Power Of 100!
IF YOU HAD A PLAN Preparing to Live Life on Purpose from Here on Out
Unless you spent an extended amount of time with me personally, it’s unlikely that you’d ever discover how much physical pain I live with every single day.
I don’t tweet about it much.
I try very hard to never allow it to slow me down or get in the way of living an adventurous life.
I don’t show it to strangers or coworkers if I can help it, but I’m always hurting.
When I was fifteen, I was the victim of a brutal assault that caused me to miss nearly two years of high school recovering from three spinal surgeries and fractures to my face and ribs. I’ve had more surgeries since then to deal with the injuries and pain. The car crash didn’t make it better. I’ve grown to accept that my pain is like that friend we all need who tells us the cold, hard truth about ourselves.
Sometimes my pain is so debilitating that I can hardly walk or get out of bed. It normally subsides after some extended rest, but one time a few years ago it just didn’t go away.
A day turned into a week.
A week turned into a month.
I was worried in the worst way.
I was the primary breadwinner for my family. I had tried to get disability insurance several times, but providers wouldn’t touch me because of my injuries. The doctors were suggesting that I have a multilevel spinal fusion, which could require a full year of recovery. The pain was so severe that two different doctors suggested I go ahead and have a drug pump permanently installed on my back to help me cope. Mortified at these options, I decided to get radical.
I hired a personal trainer—a man named Andrew Johnston who had kicked cancer’s ass—and I started training to climb a mountain. At first glance, my wacky idea probably seemed to make no sense whatsoever. But every study I read explained that half of the people who had the surgery my doctors were recommending still lived in severe pain afterward anyway. Physical therapy hadn’t really worked for me in the past, but I knew setting an audacious and halfway-frightening physical goal would be just the motivation I’d need to give overcoming my pain a real shot. I decided that if I was going to have surgery or wear a drug pump, it was going to be after I pushed myself to the limit and someone had to carry me to the ER on a stretcher. A few people thought my plan was the dumbest thing ever, but I knew that it was what I needed to get me going.
Sometimes you have to plan something audacious to change things. Nobody else is going to craft a plan for your life with as
much care and precision and boldness as you can. Surgeons plan for surgery! They don’t necessarily advise their patients to go to mountaineering school, but I knew that if I didn’t work a plan for myself, somebody else was going to make plans for me that might take me down a dangerous path far away from my dreams and passions.
I like to say it this way: not having plans really just means you have plans that suck! If you don’t plan out your life, someone else will, and you will never be the centerpiece of anybody else’s plans.
Are you hearing what I’m saying?
I can tell you right now with 100 percent certainty that you will only achieve two or three life goals by accident until the day you die. Life just doesn’t work like that.
Nobody frees slaves by accident.
Nobody climbs Mount Everest by accident.
Nobody gets six-pack abs by accident.
Nobody starts a successful business by accident.
Nobody has an accidentally blissful marriage.
If you are going to go from where you are right now to the extremely successful, high-performing version of yourself that I want you to see in your mind, it’s going to take a well-crafted strategic plan, a set of actionable instructions: it’s going to take a road map.
Hide your toes for a second. I’m about to step on them. Just know that I say what I say . . . because I’ve lived it.
Consciously or subconsciously, not having a hard-core life plan gives you the emotional space and permission to never really succeed
at home, on the job, with your health, with finances, or anywhere else. If you don’t really have a plan and basically choose to live out the plans of your boss or of societal norms, you give yourself a false sense of never really failing, because you didn’t have a plan to work from in the first place. Yes, it’s technically true that you can’t lose a game that you don’t play, but you sure as heck won’t win it either.
Most people in the world are winging it right now—with no credible life plan or road map or sense of direction to guide them. The dean of science fiction writers, Robert A. Heinlein, said it like this: “In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”
If you are reading this right now, I can only assume that you no longer want to be enslaved by the mundane daily trivia the world keeps throwing your way. You are tired of the rat race. You are fully and completely aware that you are better than your past, but you are smart enough to know that if you don’t change how you do things you will keep getting the same old results year after year. Trust me, I want this for you, but I can’t want you to change enough for it to actually happen. You are going to have to will yourself into a new way of doing life.
