Buy The Slight Edge on Amazon
(affiliate link – I earn a small commission if you buy).
- Chapter 1 – Introduction
- 1.1 – How This Book has Helped Me
- 1.2 – Key Concepts from the Book
- 1.3 – Extra Benefits of The Slight Edge
- 1.4 – Where to Buy the Book
- Chapter 2 – Setting Goals
- 2.1 – How to Come up with Your Goals; Dream Big
- 2.2 – “I Will”, not “I want to”
- 2.3 – Make Your Goals Tangible, Positive & Achievable, with a Finish Line
- 2.4 – Deadlines are Key; Make Sure They’re Realistic and Achievable
- 2.5 – 1 (or 2) Main Goals You OBSESS About
- 2.6 – And then Set a Couple of Smaller, Easier Mini-Goals
- 2.7 – Write Your Goals Somewhere You’ll See Them Every Day (Calendar Reminders)
- Chapter 3 – Achieving Your Goals
- 3.1 – Take Baby Steps Towards Your Goal Each Day
- 3.2 – Don’t Ever Quit
- 3.3 – Cheats for When You Lack Discipline/Willpower
- 3.4 – At the End of Each Day, Take a Look Back
- 3.5 – Accountability Partners
- 3.6 – How to Deal with Bad Days
- 3.7 – Be a Best Friend to Yourself
- 3.8 – Are My Daily Habits Actually Helping Me?
- 3.9 – If Your Deadline is Looming (You’re Running Out of Time)
- 3.10 – When you Hit Your Goals
- 3.11 – Example Goals I’ve Achieved
- Where to Buy the Book
Chapter 1 – Introduction
This guide is much more than just a review of the book – it’s a comprehensive manual to success. I’m going to give you a tonne of my own tips and tricks, and walk you through my own process for achieving my goals. I’ll tell you exactly how I set my goals, how I come up with attainable deadlines, how I deal with bad days and how I stay motivated for long periods of time (some of my goals have taken years to accomplish).
1.1 – How This Book has Helped Me
When I first read The Slight Edge, it completely changed the way I view goal-setting and self-improvement. I’d even go so far as to say it’s shaped my entire life philosophy; there’s a reason I’m always going on and on about “each day, take one or two small baby steps towards your goal. Slow, consistent progress over time.” I got that from this book.
Another philosophy of mine also comes from this book. “Shut up and actually take action; stop sitting around overthinking things. Stop trying to be perfect and instead just start, and accept the fact you’ll suck for a while. You’ll naturally improve over time.”
I’ve used The Slight Edge to achieve almost all of the big goals in my life, and countless smaller goals as well.
- I completed a 365 Project where I took a photo a day for an entire year, without missing a single day.
- Lost 35 kg by taking it one day at a time.
- Built my main site (KillYourInnerLoser) and wrote 150+ articles (as of time of writing (June 2020)).
- Built a coaching/counselling business so I could quit my regular job and be financially-independent.
- Went from being a weakling in the gym to rack-pulling 200kg (441lbs).
- Paid off $10,000 in debt by just chipping away at it, a bit at a time.
- Overcame my social-phobia and started making friends by pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone each day.
- Fixed my dating life by just talking to one girl a day out in public.
- A tonne of smaller goals the book has helped me with. Things like:
- Paying off other debts.
- Building my social circle.
- Getting a promotion at my old job.
- Setting challenges & achieved them such as writing 33 articles in 21 days (over on my main site), writing 5 articles in 10 hours, etc.
- Writing a 130,000-word series on my main site (that’s longer than most novels.)
- Forcing myself to do things I was terrified to do by using techniques from the book. eg I got a tattoo (I’d procrastinated that for years), moved in order to chase my dreams, got a vasectomy, etc.
- Changing my diet and cutting out junk food.
- Quitting addictions (alcohol, pornography, video games and sugary food).
My girlfriend has used it to achieve a tonne of her goals too.
- She used it to get an internship with absolutely zero experience in the field.
- She lost 10kg.
- Started her own art business.
- Overcame an eating disorder (bulimia).
- Talked to 15 random strangers on the street (goal was she had to have at least a 5 minute conversation with each one).
- Learned to do the splits.
- Deadlifted 100kg.
- Moved out of home and became independent.
- Did 1 piece of artwork a day.
- A tonne of other, smaller goals.
Most of my coaching clients, as well as a number of my friends, use the principles from the book to achieve their goals too. As a member from our forums, terry_crews, wrote:
I ordered this book at the recommendation of this site. I was not disappointed! Andy summarized the book in previous articles about just making small improvements EVERY DAY, even if they seem like nothing. I’d highly recommend this book to anybody.
The Slight Edge helps you be way more organised with your goals/life, and be way more committed to getting the things you want. I read the book at least once a year, and so does my girlfriend. It’s extremely motivating and feel-good, as well as very practical. It’s perfect for getting you back on track if you’ve been a bit lazy lately… or if you’re embarking on your first big self-improvement mission.
There are some gaps in The Slight Edge book – some areas I feel are a little short. This guide is my spin on The Slight Edge – I’ve modified it a lot to add in everything I’ve learned over the years from using it and reaching my own goals. Don’t get me wrong – The Slight Edge is an amazing book. We’re just going to make it even better 😉
1.2 – Key Concepts from the Book
As I said above, I’ve made a few modifications to The Slight Edge formula. Here’s the core concepts from the book + my own additions:
- Work on your goals every day – aim to take one tiny little baby step towards your goals each day. Even on your worst, most horrible day, you should still do something – even if it’s something pathetically small and seemingly-insignificant. It all adds up.
- Don’t spend months trying to come up with a “perfect” plan, or “researching”, or “educating yourself” – just give yourself permission to suck and dive right in. Take action, RIGHT NOW. You’ll be able to tweak and adjust your plan once you start anyway.
- Have 1 or 2 main goals you pour most of your time and energy into. You can add a couple of extra “mini-goals” at the same time; but they shouldn’t interfere with your main 1 or 2 goals.
- Goals need to be tangible, realistic, achievable, and meaningful to you.
- Set deadlines for your goals. Those deadlines also need to be realistic. You’ll never be successful without the time-pressure of a looming deadline to push yourself; especially during your lazy days/weeks.
- Go all-in. Do whatever it takes to reach your goals by the deadlines you’ve set.
- Reaching your goals requires sacrifices; you have to be willing to give things up. Maybe that’s giving up your bad habits, or giving up the things that make you lazy/complacent, or giving up time-wasting activities. Sometimes you have to say no to things to free up time/energy to work on your goals.
The core message of the book, and my own philosophy is this:
Every day is either a step forward, or a step back. You’re either on the path heading towards success, or on the path away from success.
Small habits matter, because they add up over time. eg: Let’s say you have a day where you’re craving junk food like crazy. You decide, “screw it” and you go eat McDonalds for lunch, instead of something healthy. In that one instance it won’t matter too much – it’s just 1 McDonalds meal. But by taking the lazy path in that one moment, you’re opening the door for building a habit of regularly choosing junk food in the future. Each time you make the “bad choice”, you’re building a habit of straying from your goals. You’re ensuring it’ll be easier to make bad choices again in the future.
