Using this one basic idea, I have made consistent progress on my goals every single week without incredible doses of willpower or remarkable motivation.
Today, I want to share how I use this strategy and how you can apply it to your own life to improve your study and your work.
The Problem with How We Usually Set Goals
If you’re anything like the typical human, then you have dreams and goals in your life. In fact, there are probably many things — large and small — that you would like to accomplish.
That’s great, but there is one common mistake we often make when it comes to setting goals. (I know I’ve committed this error many times myself.)
The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.
We focus on the end goal that we want to achieve and the deadline we want to do it by. We say things like, “I want to score 90% marks in exams” or “I want to complete full syllabus in just 2 weeks.”
The problem with this is that if we don't magically hit the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure … even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don't reach our goal by the initial deadline.
I’ve mentioned this idea multiple times before. For example, in making the mistake of putting performance goals before your identity or in choosing life–changing transformations over daily lifestyle choices.
Here’s the good news: there’s a better way and it’s simple.
The Power of Setting a Schedule, Not a Deadline
In my experience, a better way to approach your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by.
Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal by (and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it), you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently.
That might not sound like a big shift, but it is.
Focus on the Practice, Not the Performance
We can made consistent progress towards our goals not by setting a deadline for our performance, but by sticking to a schedule.
Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, students, teachers, and engineers.
The strange thing is that for top performers, it’s not about the performance; it’s about the continual practice.
The focus is on doing the action, not on achieving (any) goal by a certain date.
The schedule is your friend. You can’t predict when you’ll have a stroke of genius and write a moving story, paint a beautiful portrait, or make an incredible picture, but the schedule can make sure that you’re working when that stroke of genius happens.
You can't predict when your body feels like setting a new personal record, but the schedule can make sure that you're in the gym whether you feel like it or not.
It's about practicing the craft, not performing at a certain level.
(We're talking about practice. Not a game, not a game. Practice.)
If you want to be the type of person who accomplishes things on a consistent basis, then give yourself a schedule to follow, not a deadline to race towards.