Today is the final day in my series “Start Life Over.” I hope you’ve loved it. Once again, if you want to download the entire series as a PDF and share it with friends, you can do so here. Feel free to email it to anybody you want. Send it to your entire office, your church, or even your pets.
This last principle was the hardest for me to learn but perhaps the most powerful in helping me get things done.
The fifth and final principle is this: I can only do three big things in a year.
That’s it. Just three.
Most people I know who aren’t having much of an impact in the world suffer from one of two problems. Either they don’t know what they want to do or they are trying to do too much.
I’ve never really had trouble knowing what I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve had tons of trouble trying to do too much.
And this is a problem.
I used to think that’s just how life is. It gets busy. Responsibilities get piled on. And the more I believed that, the worse my life got. Something had to change.
Warren Buffet said, “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
The key here is learning to let go of great opportunities to take advantage of even better opportunities. Once life starts flowing and you start succeeding the opportunities pile on. And people want something from you. But here’s the deal, you can either get a little bit done on a lot of projects or you can finish a few of them and change the world.
I’ve turned down many opportunities.
They are opportunities to endorse books, write forwards, do television interviews, serve on boards of directors, speak overseas and on and on, and I rejected them all gladly because if I did those things I’d have lost the ability to do something else.
These days, I give myself three big projects each year, and I intend to finish them. This year I’ll write my first business book, launch a new division of my company, and I’ll write a year-long series of emails to help business leaders learn to communicate clearly. That’s it. I can’t do anything more than that.
This all sounds arrogant and harsh, and I suppose it is. I get my feathers up about it because people can be quite demanding. Tim, the guy who runs my company, just sent me an email from the head of a non-profit who guilted and shamed us for not endorsing a book her non-profit is releasing.
She explained why we owed them something.
The email made me angry, to be honest. I know she’s doing great work, but she also knows the value of focus. She was focused and determined, but she didn’t care whether or not we got off-focus.
Picking three major things to do this year, whether it’s as fun as having the best family vacation ever or as big as starting a new business, will change your year. It may also ruffle some feathers. But we can’t do big things if we’re distracted. And you don’t really owe anybody anything. If you break focus for a second to help with something, that’s an awesome gift to them but make sure to know it came at a cost.
This last post will likely get the most negative feedback. It sounds like I’m saying that you should only focus on yourself. But that’s not what I mean at all. My hope is those three things you’re going to create will be beautiful and will help tons of people. They’re important. In fact, it might even be selfish of you not to focus on them.
Each day I fill out a one-page planner.
It’s a tool I created that has massively boosted my productivity. On that planner, I’ve got a to-do list that is full of stuff I need to get done, but the big part of the page asks me to write down the three projects I’ll allow myself to work on that day. My mind can really only focus on three. After that I’m toast.
I know you can do this. I’ve not met anybody yet who didn’t have incredible potential in them. It will require focus and you’ll have to say no to enormous and fun opportunities. But your work is important. The change you’ll bring to the world may benefit thousands.
This has been a fun series to write. I hadn’t realized how much these ideas have changed my life until I wrote them all down. Good stuff. I’m hoping this series will help thousands of people do thousands of big, life-changing things this year. Can’t wait to hear the stories.
If you want more help changing, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to pick up Michael Hyatt’s life planning course called 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. Here’s to an incredible 2016!