If instead you decide “Ok, I’ll go eat something healthy instead” – in the moment it won’t matter all that much. Nobody loses all their bodyfat with just 1 healthy meal. But by choosing the healthy choice, you’re building a habit of working towards your goals. You’re making it easier to make good choices again in the future.
Good choices add up over time.
Tiny little baby steps add up over time.
1.3 – Extra Benefits of The Slight Edge
An important part of The Slight Edge is setting clear deadlines for your goals, and doing everything it takes to achieve those goals on time. Once you build a habit of always achieving your goals before the deadline is up, you’ll start to believe, “Ok. I can literally do anything I set my mind to, as long as I’m patient and willing to keep working on it, a little bit every day.”
You’ll be able to set a goal and give yourself, say, 3 months to complete it. You’ll know at the end of those 3 months, you’ll have achieved the goal. This is revolutionary because it gives you a timeline for your life. You’ll be able to look at your calendar, look at the goals you’ve set, and start planning out, “Ok, in 3 months I’ll have achieved this goal. Then I can start working on this other goal I have. That goal will probably take me…. 5 months? After that, it’ll be December, so then I’ll start working on this next goal here. That one will take me about 9 months, so I’ll have it done by August next year.” You’ll be able to map out the next 12 months or so of your life, and you’ll know exactly where you’ll be at the end of it.
It’s exciting because you get to fantasise about what you want, what you want to achieve, what things would be really cool to have – and then actually go and make them happen. Self-improvement is supposed to be really fun and exciting – you literally get to have anything you want (as long as you’re willing to work for it). It’s like being a little kid again; there are no limits, only your own imagination.
If you don’t have any goals, or deadlines, or a map of how you want your next 12 months to go, it can be easy to feel lost. A lot of people feel this way because they don’t have a timeline in front of them – it’s all kind of wishy-washy, like they’re looking out to sea with have no idea what’s out there. They might have some goals they want to work on, some things they want to achieve – but because they haven’t set deadlines for those goals, they’re just sorta staring out into the void, with no idea when those goals will happen (if ever?) They’re essentially letting out a big sigh and saying, “Hmmm, I hope this all works out.”
The Slight Edge puts the power back in your hands – you’re now assertive and taking charge. You’re not longer just a passive passenger in your own life, with goals “hopefully” working out on their own, as if by magic/luck (life doesn’t work that way). Now you get to actually take the steps towards your goals – just a little baby step each day. Now you actually get to make your goals happen, instead of just wishing for them.
Knowing the goals you’re working on also makes it really fun when someone says to you, “Hey how’s your life going?” or “Tell me more about yourself?” You’ll get really excited, because you’re on a mission . You’ll say, excitedly, “Ok so right now I’m working on losing 5kg of fat, I’m learning to rock climb with the goal being to go climbing in this mountain range a few hours from my house. Then I’m going to start my own website; the goal is to publish my first article by the end of April. Oh and I’m working extra shifts at work because I’m saving up to buy myself a new computer. In May I’m going to start learning a bit of carpentry with my buddy, because I’ve always wanted to learn that.”
Everybody else talks about doing cool things with their life. You’ll actually be doing cool things with your life. Other people are passive; they’re sit around talking about the life they want to live someday. You’re actually living it.
You’ll also find yourself feeling more confident in what you want – you’ve written it down, set a deadline, you know you’re going to get there with a little work each day. Your goals will be solidified, and you’ll take them seriously.
You’ll find achieving your first couple of Slight Edge goals imbues you with a confidence, a sense of self that’s unmatched by anything else.
1.4 – Where to Buy the Book
You need to buy the book and read it before you continue with this guide. The book is required reading in order to get the most out everything I’m going to say – especially when it comes to goals. SIGMA_1234 over on the forums said it best:
I gave Andy’s Slight Edge article a read, and I have to say, it was really worthwhile doing so. It made me see goal setting in a more structured way. I struggle with setting everything as my main goal, resulting in me finishing none.
Buy The Slight Edge on Amazon
(affiliate link – I earn a small commission if you buy).
It’s a very easy read – you can read it all in one sitting. It’s so well written and fun to read that it’s almost like a motivational book (but obviously the point of the book is to take ACTION, not just read yet another self-help book.)
Chapter 2 – Setting Goals
2.1 – How to Come up with Your Goals; Dream Big
Think about what you ultimately want. And I don’t just mean goals you think are attainable for you right now – I want you to dream big. Let your mind fantasise and come up with the wildest goals you can think of – even if they’re goals that make you think, “I could never do that.” Even if they’re goals that would take several years to achieve. Even if they’re goals that seem like a pipe dream – completely impossible. I’ve achieved a bunch of things that at one point felt utterly impossible to me.
If you’re struggling to come up with goals you want to work on, go sit in a quiet park somewhere or sit in your room and ask yourself this question:
What do I want?
It might take you a few minutes, or hours, or even days to really decide what you want. That’s ok; just keep asking yourself, “What do I want?” and eventually something will come up. Deep down you know what you really want; just give yourself permission to admit you want it, even if you think it’s too far-fetched or too impossible. Nothing’s impossible, but you have to admit you want it first.
When I first started teaching my girlfriend The Slight Edge philosophy, and she achieved her first few goals, it blew her mind that she was actually allowed to have the things she wanted. She was astounded to learn that if you just work for it, you truly can have whatever you want. I jokingly told her, “You can even get to the moon if you want to, as long as you take a baby step towards it every single day.”
Once you’ve come up with the goals you really want, write them all down on a piece of paper or in an online note-keeping app (I use Evernote). Again, don’t stress if the things you want seem unattainable – every single big goal I’ve ever achieved seemed impossible to me before I started working on it. We’ll break down the goals into smaller, more manageable steps anyway.
It’s important your goals are things you get really excited about; things you care about deeply and will be motivated to work on. You’re going to have times where your goals are hard, you’re going to have days where you have very little willpower or energy or motivation. If the goals you chose aren’t really all that meaningful to you, it’ll be easier to give up/quit on your bad days. So make sure the goals you set are ones you desperately want; then you’ll never quit.
We’re trying to make your life awesome; not just set arbitrary goals that have you spinning your wheels for no real benefit.
When you’ve written all your goals down in a big list, you’ll probably feel like there’s a lot; maybe too many goals. That’s perfectly normal; you don’t have to work on all of them at once. Don’t get overwhelmed by how many things you want to change; we’ll be tackling them a couple at a time. Keep all of your goals in that notebook/note-keeping app, and tell yourself it’s ok to postpone some of them while you work on a couple of goals at a time.
The other goals aren’t going anywhere. You’ve got an entire lifetime to work on yourself, so don’t stress.
