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How to Write Your Strategic Objective

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strategic objective goalI don’t want to be a product of my environment.

. . . And neither do you.

I want my environment to be a product of ME.

. . . And so do you.

Because I feel this way I have now put together my strategic objective for 2015. I have created two copies of my strategic objective; one for my commonplace and another in physical format.

I wrote the former copy in case I want to reformulate the strategic objective, and the latter copy I wrote for the sake of creating psychological investment.

I know you’re wondering what a strategic objective is. . .

. . .But slow down, I will tell you in a minute. First, let me ask you a question:

How is Your Life Compared to 1+ Year Ago?

Answer: Your life is probably different. . .

New friends, new knowledge, new habits.

Different expectations, different opportunities, different ideas.

But you probably don’t fully appreciate the extent of this change.

Why is this?

It’s because. . .

You’re immersed in the “now” and your brain is not made for perceiving slow and incremental change.

But, your brain can easily notice and experience contrast.

Use this to your advantage.

So, do you know what I’ve been doing the last few days?

Notes goal strategic objective

I’ve gone through piles of old notes. Both physical and digital.

Today I went through some old goal-setting documents on my computer, from 2,5 years ago.

I found them in my old–cough–“self-development information system”–cough–made up of categorized folders containing Word documents. The system was really inefficient.

This was before I set up my OneNote commonplace, which is superior in terms of:

a) The ease with which I store and retrieve relevant information

and. . .

b) How I practice and learn new things

. . . which amounts to:

c) More time saved, better productivity and higher quality thinking.

Aside from the suckiness of my old self-development info system, I also noticed. . .

. . . How Much I Sucked

Most of my goals at the time are now long-gone milestones or habits that I don’t even think about. . .

Things like not wasting time on Facebook, social media, or news and entertainment.

Or learning such-and-such a skill, eating this-and-that food more often, detoxifying so-and-so often by fasting,  lifting so-and-so much weight, and spending more time with such-and-such people.

But. . . those were my limits, expectations, and goals back then–and they were very much real to me at the time.

I will probably laugh at the level of my current goals 2,5 years into the future.

I hope so.

But right now I feel they are bold and exciting.

One year from now I’ll be better: Faster, harder, stronger.

Improved.

I feel confident saying this because I will focus on my strategic objective.

Let me tell you how you can do the same.

Your Strategic Objective

Your strategic objective is a to-the-point document where you describe specifically what you are doing to accomplish your goals over the next year.

Your strategic objective is the system that ensures you know what you will do, how you will do it and when you will do it.

Your strategic objective should be brief; keep it to one page, or you won’t bother re-reading it. . .

. . . Which is what you’re going to do a minimum of once a week.

The reason you’re going to do this is because it will keep you focused on the big picture, and not on what Susie said in the lunch line earlier today.

By remaining focused you’re able to learn from mistakes and course-correct faster when you veer off-path and waste time or engage in bullshit activities that do not add any value or build towards your goals.

Your strategic objective will contain 3 elements:

  1. Goals
  2. Maxims
  3. Best practices

Let’s talk about each of these elements–goals, maxims and best practices–starting with. . .

Your Maxims & Best Practices

Maxims are guiding principles that you base your every action on.

A person who does not have any maxims is a soft, weak, and sloppy person who lacks direction in life.

A person who does not have any maxims will suffer from uncertainty, decision anxiety and low self-esteem.

A person who does not have any maxims will always look to a person who does have a code of maxims to guide his or her actions and behavior. . .

. . .Someone like yourself.

Your maxims make up your personal ethos.

When you’re writing down your maxims for 2015, take this into account:

What are the most important “truths” for success that I know?

Random examples: 

  • Contrarianism: If everyone else does a thing you will do something different and profit from the law of contrast.
  • Newton’s Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (abide by the law of compensation).
  • Higher Order Consequences: Every action has a ripple effect. Make sure it’s positive by fixing root causes.
  • Personal Initiative: Nothing is more important in business and career.
  • Don’t Mistake Cause for Effect: Like learning, for example. Reading 80 books is an indicator that you have learned a lot, but that does not necessarily have to be true (quantity is not an indicator of quality).
  • Practice Gratitude: Because it is one of the few fundamental ways to consistently become more happy.
  • Practice Focus over Multitasking: Another fundamental way to become more happy–and more efficient.
  • Homeostasis: Change is perceived as the enemy. Change is not comfortable. To be the best you must initially FORCE yourself to adapt.

Now, let’s talk about best practices.

Best practices are methods , techniques and principles for doing something that have been proven to give superior results.

A person who does not follow best practices is. . . Well, an _______ person.

Yet, most people don’t follow–or even have–any best practices.

