Focus on Goals, Not Distractions

One of the biggest challenges I face in being productive each day is the dizzying array of distractions that exist on the computer or on my phone. We live in interesting times given just how many distractions are seconds from our eyeballs at any point.

This can easily eat into your productivity if you aren’t careful. Even though I actively work on avoiding these distractions, they can still sap at least an hour from my day.

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It’s All About That Process

If you want to do something, anything well, you need to put effort into it. This much, you probably heard from your parents time and time again.

But figuring out how to exert the effort needed, well, that’s a harder one. And unless your parents were psychologists, they probably didn’t have a great answer for you. Of course plenty of time, the effort (and progress) come easily. But it obviously becomes easy to struggle when you hit a rough spot no matter how excited you are about something. We’ve all hit those roadblocks on any long-term goal.

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Make Your Goals Into Weekly Ones!

Throughout building a goal tracking platform, one question among many was “what timeframe(s) should we support?” Our initial bias was to include all of them: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and custom. This seemed like a good idea at the start: people obviously want to do some things every day and other things are New Year Resolutions.

While it is true that the timeframes can differ, we’ve discovered a clear winner when it comes to what timeframe gives you the best chance of sticking with a goal: weekly!

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How To Make Your Side Hustle a Reality

You want to be an entrepreneur. You have an idea, but not enough time. How do you make it go from zero to reality?

Look around, and you can always find hot tips about how to take your idea for a supplemental income from zero to reality in a few quick steps. We’re going to share a dirty little secret: that stuff is click-bait – that’s not how the world works.

Yes, many of those pieces contain some good info. But they are also designed to sell you an idea you really want to buy. Namely: that a few quick secret shortcuts will have you raking in the dough and living on the beach in no time.

Here’s our alternative hypothesis: steady and consistent progress is the best path to achieving success with your side hustle. That’s not a sexy answer, but it’s the most likely way for you to succeed.

Develop a System

The key to consistent progress anywhere is to have a system in place and making your side-hustle happen is no exception. Consider one of the following plans that one of our users shared with us:

  • Plan work for the week (done weekly, reminder on Sunday at 7pm)
  • Do a 2-hour deep dive on key issue (goal: do once per week)
  • Reach out to 5 sales/partnership leads each week
  • Do at least 5 hours of development work each week
  • Ensure work inbox is clear (done daily, reminder at 10pm each day)
starting a side business in WeAchieve - an example from one entrepreneur
WeAchieve quickly shows you via a star ranking which steps you are “on track” for (5 stars) vs. which you are behind on (less stars). This gives a quick view of where to focus your attention!

With this setup, the user needs to track 2 numeric metrics (# of leads reached, and hours of dev work) along with checking off three habits (planning the week, clearing the inbox, and doing a deep dive).

Of note – one good think our entrepreneur is doing here is focusing on the inputs (tactics, as we’d call them). While tracking sales and customer growth is great (and can be done in WeAchieve as well), the inputs are immediately controllable and impossible to create excuses for. It’s easy to rationalize why you didn’t get any new customers in a given week, but there’s no excuse for not reaching out to five of them.

Why Tracking Matters

Tracking this may seem like unnecessary overhead. Why not just do all this is a common refrain you’ll hear. But the reality is that humans are pretty good at cheating. Without cold, hard, numbers to track your progress, it’ll be easy to excuse missing the deep dive one week because you are grabbing a couple beers with a friend. It’ll be easy to excuse waiting a few days to reply to an e-mail because you are tired from a long day of work. And so on. While you may start with good intentions, there’s an inevitable draw toward distraction.

life gets hectic, and charts will fly at you when this happens as an entrepreneur

All that to say: you need a system and it needs to be quantified. Without that, you don’t stand a chance of holding yourself accountable in the long-run. With it, you have a way to be honest with yourself about exactly how much you do or don’t do each week. Even with the system in place, you will still encounter challenges: fatigue, conflicts, and complacency can still eek in. But you’ll have tools to combat it rather than accepting your fate.