The question I get asked the most is: Should I focus on dating first, or career first? My answer is always dating first; for a million reasons I’ve covered in articles on my main site. Go 100% all-in with your dating life, give it everything you’ve got for a few years, and tell yourself you’ll work on your career/finances once you’ve handled the dating phase of your life.
I’ve got my own huge list of goals I want to achieve – there’s over 100 things on it at this point. I don’t let myself get overwhelmed by how many things I still need to do; I just work on a couple of them at a time, and remind myself, “I have the rest of my life to do everything. No point stressing and worrying about “running out of time.”
2.2 – “I Will”, not “I want to”
You need to phrase your goals as “I will do this” – implying you WILL be successful. Really, I’m referring to going all-in, and taking your goals seriously. Do not say, “I want this goal” or “It’d be really nice to have this goal” or the worst of them all; “I wish I could have this goal”.
When you use passive language like “I want” or “I wish”, you’re telling yourself it’s just a pipe dream; something you’ll never really have. It’s why you hear people who’ve been fat for years say things like, “I want to be thin” or “I’d really like to be thin”, instead of, “I will be thin”.
Instead, tell yourself you are going to be successful.
- “I WILL get to 70kg by Jan 20th”.
- “I WILL make $100,000 through my business.”
- “I WILL benchpress 120kg.”
Take charge and decide you will achieve your goals.
When you make a goal, you have to sign a metaphorical-contract with yourself that you WILL NOT fail it. Tell yourself you will be successful, no matter what.
My mindset has always been, “If I don’t do this, I have to kill myself. Failure is not an option.” Yep, I literally frame my goals as “do or die”, “sink or swim”. I’m not saying you need to consider suicide – but I can’t deny that all-or-nothing mentality has been probably the biggest reason I’ve been so successful. As soon as you say to yourself, “I will succeed at this, no matter how long it takes, or how many times I fail” – you’re guaranteeing your own success. I’ll talk more about never quitting below.
You have to give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to be successful. Go all-in.
2.3 – Make Your Goals Tangible, Positive & Achievable, with a Finish Line
The goals you set have to be:
Tangible: As in, a concrete number/value. Not, “I will get thin by December 12th” – how will you know when you’ve achieved that? And what is “thin”? 80kg? 75kg? 70kg? You need to use an actual, tangible metric. A better goal would be, “I will get to 70kg by December 12th.”
Another example: “I will get more muscular by Feb 2nd” is not a tangible goal. Instead, rewrite it with an actual metric: “I will get my weight up to 80kg by Feb 2nd” or “I’ll benchpress 100kg by Feb 2nd”.
Positive: Frame your goals as a positive thing you will achieve, rather than a negative thing you’ll stop doing. For instance, “I will quit smoking by December 12th” is a negative-framing, and all you’re going to do is burn through your willpower, sitting around thinking about the thing you’re not allowed to do. Not doing something isn’t the end-goal; it’s a stepping-stone to achieving the actual goal you want. Yes, quit smoking – but frame your goal as something positive you’re going to do instead of the negative habit.
It would be better framed as, “I will run at 10km/hr pace for 10 minutes on the treadmill, by December 12th.” That’s a positive goal that will probably require you to quit smoking in order to achieve it; awesome. Now you have something positive to run towards, rather than just a negative habit to run away from (with nothing positive to replace it with).
Another example: “I will stop pussying out with women by January 19th” is not a positive goal. Reframe it as a positive goal: “I will hit on 100 girls by January 19th”.
People get stuck in downward spirals because they only focus on the negative – “I’m really unhappy with where I am right now” – but they don’t then turn that into anything positive. Sitting in that cycle of self-loathing will only cause you to become helpless and hopeless; you’ll have all these insecurities and negative feelings, with no way to change anything.
Frame your goals in a positive manner instead.
Deadline: Your goals must also have a realistic and achievable deadline. We’ll cover deadlines in detail below.
Achievable: The goals you set need to be achievable. If you set an unrealistic goal, you likely won’t achieve it – which leads to frustration, disappointment and self-loathing. If you repeat this and set multiple goals you can’t finish on time, you may start to believe you’re not capable of achieving any goals – a horrific habit to build.
Instead, break those massive goals down into smaller goals. If you want to earn 1 million dollars, break that down into a smaller goal – “I’ll earn $2000 from a new business I start, by June 26.” Once you achieve that goal, you can then set a new target (eg $5,000), and then another new target, and a new one after that – eventually working your way up to 1 million.
Finish Line: Your goals also need to have an end-point; they can’t be daily habits. By that I mean you should write your goal as a tangible destination; rather than some habit you repeat. So don’t say, “I will walk every day for 10 minutes”. You’re inevitably going to have bad days where you don’t do any walking, and then what – you’ve failed your goal entirely?
Instead, write your goal as an end-point you can get to. eg: “I will walk a quarter-marathon (6.5 miles) by March 20th.”
Goal setting only works if you have an end goal; a destination to work towards with a deadline to keep you on track. Daily habits help you achieve that goal; but they’re not a goal in and of themselves.
2.4 – Deadlines are Key; Make Sure They’re Realistic and Achievable
Deadlines are the most important part of achieving your goals; nothing lights a fire under your ass like only having a week or two left to complete your goal. You’ll often find the Pareto Principle applies here – you’ll do 80% of the work in the last 20% of the weeks you’ve given yourself.
It’s very important you set very lenient deadlines – deadlines that give you enough time to absolutely reach your goal on time. Always allow for extra time in case something goes wrong. For example, for strength goals I’ve set myself in the gym, I set a deadline – say, 3 months from now. Then I’ll allow for something going wrong: “What would happen if I hurt my leg or something and need to take 3 weeks off?” I then add an extra 3 weeks to my deadline, to allow for unforeseen consequences. So even if life throws me a curveball, I know I’ll still hit my goal on time.
Remember, you can always bust your ass and reach your goal early. I’m not saying to slack off and be lazy for those extra 3 weeks. They’re only there as a safety net, incase something pops up you hadn’t accounted for (which happens probably 90% of the time, especially with longterm goals).
It’s very important you set realistic and attainable deadlines, and make it your mission to get a few successes under your belt. Your first few goals should be extremely easy and doable – start small. Being successful with your first couple of easy goals helps you gain traction. Once you have a taste of success and achieving a goal – even a small one – you’ll be hungry for more. Your success will snowball. You won’t want to stop.
Over enough time, and with achieving enough goals, you you’ll start to feel like a successful person. Achieving your goals will be the norm, not the exception. You’ll start feeling like you can do absolutely anything you want. You can even get to the moon, if you want to. 😉
I know it can be tempting to give yourself very short deadlines when you’re first starting out with self-improvement. You’re acutely aware of all the things you want to change, and you feel like you can’t afford to waste any time. I get that.
But trust me, speaking from my own experience and the experience of countless clients of mine, it is better to set realistic deadlines you can actually achieve, so you can build a habit of completing your goals. There’s nothing worse than setting 5 goals with very short deadlines, missing all of them, and feeling like a complete failure. I’ve seen too many people throw in the towel and quit because they screwed themselves with unrealistic deadlines. Don’t be one of them. You’re smarter than that.
