What things in your life are moving you backwards, away from your goals? It is easy to move backwards each day and never even know it. That is how people fall into debt, get fat, lag behind in their work, and let their homes get out of control with piles of junk. Make sure you move forward each day, not backwards.
The first thing to do is make sure you are not actively moving backwards. Stop overspending your budget. Stop adding unnecessary possessions to your life. Stop expansion of anything that draws your attention away from your goals.
If your goal is to get out of debt, your first action is to stop increasing your spending. If your goal is to lose weight, your first action is to stop gaining weight. If your goal is to stop getting behind at work, your first action is to start working at a sustainable pace where the work no longer piles up. If your goal is to declutter your home, your first action is to stop accumulating additional clutter.
Active backwards movement is the obvious backpedaling that you are aware of. However, you might be moving backwards in some less obvious ways. Examine your life for any growing backlogs, accumulating clutter, or “todo” list items that you keep putting off. I always had a habit of saving any interesting article or website that I didn’t have time to read into Delicious. After my list of unread articles swelled to over 4,500 links, I knew I had a problem. There was just no way I would actually find the time and energy to go back and read 4,500 articles!
Once you identify your growing backlogs, make a plan of action. To solve my bookmark problem, I resolved to look at 30 article links per day. Each day, I would click on 30 links, glance at them real quick, and if I didn’t see any immediately useful information, I’d hit “delete”. If the article appeared immediately useful (e.g. something I can read now, and immediately put to action to benefit my life), I would save the link to a different list for closer scrutiny. Going through the list this way, I’d delete over 80% of it because the information was either unhelpful or no longer relevant.
This is the 80/20 rule in action. 80% of results come from 20% of causes. 80% of benefits come from 20% of articles I had saved. 80% of benefits come from 20% of spending. 80% of weight loss comes from 20% of exercises. 80% of work gets done in your 20% of most productive hours. 80% of work gets done by the 20% of best employees. 80% of revenue comes from the 20% biggest customers. You get the idea. Use 80/20 to your advantage for cutting down big tasks.
Some more things you might be moving backwards on are:
- Your digital photo collection might be growing out of control. Don’t linger in the past. Decide which 20% of those pictures are worth keeping, then archive and eventually delete the rest.
- Your wardrobe may be piling up. Let’s face it, you only wear 20% of your wardrobe. Donate the rest.
- Your bookshelf may be overflowing. You’re only going to open 20% of your books ever again. Donate the rest.
- Your to-do list may be becoming a procrastination list. Make sure your list shrinks each day. Don’t end your day without doing more to-do list items than you add.
- Your weight may be creeping upward. Eat less and exercise more until you see your weight start creeping back down.
- Your work might be piling up. Determine the pace you need to work at to stop the work from piling up, then work a little faster.
- Your debt may be getting unmanageable. Stop taking on new debt. Make a plan to repay your old debt.
- Your clutter may be encroaching on your living spaces. Reserve 10 minutes each day to put a few things away. Put away more things each day than you take out.
Are you moving forward every day? Make a plan to ensure forward movement and stop backward movement in your life.
Remember: Always Forward Movement