The reason for this is because it takes time and energy to get used to doing things in another way than you’re used to doing them.

What is the best way of overcoming this obstacle?

Bingo. You guessed it: By turning best practices into habits.

So, when you sit down to write your best practices, keep this in mind:

What are the most important habits [behavior] and mindsets [thought patterns] that I need to take on to improve my life and reach my goals?

Random examples:

  • Double-check everything.
  • Practice timeliness and punctuality
  • Mentally rehearse and visualize the next day before sleep
  • Over-deliver value and do it with enthusiasm
  • Don’t drink alcohol in combination with food
  • Meditate in the morning and night
  • Don’t trust short-term memory; always write it down

Your maxims are not goals: they are principles on which you guide your actions to make sure you are steadily progressing in a suitable manner.

Your best practices can be goals: they are behaviors, thoughts and actions you must routinely practice to reach goals and improve your life.

Sometimes there is a fine line between a maxim and a best practice. But as long as you understand what they’re for–what their purpose is–that doesn’t matter.

If it helps–and it does for me–you should arrange your maxims and best practices into categories like productivity, career, fitness and health, accurate thinking, and so forth.

O.K. . . now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about. . .

king of the castle - goals- strategic objective

Your Goals

Just as there is a fine line between maxims and best practices, there’s also a very fine line between education, indoctrination, and brainwashing.

I recently found a few old children’s grammar books I’d used in school when I first learned to spell. Spelling out different words and sentences, you know?

When I looked through these books I got angry. . .

Angry at the overlords of the Swedish educational system.

Because, most of the sentences I’d written were of two types:

Socialist, loser-mentality, type affirmations:

“No one can do anything alone, we must all work together.”

“I’m a nobody, nobody is perfect, and therefore I’m perfect.”

Don’t think that you are better than someone else.

And old proverb-type affirmations way above the head of a child:

“No man is an island.”

“The man who treats his donkey well will benefit from its help longer.”

“One bird in the hand is better than two birds in the bush.”

What’s the big problem here?

How is this bad?

Why did this anger me?

It angered me because, obviously, the architects of the school system care more about trying to indoctrinate young children than they care about trying to educate them efficiently.

Instead of making it so that the content in the grammar books is more efficient by using sentences that are relevant to the children’s lives, and easy to understand, they used difficult sentences–sentences that barely even make sense to an adult. . .

. . . To any intelligent and ambitious adult, that is.

Instead of pacing the level of difficulty to start off easy, and incrementally stepping it up to more challenging sentences, the sentences were of the same length and difficulty all throughout the book. And none made sense.

I noticed that my writing followed the same pattern in all those books.

The first half of the books was filled with those bullshit sentences. It started out looking proper, with the sentences written well within the lines and all that. And then–the longer into the first half of the book I got–the writing got gradually sloppier.

Until something different happened. . .

I had finished maybe half the book spelling out those socialist sentences, then I’d abruptly GIVEN UP and started writing my own sentences instead.

I was a rebel even back then.

I had abruptly given up because what I was doing didn’t make any sense to me–so I got bored and lost interest. This had happened because my brain could not answer the question “Why–why am I doing this?”

My own sentences were cooler. They consisted mostly of cuss words about my brothers and descriptions of characters in video games.

Why am I telling you this?

Because proper goal-setting follows the same principles. . .

. . . The very same principles that the school system had so brutally violated.

Goal-setting should be:

  • Adjusted to your own level of understanding (relevance)
  • Paced to your current level of motivation (difficulty)
  • Repeated and visualized consistently to become self-fueling (brainwashing)

Goal-setting should also be:

  • Made measurable (what gets measured gets done)
  • Made actionable by setting a daily minimum quota of work
  • Made so that, if possible, it involves a visual element to trick your brain that the goal is not only doable, but already a reality
alexa goal

(This is what SGM’s Alexa Rank will be one year from now.
A bold goal? Perhaps. Two years ago SGM had no readership at all.

This is the Only Goal-Setting System You’ll Ever Need

I have never had any problems coming up with interesting goals for what I want to do. But up until I was around 20 years old I often set unrealistic goals.

I didn’t understand how to pace and adjust–and I didn’t know my limits, my “circle of competence”, as Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger call it.

I just thought “Ok, now I’ve set a goal and maybe I’ll do it”.

But maybe means NEVER.

My goals weren’t goals. They were unlikely future scenarios. That’s why I rarely hit them–and THAT’S why I failed to tap into the winner effect and get the ball rolling.

My self-development never got much momentum before I was 20 years old because it was not until then that I started forming a consistent track record of achieving goals.

I wasn’t accountable to anyone.

Nor did I have an intelligent system to follow for organizing my efforts.

But you do now.