It’s more important to be able to teach yourself: “I set very easy and achievable goals. Some of them are stupidly easy and maybe I could have pushed myself more, but at least I can say I achieve 100% of all the goals I ever set. Once I set a goal, it’s basically guaranteed I will achieve it.“
Keep your deadlines realistic and attainable – and allow a little extra time to account for the unexpected.
2.5 – 1 (or 2) Main Goals You OBSESS About
One question I get asked all the time is: “Which is better: having 1 or 2 main goals I really obsess about… Or spreading myself out a bit and working on 10 little goals at once?”
My answer is always: Pick 1 or 2 main goals you obsess over, and pour 99% of your energy into them. You can then add a couple of really small goals you work on in the background; but your main 1 or 2 goals will always need to take priority. Almost everything worth having requires you to go all-in and give it everything you’ve got; there’s no point spreading yourself thin and half-assing 10 goals. You’ll just end up “Jack of all trades; master of none.”
As I said earlier, when choosing which 1 or 2 main goals you’ll prioritise, you really need to be ok with “neglecting” some of your other goals a bit. You really have to give the vast majority of your time and attention to your 1 or 2 main goals. Write the other goals down in a notebook/note-keeping app, and tell yourself you’ll come back to them after you complete your main 1 or 2 goals first.
Sometimes it won’t be clear to you which goal you should prioritise. Maybe you want to start working on your dating life, but you’re 50lbs overweight and not sure if you should lose fat first, or start talking to girls first. Different people will give you different advice (my advice is always to lose a lot of the fat as your main goal, while also starting to talk to girls as a minor, secondary goal). Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter too much which goal you work on first. You have plenty of time to handle all your goals – so don’t stress about getting the order perfect. Just start working on a goal – any goal – right now.
When setting the deadline(s) for your 1 or 2 main goal(s), really sit down and plan it out. You might need to do a day or two of research (but don’t waste weeks researching – taking action is more important than spending weeks researching). Research how long other people have taken to achieve similar goals. Research what might go wrong; what pitfalls those people had. Think about whether there’s any extenuating circumstances that might slow your progress compared to other people – or any circumstances that might speed it up.
Once you’ve figured out how long you’ll need to complete the goal, add extra time onto it to account for the unpredictable nature of this thing we call life. Generally speaking, I like to add 20% extra time just to be safe. (Remember, you’re allowed to complete your goal early – in fact, it feels really bloody good to do so.)
I personally like to set big goals that will take 6-12 months to achieve, but you can pick shorter or slightly longer goals if you like. I wouldn’t go too far over 12 months; that’s usually too far into the future that it’s hard to stay motivated and enthusiastic for that long. If you have a goal that’ll take over a year to complete, just break it down into a shorter goal. eg if your goal is to lose 50kg, break it down to: “I will lose 25kg in 30 weeks.”
Your mindset with your main 1 or 2 goals needs to be: I will do whatever it takes to succeed. This will usually mean becoming absolutely obsessed with it. Spend every spare second you have obsessing about it, focusing on it. For example, if your goal is to lose 25kg in 30 weeks:
- Every time you have some spare time, read through every fat-loss and exercise site/forum you can find.
- Listen to fat-loss podcasts/audiobooks on the way to work.
- During your lunch break at work, read every article on AWorkoutRoutine.
- When you finish work, go for a 30 minute walk – even if you’re tired.
- After dinner, spend the evening learning about calorie-counting, about macros and protein and carbs and fat, etc.
- Before you go to bed, post on a fat-loss forum to keep yourself accountable.
- Then go to bed and dream about losing fat.
- Wake up tomorrow and repeat the obsession.
Sidenote: You can still work on your other smaller goals – they’ll just be extra tasks you do when you have some free time. You’ll be making small amounts of progress towards them, so it’s not like you’re completely neglecting them or ignoring them; they’re just not your absolute main mission right now. You won’t be obsessed with them like you will with your main 1 or 2 goals.
Obsessing about your goals is the best way to get shit done and live an awesome life. Forget all the nonsense people spout about “moderation”. That’s normie-talk. Normies have no fucking clue how good it feels to wake up every day and go for what you truly want in life. They have no idea how good it feels to be taking baby steps towards their goals every day. Normies have no clue what it means to feel alive.
When you set goals and start working towards them, you’ll wake up each day with a purpose, knowing you’re on a mission, knowing you get to have absolutely anything you want – as long as you’re willing to work for it. You’ll know you’re working towards things you truly care about.
Without a doubt, the reason I’ve been successful with all my big goals is because I’ve always become obsessed with them. I think about them 16 hours a day, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, and every spare second in between. It’s my unwavering obsession which has lead to my success.
You will have to make some sacrifices along the way – you’ll have to give up some of your vices. You’ll have to say no to certain things. You’ll have to put your goals first and prioritise them, and sometimes that’ll mean saying no to things like going `clubbing on a Friday night and getting completely drunk. Sometimes you’ll have to be the nerd who goes home at 10pm to get an early night, so he’s fresh for the gym the next morning.
You’ll also have to give up your complacency – no more coming home from work each day and playing video games for 4 hours before going to bed. No more lazing around on the couch all weekend watching Netflix. No more wasting all your money on throwaway stuff you don’t really need. To some degree, you’ll have to grow up and start being responsible – and you’ll definitely have to start taking yourself seriously.
I never said success was easy; only that it’s inevitable if you’re willing to work for it. If it was easy, everybody would be successful. Big dreams require big sacrifices.
2.6 – And then Set a Couple of Smaller, Easier Mini-Goals
Once you’ve set your main 1 or 2 goals and have chosen realistic deadlines (if they’re not realistic, go back and change them now), you can add an extra couple of small goals if you want to. I call these “mini-goals”.
Let me make this really clear: Your mini-goals must absolutely NOT interfere with your main 1 or 2 goals. They can’t be big things like losing 15kg or talking to 200 girls or starting a business. They have to be super small, super easy things like, “I’ll spring clean my kitchen” or “I’ll update my resume” or “I’ll go to 2 meetups“. You want them to be so stupidly easy you’re almost guaranteed to do them.
And when setting the deadline for your mini-goals, give yourself plenty of time to do them; don’t pressure yourself with a short deadline. Because remember, your main 1 or 2 goals need to take priority above all else. You don’t want to pile on extra stress from your mini-goals. They’re supposed to be nice little “bonuses” that only take a couple days to complete. The idea is you work on them whenever you have a spare hour or so here and there.
Make sure it’s only a couple of mini-goals at once; don’t go overboard. 3 mini-goals at the most (on top of your 1 or 2 main goals). I like to use these mini-goals as a great way to finally complete stuff I’ve been procrastinating for ages and putting off. Here’s some of the mini-goals I’ve set in the past:
- Cleaning out the fridge, washing all the racks, making it look brand new. Deadline: 2 weeks.
