How to tame the swarm

You will always want to attempt more than you can achieve.

Unfortunately pulling yourself in too many directions is the single quickest way to ensure failure. And putting your all into a single direction is the quickest way to ensure success.

So try this:

  1. Aim higher. If your ambitions are small, they’re easily overpowered. Big goals are paradoxically more likely to stick because they’re worth ignoring smaller goals for.
  2. Limit to three. Keep up to three lists for different parts of your life – say ‘work’, ‘home’ and ‘weekend’. Each list only gets one objective. If you absolutely must have more, just know that each addition quarters the odds of that area succeeding.
  3. Put it off. Anything which isn’t top priority now can be done optimally later. Mark Zuckerberg was smart to start Facebook first and then learn Chinese. Your goals are the same, you’re just usually too attached to them in the moment to notice.
  4. Beware your idle wants. Watch out for ‘other things that you also want’. They will feel comforting, harmless, and automatic. They are deadly. One new direction will quarter what you can accomplish.
  5. Line up your bumblebees. You may not be able to create the next Google, cure cancer and land on Mars at the same time. But you might be able to simultaneously become, say, a successful and athletic CEO. Success and fitness can be complementary goals: a healthier person can be a better leader. They’re like two bumblebees, pushing in the same direction, and stronger for it.
Beachball 4

The few people who have achieved the most staggering, world changing things with their lives didn’t do so by dividing their intentions. They aimed high, got their bumblebees in line, and said no to all the other opportunities that life presented them.

If you want the power to follow your dreams, you have to say no to all the alternatives. It’s not easy, but if that’s for you, at least you know the price.

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