There are no excuses.

So take the time to write out your strategic objective.

It’s demanding mental work, but it IS worth it.

And Make Learning a Priority

Or suffer the consequences.

Remind yourself of the following–often:

Your job is not really your job.

Your job is learning new things (and using them).

Your schooling is not necessarily your education.

Your personal studies are.

framework for learning strategic objective goal

Not only should you invest time in learning new things, but you should also be sharpening up your ability to learn.: Your framework for learning must improve.

You should look at your life span as divided into multiple parts connecting with each other like this:

—– X—– X—– X—– X—– X—– X—–

Where different parts of your life are conducive towards different means.

Andrew Carnegie said that a man should devote a third of his life to education. He was right.

Carnegie was intuitively right about a lot of things; like the brain’s formation of habits and how memories are formed and stored in the brain.

It is now more or less a fact that the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex (associated with learning, willpower, decision-making, concentration) is the most plastic–changeable–until sometime around age 30.

Edison said that if a man does not form the habit of thinking early in life, he probably will not want to do it later.

My experience confirms this.

books to read goal strategic objective

A few of the books I got for Christmas. I have read two so far.

Most people make all the wrong choices before age 30.

Don’t be one of them.

You must become smarter; able to converse competently with people on a wider range of topics–and thereby enabling you to spot hidden opportunities and possible synergies (win-win situations).

The habit of continuous learning is the #1 factor that sets one person apart from another over a longer period of time.

Nothing boosts upward mobility faster.

You must create a reading schedule for 2015. I have 44 good books mapped out and scheduled to read so far–and counting. Do you?

If not, you can find inspiration for good books here and here.

Think Long-Term, Think Bigger (don’t be a fool!)

I get emails from people who say this and that, as if they were trying to prove something to me. They say they’re super serious about self-development, learning things, and becoming smarter. . .

. . . But they give excuses for why it cannot be done.

Guess what they do instead?

They tell me how they’re too busy masturbating (that’s not really what they tell me) to take an hour out of their day to read and learn new things.

But there are no excuses. Learning is #1.

If you cannot carve out 1+ hour per day to INVEST in your brain, you’re not prioritizing correctly . .

. . . Unless you’re a prostitute–and your brain doesn’t matter.

If you’re extremely busy, do this:

  • Bring a book with you at all times. Stephen King brings books to the doctor, or when he’s standing in line at the grocery store.
  • Listen to audio books or podcasts while walking or commuting.

And if you’re poor: Go to the library.

library commonplace book

I do it–and I’m not poor.

I’m just frugal.

If you cannot motivate yourself to do any of these things, well, then you’re grossly ignorant as far as the benefits of learning new things go.

You must think bigger. . .

You must think beyond the immediate–short-term–benefits of learning.

I have potential million-dollar ideas in my commonplace. . .

. . . Potential  being the key word.

Ideas mean little without execution.

Only the best people can make their ideas matter.

There are several benefits of reading (learning):

  1. To spark your thinking
  2. To keep your brain healthy
  3. To practice your pattern recognition
  4. To improve your imagination
  5. To insert someone into your Dunbar’s Number

I could go on. . .

But I won’t.

Even if I have more important/urgent things to do other than reading, I still start the morning by reading. Why?

Because reading first thing in the morning warms up my brain and brings unexpected positive side effects.

Maybe I am special?

I doubt it.

You should try it.

How to Blast Off for 2015:

Start by investing a day to create your strategic objective:

  1. Write out your goals
  2. Write out your maxims and best practices

Maybe even write two copies, for the sake of psychological investment.

Your strategic objective will bring order to your life and “tighten you up” as time goes by. When 2016 hits you’ll be You 2.0; sharper, stronger, smarter.

Speaking of smarter. . .

Prioritize learning.

Create a list of interesting and useful books to read and learn from during 2015 and set a hierarchy to their importance.

Then start reading them, and as you do that, make an effort to continually improve your framework for learning as you go along. Revise how you do things ASAP when you spot weakness or find a way to improve.

Here’s a tip if you’re struggling with the maxims and best practices. . .

Your brain is better at eliminating choices than it is at selecting them.

So write down as many maxims & best practices as you can think of, take a break, and continue. When you feel you’re done, take another break. When you come back–with a fresh mind–strikeout the maxims and best practices that you’re already familiar with, already putting to use in your life. This leaves you with the ones that require your focus the most. Because. . .

If you have more than 100 of them, you’re not focusing; you’re multitasking.

Consider the following. . .

rocket goal strategic objectiveA rocket can blast off only because someone like Elon Musk organized a team of smart engineers to set it up that way.

You can blast off only by being someone who organizes his strategic objective and sets his priorities straight.