- Sending 10 people a copy of my resume and seeing if anyone is hiring. Deadline: 2 months.
- Add 5kg to my deadlift. Deadline: 2 months.
- Taking 3 new photos for my online dating accounts. Deadline: 6 weeks.
- Attending 5 new meetups. Deadline: 3 months.
- Reading a book from start to finish. Deadline: 1 month.
- Listening to 5 self-help podcasts. Deadline: 2 months.
- Doing 10 pullups in a row. Deadline: 3 months.
- Sell my old books. Deadline: 3 months.
- Buy 2 new outfits. Deadline: 4 weeks.
As you can see, those mini-goals were really easy so they didn’t get in the way of my main 2 goals. I gave myself really long deadlines – sometimes as much as a few months, even though most of them only took a few hours to complete. And that’s the point. They’re supposed to be really easy mini-goals you work on in the background, while focusing your attention on your main 1 or 2 goals.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. It’s better to take on too little, and finish all your goals early. Then, you can just immediately set some new goals. There’s no punishment for finishing all your goals early, but there’s some very huge negatives to missing your deadlines.
You want your mini-goals to be automatic victories to get you into the habit of setting a goal, setting a deadline, doing a tiny bit each day to work towards it, then hitting your goal on or before your deadline. You want success to become a habit; something you always achieve. Setting easy mini-goals with long deadlines guarantees that.
2.7 – Write Your Goals Somewhere You’ll See Them Every Day (Calendar Reminders)
It’s important you display your goals (and their deadlines) somewhere prominent – somewhere you’ll see them every day (or even better, multiple times a day).
- Some people like to write their goals on a big whiteboard in their living room.
- Other people write them as sticky notes on their bathroom mirror.
- I stick my goals on my phone desktop (as a widget), so they’re right in my face every single time I open up my phone.
I use the phone widget app called Countdown Widget to display the number of days left on each goal:
I also add my goals to my Google Calendar, and I add reminders to go off when the deadlines are getting close. I like to set multiple reminders for my big important goals (the 1 or 2 main goals):
– 3 weeks before the deadline.
– 2 weeks before the deadline.
– 1 week before the deadline.
– 2 days before the deadline.
Whatever method(s) you go with, make sure your goals are always on your mind – you want to be obsessing about them every single day. Particularly your 1 or 2 main goals.
Chapter 3 – Achieving Your Goals
3.1 – Take Baby Steps Towards Your Goal Each Day
This is a core concept I repeat over and over again on my main KillYourInnerLoser site – to be successful, you only need to take a few small steps every single day. All you need to focus on is, “Am I a tiny bit ahead of where I was yesterday?” You don’t need to be amazing, you don’t need to take giant leaps (though, those are great if you can) – just aim to take one tiny step forward each day. Those tiny little steps add up over time and compound into success.
This is exactly how I’ve achieved all of my goals – literally just taking tiny little baby steps forward each day. Some of those steps are so pathetically small, they seem almost insignificant. But trust me, they add up. We’re aiming for consistent, steady progress.
If you have some bad days or lazy days, that’s fine – just pick it up again tomorrow.
You’ve got this.
3.2 – Don’t Ever Quit
In all my years of working on my own goals, and helping my girlfriend and friends and coaching clients reach theirs, I’ve come to the conclusion there’s only one thing you need to do to be successful:
Don’t. Ever. Quit.
That’s it – that’s the secret to success. Nothing else matters; just never quit. Never give up, never stop pushing forward, and even on your absolute worst days when life kicks your fucking ass, just keep hanging in there. Hold on for dear life and weather the storm. Don’t quit.
Because if you just hold on, if you keep going and never quit, you will eventually be successful. Even if it takes you some insane amount of time like 10 years (don’t worry, it won’t), you will get there eventually. If you ran a marathon and all you could do was crawl, after 24 hours you would eventually crawl across the finish line and guess what? You’d have successfully finished a marathon. When you finally achieve the goal you’ve been dreaming of for months/years, do you really think you’re going to give a shit how long it took?
That consistent crawl is the key to success. Take at least 1 baby step towards your goal, every day.
3.3 – Cheats for When You Lack Discipline/Willpower
I’ve already written an in-depth guide on what to do if you don’t have a lot of discipline or willpower:
The key thing to note is: Contrary to what you may think about me, I don’t have a lot of discipline or willpower. I’ve just found a whole bunch of “cheats” that let me get around the problem and “cheat” my way to victory, without requiring any willpower or any discipline. Yep, I’m a cheating scumbag.
I’ll quote one of the cheats from the full article here:
You can also “cheat” by making your habits so pathetically easy you can’t help but do them. If you want to go to the gym, instead of saying, “I have to go to the gym and do my full workout”, you make it so easy you can’t help but do it. “I only have to walk to the gym. As long as I step foot in the gym, I’m successful. I’m literally allowed to walk into the gym and then immediately walk out – as long as I go to the fucking gym.”
You’ll find by lowering your goal to “I’ll literally just step 1 foot into the gym”, you will always go to the gym. That’s so pathetically small you will never skip it. On your absolute worst days – eg a day where you have a really bad flu or something – you’ll drag your sorry ass to the gym, put one foot inside, and then turn around and go home. Congrats! You were still successful – you stuck to your goal.
I know that seems very weak – after all, how the hell does stepping 1 foot into the gym actually help you get a killer body? Because it’s building a habit. If your absolute worst day is “I still went to the gym” – isn’t that better than “I sat at home being lazy”? It means the millisecond you feel better, you’ll go to the gym and crush your workout – because you’ve already built a habit of going to the gym.
And you’ll find on many “bad” days, if you can just drag your butt to the gym, often you’ll get there and think, “Ok, I didn’t want to come to this stupid gym but I’m here now. Maybe I’ll just do some lazy bicep curls or something then go home.” You’ll start doing your curls and you’ll realise, “This feels ok, actually. Maybe I’ll do a bit of bench pressing too.” You’ll do that, and before you know it, you’ll end up “accidentally” doing most of your workout. You’ll go home, feeling like a fucking boss – it started out as a shitty day, and you turned it into a pretty damn successful day – just because you stepped foot in the gym.
If you didn’t have that pathetically-small goal of “I will just step 1 foot into the gym”, there’s no way you would have gone to the gym. It would have taken too much willpower – willpower you didn’t have, because you were having a shit day. Having a super easy, pathetically-small goal ensures you will always be successful – even on your bad days.
This is the concept behind the book Mini Habits – you set such a tiny task that your success is basically guaranteed each day. Over time you’ll build up a habit of always actually working on your goals (even just a tiny bit – baby steps).
Read the rest of the article for more tricks and ways to get around a lack of discipline/low willpower:
3.4 – At the End of Each Day, Take a Look Back
At the end of each evening, have a quick look back at your day (you only need to spend a couple minutes doing this.) What were your successes? What could you have done better? What have you learned?
Was it overall a day where you moved forward, or did you overall move backwards? Think over all the good things you did to move towards your goals, then think of all the things that moved you further away from them. Was it more of a productive day, or more like a less-productive day?
