In life you need to be a strategist. You should use tactics, always be mindful and with a plan in mind, and willing to try new things in order to see what works best for you.
I came to that conclusion some time ago. It’s the result of all the information I’ve consumed on productivity, success habits, building a powerful mindset, and more, over the years. That includes my own experiments, my constant desire to see progress by doing things the smart way.
Little daily improvements lead to personal excellence. After all, you don’t need to try to be ahead of others. Comparison itself is pointless and only brings negative emotions. You job is to be on top of your game. And that can happen by developing good habits first, taking control of your time, and being strategic.
Now, the tactics I’m talking about here don’t need to be aggressive, the fact that you’re winning doesn’t mean someone else should be losing. It’s all about eliminating anything you do that doesn’t give you results, doing regular stuff faster, breaking big goals down to manageable action steps, tricking your mind into being productive when it doesn’t want to, saving time, working smarter rather than harder, and so on.
So let’s dive into the strategies we can implement today to take personal development to the next level and never feel stuck again:
How to Be Strategic?
1. Do your research.
That’s preparation. And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Get out there – online or in real life – and speak with people, read about anything related to your field, see what others have tried and how you can avoid their mistakes.
Once you have the information, you can make a plan. Start with the end goal in mind. Then break it down into smaller ones. Now do it again and again until you have tiny steps and can start with the first one right away.
The whole point of being strategic is to always find better ways to do stuff – in less time and for maximum productivity. That’s why you need to be open to doing things differently.
The moment you stop seeing progress, a change needs to be made. But even if you consider yourself successful, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t an even smarter way to do it. So the trials need to continue.
The goal is to always be looking for what works best for you, and eliminating anything that doesn’t bring you big wins.
That should be done at every step of the process, all the time. Brainstorming, generating ideas and just contemplating on the big picture. It engages your brain more, unleashes your creativity.
Whatever you come up with, write it down. It may be useful after some time (that’s an example of a simple strategy that works pretty well).
Everything needs to be documented. A true strategist keeps track of any area of his life he wants to improve. Here are the 7 things I’m tracking and the benefits that habit brought me.
My 3 Favorite Strategists of All Time
Here’s just another chance for me to mention some incredible people I admire:
1. Sebastian Marshall.
He describes himself this way “I’m a strategist. I figure out what is winning, and then how to get there.”
He’s famous for his super detailed tracking system. Here’s what he says about strategies:
“Grand strategy is figuring out what the goals of an organization or a solo person ought to be. Arguably, this is the hardest part of strategy, because there is no right or wrong answer. It’s subjective. And if you work on the wrong stuff, it doesn’t matter how good of a job you do at it
Most people don’t think about this very often, probably less than once a year after they’re solidly in their career. Me? I try to look at my overall large goals, dreams, and big plans at least once every week or two.
It’s difficult to do, and even the best strategists don’t get everything right. The harder and more important the problems you’re working on, the less likely your first guesses as to strategy will pay the results you think they will. Thus, you need to adapt your strategy as you get more information.
Tactics are the specific implementation of your strategy. Tactics are small-sized chunks of actions that are designed to put your strategy into action.”
2. Tim Ferriss.
If you’re familiar with his work, then you know what I’m talking about. He’s one of the original lifestyle designers and life hackers, and is all about experiments. The latest proof for that is The Tim Ferriss Experiment – a TV show where he tries something that seems impossible to learn in a week or so and masters it without ever having tried it before.
He’s a jack of all trades and with every new article, book, podcast, interview, TV show, or else he produces, he shares super powerful and yet easy tactics on how to hack every area of our lives – from building muscles, learning a foreign language (like Chinese, for example) and dancing tango (in which he set a World Record, by the way) to kickboxing (became a national champion in China) and writing a bestseller (The 4-Hour Workweek , 4-Hour Chef, 4-Hour Body). These are just some of the more attention-grabbing details from his past.
The rest of the time he masters his sleep, memory, body and mind, and is always looking for a way to become a better learner, more productive, healthy and focused.
A small part of the things he hacked during the first season of The Tim Ferriss Experiment, for instance, includes Brazilian jiu-jitsu, playing poker professionally, rally car racing, starting a business from scratch, tactical shooting, open-water swimming, and more.
And his motto is that if he can do it, we can do it too. Amazing, right?!
3. Oliver Emberton.
The third person that comes to mind when I think about strategists in the modern world is this guy. I actually wrote a whole article explaining what’s so extraordinary about him. Check it out.
My Daily Life Strategies
And here’s some of the stuff that works well for me:
1. Finding my most productive time.
That does require many trials. I still remember the time when I used to think that I’m just a night owl and that’s when I’m most creative.
But here I am at 6 every morning writing page after page, building sites, completing work tasks, and – in a nutshell – getting things done.
I’m most productive in the first part of the day. That’s why I schedule my days around it. No one is allowed to disturb me then. It’s my sacred time, when I do what I do best and see results.
2. Making money online.
I’m a full-time freelance writer now, but am constantly working on new stuff. Yes, I do self-publish books, write for others sites every now and then, get interesting offers, and try different monetization strategies on this blog. However, writing for clients is what brings the money.
But my ongoing quest to hack the digital world includes daily research and experimenting. I do enjoy it more and more and am an eager learner. That’s how I started with the basics of web design, niche site building, SEO, copywriting, and other powerful skills that everyone who works online should improve when he’s not doing the work that actually brings in the money. That’s also how I got into ecommerce, started working with marketing networks, etc.
And I know that if I want to see progress and eventually create digital businesses, I’ll need to get out of my comfort zone. Yes, it exists in the online world too.
I do feel quite comfortable writing, blogging, editing and working with high volumes of information. And these skills will always be practical. It’s what I would have been doing for free anyways.
But just like I started becoming more tech-savvy although I always said that technology wasn’t my thing, I’ll also explore new fields.
I can re-purpose content in many different ways (create infographics, courses, use SlideShare to make presentations, offer my books in audio format, etc), while using what I’ve already written.
I want to try podcasting too. Been listening to them for so long now, and feel confident when speaking. I can easily conduct podcast interviews, just talk freely when I’m abroad and sharing tips and hacks, or use content I’ve already created to share useful information in a new way. And thus reach new audiences via iTunes, for instance.
In order to scale things, I have to start paying for services, delegating work that doesn’t need to get done by me, and let experts do what I’m not good at. For that to happen, I can hire writers, VAs, designers, etc. Or just buy gigs every now and then. There are cheap ways to do this nowadays, and plenty of people waiting for tasks to work on.
That will not only get me ahead in my work, but will also help me make another mindset shift. Just like a first online sale changes the way you think (as you see things are possible and now your job is to make the second one), so does hiring your first person, getting help, working with professionals, etc.
I’m okay with basic HTML, but coding is one of the most powerful skills these days and is never useless. So that’s another direction I may be heading.
3. Starting a new behavior strategically.
When we talk about habits, checking out the best content I’ve written on the topic is worth it.
And here are all the hacks I’ve found to work best when ingraining a new behavior and trying to make it stick.
So what do you think? Is there a strategist somewhere inside you? What can you do today to improve your performance and achieve more?
Image by Marshall Matthew @Flickr
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
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