Your strategic objective is going to ensure that you know what you will do, how you will do it and when you will do it.

Now write it out.

 

Photo credit: Planet Science

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Comments

  1. Hi Ludvig!

    First off all thanks for the mind matrix ebook for christmas! Really nice.

    Second off all:

    I started keeping a commonplace about 3 weeks ago and i am becoming increasingly organized in my life so far. It really helps with journaling, to-do lists, note-taking, etc…

    But I feel like i am not getting as much of it as I could, you seem to be doing a lot of cool things with your commonplace, maybe you could write an article and go in-depth with some of the things you do and explain the reasoning behind it?

    I realize your commonplace is much different from mine since your life is different, but i still think it could be beneficial not just to me but to other readers of sgm too.

    Btw i am going to put make “improving my commonplace” a goal for 2015 in my strategic objective, which i will write this sunday.

    Respectfully,
    Aziz

  2. What do you mean by saying that “different parts of your life is meant for different means”?

    Is this something thats common knowledge? I dont get it. Someone please explain

  3. “If you cannot carve out 1+ hour per day to INVEST in your brain, you’re not prioritizing correctly . .

    . . . Unless you’re a prostitute–and your brain doesn’t matter.”

    –Ludvig Sunstrom

    When you get your own wikiquotes section this should go on top.

    I have a question-what’s your opinion on goals & using the law of attraction? I ask because you mention visualizing, mental rehearsal and including a visual element for the strategic objective.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Happy New Years Ludvig. We so much aren’t starting off fresh but progressing. Thanks for the article. I do plan on reading and applying what I learn this year. I’d like to be wiser and on a lighter note have more fun as I feel that’s the whole point of life.

  5. This is an awesome epic post brother!

    I only have one suggestion for your next one of similar size.

    *Make this type of Blog into 3 Parts (people love to read blogs and this one is amazing. But it is intense with a lot of useful information-too much for most to read in one setting)

    You’ll also build momentum and engage people to come back for parts II and III. Driving traffic is the name of the game my friend. Google is much more kind to shorter-hard hitting, concise and actionable data. IMO, you have 3 insanely good blogs in one.

    Congrats on this Blog. I will link to it in no time.

    • Jay,
      One year ago I’d have agreed with you, as what you’re saying is conventional blogging wisdom.

      Now, I am not so sure. I’ve done a fair bit of experimentation and written a lot of long articles–like this one–over the past year. The majority of my most popular articles are longer. And my current readership seems to enjoy longer articles.

      Also, my traffic is consistently going up, so I think what I am doing is working. . .

      . . . But that doesn’t mean it’ll work forever.

      If someone else has any input on this, do share.

      PS:
      Jay, I’d recommend you to set up a gravatar (to show an image) for when you comment:
      https://en.gravatar.com/

      • Hi Ludvig,

        longer content does seem to resonate well with readers. There is an article on SPI:

        http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/backlinking-strategy-2014-beyond/

        Long article, the figure I refer to is under “Technique #1: Length is Strength”.

        I thought it would be best to keep my own blog posts short, but I am now aiming to publish longer ones. I guess brevity has its place on twitter. People that like your blog will probably really like reading long articles. The rest would not check it out anyways.

        Good luck for 2015 and thanks for keeping your blog.

      • Thanks Florian.

      • Ludvig, your blog is one of the few blogs I actually read because of your commitment to long, quality blog posts. I’m a fast reader (I read the above post in 8-10 minutes,) and this post is definitely not too much for one sitting.

        With “intense” topics like this it’s much better for me to read it all at once. That way I can clearly see how each topic relates to the rest without breaking my focus by clicking around.

        If I forget or want to re-read something I can just scroll back up instead of finding the information on a completely different post. If I had to click between articles to read through all the information you cover in this topic it would be much harder to digest.

        Likewise, if you had released it in a series, I would not remember the previous post’s content very well. That means I would end up wasting time re-reading parts 1, 2, etc, every time you posted a new section. Likely I would simply wait until you had released all the posts on the subject and then read them all at once. Having to click around to each part would be frustrating though.

        Really what I’m saying is keep doing what you’re doing. Your research and blog posts supplement my own personal research and habit formation at this time and it is very helpful to me. Thank you!

      • Big Benny says:

        I agree with Tyler, long and good content > better than writing short. Especially stuff like “How to get happy in 5 fast ways”. Haha.

        I always look forward to reading your posts because they’re well thought out and I always learn something new, even when you write about topics i am familiar with. The other few sites I read are not generally like that, when I read them and they cover a familiar topic I usually go “here we go again”…

    • I don’t think Ludvig is targeting the mass audience of YouTube or whatever the kids watch these days – the semi-literate people with short attention spans who want light entertainment or “inspiration” requiring no thought on their own part. I’m not sure what he’s after, but it must depend more on quality than quantity.

