How to choose.
I recently wrote a post about setting micro-goals in the service of achieving your macro goals. Today’s post will hopefully help you choose what you want your macro goals to be.
Macro as in what you want to do before you die. As in the way you want to have an impact on the world and leave a legacy through the work that you create. Your big life goals.
As an Integral Master Coach™, a common theme I see in the humans I work with is an inability to decide what to do next. This then leads to a lack of action and, not surprisingly, few results.
The antidote to indecision is focus. It’s giving all of your attention to what you think you might want to pursue until that action illuminates your next steps.
The antidote to indecision is not to do more research. That’s just a way of putting off having to do the difficult work of trying things out, probably failing, and then having to try again.
The truth is, nobody knows what it is they want to do in the beginning. And the difference between you and someone who is farther along on the path is that they are making choices and then actioning them.
They might not even be the right choices. I spent three years doing everything from thru-hiking to surfing to beekeeping to stripping to sewing to scuba diving to sailing. None of these things were right for me in the end and all of those tiny decisions brought me to where I am now.
The other truth is, you only have so much time and so many resources at your disposal. You can’t do it all. And the sooner you accept this, the sooner you can get to doing what is possible for you.
While I love that people are seeking out more meaning in the work that they do, I don’t think it’s helpful to spend all our time seeking out our purpose or our Why. In my experience, these things will reveal themselves so long as we keeping showing up and creating our art.
So here is one way of getting clearer on the macro goals that you’ll be focusing on for now.
First, answer these questions about your big life goals to the best of your ability:
What internal cues are you checking for to know that a goal might be worth focusing on? This may include your feelings about the goal, how aligned it is with your spiritual self, and/or something else.
What external measurements are you checking for to know that a goal might be worth focusing on? This may include financial gain, a change in lifestyle, and/or something else.
What social cues are you checking for to know that a goal might be worth focusing on? This may include feedback from others, current social trends, and/or something else.
What processes are you checking for to know that a goal might be worth focusing on? This may include the steps you need to take to get to your goal, the structures you’ll need in place to support you in achieving your goal, and/or something else.
Based on the data you collect from answering those questions, you will probably have a clearer idea of what goals need to be adjusted or cut out altogether.
Then do this:
Write down your top 15-20 big life goals.
Pick your top 3-5 goals and put those on one list.
Put the remaining 15-17 goals on another list.
Label the first list, “What I’m Focusing On Now.”
Label the second list, “What I’m Avoiding At All Costs.”
Then do what’s on the first list while avoiding what’s on the second list.
This is an exercise based on Warren Buffett’s 2-List Strategy. The idea is simple: people waste a lot of time doing things that they enjoy but that aren’t ultimately their top goals. This prevents them—or you—from even enjoying the success of achieving 3-5 big life goals.
This is a hard exercise to do let alone follow through on.
It’s much more appealing to overwhelm ourselves with options as a way to delay having to choose. Because choosing one goal might mean not choosing another goal.
And choosing to focus on many things might mean you never choose the few things that, looking back at the end of your life, will make what you did end up doing feel like time well spent.
So, what do you want to do the most?
Go do that. And avoid the rest.