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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

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Lonely walk

Achieving your goals can be a hard thing to do. It becomes even harder when you lose sight of that one thing that you want to achieve, because it is easy to get sidetracked when you have a million things to do and too little time. To stay on course to where you want to be, we’ve got a couple tricks up our sleeves.

But before I reveal what they are, I first want to share a story on how I figured out ways to keep your goals in sight and staying on the path to achieving them. A couple years ago I worked at the marketing department of a small company where most of the marketing is done through online channels. We were about to promote a big conference that the company holds every year and this year they wanted to promote it almost ten months in advance. Previously it was usually done maybe 3-4 months ahead of the start of the conference, but this time around the company wanted to boost the number of attendees. They rationalized that promoting it earlier will help this.

The challenge was keeping prospects interested enough throughout the whole time to attend the conference (which is priced at a premium). Should you promote it in the beginning, do nothing half-way and then promote it intensely? Or promote it consistently throughout the months? Or should there be some other tactic? Decisions like these have to made every day, but the CEO eventually decided with this strategy: promote a little bit here, a little bit there, and as the date comes closer promote like your life depended on it.

He explained why he chose this strategy and one of the things he dropped nonchalantly was the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”. In a marketing context, this means that when something is not visible, it is easily forgotten. In other words, you always want to be engaging with your prospects and customers so that they don’t forget about you. Because if they do, it becomes a lot harder to sell to them.

If you want to study more about the importance of positioning and marketing, I can highly recommend the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (the first chapter summary can be found in the article of going paperless with Evernote).

I quickly realized that this can be used in a lot of other different contexts and this gem is applicable to help you achieve your goals as well.

Keep reminding yourself

The reason I bring all this up is that most people tend to forget things they need to do to get where they want to be. They forget the bigger picture: the goals and dreams they want to achieve.

When you don’t know where you want to go, it’s easy to get caught up in your daily routine where you just live day by day. I know, because I have lived like that for numerous years. Every day I would wake up, go to work, go home and do nothing useful. The next day would be same thing over and over again. And I did this for a number of years till one day I realized that I completely forgot about the things I wanted to achieve in my life. I was basically spending my time, not investing it.

Sure, once a while I would have those thoughtful moments and think “man, one day I’m going to write a best-selling book” but then two seconds later I would go back to what I was doing at that moment. What I needed was a constant reminder of what I was set out to achieve for myself. I needed that angel on my shoulder telling me every morning that I’m going to write a best-selling book (or whatever my goal was at that time).

To stay on the path of your destination, you need to constantly remind yourself of where you want to be. Whenever you are going through the motions, you need to get pulled out of it and wake up to see that vivid picture of your desired outcome day in, day out. I’ve tried and employed many different things to see what worked and here are some that have worked for me.

Journal

The habit of journaling every day is pretty hard. It was a tough for me to do this every day, but I can tell you it is very powerful if you want to get ahead. Before I met Aaron, I was always just freestyling my infrequent journals but after talking about it with him (and reading some books) I have a more structured way now.

We have an article coming up on this, but two powerful questions to journal about at the end of your day are:

  1. Was I better today than yesterday?
  2. How can I do things better tomorrow?

Answering those questions really makes you wonder if your day was productive or not.

Once a month, reread all your previous journals and see how much progress you’ve made. This will make you (hopefully) realize that you are making progress which will help you leap to achieve bigger things. If you’re interested in this and want more info, you should definitely read the book The Progress Principle where thousands of journals were analyzed and the authors concluded that small wins lead to bigger wins and little bits of inspiration leads to big inspiration. It’s just that you have to be consciously aware that you are making these small wins. This is where a journal helps.

Review your goals

This one should be obvious if you have been reading this blog for a while, but this cannot be stressed enough: review your goals every day. Make it a part of your morning routine to get you fired up in the morning to get work done.

Ping yourself

If you are someone who constantly needs to be micro-managed or reminded of things, play this trick on yourself: ping yourself once a day to remind yourself of your big goal.

For example, I did this ping for a while: every day at 3pm I would have a calendar reminder that says “Are you working on things that matter?” With my calendar synced up across all my devices (Macbook, iPad and iPhone) there was no way I was going to miss this ping. It was this little “wake up call” every day at the same time that made me evaluate what I was doing at that time. Was it in alignment of my goals or was I just doing nothing useful?

Motivation pages

Aaron has written before on the power of having a motivation page. You want to position it so you see it every day and it helps reminding you where you want to be. Make it unavoidable to miss this visionboard.

Desktop background

Most of you probably spend a lot of time behind your computer, so this is a great trick you can use. Make a desktop background that has your favorite (motivational) quotes and goals you want to fulfill. This way you will see them every day.

If you get bored of your background quickly (like yours truly), make a couple different variations and set your desktop background to be rotated every couple weeks.

Below is my desktop background for this year (I blurred out the goals and quotes).

Thanh's background

My background with the goals and quotes blurred out. For guys, a beautiful girl is optional.

Every time I look at this, I go “HELL YEA” and get to work.

Be around the right people

This one is HUGE. We’ve written before how having a mastermind is a great asset to your life. The people you spend most of your time with have a direct effect on how fast you will achieve your goals. Are you spending most of your time with people who go through life like zombies day by day? Or are they also ambitious people and go-getters like yourself? If you have the right people around you, will consciously and unconsciously be reminded of what you need to do.

By constantly reminding yourself you will deeply ingrain in your subconscious the impact you want to make. This will help you move mountains and do things on autopilot for the better. Every decision you will make will automatically be filtered through the goals you have set out for yourself, because you have them ingrained in your head. Questions like “will this help me get closer to my goal?” will be answered without any conscious awareness because your goals are so ingrained. It’s this cognitive dissonance of where you are now and where you want to be that will really help you start kicking ass at life.

Just don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Once it is out of sight, it is out of mind.

Have you ever tried any of these tactics to remind yourself of the bigger picture? Share some of yours in the comments below.

Photo by VinothChandar.

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2 Comments

Posted by Victor Rodriguez  | November 8, 2011 at 9:27PM | Reply

Great post, yet again.
Thanks guys.
Victor R.

Posted by srinivas.sista  | July 6, 2012 at 9:18PM | Reply

thank you.this post is very useful

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