The first step to get in the game is to accept that you are going to have to take the time and energy to craft the most robust and effective strategic life plan you’ve ever seen. There is no way around it.
Would you want an architect to build your dream home with no blueprints?
Would you want a teacher to spend eight hours a day with your children without well-prepared lessons?
Would you want a financial planner who manages your savings and investments to just wing it?
Would you want to eat a cake your kids baked without a recipe?
Would you want a government with no earthly idea how to navigate partisan bickering? (That’s a joke!) Of course not!
You and I expect professionals to be trained and to have detailed, step-by-step plans on how to do what we are paying them to do, but we often put more energy and effort into planning what we are going to wear than how we are actually going to live. Our grocery lists are planned better than most of our lives!
Mediocrity is counting on you to keep this bad habit. Failure is pleading with you to live life without a strategy. Bad credit and poverty thrive on poor planning and pray you won’t change.
This is about to get deep. . . .
The muscles of your body, mind, heart, and soul are so used to your not having a credible strategy for life that they are actually going to work against you in the form of self-sabotage in the weeks ahead. The plan we are about to create and that you are about to live is going to be such a radical departure from how you’ve always done things that everything in you is going to want to give up.
You think I’m lying, don’t you?
You are going to start hearing voices telling you that this is a waste of time and that the way you’ve always done things has gotten you this far, so why change now?
In fact, I demand that you make a decision, right here and now, to reject the “normal” way of living life: flying by the seat of your pants, putting the cart before the horse. You are better than that, and the goals of your heart deserve better than that.
A few of you are even going to attempt to make a religious justification for not putting a life plan in place. Ever heard the phrase “God laughs at our plans”? That’s not actually in the Bible! Back when I was a pastor, I knew a preacher who got up one Sunday morning and proceeded to quote a lyric from the beautiful song you may remember Luther Vandross singing, “A House Is Not a Home.” There’s nothing wrong with quoting a good song every now and then, but this guy said, “Like it says in the Bible, ‘A house is not a home . . .’ ” Everybody started snickering, because the dude quoted an R & B star and attributed it to God!
The Bible, and most sacred texts for that matter, is full of examples of women and men who executed amazing plans. I’m not here to say that your plans won’t shift and morph and grow organically over time, but don’t blame God or angels or religion for your lack of planning.
I’d like for you to take a second right now to think of four people, past or present, whom you truly admire. They can be family members or international leaders we’ve all heard of before—they just need to mean something to you personally.
Here’s my list:
• Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
• My mother, Kay King (no relation to Dr. King)
• Nineteenth-century abolitionist Harriet Tubman
• The founder of Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey
Who are your four people? (Don’t skip past this! Think of four people you admire right now!)
I could come up with twenty more off the top of my head, but I want you to get just a few in your mind for now. Have you noticed that those we tend to admire most are women and men who lived out the plans of their hearts?
The March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott were not accidents but strategically planned parts of a broad civil rights movement. Yes, Dr. King was an enormously gifted speaker, but lots of people have gifts. We know who Dr. King is because he worked his plan—even when it hurt, even when it was inconvenient, even when I am sure he had severe doubts about his safety and wondered if any of his plans were really worth pursuing. But Dr. King worked his plan to such perfection that Time magazine, forty-five years after his death, published a cover story declaring that he should be thought of as a “Founding Father” of the United States of America. Where would we be today if Dr. King had chosen comfort over courage? I don’t even want to know.
My dear mother, who recently retired after forty-plus years of making lightbulbs at the Sylvania lamp plant in Versailles, Kentucky, had a plan for raising two sons who knew the value of hard work, so she didn’t just tell us about it but lived it right in front of us, day in and day out. I remember seeing her come home drenched in sweat after each brutally hard day of making lightbulbs. It was far from glorious and most often harsh, but she had dreams and plans and they required her to push through her frustrations. (Now, Mom, I want to help you craft goals that don’t involve Jason and me, okay?)
Can you imagine the level of audacious planning that went into the hidden network of homes and hiding places we know as the Underground Railroad during the days of American slavery? Harriet Tubman, risking her own capture, ventured back into slaveholding states, often in the dark of night, to help free men, women, and children from forced bondage. Simply being a free black woman in the age of slavery was hard enough all by itself, but Harriet Tubman had plans that were bigger than her comfort.
