“One strategic choice eliminates a universe of other options and maps a course for the next five, ten, or even twenty years of your life. Once the big decision is made, all subsequent decisions come into better focus.” -Greg McKeown
Up until the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the British rowing team hadn’t had a very reputable string of results.
They’d finished eighth in the men’s rowing eight at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and then had another poor performance when they finished seventh at the 1998 World Championships.
By all accounts, they had been considered down and out heading into the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
However, behind the scenes they’d been changing things up; they’d started to make one decision that would remove a thousand later decisions.
Before doing pretty well anything, they’d ask themselves one simple question:
If it did, they’d do it. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t.
Their life became about ONE Thing: making the boat go faster. As a result, their performance soared, and at the 2000 Olympic Games, they won the Gold!
This article will explain how you can remove all personal conflicts and make one decision that eliminates a 1,000 later decisions so you can constantly act in alignment with your deepest goals.
Here we go.
You Need to Decide What You Want
“This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.” -Ryan Holiday
Many people right now are like a boat without a rudder; they are drifting along but just don’t quite know where they’re going to end up.
The issue with this is that you’ll often get pulled in all sorts of directions and wind up in some place you don’t even want to be.
As Anthony Moore once wrote,
“It’s very hard to say no to an opportunity if you don’t know where you’re going.”
When you don’t know where you’re going, every opportunity can seem like it’s “a must do.” Things can become urgent and important, and you end up being stretched too thin.
But when you know exactly what you want, it’s easy to say no to an opportunity. In fact, you’ll even be willing to pass up “great” or once in a lifetime opportunities because you’ll realize that they’re ultimately distractions keeping you from your goal.
As Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great,
“A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.”
So, how do you decide what you want and avoid taking wrong opportunities?
It’s really not that hard.
Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question proposed by Greg McKeown in his book, Essentialism,
“If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
Not what your friends, family or society would want you to do, but what would you do?
What is the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s Easier to Commit 100% than It Is to Commit 98%
“It’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.” -Clayton Christensen
Almost paradoxically, it’s actually easier to fully commit to something than it is to only half or 98% commit.
Why? Because unless you’re 100% committed you haven’t actually made up your mind. You’re still emotional unsure. You don’t really know what you want.
As a result, whenever a conflicting or tempting opportunity arises, you’ll have to actively decide what you’re going to do; you’ll have to rely on willpower to act in your desired ways.
And as you’ve probably learned by now; willpower doesn’t work — willpower isn’t actually enough.
Said Benjamin P. Hardy,
“If you’re serious about the changes you want to make, willpower won’t be enough. Quite the opposite. Willpower is what’s holding you back.”
No more of this willpower nonsense. No more “dabbling.” Don’t hold yourself back any longer. If you really want to change your behavior, you need to fully immerse yourself and 100% commit.
The British rowing team was able to go from 8th to 1st place over the span of four years because they decided precisely what they wanted.
They put their focus and energy into achieving one thing; making the boat go faster.
They stopped “dabbling” and decided to fully commit. They let go of their 98% commitment and became 100% committed.
If you want to achieve world-class results, it might pay to do the same thing.
What is the one thing you would do with your life right now if you could do only that one thing?
Where do you want to go?
What decision would remove a thousand later decisions?