  Since I just talked about the subject of being amazing, I want to dedicate the last week of the year towards operating as my ideal self.  I’ll probably start the process by visualizing and verbalizing myself as who I want to be.  From there, I can identify what behaviors/attributes I would display then proceed to behave as my best self.  
Sometimes, these behaviors are unsustainable, other times, they transition into long-term habits.  The point is to EXPERIENCE what you want versus just talking about it.  Once you’d have the opportunity to experience life as you desire it, you always something to refer to.  Even though I don’t always keep up with my self-care routine like I should, I know exactly what will happen if I put in the work.  
 Imagine having worked out and eaten healthy for two weeks come January 1 instead of just making a promise to yourself that you’ll start tomorrow. Live your desired reality now!  By the time January hits, you’ll already have a running start.

 Carrying a new energy into the year is absolutely critical.  I’m writing this article a couple weeks ahead of the new year for a reason.I want to give you enough time to think about what you will do with the next couple of weeks.  Yes, there’s still some Christmas shopping to do and planning for the holidays. But if you dedicate a part of your energy towards prepping for the new year, your effort and intention might pay off in a big way. 

Back when I read a bunch of business-related books. One subject that I wanted to constantly learn about was time management.  My mind runs at 100 miles an hour. This means that I’m constantly jumping from task to task without making much progress.

I’ll never forget the time when I landed my first professional job.  The girl training me would teach me a few tasks than observe me while I worked.  After a few moments of observation, the asked me to stop jumping from one task to another so I could actually finish what I was doing.  Being all over the place feels like I’m busy but, in the end, I found myself rarely getting the most important things done.

To solve this problem, I tested out a variety of time management strategies.  Most of them produced positive outcomes. But one strategy, in particular, improved my results by leaps and bounds.
I almost forgot about this technique until recently.  While watching Instagram stories, one woman talked about how great of a day she had. She’s a celebrity stylist who eventually launched a successful online fashion boutique.  I’ve followed her for years and witnessed entrepreneurial growth first hand.

While describing her amazing day, she let us in on the strategy that allows her to produce massive results.

Simply put, she manages her day on an hour by hour basis.

Each hour she takes a moment to look back and asks herself if she made good use of her time.

I first learned the concept of managing each hour in 2005 while looking for a solution for my unproductive days.  The answer came in the form of using a daily time log.  My first few times using a time log was a disaster.  Hours would go by and I’d forget to document my activities.  When I did remember, I had to think hard on what I actually accomplished in the past 3-4 hours.  Sure, I was busy doing a bunch of stuff, but was I actually being productive? Most of the time, I was shocked that I allowed a couple of hours just slip by without even realizing it.

After a few days of tracking my activity by hour, I became hyper-aware of how quickly time would dissipate if I didn’t take ownership of it.  My activity changed drastically because I wanted to log something meaningful at the end of each hour.  Even if I didn’t complete an important task in an hour, I’d still be satisfied as long as I was working on something of value.  The point of the exercise is to bring awareness to our subconscious action.

Most importantly, hourly time management raises the level of accountability, intention, and focus of our daily activity.

Once I got used to tracking my hourly activity, I took it to the next step by building my daily to-do list using this format. Simply put, I tried to plan my day on an hour by hour basis (before the start of the workday) then challenged myself to maintain this schedule.  A-list celebrities and successful individuals are so busy that they plan their day using the same (hour-by-hour) format.  I heard that Ryan Seacrest plans his day 15 minutes at a time.  They don’t allow half a day to slip by without accomplishing something critical.

People throw around the term time management loosely but, to me, this is the true definition of managing your time.

 First, decide what’s most important (and what will provide the most impact), then design your most optimal day.  One that you would classify as amazing.  Then create a daily schedule of how you will execute this day (hour by hour).  Things will pop up and your schedule will change.  Chances are, you won’t be able to perfectly ahere to that schedule. But, if you start with a solid plan, you’ll likely have one of your most productive days ever.  The more you implement this technique, the better you’ll become at executing it to your satisfaction.

For fun, try printing out an hourly time log and track your time this week to see how powerful this technique can be. 

(*Another way I apply this technique is to simply set an hour countdown on my phone. Each time an hour passes, my phone buzzes, I reset the timer and I log how I used the hour*).

The biggest challenge we have, when it comes to reaching our goals, is opposition that comes in the form of resistance.  Recently, I shared a tactic that provides an easy way to get out a rut. But what should you do if your resistance is fear-driven?

Fear & resistance go hand in hand.  You want to step into a new direction, but all of these limiting thoughts pour in, causing you to remain stuck.  I’ve coached quite a few people over the years and the biggest factor (I found) that keeps people from taking action is focusing on what could go wrong.
It’s perfectly healthy to mentally review the pros and cons of venturing into a new direction.  But most people tend to amplify all of the possible pitfalls.  It’s great to have a balanced discussion about what could go right or wrong in any given situation. Unfortunately, most of our internal conversations aren’t very balanced.

In the days of old, we had to rely on our healthy fear responses to protect us from external threats that actually threatened our lives.  Today, our environment is much safer but our primitive survival instincts still remain.  Instead of trying to keep us alive, it tends to focus on keeping us from “harms way.” But not physical harm…we’re more afraid of emotional harm. 