Eg if you ate junk food twice in the day and spent $40 total, that might be considered a step back for you in terms of building up your money/savings, and your health/fitness. But if you also hit the gym and crushed your workout, and got a phone number off a cute girl, that’s a massive success. You’d probably say the day was pretty awesome overall, and you just need to practice buying less junk food (eg by cooking at home) tomorrow. The day wasn’t perfect, but overall you moved forward.
On some days, you’ll look back and it’ll be an overall negative day. Maybe you just sat around procrastinating, not working on the goals you want to be working on. Maybe you gave in to self-medication, playing hours and hours and hours of video games with nothing to really show for it. And let’s say no matter how hard you try, you can’t think of a single positive thing you did to move forward today.
Don’t stress! No matter how bad the day has been, you can still save it. If you’re having a bad day and you’ve done nothing, you still have time to fix it. Even if you only do the tiniest, most insignificant thing possible – eg you do 1 pushup, or work on your business for 5 minutes, or message 1 girl on an online dating app, or do 5 bicep curls – that’s way better than nothing. It’s still a success. Doing something – even something pathetically small – is better than doing nothing at all.
Do SOMETHING. Anything. Just do something.
Hell, even just planning out how you’ll do better tomorrow is a success. Sometimes we need to have crappy days in order to learn from them. A “bad” day can still be a good day if you tell yourself, “Ok, well at least I’ve learned what not to do. I won’t repeat today. Tomorrow will be better.”
You don’t have to have mind-blowingly good days each day. As long as you go forward a little bit, that’s awesome. Yes, some days you’ll do such a tiny amount that it’ll be almost embarrassing – but it’s still a tiny step forward.
30 tiny steps forward adds up to something decent.
90 tiny steps forward adds up to quite a lot.
180 tiny steps forward is even more.
365 tiny steps and you’ve done something very substantial.
I like to look back over my day at 8pm each night. I have a reminder on my phone that pops up each night:
I like doing it at 8pm because if I’m having a bad day, there’s still plenty of time to save it before I go to bed. (Feel free to set your reminder even earlier in the night if you want to.)
I’ve had so many “bad” days that I saved in the evening just by doing something small. Sometimes the day was so horrible all I could manage was to tell myself, “Ok. This was a bad day. At least I’ve learned a lot – I will do my best to not have another day like this. I’ll make tomorrow better.”
And 99.99% of the time, tomorrow does end up being better – because I told myself it would.
3.5 – Accountability Partners
You may find it helpful to have an accountability partner (or a few of them) – I certainly do. This can be a buddy, or a girl/guy you’re dating, or other people on a self-improvement forum like mine.
I use my girlfriend as my main accountability partner, and also people on my forums. Every single night, my girlfriend and I send a text to each other just before bed, with a list of reasons why today was successful. (We try not to focus too much on any failures/negativity). We also write a list of things we will do tomorrow to make it a successful day too. This keeps us both accountable and kicking ass with our respective missions.
3.6 – How to Deal with Bad Days
It’s inevitable you’re going to have days that don’t go so great. Days where you’re lazy, days where you don’t get anything done, and days when you take 2 steps backwards. On those days, it’s normal to feel frustrated. That’s fine, in fact it’s good – it can be amazing motivation. But turn that frustration into a positive pep talk for yourself, rather than being a complete asshole to yourself.
Don’t say negative things like, “I was lazy today and didn’t hit the gym. I’m such a lazy piece of shit, I’m a failure. I’ll never reach my goals.”
Instead you need to be positive and give yourself a pep-talk: “I was lazy today and didn’t hit the gym. Come on, I’m better than this, I know I am. This is bullshit; I’ve gotta do better than this. Tomorrow I’m gonna go to the gym and absolutely kill it, and make up for today. I know I can do better than this.”
Notice the second example is still angry, and still frustrated – I’m not saying you need to pretend everything is all wonderful and rosy. If you have a lazy day, yes, get fucking angry at yourself. You were lazy, you should have done better. But turn that anger and frustration into a positive pep talk: “Today sucked, but I will work harder tomorrow and make up for my shitty effort today. I can do better.“
Another trick you can use at the end of a bad day is to say to yourself, “I have to sort of pretend today doesn’t exist; just erase it from my memory and start tomorrow fresh. Forget about today. Tomorrow will be awesome.” As I said to one of my coaching clients recently, every day you get to start over; every day is a fresh start.
A bad day is not a failure, and it is not an excuse for you to beat yourself over the head. A bad day just means you have lots of room to grow, and you’ll have a chance to kick some fucking ass tomorrow. Remember, you get unlimited tries – you don’t have to be perfect at working towards your goals, especially not at the start. You just need to make gradual progress over time, even if you fail a million times along the way.
Failure is very much part of life, and you will fail plenty of times whilst learning to implement new concepts like The Slight Edge. Failure is growth, failure is learning; be grateful for your failures because they make you a smarter, more resilient and more experienced human being.
Working on your goals is supposed to be fun, so don’t be a dick to yourself. Build yourself up; don’t beat yourself down.
3.7 – Be a Best Friend to Yourself
But if you still have a bad day, if you still can’t save it and the day’s a bit of a write-off; that’s ok. In that case, think about how you’d treat your best friend if he had a lazy/bad day. You wouldn’t berate him or tell him he’s pathetic or a pussy or a failure, would you? That’d be evil. No, you’d put your arm around him, tell him, “Don’t stress, pick yourself up and work on your goals tomorrow. You got this.” You’d push him to keep going; you’d be a best friend to him.
You need to do the same with yourself; be your own best friend. Imagine the pep talk you’d give your friend, and then give yourself the exact same pep talk. Tell yourself, “Come on, you can make up for it tomorrow. You got this.” And then do something (healthy) to make yourself feel a little better – cook a nice steak, reach out to a friend, post on a self-improvement forum so you get some support, watch a funny movie to cheer yourself up. Do something nice for yourself – just like you’d do something nice for your mate if he was bummed out.
Be kind to yourself.
3.8 – Are My Daily Habits Actually Helping Me?
Ask yourself: Are my daily habits actually moving me towards my goals, or are they leading me away from them? Are my daily habits just distractions and time-wasting activities?
People often get caught up in daily habits that they think are helping them get closer to their goal, but when they take a step back, they realise, “Holy crap… this habit wasn’t helping me at all. I’ve just been spinning my wheels.”
Example: you might start a daily habit like, “I will walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes a day”. At the start that’s an awesome, helpful habit – it gets you energised, it’s motivating to you, and it gets you thinking about fat loss. The habit is serving a purpose.
But maybe after a few months that 10 minutes of walking is no longer really doing much. You’re certainly not burning many calories from walking for 10 minutes; it’s not contributing much to your fat loss. And by this point you’re not finding it inspires you or fills you with the motivation it did at the start. It’s no longer as exciting and useful as it was before. Furthermore, your life has gotten a lot busier now – and this 10 minutes of walking is really just taking up time you don’t really have (especially when you factor in the 30 minutes it takes you to drive to and from the gym). It seems like this daily habit is helping you (after all, on the surface level “walk for 10 minutes a day” seems like a good habit). But you really analyse it, and come to the conclusion it’s no longer helping you.