  6. Aye aye my captain! ;)

  7. Amazing post!!!!

    A question, though.

    What about those who have already achieved competency with a particular area, and whose goal is to something completely different?

    For argument’s sake, let’s say a computer programmer wants to become a club promoter or something. Would their strategic objective to “become more clubby” or similar?

    Also, when you mentioned that you go to the library – is this something you advocate doing to partake in the reading of the books, or to find books you can take home to read?

    Thanks for the inspirational post – I hope your 2015 desires come to fruition!!

    • “What about those who have already achieved competency with a particular area, and whose goal is to [do] something completely different?”

      I don’t know what Ludvig would say, but I can tell you from experience that when you’re already established, the only way to change boats is to jump overboard. If you’re a good programmer with years of experience, you will get better marginal returns from doing that than from anything else you could try, and you will never divert enough effort into another (low return) activity to make it worth doing. To learn another vocation well enough to replace what you’re already good at, you have to accept a greatly diminished income (and other changes) for an indefinite time, probably several years, with no guarantee of success.

      Men who are millionaires sometimes do this because they can afford years without income and still maintain a good lifestyle. More often, men make such major changes only when they are forced out of their old life, or when they have little to lose in the first place.

      If, like most of us, you have no foreseeable prospect of a millionaire’s financial independence, and lack the discipline to fully commit yourself to a deprived and uncertain future while there are easier options available, the only solution (if you really see this as a problem) is to burn your ships, like Cortés. Quit your job, sell your house, shoot your spouse, move to Saigon, join the Navy, join the circus, whatever it takes.

      • Thanks Abgrund!

        I hope 2015 holds lots of serendipity for you, and I thank you profusely for your reply.

        I think, as you say, the truth is very simple. If you want to do something, “just do it”. However, as with many fundamentals of life, its simplicity is a shroud of the complexity it embodies.

        Thanks again bud!

        R

      • That’s a good answer by Abgrund.

        Though I would hope this is NOT true for SGM readers:

        “If, like most of us, you have no foreseeable prospect of a millionaire’s financial independence, and lack the discipline to fully commit yourself to a deprived and uncertain future “

      • Easy to say when you’re young and not deeply invested in anything. But Richard’s question was about “those who have already achieved competency with a particular area.” Usually this means a large and non-recoverable investment. Let’s say for instance that you are thirty-five, and have a family, a mortgage, and a successful dental practice, but you have come to the realization that you hate teeth and you want to do something else with your life. This is not the same as changing majors in college. And when I say “foreseeable”, I mean “predictable from the current situation”, not just “might be possible somehow someday.”

  8. Very good point about the failure of the school system. Another thing they’re doing in your example with the grammar books is that they are failing to understand that children’s brains are not well-developed enough to understand the meaning of symbolic proverbs, or SARCASM either for that matter.
    I will think about the strategic objective during the week and complete it by Sunday. Thanks!

  9. Hi Ludvig,

    ever since you published the guest post on Bold and Determined, I have been following your blog. Always great stuff on here – lots of original and personal insight. I already created my goal list for 2015 and my reading schedule – one book per week.

    One of the biggest “aha” moments was that once I do away with mindless distractions, I get more done than I would expect from the time I safe.

    Thanks again for your posts, they are truly inspiring.

    Best
    Florian

    • Cool site man!
      What books do you recommend the most?

      • Thanks Brad.

        Those are the books that have impacted me most in the last year:

        For habits: Jeff Olson – The Slight Edge (my fundament)

        For health/fitness: Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Education of a Bodybuilder

        Money and Career: MJ DeMarco – The Millionaire Fastlane

        … and then there are two children’s/young adults books that still have an impact on me: Michael Ende – Momo (this is about cherishing your time) and Michael Ende – The Neverending Story (about not limiting your dreams).

        They were all a joy to read.

    • I discovered this blog the same way as you. I was a big B&D, but to put it lightly it is nowhere near SGM. You sound determined, so I’m this will be a game changer for you!

    • Hey Florian,

      “One of the biggest “aha” moments was that once I do away with mindless distractions,”

      –Indeed.
      And I am guessing you’re not the only one to feel that way, or there wouldn’t be a bunch of popular websites/blogs devoted to the topic of minimalism.

      • That’s true, I have never seen all those blogs under the aspect of minimalism.

        I think I read the comment in Jeff Olson’s “Slight Edge” that ‘being rich’ means you don’t have to work for your regular income anymore. So once you have a guaranteed regular income that covers rent and food, you can basically retire. And then put in additional work for everything else you want to afford.
        Minimalism is just the absence of bigger consumer desire. It can still be a very rich life. Reading, meeting people etc. My Playstation can’t hug me.

