Helping Creative People Create

6 to 30

Early this past October I had the stunning realization that I was going to be 30 in a few months. Six months, to be exact. It wasn’t the number 30 that suprised me—I’ve seen that coming for a while now—but reflection of all that happened in my 20s.

And more importantly, what didn’t happen.

There were still things that I’d promised myself I’d do that never happened. I had a wife and daughter now, and my window for doing some things I’ve dreamed of doing was closing more and more every day.

So I made a list of all the things that I promised myself I’d change or do that I never got around to. I made a great big list of things that I’d hoped to have done before now, and left every single one on there. Some are large, some are small, and some are going to take six months to complete.

See the entire list here

But one thing was for sure: if I was going to be able to finish things that I hadn’t been able to do in the past 10 years, then I needed to make some massive changes to how I did things.

Working backwards

The curious thing about looking at what you want to accomplish and working backwards towards the goal is that you can easily visualize what needs to happen.

How do you tackle a pantload of goals at once? By working a little bit on each one, each day.

Previously my mode of operation has always been a) become inspired and b) work like an obsessed madman until the project is finished or abandoned (usually the latter). This has proved (over and over) to be a bad tactic. It’s not sustainable, and failure is way too easy.

So instead of just going with the ebb and flow of inspiration, I’ve decided to work backwards, with each goal in mind, and firmly schedule timelines and milestones along the way that need to happen.

What I changed to make this work

Unfortunately, when it comes to juggling many things at once, you have to be freaking organized. This, historically, has not been my strong suit. So I made an investment and ponied up for OmniFocus. This was easily the best software purchase I’ve made in a long, long time.

I also re-read David Allen’s Making It All Work. It’s fantastic, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

How the project works

I’ll be using a plan that combines many. Zig Ziglar, GTD, Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen, and other advice I’ve picked up from people within LifeRemix too. If you’re wanting to see the nuts and bolts of how the process works, it’s over on the 6 to 30 project page.

Interestingly, over the years I’ve found that often unrelated goals are more linked than we believe. For example, when I feel like I’m really being smart with finances, etc, I’m also more likely to eat better and exercise more. When I run on a daily basis, I’m more likely to have better perspective on planning and overall vision for my life. I’m less reactive and more proactive. All of these goals are strangely unrelated.

So, I’ll basically just be working on some aspect of each goal, each day. I’ve been testing this for the past month, and it surprisingly works very well. Who knew that a simple, steady approach would work best?

Why this experiment excites me

This approach really excites me for a couple of reasons. One, there’s an end date in mind (April 15, 2013), and all of the goals are doable. (I’ve taken the past month to test the “do-ability” of each one.)

It also makes me more mindful about my life. I’ve noticed that as my life becomes more complicated, time speeds up. Reflection on what I do throughout the day slows it down. This project requires me to be very mindful by tracking everything that I’ve done throughout the day. That helps with the overarching theme of being more present in just about everything I do.

And lastly, I don’t know many people that have taken on such a weighty undertaking. This isn’t a good reason to tackle something, but oddly, it’s a motivator for me. (This is usually a bad sign, but I’d rather fail trying to tackle too much than not try at all.)

Today marks the first day of this undertaking, so I’ll be posting an update on December 15.

Here we go…

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