A little bit of fear is healthy. It helps us think logically through our impending decisions.  The problem arises when we lean too much on the side of fear. Suddenly we come up with every single scenario of what could go wrong. We don’t just think about them, we amplify them.  And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t notice how irrational most of our fears actually sound. 

One thing we aren’t very good at is actually challenging our so-called fears.  An inaudible voice tells us why this idea–that you were very excited about–won’t work and we instantly believe it. 

Those who are able to consistently reach their goals are the ones who challenge that inaudible voice.  I want you to question its motives.  Realize that it’s sole purpose is to keep you locked firmly in place.  If you actually could experience harm from this scenario, then you probably shouldn’t move forward.  But if deep down you realize that the voice is just afraid, you’ll have to take a different approach.

What do you do when someone’s afraid of something that can’t actually hurt them? 

You calm them down by assuring them that everything’s going to be ok.

We have to take the same approach.

You must counteract your negative, fearful thinking by focusing on everything that could go right.

If your initial idea was inspired by something you are truly aligned with, there are lots of things that could go right.  We have to nurture our belief in what is possible.  Most of us don’t spend adequate amounts of time playing out scenarios of things actually working out in our favor. 

Instead of spending too much time on what could go wrong, ask yourself “what if?”

“What if I dedicate a few hours a day on this goal?”
“What if I invested $XX from every paycheck towards making this happen?”
“What if instead of binge watching shows all weekend, I did XXX?”

These are the types of questions that create new outcomes.  From there, you come up with strategies on how to fulfill your vision instead of running away from it.  Bottom line is that we can allow those fears to stop us or we can look at look at it from a different perspective.

I would have never experienced this entrepreneurial journey if I only focused on what could go wrong. I’m convinced that my journey to freedom was delayed because of all the time wasted on focusing on what would go wrong.  I painted vivid mental pictures of me on failing financially, losing my home, and living on the street.  I’m approaching 3 years now and none of those fears have manifested.

Why?

Because I started asking myself powerful questions.  I identified the risks, then spent a ton of time working to eliminate or minimize them.  The process wasn’t fear based.  My motivation was to overcome the obstacles, not be threatened by them.  I realize that there are areas where resistance still exists. But I have to fight against that.

  Our default way of thinking is to focus on the worst possible outcome so we have to make a conscious effort to reflect on all the positive experiences that await us if we moved forward in the right direction.

Today, I’ll give you a small piece of advice that will hopefully change the direction of your life.   This morning I went on a morning walk.  Typically on these walks, I’ll open the voice app and record an update of various areas of my life.

This morning’s update went very well.  I noticed that I’ve made impressive progress in areas where I struggled for months.  After a bit of reflection, I realized the reason for my wonderful progress came from applying one simple principle that changed everything.
Currently, I’m executing a bunch of habits that I’ve struggled with in the past.  How did I get here?

Simple.

Unknowingly, I followed the philosophy of taking the path of least resistance to enjoy the results I have today. 

Months ago, I weighed more than I do now, had no morning routine, my productivity was minimal and I felt lost.  Today, everything is different.  Here’s the journey that led me here.

Prior to this transformation, I struggled majorly.  Something had to change. I wanted to be doing so much more but I just couldn’t motivate myself into action.  So instead of forcing myself to jump directly into rigorous routines, I took the lazy route and followed the path of least resistance.

Resistance keeps us stuck in one place.  I needed to move forward. I knew that if I took that one, tiny step, it would be tremendous.  This morning I watched a video featuring Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week.  Tim said that whenever he has a complex problem he asks himself “what’s the easiest way to solve this?” 

In the same way, whenever you struggle to move into action, ask yourself, “what’s the easiest thing I can do right now.”  Although I didn’t actually ask myself this question, my action reflected it. Let me give you a few examples.

I get more done when I work from a pre-written list of actions.  When I’m super productive, I use planners, calendars, the works! On the opposite end of the spectrum is when I work “freestyle.”   Freestyling is a recipe for disaster because a lot falls through the cracks.  I was freestyling for months even though I KNEW how important it was to write my daily list. I’m happy to say that I’m no longer working without structure thanks to the simple act of writing things down on Post-Its.  That was my path of least resistance.  It was quick and required no effort so I did it every day. Soon, I returned back to my fancy planners because that was the obvious next step.  And my days have been going smoothly ever since.

Months ago, I ate way too much sugar and suffered from low energy.  I knew that I had to get more fruit/veggies into my diet.  I had to find the path of least resistance.  For me, this meant purchasing large containers green juice which I used to fill smaller single serving bottles. Now, all I have to do is walk a few steps to the fridge to enjoy a serving of veggies.  The energy I get from them allows me to work efficiently all day and skip out on the sugar snacks.  This weekend, I actually juiced fresh veggies for the first time in forever.  How did I get here? I first took the easy route.

The same process applies to jump-starting my business or in any other area of my life.  Sometimes when we want to alter our current outcomes we vow to make these major changes.  Unfortunately, the greater that action you want to take, the greater level of (internal) resistance you will likely face.

Then what happens? 

We stand still.

We can’t afford to stand still.  Not in this economy.  We’ve got things to do and there’s no time to allow resistance to slow us down.  Remember that an object in motion will stay in motion so all we have to do is GET IN MOTION.

*Disclaimer* The Path of Least Resistance strategy should primarily be used to kickstart your action. From there, you should raise your level of action on a consistent basis in order to enjoy enhanced results.