When this happens – when you realise a daily habit is no longer serving you – it’s time to switch it up. Maybe you change it to, “I’ll sprint for 10 minutes a day.” That burns a lot more calories, gives you a lot more energy, and it’s motivating again. Or maybe you change it to, “I’ll skip the 10 minutes of walking which will save me a lot of time. I’ll instead drop my calories by 200 cals per day.” Now you’re losing more weight and saving time.
I usually take a step back every month or so and look at some of my daily habits. I ask myself, “Is this getting me closer to my goal, or am I just doing this habit for the sake of doing it?”
Habits can be helpful, but they can also just distract you and make you think you’re making progress when you’re really just doing busywork. The Slight Edge is more interested in you actually achieving your goals – rather than it just appearing like you’re working on them.
There has to be a bigger goal behind each habit; a reason you’re doing it. Don’t do habits just to do habits; you’re not a mindless hamster just going through the motions.
Sometimes you’ll analyse a habit and realise you were just doing it because someone told you to, or because you thought you had to. “I will eat breakfast each morning” is a good example. Lots of people have that habit, because everyone tells them they “must” eat breakfast every morning. But why? Is it helping you with your goal? Have you ever tried not eating breakfast, and seeing if it helps or hinders you?
For some people, they’ll skip breakfast a few times, and feel absolutely shitty. Ok good – now you have a goal behind your daily habit. “I’ll eat breakfast each morning, because otherwise I feel shitty.” Some people – like me – skip breakfast and actually feel better – my energy is better, and I then have more calories available to eat later in the day, so I get to have a nice big dinner. (This is called intermittent fasting, and I absolutely love it). So for people like me, just blindly following the habit of “I must eat breakfast every day because my mum told me to” isn’t a good daily habit to keep doing. It’s moving me away from my goals; not towards them.
Obviously I’m not saying you should neurotically over-analyse every single thing you’re doing as you go about your day. I don’t want you to turn yourself into a paranoid mess: “Oh my God, should I be talking to my mates for an hour each day or is that a waste of time? Is brushing my teeth hindering me from my goals? Should I not bother putting socks on before I put my shoes on?”
But every now and then, keep an open mind and ask yourself if some of your habits could be done a little better.
3.9 – If Your Deadline is Looming (You’re Running Out of Time)
If you’re getting into the final month or final few weeks before your deadline is due, remember what I said: Do whatever it takes to reach your goal on time.
Even if it feels like you’re already doing everything you can, trust me: you’re not. There’s always more you could do. You can always push a little harder, research if there’s something you’re missing, ask friends for help, ask for help on my forums, or step things up to the next gear.
Especially with your 1 or 2 main goals – you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goal by the deadline you’ve set. The only reason I’ve been successful with everything I’ve done is because I told myself failure was not an option. That stubborn refusal to miss the deadline forced me to do anything and everything I could to complete the mission. I dropped my ego and was willing to do the things other people weren’t, and to reach out to others and ask for help if I needed it.
Example: I was a few days out from one of my fat loss goals, and I still had 1kg to lose. So I went absolutely nuts – I took a day off work, and walked for 15 hours each day (I’m not exaggerating). From the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, I was walking – taking walks outside, walking up and down the stairs in my apartment building, pacing back and forth in my apartment. I also dropped my calories really low (about 800cals) for the last 3 days. And guess what? I reached my goal on time.
I also had a goal to pay off a bunch of my debt by a certain date. 1 month before it was due, I was behind schedule. So I asked for a bunch of overtime at work (I literally asked other coworkers if I could have some of their shifts; some of them said yes). I also sold a bunch of old things around the house I no longer needed. I drastically reduced how much food I ate; I survived on cheap rice and nothing else, so my grocery bills were only $10 a week. And guess what? I reached my goal on time.
Final example: I had a goal to deadlift 170kg by a certain date. With only 1 month left, I felt I wasn’t going to make it. So I paid my weightlifting coach for a bunch of extra sessions (he’s pretty damn expensive), and bought myself a tonne of extra food and just stuffed my face every day – I stopped caring if I gained a bit of extra fat, because reaching my deadlift goal was my number 1 obsession. I aimed to have the most perfect sleep each night (I did everything listed in my sleep artile), and started forcing myself to have a nap as soon as I got home from every gym session to aid recovery. I stopped seeing my mates for those last 4 weeks, so I could focus on the gym + eating + napping. And guess what? I reached my goal on time.
Don’t make excuses. Don’t give up. Don’t say, “I won’t make my goal on time.” If you’ve left it til the last minute (which I do 90% of the time….), grow a pair of balls (or flaps, if you’re a woman) and do whatever the hell it takes to reach your goal on time.
Failure is a choice. So is success.
3.10 – When you Hit Your Goals
When you hit your goal, take the time to give yourself a reward. You have to give yourself a massive pat on the back, celebrate with something awesome, and celebrate your accomplishments. The more you celebrate the victories, the more motivated you’ll be to keep going and start on the next goal.
Simply telling yourself, “I did a good job” is not reward enough. You need an actual reward; particularly when you achieve one of your big goals. Some examples:
- Go out for a celebratory drink with your mates and share your latest achievement with them.
- Post about it on my forums and get the pat on the back you deserve.
- Go grab a nice steak at a fancy restaurant.
- Buy yourself something you’ve been saving up for.
- Go sit in a quiet park somewhere and really soak in how good it feels to have accomplished this goal.
- Give yourself a day off where you just indulge – eg spend the entire day just playing video games as a reward.
- Take a few days off and get away – eg go on a roadtrip somewhere new and exciting.
It’s important you start thinking about these rewards before you start working towards your goal. That way you can use the promise of a future reward as motivation to kick some ass with your goals. The future rewards will serve as intrinsic motivation, keeping you working towards those goals even on your bad/lazy days.
When I accomplish one of the small, mini-goals, I’ll usually give myself a night off and eat some fancy food, celebrate with my girlfriend or a mate, and give myself a pat on the back. Then I’ll immediately set a new mini-goal to start working on.
When I accomplish one of the really big goals, I usually like to take a few days off before setting the next big goal. (I tend to keep my days off to less than a week; otherwise I find I get lazy and it’s hard to start the next goal). I’ll use the days off to go on a roadtrip, or do some meditating, or just get outside and explore my local area and chill out a bit. I make sure I spend a lot of time giving myself a pat on the back for achieving my goal. After a few days I’m super recharged and ready to crush my next big project.
I’ll also use that free time to think about the goal I’m going to work on next. I ask myself the question I wrote above: “What do I want?”
As I mentioned earlier, I have a giant bucketlist of all the things I’d like to eventually have in my life. When I finish one of my big goals, I go through this big bucketlist and pick whichever thing excites me the most from that list. If it’s a really huge goal I’ll break it down into a smaller “stepping-stone goal”, and then I get started.
