Life is both a series of long arcs, and a series of moments.
This, I think, is the greatest challenge of leading a good life. We can only ever touch the present, but the scale of our projects, our vision, and our lives span weeks, years, and decades.
I think Gingko provides one way to make sure we can guide ourselves through the long arcs that matter to us (raising a happy family, building a revolutionary company, writing an inspiring book), while still keeping clear what we need to do now to get there.
The approach is simple, and starts with this Goal tree template.
1. For each new day, you set a Most Important Task for that day while keeping in view the goal for the week.
2. For each new week, you set a goal for that week while keeping in view the goal for the month.
3. Continue setting goals for the current time period, within the context of your higher goal.
4. Start each day by looking at your overall goal, before drilling in slowly to your goal for the year, the month, and the week, and finally for today.
5. Check off tasks, keep notes, or even do your actual work, right there next to the day’s todo list.
6. End each day by “zooming out” of your day (press left), pausing at each step to contemplate your higher goals.
This approach gives you a simple rythm to follow, and gives you four great advantages:
1. Ties your day-to-day actions to your lifelong goals. Imagine completing a task today, and knowing that you are actually one step closer to your goal for the year. This gives each day a greater link to the *meaning* you want to create in life.
2. The ability to ignore. When setting day-to-day actions, it’s easy to get into a “grind” of meaningless activity. Having your goal for the month or year just a glance away lets you give yourself permission to ignore anything that doesn’t move you towards those goals.
3. Is this really what I want? How often have you set a goal, worked hard to achieve it, and when you do, realize that it’s not what you really wanted. Having your larger goals in view means you are always conscious of them, and can change course if you find you’re heading in the wrong direction.
4. Is this really the only way to achieve this? Even if you know you are heading towards the right goal, you can still develop tunnel-vision on how best to achieve it. When we follow a certain path for a long time, we become obsessed with the path and forget to consider other solutions. Constantly seeing your larger goals allows you to ask “Is there a shortcut?”.
I find that the most difficult step in this process is not any of the workflow details, but the fact that, in the end, you need to be defining what’s truly important to you in life, and what you really want to achieve in the time you have.
In simpler terms: to lead a good life, no tools or rhythms will help if you don’t first define what “a good life” means to you.
Yes, it’s hard.
But what could be more important?