  10. This is my favourite of your recent posts Ludvig.

    The maxims are a big lesson for me. As you rightly mentioned from constantly following your blog and executing I’m ignoring my own principles and values. I have simply been aping you which is probably not the best thing moving forward.

    Great story about your childhood social conditioning. I have a story of my own. I grew up in India never believing in god, never understanding P.E., never understanding why we should have 5 meals a day, never understanding why we all HAD to be engineers and doctors. But that’s what the system forces you to do. I visited my nieces school on her “sports day” (more like indoctrination day) and it just filled me with anger at how they were literally slapping students for questioning the teacher. You could see them sucking the life and originality right out of the kids. India is far behind the west in this respect. Thank goodness I escaped to England. My whole family is obese, socially conditioned, religious, lazy, frustrated and crippled with fear. All thanks to social conditioning. I’m very fortunate to have escaped in time to be nudged in the right direction.

    I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind Ludvig:

    —————————————————————————————-
    1. Do you practice lucid dreaming to help visualize and be creative? I’m looking into it, but do you think it would be a waste of time?

    2. Why does Scott Adams regard goals as for losers, and systems for winners. This makes only a little sense to me. I’m all for system oriented progress and I’m always adding and modifying my system to increase my odds, but what is wrong with goals as such. Can you please clarify?

    3. Have you read any good biography of Buckminster Fuller? That man fascinates me. Also, any for Edison or Da Vinci?

    4. What are the four books you’re reading/will be reading soon….. that are in the vein of the 2 Munger books or principles by Ray Dalio etc?
    ——————————————————————————————–

    • “socially conditioned, religious, lazy, frustrated and crippled with fear”

      Damn man I feel you. It is the same for me & when I first moved away from home and from my hometown I felt like Michael from Prison Break, only i didnt have a brother to escape with ;)

    • Hey Shaun,
      Thanks for the great comment.

      1. Lucid dreaming:
      No I do not. I used to practice it extensively from age 16-19, but it was too much work (keeping dream journals etc,) and I wasn’t able to maintain it without serious effort each day. I have read that Ray Kurzweil is most creative while practicing lucid dreaming and does it effortlessly. It makes me jealous.

      2. Goals vs “systems” (as Douglas refers to it)
      Like I said in my email to you, I think it’s because most people do not have the willpower or skill to set clear goals and stick to them. For them it is easier to follow a “system” (which to Adams is basically a simple heuristic)

      3. Fuller
      No I have not. But I’ve read A LOT of random articles, and I’ve listened to his “Everything I Know”. And yes, he was a real comprehensivist.

      4. Books.
      I am reading some books that won’t interest SGM readers (research for BOOH). After that I am reading an old biography on Charles Talleyrand and “Titan” (Rockefeller bio) and “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters “.

      —–
      Btw, speaking of India:
      –I read this pretty interesting questions on Quora some time ago:
      http://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-90s-sitcom-Friends-so-popular-amongst-Indian-Quora-members

      • Thanks Ludvig. Btw the top answer on that quora page has hit the nail on the head. I remember myself obsessively watching Friends when I was younger, and I watched it for the exact reasons he mentions. India was a prison man! But I didn’t realize it till I came to England and experienced real freedom (freedom of the mind)

      • Revising my answer on Scott Adams & systems:
        –If I remember correctly I think the reason he preferred “systems” over goals was because it made it easier to take action without having disappointment. More actionable for those areas of your life you are bad at setting goals in.

        India & Friends:
        –Haha, I thought it was interesting too.

      • Yeah I just checked out one of his speeches on youtube which clarifies it. He says with simple goals where circumstances are not expected to change, they are fine to use. However, with things like your career 10 years from now, it is impossible to determine all the variables in the equation, and so “systems” are better.And secondly that systems free up willpower which is a finite resource.

  11. To anyone reading Ludvig’s blog posts I cannot possibly overstate the value in 46 books he has recommended. They are phenomenal!! And they give so much depth to the content of the blog that the concepts start to get internalized without you consciously trying.

    Also with regard to commonplacing, I would suggest start out by putting EVERYTHING on one page as just random notes. At the end of the day organize the page. Once there’s too much on one page, then split the content into several pages. Once that gets too big, split that into sections and then notebooks.

    The important thing is to keep it interesting. Make it look as neat and “cool” as possible. Over time it will just develop into your own thing.

  12. Boom bang! Way to start off 2015!!

    Im stoked for this year too, Im gonna make it the best yet.

    I sent you an email and while I appreciate that you are busy I eagerly await your reply.

