Get Sh*t Done.
Tiny wins, massive progress
👋 Hello to the 528 smart, curious, and motivated subscribers receiving today's email. This week, I'm putting aside lofty goals for a minute, and instead, just getting sh*t done. Too often, we get stuck in analysis paralysis as we wait for the perfect moment to act. We end up with big dreams, unfulfilled. Huge goals, permanently postponed. Who wants that? No one. Let's figure out how to do something about it.
💡 The big idea
This past week, I had lunch with a friend to discuss a business idea; specifically, the business of the very newsletter you're reading right now. "Should it be a business?" we pondered. If so, what would that look like? Should we partner up on turning what is a vague vision today into a world-dominating personal-improvement empire tomorrow? And if so, exactly how would we do that?
Before we knew it, we were parsing theoretical responsibilities, divvying up non-existent profit pools, and figuring out how we'd handle conflict should it arise down the road.
We kept going further and further down the rabbit hole of the theoretical Intentional Wisdom empire, and then, a funny thing happened...
Well, more specifically what happened was that the size and scope of the operation we were dreaming up—and the herculean efforts it would take to get there—got so big that they ended up intimidating us both.
We remembered that there are other commitments we've already made in life: jobs, spouses, kids, kids' sports, other kids' activities... okay, fine... we remembered that we had kids.
In the end, the goal got too big. In this case, there was a decent bit of motion. But ultimately, no action. I should know better! Remember this graphic?
Intuitively, I know that the way to accomplish anything great is simple:
Start doing the thing.
But in reality, like many, I struggle with getting stuck in the dreaming and planning phases. I'm not saying it's bad to dream or plan. But I am saying that it’s better to act. To get started.
Inevitably the plan will prove to be wrong, or incomplete, or misinformed. But the experience gained along the way will be invaluable in deciding upon the next step to take.
In fact, taking one small step forward is not just a great thing for moonwalks, mankind, and half-baked business ideas like mine. It’s a principle that can be applied to our:
& Mental Health
We all have big goals. I told you at the beginning of this year that I wanted to get 10 times better in multiple areas of my life. That's a massive improvement!
But it's also really hard. And intimidating.
Enter: Tiny wins.
The antidote to our paralysis? Action—no matter how small. Not talking about it, thinking about it, or researching it. Actually doing it. Even the smallest, most microscopic version of doing it. It doesn't matter, as long as it's action.
In fact, if you think about it, the only real actions we take are small actions. Anything great we accomplish is simply the compounding of many small steps taken along the way. Or, as Coach Wooden more eloquently put it, “there are no big things, only a logical accumulation of little things done at a very high standard of performance.” This is probably why he spent the first practice every year at UCLA teaching his players how to tie their shoes properly. Talk about a tiny win.
Anyhow, join me for a quick theoretical exercise.
Let’s forget, just for a moment, about:
Getting in shape
Or losing weight.
Or having a successful career.
Or starting a business.
Or improving your relationship.
Or even finding happiness.
And instead, consider notching a tiny win.
Skip dessert once.
Finish one small project.
Send one inquiring email.
Do one small favor.
Practice gratitude once.
What does this approach do for you?
Well, it gets you a win. And wins are important. They’re especially important if you feel like you’ve been doing a lot of losing lately—or if you feel like the cards have been stacked against you, or you’re just completely overwhelmed with life. Wins get the ball rolling. And they give you that little boost of confidence that you need to keep going.
James Clear says “Just have one good day. And then repeat it.”
Simple, but not easy.
For me, I’ve found that to keep notching wins, I need structure and measurement.
Here are some of the tools I am currently using to help me notch tiny wins:
Headspace — I’m trying to beat my streak of 16 days in a row of meditating. I’m at 2 right now.
Gratitude journal — A pad of paper sits front and center on my desk. I write three things I’m grateful for every day—and try not to miss—but some days I do. By the way, there is research showing that this act literally rewires your brain to be more appreciative of your circumstances in life.
Whoop — This is a pretty new one for me. It’s a bracelet that constantly tracks your health data. I’m using it to specifically try to improve my sleep. But I think we’ll all be wearing one in a couple of years. It reminds me of Peloton in 2017. Here’s a free promo code if you’re interested in checking it out. No, I’m not being paid by them, but I wish I was. If anyone knows them, tell them to call me.
Habit — Daily Tracker app — All of my daily habits in one place. I tick a box for each one every night. Get some haptic feedback. Notch a tiny win.
#Tweet100 — I want to grow my Twitter following, so I’m doing this challenge, which involves tweeting once per day. Pretty straightforward, right? The power is in the structure—the streak. Again, simple—but not easy.
Peloton Programs — I’m just finishing up Week 4 of the Total Strength Program. Another form of structure and measurement. Once you start the program, the clock keeps ticking, so if you don’t get out of bed, you miss out. I love the structure.
I am far from perfect when it comes to hitting my goals but these tools help to nudge me back on track.
Perfection isn’t the point, anyhow.
The point is that by setting the conditions for tiny wins, we make it easier to take action. And action, I believe, is the foundation of anything truly great.
That’s it for this week. I will see you in two weeks.
Oh, and by the way, the ideas from the Intentional Wisdom world domination idea session have not gone away, they are still spinning around in my head. Specifically the podcast... so stay tuned.
Image credit: Rachit Khurana
3 great podcasts, a video, and an article that I wanted to share with you this week.
🎙 Dr. Anna Lembke with Rich Roll on the subject of addiction. This was an eye-opening one for me. Lembke and Roll touch on all types of addiction from the opioid epidemic to alcohol to other dopamine addictions including one that I’ve got: technology. I came away with the realization that not only is addiction all around us every day but also that every one of us has our own addictions that we need to monitor closely.
🎙 Dr. Sue Johnson with Tim Ferriss on the subject of relationships. If you know anyone going through a difficult period in a relationship, I could not recommend this conversation more. Some incredible insights here and practical tips for improving communication and intimacy in our relationships.
🎙 Packy McCormick with Jim O’Shaughnessy on all things future. Two of my favorites discuss the future of work, crypto, NFTs, “The Great Online Game,” and a whole lot more. Every CEO should listen to these two discuss remote work.
📽A masterful TED talk on positive psychology from Shawn Anchor shared with me by my friend Nancy. I love everything about this - the humor, the rapid pace, and of course, the seriously thought-provoking research-backed insights into how we can actually change our brains through positive thinking.
🙏 And finally… I can't believe it's been 20 years since 9/11. I was in New York City that morning. They say ‘never forget.’ I know I never will. Last year, I wrote about my experience. If you missed that article, you can find it here 👇
I appreciate you reading and continuing to support me.
Have a great week.