Remember, this whole process of self-improvement is supposed to be really bloody fun. Achieving your goals is supposed to make you feel amazing. Take some time to reflect back on what you just did – even if it was just one of the smaller goals. You said you were going to do something, you set a deadline, and then you made it happen. You’re starting to teach yourself that when you say you’ll do something, you’ll do it.
I also like to give myself rewards like going out for dinner, or grabbing a beer with my mates and telling them about my latest goal (especially the big ones). Tell as many people as you know – share your success. If you don’t have anyone to share it with, write a comment below and I’ll throw a heap of praise on you 😉 Or come join the forums and post there.
Keep doing that – keep succeeding at your goals, even if you have a failure or two along the way. As you build up more and more successes, you’ll start to know you’re someone who can achieve whatever he sets out to achieve.
On a smaller timescale, I also give myself little rewards at the end of each productive day – just a small reward for a hard day’s work. At the start of each day, I decide what I’ll accomplish today – and what my reward will be for getting there. eg I might decide, “Today I want to publish 1 article. If I do that, I get to cook a nice steak and lounge around and watch YouTube for a couple hours tonight before bed.”
3.11 – Example Goals I’ve Achieved
I’ll cover 2 recent goals I’ve set and achieved; one of them a big (main) goal, and one of them a mini-goal.
Big goal: Writing a Massive In-Depth Series
Over on my main site (KillYourInnerLoser.com) I wanted to write a massive 5-part series that I knew would end up being longer than most novels. I procrastinated it for months, then finally decided, “Ok. I’ll set it as a Slight Edge goal so I’m forced to do it.”
Deadline: I took a guess at how many words I thought the entire series would be, and guessed around 80,000 words (it ended up being much more than that). Based on how long previous articles had taken me to write (usually 3 days for a 3,000 word article including editing & proofreading. That works out to be 1,000 words a day), I estimated how long I thought 80,000 words would take me. At 1,000 words a day, 80,000 words should have taken me roughly 80 days, or 11.4 weeks. I added on a few extra weeks as a safety net incase anything went wrong.
Final deadline: 15 weeks.
I put the goal on my phone desktop, added it to my Google Calendar (with reminders), and got to work.
For the first few weeks, I didn’t do much – mostly just procrastinated and worked on other goals. At about the 6 week mark I started writing a bit; 30 minutes here, an hour there, and kept slowly chipping away at the massive 80,000 word target I’d given myself.
By week 10 it was coming together, but I’d only written about 30,000 words, and I only had 5 weeks left. At this point I knew I had to stop screwing around, so I went hardcore and did whatever it took. I started writing on my commute to work every morning, I wrote on my phone during my lunch break, I wrote on the way home from work. I’d write for a few hours at night, and I’d spend all weekend writing, giving myself a bit of time off on Sunday evening to relax.
Week 12 I was starting to have thoughts like: “What if I can’t finish this on time…?” Failure wasn’t an option, so I went full-throttle. I got up early before work and wrote for 2hrs, on top of all the writing I was already doing. I started taking longer lunchbreaks at work (my workmates didn’t care), and wrote for an hour instead of 30 minutes. I even snuck into the toilets at work sometimes and sat in there for 30 minutes, writing on my phone (I had a pretty relaxed job where nobody checked up on me). I started saying no to hanging out with my mates, instead banging away at my laptop, getting it done.
By week 14 it was paying off; I’d now written over 100,000 words (well over my initial 80,000 estimate – this is why I tell you to allow extra time for unforeseen circumstances). I kept up that crazy pace, writing for probably 7hrs a day (on top of a full-time job). By the final week, all I really had to do was put the finishing touches on it.
I ended up writing 130,000 words in total, and I finished it a couple days before the deadline was due. Awesome.
Why was I successful? Because I did whatever it took. By week 10 I started realising I was a bit behind schedule, so I started hustling. By week 12 I was starting to worry I wouldn’t finish on time, so I really cranked it up several notches, becoming totally obsessed. You can do the same with your goals – if you’re starting to fall behind, or if you feel like you’re not going to make it on time, crank things into overdrive and do whatever it takes to make your deadline.
Crunch time is where the magic happens.
Mini-Goal: 5000 Views in a Day on my Main Site
At the time I gave myself this particular goal (around March 2020), my daily views over on my main site were on average about 600 daily views. I set myself the goal of getting 5000 views in 1 day.
Deadline: I had absolutely no idea how the hell I was ever going to get 5,000 views in a day; nor did I have any clue how long it’d take to get there. Also factoring in the fact this was a mini-goal (not a big, main goal), I gave myself a really long deadline. I actually gave myself 6 months to get there – plenty of time so it wouldn’t interfere with my 2 main goals. (In hindsight, that was a ridiculously long deadline; but remember what I said. It’s better to reach your goal early than to miss the deadline).
Final deadline: 6 months.
I put the goal on my phone desktop, added it to my Google Calendar (with reminders), and got to work.
At first, I kinda neglected this mini-goal a lot. It was, after all, a mini-goal; I didn’t want it to get in the way of my main 2 goals. But after about a month, I knew I was procrastinating it too much, so I decided to sit down and do some research. I Googled things like, “How to promote site”, “How to share site”, “How to increase views on blog”, etc.
After about 3 days of research, I found a bunch of forums and subreddits of a similar interest group to my own site. I went on there and started helping people, posting useful comments and doing my best to share my knowledge. Occasionally I’d include links to articles I’d written, where appropriate. Traffic started picking up, and by April the average daily views had risen to about 800.
I kept this up whenever I had free time, making sure it wasn’t interfering with my main 2 goals. Traffic on my site was gradually rising the more I helped other people, as you’d expect. I eventually had a thought: “Instead of just commenting on other people’s posts, I should post my own articles on Reddit.”
I started easy, dipping my toes in the water with a couple of my shorter, more-easily-digestible articles. They did pretty well, and one day I had over 2,000 views in a day. “Holy crap”, I thought – “This is it! If I want 5,000 views, all I have to do is keep posting my articles.”
I neglected the goal a bit for the rest of the month, focusing on my main 2 goals. But on May 9th I decided to post one of my most heartfelt articles from my main site (an article titled “My Transformation”), and it was a hit:
Goal achieved! And much earlier than planned – about 3 months early. Awesome.
Where to Buy the Book
Buy The Slight Edge on Amazon
(affiliate link – I earn a small commission if you buy).
The Slight Edge has a similar philosophy to two other books I’ve covered in the past – Mini Habits and Jordan Peterson’s 7 Rules to Life. Grab them too from Amazon (both those links are affiliate links); they both have a very worthwhile take on building habits and taking baby steps towards your goals each day:
(Again, those are both affiliate links.)
A lot of my goal-setting methods also pull from principles I’ve learned through Good Looking Loser – particularly the idea of “going all-in with your goals”:
Any questions? Ask me in the comments below.