  13. This blows every other “goal setting for the new year” system I’ve ever seen out of the water… bravo sir!

    • Thank you, Kyle.

      For anyone reading this, be sure to check out Kyle’s popular site “StartupBros”.

      If you have an interest or inclination for entrepreneurship you’ll love the ideas (and very actionable advice) they share. It’s the only site I read regularly atm.

  14. Cassandra says:

    This is a real find a real wealth a real tresure trove off useful info! :) and not just to Do a Strategic Objective but many other parts too you know!

  15. “. . . Unless you’re a prostitute–and your brain doesn’t matter.”

    I’m going to have to take exception that characterization. A successful prostitute needs to be exceptionally shrewd; she has to promote and conduct her business while avoiding law enforcement and other unwelcome attention, and must be a keen and swift judge of character.

    Prior to the Victorian era, there was also in most societies an upper class of prostitutes (e.g. the hetaera, the geisha, the courtesan) who catered to wealthy (and pretentious) men. These women had to be highly educated and possess a variety of skills to attract such clients. The modern working girl may be cut from lesser cloth, but still a stupid hooker soon gets herself cheated, arrested, or worse.

  16. Excellent, thanks!

  17. Nice article Ludvig.

    I’ve never written a strategic objective, but I will try it. I have a ten year plan in 3 areas – fitness, wealth and plans for my future family. I find myself automatically gravitating towards choices which will help me reach these goals since theyre burned into my brain. However, a strategic objective might help me be more efficient and selective in my choices on a daily basis.

    As for books, I have about ten lined up. I just finished “The Rich” by John Kampfner which I know you would really enjoy. It is a history of the rich and their exploits, from the kings of England and France to the Russian oligarchs and tech geeks of today. I also downloaded an entire series called “history in an hour” – kind of a mini history series which has blown my mind because I knew so little about what happened in WWI and WWII!

    Smash 2014 like you did 2014 and I’m sure you”ll get everything you want! I would say best of luck, but we both know it’s mostly in your hands :)

    • Thanks G.

      It does take some effort, but I think it’s a great thing to do. After a while you’ll find that in each situation you’re in, even if you cannot find some way to make it build towards one of your goals, you will at least be in a position to practice one of your maxims/best practices. So your mind is always used towards something productive.

      —-
      Thanks a lot for the book recommendation. I will be sure to check out “The Rich”. It sounds great.

  18. Richard Harries says:

    Yes

  19. Big Benny says:

    What are some more examples of maxims??

    Its not something Ive ever reflected much on but it seems like such a useful thing for becoming more disciplined and “steady”!

    Ludvig-would your idea of incremental change perhaps be a maxim?

    • Here’s a success maxim for you if you are a serious student of self-development and success… Study both success and failure, to get a better understanding of what it takes.
      (of course, adapted to your areas of interests and/or career)

      Most people only “study” success, and as Ludvig has pointed out many times, they only get their info (this is why I put studied in citation marks) from TV, resulting in media bias. So they end up with strange assumptions and beliefs about what goes into being happy/successful, and since their very assumptions are messed up they usually end up taking equally messed up actions, giving them messed up results.

      So yeah, study both success and failure and try to get a good picture of what it takes.

      Hope that makes sense buddy!

    • A maxim is a general-purpose rule, reduced to an aphorism (a brief, memorable summary). One famous maxim is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

      One of my favorite maxims is “Shut the Fuck Up.” It means two things: Listen to other people, and don’t say something stupid because you are talking for no good reason.

    • Gotcha!

      Those are both for sure good ideas that I should practice

  20. I should really read more books. I understand your arguments about how important it is to learn new things but im (maybe willfully?) ignorant in how to make it enoyable for me, i just seem to find any excuse not to do it even though i know better, probably because i seem to think it is boring.

    Was it always fun for you or were you in my position before?

    • Hey Bond, I know you have asked Ludvig, but if it helps, here is what works for me. Even if I don’t feel like it, I sit down and read for 30 minutes. If I still think it’s a waste of time, I can put the book aside.
      If it is not enjoyable for you, then try to change something. Have your favorite drink with it. Or try to read in another room or place. Maybe having a couple of minutes of reading in a coffee shop on your way to work can do the trick.

      Or try audio books.

    • Very rarely do I see someone do something and stick with it just because they think they “should”. “Should” comes from someone else and doesn’t speak to a person’s genuine, internal motivations. There are tens of millions of people who “know” that they “should” quit smoking, but almost none of them do. Abstract knowledge about possible consequences in the indefinite future does not provide motivation; this is merely human nature.