Jack Dorsey could have simply been satisfied with the fact that he helped take Twitter from a seed of an idea to a platform used all over the planet, but he didn’t stop at that. With nothing more than a napkin sketch of an iPhone with something resembling an acorn stuck in the headphone jack, Jack Dorsey took his basic idea of a mobile payment solution powered by a smartphone and made plans for how to actually execute the brilliantly simple idea he called Square—now one of the top payment-processing companies in the world, used by businesses everywhere.
The fact of the matter is that Dr. King, my dear mother, Harriet Tubman, and Jack Dorsey all faced outrageous odds before they ever got started. They aren’t amazing because they lived lives without obstacles or mistakes. They are amazing because they had hopes and dreams and plans that they valued much more than any hurdle thrown their way. I know enough about each of them to say that very few people would have criticized them if they had refused to take some of the huge risks that were required of them to fight for their beliefs.
Had Harriet Tubman freed just one person from bondage, it would have been amazing, but that was not her plan! Had Dr. King
stopped the Montgomery Bus Boycott after 100 or 200 days, people would have understood this decision, but he and others painfully carried it on for 381 days! They were jailed, beaten, humiliated, and even fired from their jobs until the laws changed, giving everyone equal access to public transportation. At your lowest moment in life, having a plan in place will give you the hope, the light at the end of the tunnel, the anchor, the foundation to push through the doubt and despair you will surely face.
Maybe you feel like good opportunities never come your way. Maybe you feel like you have bad luck.
Maybe you feel like you are too old or too broke or too afraid to even set out on the journey we are about to begin.
I’m calling you out on all of that.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, declares that society has greatly overestimated the value of a silver spoon and that being thought of as a superpower in the world (while it may have a few benefits) has many disadvantages that can open opportunities for regular people who learn to see being small and nimble as an asset rather than a liability.
So no more excuses.
More than anything else, when you finish reading and working The Power of 100! you are going to come out on the other side of the journey with the best life plan you’ve ever developed.
In 2006, I started to sense that I had hit a glass ceiling at my job. The entire work environment there was incredibly toxic. The best employees were grossly underpaid and underappreciated. Unfortunately, many of them had put themselves in the precarious
position of not having skills that applied to the real world outside of this company, and consequently, I saw employees (many of whom had worked there for ten to fifteen years) stay on board in spite of their personal and professional misery because they just didn’t know what else to do.
I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.
I knew that I had to have skills and a network that stretched beyond my current place of employment. I started a blog and decided to throw all of my extra energy into social media. Twitter had just launched, and back then it was a place for about a million or so geeks and nerds to gather. Almost eight years later, I had started two social media companies, sold them both, and raised millions of dollars for good causes all over the world through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Social media has almost exclusively paid my bills for the past three years. What began as a hunch when I felt my back was against the wall became my hobby and eventually my career!
But before I ever made a living in the world of social media, I had a plan.
Many more excuses are bound to creep in over the next few crucial days and weeks as we reset and begin the new you. I want you to draw a line in the sand now, committing to the belief that while money, fear, and time may be legitimate issues as we begin, flopping at life because of the lack of an actionable plan is no longer acceptable for you.
We’re killing that excuse here and now.
Together, we are going to craft a bulletproof life plan that leapfrogs
past every issue and excuse that has held you back all these years.
The truth is, with a plan:
You could have a PhD in ten years.
You could be a doctor in seven years.
You could be a lawyer in three.
You could be a millionaire and purchase your home with cash.
You could be so fit that you run the Ironman triathlon in two years.
You could be physically rescuing men and women from modern-day slavery next year.
By the end of this year, you could double the quality of life for your family and take vacations they’ll never forget.
You could open up a profitable business in six months.
I’m going to say this a lot, but I can pretty much guarantee that none of the things I just named are going to happen by accident. If you work today to carefully craft and pursue your 100 life goals, the entire trajectory of your life will change in powerful ways.
You are going to put yourself on a path of awareness and preparation unlike anything you’ve experienced. It’s going to make you more ready than you’ve ever been to actually achieve your goals. That awareness and preparation that you gain is going to open up a floodgate of opportunities for you.
