The sure shot path to long-term goals – make everything a process

Over the last 4 years, I have written about 2,000 pieces on LinkedIn and Quora. And while writing may not be your thing, over your lifetime, you will surely have big goals that will require a multi-year effort. 

So how does one maintain years of consistency? 

Let me illustrate using my writing experience. I would love to pretend that writing for years has been effortless but it would be a lie. I have written on good days and bad; through creative spikes and writer’s blocks. And though I love writing, there are days when it feels very hard. 

You will face the same challenges in pursuing your multi-year goals. 

So then how does one generate this multi-year motivation surge? The short answer is – you don’t. Instead, you make everything a process. 

I repeat – make everything a process. Let me explain. 

When it comes to my writing, it has two steps:

  1. I need topics that resonate with me. 
  2. I need to carve out the time to write. 

My biggest challenge is item 1 – finding topics. 

And the way I find topics is that I don’t try to come up with topics when I sit down to write. Instead, I have a process to capture ideas, whenever they arise. More than 90% of my ideas come to me while reading. And when the ideas come, I capture them immediately using a simple Evernote-based system.

I have the Evernote app on my phone and laptop, and an Evernote web clipper Chrome extension. So whenever an idea strikes me, I grab the nearest device and add the idea to an ‘Evernote notebook.’ 

I now have hundreds of topics – some good, some ok, and some worthless. But at least I am not staring at a blank screen.

Next, I have developed a writing routine – when I start work, I write a LinkedIn post before I move on to other tasks. That way, I don’t have to think – it is all automatic. 

Without such a system, I would not have been able to write for more than a few weeks. 

This same mindset can be applied to ANY long-term goals. 

To illustrate, let us say you are a consultant and need to generate X million dollars of business every year. You can adopt two approaches:

  1. The normal approach: Keep thinking, “Who can give me X million dollars of business? Should I try this client or that client?” And you write a few emails hoping for something to click. 
  2. The process approach: Here your self-talk is as follows.
    • To get X million, I need 5 clients a year. 
    • Since I typically convert one out of 3 warm leads, I need 15 warm leads. 
    • I typically need 5 conversations to get 1 warm lead. So I need 75 conversations. 
    • If I work 40 weeks, I need two conversations each week.

In the process approach, you put all your energy into having those two conversations each week instead of worrying about X dollars in revenue.

Option 1 is like looking at a mountain peak and hoping for some easy, magical path to get there. Option 2 is like walking 100 steps each minute.

The process approach is not exciting, but it is a sure-shot one. It will get you there predictably, without drama. 

This process approach applies to everything – whether you are building a sales pipeline, growing your startup, learning a new skill, or trying to get fit. So ask yourself – what is the process that will get me to the finish line? 

And this is not just my speculation – most long-term achievers say the same thing. Seinfeld once asked George Wallace for advice on writing good jokes. Wallace said, “The way to write good jokes is to write lots of jokes.” 

So Seinfeld famously followed this process approach – he wrote every day. To motivate himself, he would mark a big red X on a large wall calendar and then maintain that streak.

Kobe Bryant’s process was to be up at 4 am and hit the gym. 

Every long-term achiever finds some process that they follow. 

I don’t know what your long-term goals are. But there will be a process that will get you there. Break down your goal into steps, translate them into a daily process, and then follow that process. 

Process trumps every shortcut. Find it out for yourself. 

Thank you for reading this. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please hit reply and share.

Rajan

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