      Your brain craves immediate, reliable rewards; it has to be retrained to accept accept distant, hypothetical rewards. Ludvig’s book “Breaking Out of Homeostasis” gives a good description of how you get locked into a cycle of short term gratification, and how you can break out of that cycle. These techniques will work for all kinds of behavioral changes, not just learning how to enjoy learning.

    • Read his article on incremental change. Slowly build up your ability to read. First day read a page, next day page and a half, then two pages and so on. in a few months you will not only be able to read full books but you will also enjoy it

    • Thanks for the answers!!

      To Florian

      Yes maybe i should get up earlier in the morning, drink coffee or tea, and read for 15-30 min.. that’s a good idea.

      To Shaun

      Thanks that was a good article, I have now made a list of 5 books to read in the next 3 months & I started reading today and did it for 15 minutes then I got really tired (mentally & lost concentration)… my goal is first to be able to read for 1 full hour and then without getting bored or losing concentration before this is over, that should definitely be doable if I just up it a bit incremetnally and read 3-5 more minutes for each each day.

      To Abgrund

      Yes you are probably right. But I like to learn things, I just never “learned” to read, I mean i guess i have never really tried to make it a habit. I don’t expect you to understand fully (no offense) since you seem like the sort of person who reads a lot and is good at it naturally. I say this based on other comments I have read from you.
      Also I can’t find the breaking homeostasis book .Maybe it is down, but I would like to read it if possible.

      To Ludvig

      Could you explain more what you mean about framework for learning? For example:
      *What does those different colors signify in the book picture?
      *What do you focus on when you read books? Do you look for certain things or do you just read and take notes/scribble in margins when something catches your eye?
      It seemed more to me like the former, judging by the book picture.

      Would appreciate your opinion on this!

    • Bond,
      Read this article:
      http://www.andbethere.com/2014/07/a-6-step-system-for-learning-things-better.html

      I have updated my framework a little bit since writing that article, but it is still a good read.

      If you are in the habit of fasting, make it a habit to learn in the morning, before work or school, because that’s when your brain’s dopamine levels will naturally be at their zenith. There is also science to indicate that you learn better after working out, so maybe read a while then if it suits you.

  21. New year’s resolution is in every corner nowadays. I like your maxim on contrarianism. It so happened to be part of the name of a blog I am closely following about consulting business from Alan Weiss. I think for 2015, this is something I will work on as everyone else does the same thing. We need to find our own unique spot in the world!

  22. “I’m a nobody, nobody is perfect, and therefore I’m perfect.”

    Oh my Goodness!! Really?

    Happy new year Ludvig – Great first post to kick off 2015

    I 100% support what you said about making excuses about not having enough time for your goals/targets. And support the Steven King example of him reading in the grocery store line.

    I have told you this before, but I plan to start reading a lot more but… (this is not an excuse!)

    I generally don’t have time to dedicate 1 or 2 hours to reading. So just before Christmas I put my chosen reading material in my bag so whenever I got the opportunity I could read.

    Visiting family members borrowed my car loads over Xmas and were only to happy to drive me around, which maximized my reading time. It was the kick-start that I needed. So, if you want the goal make time. Some how, just find time to squeeze it in. Even if it’s only for a short period of time everyday.

    Lastly, I love what you said about learning being a priority. 5 years ago I associated learning with school and it just stopped there. We can never learn enough and you are cheating yourself and your brain when you do decide to stop.

    I guess that’s why I like SGM… because I always learn something new or get to look at things differently or just get a healthy dose of laughter from your comments or Abgrund healthy opinionated point of view!

    Glad you are back to writing again :)

    Naomi

  23. Postman Pat says:

    To build on what you say about putting up a “minimum quota of work” towards a goal, here’s a strategy I like to use, since I read your other article about being a momentum machine & using the winner effect:

    Make the daily quota a little easier than you know you’re capable of doing, to set yourself up for small frequent “wins” to boost motivation!

    I’ve been doing this with my journaling (i must do 10 min each night) and I usually do it for 15 and feel good.

  24. Visual thing is pretty cool :) Thanks for the article, it’s time to review my goals now :)

  25. Hrostiski says:

    This is very helpful, thanks for putting it together. It took me a while to do,like you implied (but less than a day!!) but now it is done…..And my strategic objective is done!

    Maybe not DONE, but finished in its first draft. then i am planning on looking at it circa weekly and updating it (not the goals but maybe best practices and maxims) when I lesrn something valuable to remind myself of thinking of it.

    What do you think, does that sound like an efficient way of doing it ludvig?

  26. Amazing post! A lot of this just hit home with me, reminding me of my own abandoned attempts of creating a mission statement for my life. Time to pick that up again!

    I especially agree with the value of maxims – without these general heuristics, all of our actions will be inconsistent, random and ultimately meaningless.

    Nice write-up!

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