Why Am I Getting So Little Done? The #1 reason you feel unproductive and what to do about it

The question of why we accomplish so little seems to haunt us all. Sometimes it feels as if tasks keep flying into your inbox like a flock of angry birds. And as soon as you shove one away there are ten more demanding your attention. 

But why are these tasks coming to you in the first place? Could the problem be that you have spread your focus over too many areas at the same time? 

I used to think that having multiple goals was the path to success. After all, you have many areas in your life – family, work, health, money, etc – and you should strive for excellence in all of them, right? That was what I thought until I read the book The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. 

Gary Keller argues that if your goals are not big enough to cause slight discomfort, then you are not dreaming big enough. But rather than pursuing many disparate goals, he encourages us to ask: 

“What is the ONE thing I can do, so that by doing it,
everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”

Your ONE thing can incorporate many different interests. My dear friend, I will call her Sarah, is a great example of this. Sarah’s passion is to enrich others with health so that they can experience life to the fullest. She is also fascinated by management, natural science, and economics. Her ONE thing is to become a consultant who saves patients’ lives by helping hospital leaders implement better management.

Sarah could have let her diverse interests divide her focus. Instead, she baked everything into ONE path that serve as her guiding north star. 

Everything we do doesn’t matter equally. Some paths and tasks are much better at getting us closer to the life we want than others. And since you can only focus one thing at a time, wouldn’t you want to focus on the best thing possible? 

If you want to start using the ONE thing in your life, Gary Keller recommends a process he calls Goal-Setting to the Now. The first step is to ask yourself:

“What is the ONE thing I want to do someday?” 

If you feel stuck on this step, I recommend that you also ask yourself: 

  1. When have I felt most passion and purpose? What was I doing and why did it matter?
  2. What are the things I am so interested about that I forget to eat?
  3. After I am gone, how would I want to be remembered? 

If you have multiple passions or interests, that is perfect! Find a way to bake them all into ONE path that you will pursue. Once you are done with this first step, then ask yourself:

“Based on my someday goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do in the next five years to be on track to achieve it?”

“Now, based on my five-year goal, what’s the ONE thing I can do this year to be on track to achieve my five-year goal?”

Keep repeating this process to set your ONE goal for this month, this week, today, and finally now.

“So, based on my goal today, what’s the ONE thing I can do right NOW so I’m on track to achieve my goal today, so I’m on track to achieve my goal this week, so I’m on track to achieve my goal this month, so I’m on track to achieve my goal this year, so I’m on track to achieve my five-year goal, so I’m on track to achieve my someday goal?”

Goal-setting to the Now is so powerful because it connects your long-term goal to what you need to do right now. And it does so by helping you find the best path at every turn. The life you want is possible. And if you focus on your ONE thing, you will find it much easier to get than you could possibly have imagined. 

So… what is your ONE thing?

How To Instantly Turn Frustration into Joy A simple trick for brightening your mood when you can't find anything to be happy about

Have you ever had a period when your happiness dipped despite no change in your environment? 

This recently happened to me. For 2 weeks I just felt disengaged with my work and the people around me. I was doing the same things which had excited me before. But I wasn’t as happy as I used to be. 

One evening I was studying alone in the living room when one of my roommates, I will call him Phil, came to join me. At first I felt annoyed. I had enjoyed my alone time and I didn’t want anyone to disrupt it. But then I thought “How can I appreciate Phil being here?” 

For some strange reason, I imagined Phil as an adorable 5-year old whom I was responsible for providing for. As if he was my much younger brother. Suddenly, my annoyance with Phil melted away completely and was replaced by warm compassion. I felt a responsibility to be my best self and show him how much I cared about him. We ended up having an amazing conversation and I felt such an appreciation for Phil that I spontaneously gave him a goodnight hug. I was feeling alive once again!

I had accidentally stumbled upon a solution to my disengagement. 

What if I imagined whatever frustrated me as if it was a cute 5-year old whom I was responsible for?  

This practice sounds incredibly silly. And it is. It also worked wonders for me. I began approaching every person as someone I cared about. Every individual became someone I wanted to show appreciation towards. And this shift in mindset influenced my actions. I began saying “Hi!” and stopped to chat with people I usually didn’t talk with. I listened with excitement more than I spoke. I found something to compliment in every person. And all of this made me feel happier with myself. 

I even applied this practice to material things as well. When I got caught in a downpour and became frustrated with the rain, I imagined the rain as a playful puppy. At once, my annoyance vanished and I said “Haha! Ok, rain. You felt that we needed a shower. Then keep pouring on. This is fun!”. I ended up more energized once I got back inside than when I went out. 

Childish as this practice is, there are two reasons why it is so powerful: 

  1. You start acting as a role model
    Imagine the source of your frustration as an innocent child, and you begin acting as your very best self. When I saw Phil as a 5-year old whose care I had been entrusted with, I would have felt like a complete jackass if I just left the room when he came to seek my company. I instead switched my thinking to: “How can I show Phil that I care about him?”. This inspired me to start a conversation about a topic I knew he was interested in. You set a much higher standard for yourself when you believe that others are relying on you.
  1. You begin caring more for the other person
    View someone as an adorable child who is the joy of your life, and any frustration melts away and is replaced by a desire to see them better off. You actually start caring more about the other person, and you will want to give your time, attention, and effort to help them. 

If you would like to try this practice in your own life, simply follow these steps: 

  1. Catch yourself whenever you feel annoyed, frustrated, or disengaged. 
  1. Imagine the source of your emotion as an adorable child whose care you have been entrusted with. 
  1. Take the action you know is right. 

Of course, you are not going to treat an adult as if they are a child. The purpose of this practice is only to get you into the right mood, and then let your mood guide your actions. 

Which person will you be a compassionate role model for today?