Naturally, the above plan is illustrative. For your business or side hustle there’s going to be different actions to take. One benefit of WeAchieve is that it is infinitely flexible. Not only can it handle whatever you want to track now, it’s easy to deprecate some old habits and add new ones, with a simple 0 to 5 rating that constantly gives you a one-number summary for how well you are adhering to your plan.

train tracks representing staying on track to meet your goal as an entrepreneur

Our goal with WeAchieve is to make it a lot easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to make their products a reality. We can’t do that for them, but we can provide the tools needed to drive projects forward.

Are you starting a product? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know, we’d love to feature you in an upcoming post!

The Most Important Skill to Handle Complexity

Deep understanding of complexity is needed now more than ever, and it doesn’t just show up in your head overnight.

Today’s world is complex and becoming more so. Such complexity feels inevitable, yet there’s a tinge of irony in a world like ours where much of the complexity is created through a desire to simplify. Amazon and the world of e-commerce illustrate this well. Because of their desire to get any product to any person in a day or two, a huge array of purchasing options have sprung up, enabling you to choose from hundreds of products, many of which have been created to simplify some other problem.

Today’s complexity largely comes from navigating a world of many solutions to simpler problems. Buying insurance? You can do it from your living room, but you have thirty different choices. Reading the news? It’s all in your pocket but you have hundreds of conflicting options, good luck!

Complexity and Your Wallet

complexity and your wallet

Similarly, the business world has become more complex as a way to deliver simpler solutions. Where a generalist would have sufficed in the past, highly specialized roles have become the rage. Many software engineers now specialize in particular languages and frameworks rather than learning new ones. Marketers are expected to know a whole set of tools and processes depending on the role.

But no role exemplifies this more than Data Science. Even ten years ago, the general idea with data was to hire smart people who knew some math to figure things out. Now, companies are looking for people with incredibly specific skill sets – it’s not uncommon to see job postings that, as an example, want someone who has used gradient-boosted decision trees to predict out-of-stocks. Haven’t done that before? Too bad, someone has.

Navigating Complexity: What it Means for You

navigating a maze - this is complex

But what does all this mean for anyone navigating such a world? It’s clear that the ability to understand and deconstruct such complexity – true mastery of a subject – is as valuable as ever. But deep understanding of any subject doesn’t happen by chance. Mastery requires persistence – the ability to stick with, grind through, have grit. There are many such terms all used to capture the same concept. Without a persistent pursuit of a subject, you have little chance of mastering it, let alone sticking with said subject as it continues to evolve.

Of course, persistence is hard to measure and depends on many different factors. Angela Duckworth attempted to quantify “grit” in her work on the subject and makes the case for its importance. But understanding how to develop and nurture such a skill is still deeply dependent upon one’s own situation. Indeed, it is safe to say that if there was a panacea for developing such a valuable skill, evolution would have found it by now.

What We’re Doing About It

statue representing grit and persistence

That brings us to WeAchieve. If you don’t know by now, WeAchieve is a brand new accountability engine designed to help you keep yourself focused your on long-term goals. Mastering anything is a long-term goal, and thus we are focused on figuring out how to aid that process. What we’ve built so far was done so to leverage several things that researchers agree aid in building persistence: developing a plan, setting achievable and quantifiable targets, and selectively sharing process-focused steps with select friends or family.

The current state of persistence can be understood by looking at what percent of people achieve their New Year resolutions. Most research measures this around 8%. To be sure, some part of this 92% failure rate is innately human – we can’t help but reach for the unobtainable. But we also firmly believe that the 9% success rate can be much higher. Why not 16%? Why not 32%? With 150 million Americans setting New Year resolutions each year, what would the world look like if 40 million more people were hitting the goals that matter most to them? We believe it is a much better world, and it’s the one we’re striving for.