How much of your life runs on autopilot? How often do you do things without really thinking about why you do them?
If you take a moment to analyze everything you did in the last 24 hours, how much of it had a purpose that you chose?
Every action you take has a purpose, but you usually aren’t intentional about choosing that purpose. Instead of thinking first about what you want to accomplish and then figuring out how to best go about it, you tend to just act.
You follow what society and those around you make you think that you should do without thinking why or what the best way might be.
Take relaxation for example. You scroll through social media with the intention to get a break, but do you ever feel relaxed after seeing what other people are doing or arguing about online?
Instead of wasting that time inefficiently, you could be a lot more productive by simply asking yourself two questions:
- What do I hope to gain by what I’m doing right now?
- What’s the most efficient way to accomplish what I’m trying to do?
In the rest of this article, I’ll explore these two questions in detail and explain why asking them is the best way to become more efficient.
1. What Do You Hope to Gain By What You’re Doing Right Now?
So much of life runs on autopilot, but that’s not always a bad thing. Your brain has a built-in mechanism for conserving energy and becoming more efficient, and it’s called habits.
Every time you do something for the first time, your brain is working hard to try to figure it out and compute all the necessary components of it. But with repetition, your brain consolidates actions into habits so that it can run those processes more efficiently.
The problem is, your brain doesn’t distinguish between good habits and bad ones. Or habits that are the most efficient from the ones that are less efficient.
What happens, then, is that you get stuck doing the same things over and over again, thinking you’re being as efficient as possible, when really there’s a better way.
You start the process of discovering how to become more efficient by asking yourself what your end goal is with each thing you do. Try it with the four areas, or pillars, of life:
- Spiritually, ask yourself why you’re meditating or praying. Or why you’re using the specific app or method of meditation or prayer. What are you trying to accomplish?
- Socially, examine why you hang out with certain people or what the happiest version of your social life looks like. What’s the ideal situation for you with regards to friends and family?
- Financially, take a deep look at why you’re in the job you’re in. Do you want to become financially free? Are you hoping to someday get to be a leader at work?
- Physically, ask yourself why you do the exercises, eat the foods, and follow the sleep patterns you do. Are you trying to get to a certain weight or body fat percentage? Would you like to one day run a marathon or participate in another athletic event?
The main question for each of these is this: What do you want your life to be like, spiritually, socially, financially, and physically, at the end of all that you do each day, week, month, and year?
Just this step alone will open your eyes to ways you can become more efficient that you’d never considered before. You might already be thinking ahead and getting to the next step, which is to maximize your efficiency by finding out if there’s a better way to reach your end goal than what you’re doing right now.
2. What’s the Most Efficient Way?
Before you ask this question of each of your end goals, determine whether or not what you’re doing right now is the most efficient. If you’re already doing all that you can, then there’s no need to worry about changing the process. If you’re happy with where certain aspects of your life are, then stick to what you’re doing already.
But if you find that you’ve been struggling to reach your faith, family, financial, and fitness goals for a while now, you need to ask yourself what the most efficient way is.
Let’s look at some examples of this, again in the context of the four main areas of life:
- Spiritually, say you have a goal to find more peace. What mediation, prayer, or other spiritual practice will get you there most efficiently?
- Socially, imagine you’d like to one day have a family of your own. What actions can you take right now, such as social events that you can go to, that will get you there?
- Financially, if you wanted to reach financial freedom, what would get you there the fastest? Do you need to quit your job, go into debt to start a business, or hire a coach?
- Physically, let’s say that you’d like to run a marathon. What running, eating, and rest habits do you need to get there?
Once you discover that there is a more efficient way, you need to first quit thinking that the way you’re doing it right now is going to work.
That might take a little more effort than you initially realize because these actions have become habits. But remember that these things take time. Give yourself the time you need to win by planning to stay consistent for at least a year or two.
And take some time every day to work on your mindset so you can stop believing the old ways will work and start focusing on the new ones that will.
Once you’ve given up on your current ways, start implementing the new processes that will make you become more efficient.
You may need to go through these questions multiple times to figure out what the most efficient way is. Try a new way for a year or so and if it’s not working, ask yourself the two questions again to reach the next level of efficiency.
There’s one more question you can add to this process that will really put it into perspective:
If you had a gun to your head and someone was telling you that you had to reach your goals in the next six months, what would you do differently than what you’re doing right now?
I love this question because it really puts into perspective how we sometimes think we need to take forever to accomplish our goals when the reality is, by becoming more efficient, we can reach them a lot faster than we imagine.
And remember, if you struggle to reach your goals within a certain time period, there’s no such thing as a goal that’s too high, you just might need to adjust your timeline.
If you want to become more efficient, there are only two simple questions you need to ask yourself:
- What’s my end goal in each area of my life?
- What’s the most efficient way to get to that end goal?
Try this again and again with your spiritual, social, financial, and fitness goals, and you’ll begin reaching your dreams much faster than you ever imagined possible.