I’ve heard Oprah (and many other people) say it like this: “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” We are actually blind to opportunities when we are not fully prepared to seize them. It’s not that new opportunities are going to be created for you all the time
(although this will happen more than ever), but you are finally going to have the right mind-set to recognize them.
When you are prepared to see opportunities, your “luck” changes drastically. You become a factory of good luck, and people start to wonder why good things always happen to you. It’s all in how you see things, how you mix the right ingredients for luck and success.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are going to live to be eighty-five years old. At the age I am writing this I would have fifty years of life yet to live. In that time, I could write fifty more books. I could travel to every country in the world. I could learn to fly a plane. I could become a world-class chef. In essence, if I chose to take a long view of my life and put a hard-core plan in place, I could do anything in the world I wanted to do. The flip side of this is also true. How insanely sad would it be to live to be eighty-five years old and not accomplish any of your life goals, having dibble-dabbled your life away? I refuse to let that be my story, and I don’t want it to be yours either. Let’s make the transition from letting the whims of the world lead us, day in and day out, to living a deliberate, purpose-filled life.
Before we get started, though, we need to straighten out two critical ideas.
First, a plan is not a list.
Lists aren’t terrible and I guess they are better than nothing, but you can’t guide your life from a list. When we are done crafting your life goals, we will have a real strategy for how and when you’ll pursue each of them and how achieving certain goals will unlock the skills and resources and network to achieve many more of the
goals you’ve crafted. Each of your life goals may have lists of action items and notes under it, but a list in and of itself is not a plan.
Here’s what I mean. You might say, “I’m hungry.”
Being hungry is not a plan—it’s a feeling.
So maybe your next thought is, I need to go to the grocery store.
While that idea has a little more clarity than “I’m hungry,” it’s still not a plan.
Here’s a plan: “This morning from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. I am going to make a grocery list of what we need. Then I’m going to go grocery shopping this afternoon and spend $300 on groceries from that list at Costco and Whole Foods. I’ll eat lunch at Whole Foods before I shop and have a budget of $15 for my lunch.”
Much more specific than a general idea, a plan gets you where you need to go and takes care of you once you get there.
Second, goals can be fueled by dreams, but they aren’t the same thing. A goal is a dream with a timeline and action steps.
When we craft your plan of action and your 100 life goals, we’re not just going to jot down thoughts or pie-in-the-sky ideas. We may start off that way, but each goal is going to require a foundation of ingredients and action items that give it a real sense of direction. For instance, when we dig into your financial goals, “I need to make more money” will not be an acceptable goal. If you made $5 a week more, that would technically mean you made more money, but that’s not strong enough to be a life goal. A great starting point for a financial goal would be, “I will completely pay off my credit card debt in twenty-four months” or “I will increase my income
by $15,000 a year in less than thirty-six months.” With those goals, we have a starting point, a timeline, and a destination. They are measurable, and with those points of information, we will be able to really dig in together to determine what has to happen to make those goals a reality.
At the end of the day, I need you to begin making the mental shift to living life on purpose, with a plan and a true, well-thought-out sense of direction. Built into your plan will be plenty of space for spontaneity, course corrections, and the inevitable fact that you will change your mind regularly! However, I need you to be clear on this—your full, unwavering acceptance of the necessity of a strong action plan is the foundation of the work that lies ahead. The plan that we are going to create together will get you through painful seasons of doubt. When your money is funny, your schedule is overbooked, and you feel like throwing in the towel, this plan will be an essential tool to keep your heart and mind from giving up.
It’s a little like how my first mountaineering experience went. It was brutal. It kicked my butt, but I loved it. I learned more in those five days about mountaineering and about myself than I ever expected. I gave everything I had to that mountain, and in the end my plan to avoid spinal fusion worked! Not only did I learn the essential skills I needed to climb virtually any mountain in the world, the fitness and core strength I gained from my time on Mount Baker has allowed me to be surgery-free now for nearly fifteen years.
I still have good days and bad days like the next person, but I’m living out my dreams and achieving more and more of my own
life goals right now because I have a plan in place. As I reflect back over the past fifteen years, I can tell you that when I was flying by the seat of my pants, I often found myself broke and disappointed. When I had a strategic plan and a real sense of direction, I went farther and higher than I ever imagined.