As I was getting started in personal development, one of the audio programs that made the biggest difference for me was Brian Tracy’s The Science of Self-Confidence.
In it, Tracy talks about how we always make a to-do list the night before leaving on vacation, and how we’re diligent in ticking off every task, ensuring all loose ends are tied up before we leave.
And then he asks, why don’t we do this in our daily lives? If it’s so effective in helping us identify and complete tasks we need to do before a trip, why don’t we make a list of everything we need to do in work and life the night before? If we treated it with the same importance that we treated our pre-vacation to-do list with, wouldn’t we be just as effective in completing errands, in our creativity, in work, and in life?
In his research, Tracy found that we accomplish 80% of what we write down. And in my own experience, this has proven true repeatedly.
This is the Pareto Principle (80/20) at work. I’ve talked about how it applies to your overall effectiveness many times, but if we look closely in other areas of life, we’ll see it at work everywhere.
Now, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of only 80% of your to-do items getting done, here’s what you need to know:
At times, you will achieve more than 80%. But you will often find that 20% of your tasks are unimportant, inconsequential, or simply don’t need to be done. Sometimes your big domino makes smaller ones irrelevant.
One more thing you should know about writing things down:
A few years ago, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. There are several productivity practices I’ve applied from that book that have stuck with me to this day.
One thing author Allen explains is that our brains are not great storage devices. With all the information we consume on a daily basis (texts, instant messages, emails, blog articles, podcasts, videos, and more), it’s a wonder our brains aren’t over-full already.
And while I understand that you’ve got a high IQ, good memory, and a rich inner life, you are prone to forgetting as much as anyone else. So, whether it’s goals, errands, or song ideas, I would encourage you to write everything down.
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What if you begin your music career thinking you love music so much; you don’t care whether you get paid…
Only to realize one day you want to start making money from your passion…?
Or, what if you think you’re getting paid great money to do the work you love to do…
Only to realize you’ve got a long way to go to create the career and life of your dreams?
Dreaming Too Small
If there’s any doubt that the scenarios laid out above are made up, let me tell you…
This stuff happens all the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
Some musicians are perfectly content being able to make music and play the local bar. I’ve performed with some of those musicians once or twice myself.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. At all!
But there are also many musicians that one day wake up to see that they aren’t where they want to be.
Drummer Matt Starr was one of those musicians and I had a great conversation with him last year on episode 135 of my podcast. You can have a listen here (I DARE you to listen all the way through – it’s powerful):
Again, you can aspire to whatever level makes the most sense to you.
But I can tell you from experience it SUCKS to wake up one day to discover you’ve been dreaming much too small, because now you have less time to accomplish the things you now know you want to accomplish.
Now, say what you will about Trudeau. I’m not one of his disciples, but I have learned a thing or two from the man. That’s undeniable.
Anyway, as I began learning about the law of attraction, I had a bit of an “aha” moment.
Virtually everyone tells you to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely).
I’m not saying the system is flawed, but it never resonated with me, nor did it lead to desired results.
Trudeau says there are certain questions that let the air right out of your goal balloon. They are:
“How?” and “when?”
When we set big goals, our human tendency is to go to the negative.
“I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”
That’s because we’re focused on the how. If we had faith in ourselves and the universe, we would know that abundance is everywhere, and all we need to do is focus on the “what” and the “why”.
As for when, as it turns out, we’re not that smart. Goals can be accomplished in a multitude of ways, and we never know what opportunities might cross our path. Goals might take longer or they might not take as long as you think. Rarely do they happen in the exact time frame we set for them.
Key point: How and when are goal killers.
Okay, so it’s Magic?
This is logically where our human brain leads us next.
“Okay, so the process works as if by magic. That means I don’t need to do anything!”
Again, nothing could be further from the truth.
Remember what I said: “your responsibility is the why.”
When you know why you want a certain thing, the motivation to get it naturally increases.
You think about it all the time. You can almost feel it.
You can’t have it go from the head to the heart, or more accurately, from the heart to the head (I’ll talk more about this another time), without it impacting your actions.
Your thoughts affect your feelings. Your feelings turn into actions. Your actions become habits. Your habits produce your reality.