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Life Goals Part 3 of 3 - Three Methods to Achieve Your Life Goals and Lead a Happier Life

Artikel - Hannes Kleist - 03.11.2020

Life Goals Part 3 of 3 - Three Methods to Achieve Your Life Goals and Lead a Happier Life

Here are three methods that helped me practice new routines, build new habits and follow my new goals.

You might want to check out Part 1: Why Ego-Driven Goals Won’t Make You Happy and Part 2: 10 Goals that Changed the Way I Live, Lead and Care for Others before continuing this article.

I hope you found this series useful so far. Before we jump right into the three methods that helped me change my goals and practice them day by day, I would like to recap why it is necessary to rethink our goals at the beginning.

Life Goals Part 3 of 3: Three Methods to Achieve Your Life Goals and Lead a Happier Live

Here are three methods that helped me practice new routines, build new habits and follow my new goals.

You might want to check out Part 1: Why Ego-Driven Goals Won’t Make You Happy and Part 2: 10 Goals that Changed the Way I Live, Lead and Care for Others before continuing this article.

I hope you found this series useful so far. Before we jump right into the three methods that helped me change my goals and practice them day by day, I would like to recap why it is necessary to rethink our goals at the beginning.

Why New Goals?

During my research and reflection on life goals, purpose and happiness, I noticed something that alarmed me: Of all my business contacts, friends and family members, about 90 per cent seem stressed out or somehow unhappy in their jobs. Most of them follow the same ego-driven status kind of goals that I was chasing after for years. Especially “successful” people who run companies or large teams. If you ask people how they are, most of them will give you the superficial Instagram version of their lives. But personally, I have yet to meet a truly happy and fulfilled person (please drop me a note if you are “The One” and tell me your secret ;-). So why new goals? To put it simply: Because we miss out on so many levels if we don’t.

Goals give us direction and influence our behaviour towards ourselves, our families and friends, our employees, business partners and society. If we do not critically question the nature of our goals, if we don’t reign in our egos, if we don’t break the addictive dopamine cycle in our brains, we risk becoming cranky old a-holes that people — especially our partners and children — do not want to be around much longer.

Let’s see some stats:

Your brain will tell you that none of this will happen to you because you’re awesome. But that’s just the fundamental attribution error. So, take the time to reflect on your goals and invest the effort to build new, healthier ones.

Here are three methods that helped me practice new routines, build new habits and follow my new goals.

Constant Reflection: Journaling

For any change to be effective, we need a feedback loop to review our behaviour, reflect on the causes and correct if necessary. After playing with different reflection techniques and various times at day, I found journaling in the evening — after we put the boys to bed — the most effective way to reflect on things for myself.

In the evening, all memories are still fresh and it’s quiet enough to write down what happened that day for about 15 minutes. I do this by hand in a physical journal. By writing things down, I can trick my brain into giving me a break from constant thinking. All the frustrations and stress from the day disappear for 12 hours — and help me sleep at night.

Some other benefits of journaling:

If you want to read more on how to start your own journal, I found sites like https://dailystoic.com/journaling/ quite helpful and entertaining.

Catch Autopilot Reactions: Mindfulness Meditation

There is growing scientific evidence that mindfulness meditation has many positive effects on people. For me, the beauty of mindfulness is not merely the reduction of stress. Rather, you train your mind to detach itself from any situation and watch your thoughts and emotions while they happen. By being aware of your thoughts and emotions in a given situation, you can consciously choose how you want to respond and catch your autopilot before taking over.

Think of it like dreaming and watching yourself from above while doing it. Instead of getting input (boss screaming at you, kids acting out, somebody cutting you off in traffic, you seeing a beer in the fridge) and immediately reacting on impulse (running away, screaming at your kids, honking annoyed, grabbing that beer), you can pause for a millisecond and investigate your impulse response. Nine out of ten times, you will be able to stop the impulse between stimulus and action. You will have time to consciously respond to a situation rather than react on autopilot.

For me, this is the real superpower of mindfulness meditation. Check out the bestseller The Craving Mind by Dr. Judson Brewer if you want to know more.

Successfully Change Behaviour: Habit Forming

The good news is: It’s not about willpower at all. People who seem super disciplined in pursuing their goals just have built better habits. After all: How much willpower do you require to brush your teeth in the morning and afternoon? Totally automatic, right?

Most changes in your life need habits to be built. Some research suggests that you need to repeat any behaviour 40 times in a row before it becomes a habit. But how to get to those 40 repetitions?

In a nutshell:

  1. Create a trigger that reminds you to perform the behaviour you want to change (e.g. Do your daily exercises). I use the app Productive for that.

  2. Make the behaviour super simple to execute (i.e. build a small home gym into your basement rather than driving to a gym)

  3. Reward yourself (i.e. treat yourself with a protein bar after your exercises)

Read the bestseller Atomic Habits by James Clear to learn more and simple checklists to follow.

The best triggers I found for myself are dedicated timeslots. I recommend cutting your days into blocks to ensure you do the important things more often than the urgent stuff.

This is the daily routine that I follow religiously:

05:00 Writing 06:30 Emails and organizing my day 07:00 Breakfast with the kids 07:30 Sports (3x weights and 4x golf per week) 08:00 Meditation (Mindfulness and Metta = Loving-Kindness) and yoga 09:00 Deep thinking (with pen and paper or walking) 10:00 Reading books on business, leadership, psychology, philosophy, spirituality 11:00 Meetings 12:00–16:00: Meetings or Todos (see my article Productivity Hack: Alternating meeting and working weeks) 16:00 Kids time (best part of the day!) 18:00 Cooking and eating dinner 20:00 Journaling 20:30 Reading biographies until I fall asleep

Reality Check After One Year

It has been exactly one year since I changed my goals and subsequently how I spend my time. So I guess now is as good a time as any to check in and see what changed. Let’s look at some stats:

  1. Instead of working 80 hours per week, I am below 35 hours now that I spend in front of my computer.

  2. I doubled the time I spent with my kids. I increased wife-time by 50% and me-time by 20%. Actually, I am now spending more time with the kids and the wife than on my computer.

  3. I sleep a lot better.

  4. I stopped taking-the-edge-off-drinking during the week.

  5. I lost 10 kilograms, I feel strong and energized and I have a nice tan from all the walking and playing golf instead of sitting in front of my computer.

But the real change is where I find happiness now. I used to race through my day, wanting to get things over with in order to start drinking, eating, buying gadgets, watching Youtube or TV. That totally changed.

It’s the quiet moments now that I enjoy the most. Reading in bed, improving my golf swing, watching the kids while they do their thing.

I ask myself in times of reflection: What could be missing right now to make this moment perfect? I look hard, I try to detect it, and I realize: Nothing is missing. It’s already perfect.

Personal Book Recommendations

Mindfulness

Ego is the Enemy: The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent

Stillness is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life

The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love — Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits

Mastery

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

OKRs

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

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Hannes Kleist
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