Look 3 Feet In Front Of You, Not 3 Miles

Outliers: The Story of Success is a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

That’s why it’s so important to be clear about what you want. You can’t spend your time chasing larger than life dreams of becoming a professional athlete or movie star. For some, yes it may work out, but the odds are stacked against you. You need to be realistic in what you’re looking to accomplish and then stick to it.

For instance, a couple of years ago I wanted to learn how to play the piano, so I decided to start taking lessons. After taking lessons for a while, it occurred to me that playing the piano is just a hobby of mine, and I can’t let it interfere with my primary goal of building a business. That’s when I realized that goals and hobbies are two different things. You need to prioritize your life and sometimes your hobbies need to take a backseat to your goals.

Then I started thinking to myself, “what other things can help people accomplish their goals?” So I came up with this list of things to 6 things to help you increase the probability of accomplishing your goals:

1. Look 3 feet in front of you, not 3 miles

The key to achieving large goals is to break them up into smaller goals. If it’s your goal to make $10,000 a month, why not shoot for $100 first? Then you can set your goals higher – $500, $1000, $2000, and so on.

If I view building my business in stages over time, it becomes much more manageable. I’m not saying you shouldn’t realize that you’re working toward something much bigger, but you should stay focused on the task at hand. Don’t worry about the finished result if you’re just getting started.

2. A jack of all trades and a master of none

If you want to accomplish your dream you may need to eliminate some of your other not so important ones. In my example above I decided to cut back on my piano playing until my goal of building a business is completed. If you’re like me then you want to be the best at everything you do. That’s why you need to focus all of your energy on one main goal.

3. You’ve only got one shot, make it count!

Life is short. You may only get one chance to attack your goals, so you need to be prepared to go all the way! You need to be sure you’re going after the goals that are most important to you. Don’t waste time on things that will get in the way of you and your goals. It’s best to have a set schedule to avoid this from happening.

4. Go public

Tell everyone about your goal. This is a huge key. Because the next time you see that person they’re going to ask about it, and you won’t want to come across as a failure. It’s probably just my pride, but “going public” has proven to be a great tool in moving me toward my goals.

5. Have passion and purpose

You’ve got to have passion for what you’re doing. If don’t feel some sort of obsession it’s probably not going to work out. What are you drawn to? What do you do in your free time? Normally, when you’re passionate about something you don’t need to make time for it, it finds time for you. If you don’t have passion and purpose, greater productivity won’t help you!

6. Stay motivated

It can be difficult to stay motivated. There might be times when you get frustrated and just feel like giving up. Take a break. Read a motivational book. Go for a hike! You can even search the internet for motivational quotes or videos on YouTube. I’ve done this quite often for an extra boost of motivation.

So, what has helped you reach your goals? 

Guest Post Author Bio: This is a guest post from Steve Ryan. He has been in Real Estate and mortgage lending for the past 13 years. In that time he has helped thousands of people realize their dreams of home ownership. He currently runs his own blog Smart Wealth, where he discusses Real Estate, personal finance, debt management, and building wealth.


Look 3 Feet In Front Of You, Not 3 Miles — 19 Comments

      • One thing I took out of it was that it takes about ten years to become an expert at anything…so much for the overnight success theory. Tiger Woods, started very young. Anderson Cooper was a journalist nobody for 10 years before breaking out. So many other examples.

        • You’re right. That is important to remember, especially in this day and age when there is so much pressure to be superman all of the time. It takes time to develop different skills and we need to allow for that time to happen. It wouldn’t be as stressful if employers understood this better.

  1. What has helped me reach my goals is “going public” when I tell people about it. I’m compelled to follow through and practice what I preach. Also, I break my goals down into small actionable steps following the getting things done method.

  2. I don’t know about that 1 shot part, sometimes it takes multiple failures before you hit the big one. But yes, one has to be totally focused in order to achieve his targets regardless of the final outcome.

    • I agree. What I meant is you “might” only have one shot. Once you start a family, or get wrapped up in a job, your goals may have to take a backseat. This makes me think of another goal I should have added — Start young.

  3. Good advice. Not all of these things work for every person, but most of them do. When I was raising our kids, my total focus was on developing them. As a former teacher it was just natural for me to do that, but nearly everything I did was purposeful. The results were very good, and I’m proud of that.

    Now I blog, but I think I’ll need to put in at least 10,000 hours to get the hang of it!

    • Good to hear Maggie. As a future parent I think helping develop your children is really important. It is really sad how some parents don’t put forth this effort. I also agree with your actions having purpose. I try to be conscious of this every day. I am always amazed at how many people go about their day with going through the motions without actually noticing what they are doing or acting with purpose.

    • Agreed. You do need to focus on the long term to make sure you actions are in sync with that goal. However, what Steve meant, I think , is that we need to also live in the present and not overwhelm ourselves with the future. If we make ourselves conscious of the present and what we are doing we are much more likely to make decisions that coincide with our future goals.

  4. Yes.

    Among other things, focus and total dedication are essential to achieve goals.

    I am reading the biography of Rafa Nadal, the great tennis player.

    Key ingredients of his success are the ability to remain focus on the game (plan) and the capacity to take that extra step (endure pain).

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