Goal setting is great.
So is picking three areas of your life to focus on.
But outside those areas and goals — what do you do with everything else?
What do you do with all the things you have to do but aren’t focused on right now?
A Quality Problem to Have
If you’re facing down the problem of “what do I do with everything else?”, some congratulations is in order.
This is a quality problem to have.
This means that you have clear goals and areas of focus for yourself, and that you know that the other parts of your life need to be maintained… somehow.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this — many people focus hard on one thing and progress in that, only to have the rest of their lives fall to pieces.
Everything in our lives outside our areas of focus need to be maintained.
This is the treadmill effect.1As described by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
There is some effort involved in keeping things “in the same place” because if we do not, they decay over time.
A simple example is our health.
If we just leave it alone… that doesn’t work.
We need food. We need exercise. We need to stop our bodies from wasting away.
The best way to handle this is with ongoing processes, which I like to call standards.
The idea is to do the bare minimum to keep the various things in our lives going.
We are not doing enough to progress those areas — just enough to keep them in a “holding pattern” of sorts.
How to Set Up Ongoing Processes
The easiest way to identify and set up ongoing processes is to use the areas of life model.
You take your areas:
And for everything else, you decide what your bare minimum standards are for those areas — to maintain your current level in that area or even allow it to drop to a minimum acceptable level.
An example would be if you aren’t focused on the social part of your life, you may say:
- Meet with friends once a month, or
- Have a meal or coffee with someone at least once a week.
You then write these down, in a standards document, and be crystal clear on what to do in each area.
Remember: You are simply maintaining the area, not trying to grow it.
Tips for Ongoing Processes
I highly, highly recommend formalising these ongoing processes as standards in your life.
You also want to keep your standards as simple as possible, so that they can run on autopilot.
Ongoing processes are not the place for complexity — you don’t want to critically think about these areas all the time, you simply want them to run.
What To Do Next
List out the areas that you aren’t focused on right now.
Decide what the bare minimum is that you need to do to maintain those areas.
Write them down as standards.
Then run them.
- As described by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
Photo by Superkitina.