A mentor once taught me to evaluate my belief systems by observing my actions and not by examining my thoughts.
If you are an entrepreneur and you only work on your business a couple of days a week and yet you find time to watch Netflix every day, you believe you can succeed while prioritizing Netflix over your business.
If you don't have enough money to properly market your entrepreneurial endeavor and yet you go out for drinks every weekend, you believe that going out for drinks is more important than getting the news about your product or service to the very people it could help.
If you are always tired and don't get enough sleep and yet you spend a full hour on your phone at night before you go to bed, you believe that scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat is more important than that extra hour of sleep and the productivity boost it will bring.
If you hope to win a major orchestral audition someday and your first notes of the day tend to be at 1:00 pm, you believe that you don't need to play all morning long and can still beat all of the people who start practicing hours earlier than that.
If you are learning to improvise but you transcribe one solo a year rather than one solo a week, you believe you can learn how to play jazz by transcribing far fewer solos than just about anyone who came before you and successfully learned the language of jazz.
Let me make one thing very clear: It is very much okay to prioritize going out with friends every weekend over having a marketing budget.
The problem occurs when our actions don't align with our goals. And especially when we don't realize it.
So what can you do about it? Here are some steps I propose to make sure you are the same page with yourself.
- Write down your 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals. Be specific. Only specific goals are measurable and only measurable goals can get you into the feedback loop that is essential for success.
- Take a week to document your actions. How long are you spending doing each activity? Which activity are you doing during your most productive hours? Write it down. Consider this an audit of your behavior. Be brutally honest about it.
- Figure out exactly where your actions are not 100% aligned with you achieving your 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals and write down what changes will help get them perfectly aligned.
I once heard someone say that when setting goals, people frequently commit to doing way too much when making one-year goals and don't commit to nearly enough when making five-year goals. That's why I suggest one-year, two-year and three-year.
But do whatever works for you!
And remember, a goal that's not written down is just a wish.
So stop thinking about what you should be doing and examine what you actually are doing and make sure those actions are aligned with your clearly defined goals. If you do all of the above steps regularly the sky is the limit!