My list for getting places, achieving things and living in a way that makes me joyful happy.

This post is about how to actually, practically invest in yourself.

How to take the steps today that will enable you to be a better person, a better creative, a better developer or a better business owner tomorrow.

And how to do amazing things with your life.

It involves 4 steps. They aren’t even complicated

This is my framework for investing in myself. I follow it every day, and I tell anyone who asks for my advice that they should follow it, too.

It’s not a difficult system at all, but it can have a huge impact.

I created this because I know too many people who live their lives without direction. They finish school, get a job and then spend 60 or 70 years falling with style.

This is my list for investing in myself. I follow it every day, and my advice is that you should follow it, too.

It’s not a difficult system at all, but it can have a huge effect.

I created this because I know too many people who live their lives without having a direction. They finish school, find a job and spend 50 or 60 years falling with style.

They take on new skills as they come to them.

They go through whenever learning happens to them and they slowly develop into whatever person their life has made them.

Without a doubt, it’s fun to live life as it comes. Structure isn’t everything, achievement isn’t everything.

For many people, trying to follow any kind of guidelines like the ones in this post will be a disaster. It just won’t work for them, and that’s fine.

And then there are individuals like me. The people who need that structure or we freeze.

We fail, we struggle, we lose direction. 

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • A note taking app or notebook
  • A spreadsheet app
  • A browser for research
  • A calendar or calendar app

investing

1. Make A List Of Things

Define where you want to get to, regardless of where that is.

I have a list of 30 things I’m going to do in my life. It’s not a bucket list, it’s not things I wish I could do. It’s things I really am going to do in my life.

It took me 4 hours to put that list together, and it covers everything I’ve wanted to accomplish or experience since I can remember.

Now if I can only accomplish 5 of those things per year, in 25 years’ time I will have worked my way through the entire list. Since I came up with the framework in 2015, I’ve ticked off a few — I’m engaged to my amazing partner, I took up cycling, I’m consulting on business consistently, I wrote the introduction to an incredible book and it’s been great.

If I keep this up, I will have lived a life that I will be proud of. I will have lived a life with a strong, clearly defined direction.

So make your own list.

Divide the list into these 3 categories:

  • Things that I need skills for
  • Things that I can do immediately
  • Things that I need time for

Now you have to live with it. You have to keep it with you for the next 2 weeks. Add to it, cut it down, analyse it.

Start to hate it, start to love it more.

Just slowly become accustomed to it and work out if it really is a reflection of who you are and what you want.

Ask someone close to you if they’ll read it.

When you have a list that you’re happy with, you can jump onto the second step.

It’s what drives you and motivates you throughout the day. Read it constantly and you can never forget anything from it.

2. Create a skill chart

This is how you’ll level up and track your experience.

If you want to get through a list of 100 things that you’re going to do in your life, you need to level up.

You need to work through the Skills category on your master list. Go through it and assign the skills you’ll need to each item.

Be realistic, don’t kid yourself. You have to honestly put down exactly what skills you are lacking or currently possess but are weak.

These are the skills you’ll need to learn in order to accomplish this part of your list.

Take those skills and build a spreadsheet. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, so don’t waste your time on the design.

All you need is 4 columns.

  1. A column that lists the skills you have to learn
  2. A column for Research
  3. A column for Action
  4. A column for Progress

In the Action column, you’re going to be listing every step you can think of towards learning that skill. Think of it as the pre-requisites.

Finding a course, signing up for it, taking on small projects, reading books  and do whatever it takes. Research this. It doesn’t always have to be hard to put it together.

For almost anything you want to learn there will be a lot of step by step guides online.

In the progress column, put down an estimate of how near you are to completing each of those steps. Again, be brutally honest. I won’t know if you’re kidding yourself, but sooner or later — you will.

This spreadsheet is now your guide to gaining those skills. Read it every week. Decide which steps to work on every week. Work on them. Update your progress. Repeat. It’s that simple.

3. Take immediate action

By ticking off a few things from the list immediately, you’ll store rocket fuel for later.

We’re in the “things you can do immediately” category now from your master list. These are the things that you could actually do right now.

There’s nothing stopping you, but for some reason you’ve never actually done them.

You need to make a plan. There’s no spreadsheet for this part.

Just grab a sheet of paper or a text file or an Evernote and write down which of those immediate things you’re going to accomplish over the next month.

Remember, they might be small. They might not take much effort at all.

Some of the immediate tasks from my list include “start reading The Infinite Jest” and “get a tattoo.” Extremely manageable, highly doable.

Why do you want to have some instant actions? Because it’s going to motivate you.

It will enable you to tick some things off your master list right away, and doing that is going to make the whole project a lot less intimidating. That’s a good thing.

Once you’ve mapped out your immediate tasks, set some dates. Put them in your calendar. Get them happening. You’ll be able to mark them off your calendar and make room for more items from the other categories on your master list.

Over time, your immediate action list and calendar is going to turn into your project forecasting and scheduling.

4. The things you need time for

Deciding that the things you want to do are worth your seconds, minutes and hours.

For me, that includes finishing a novel. Doing a podcast.

Those things that I absolutely have the skills and the abilities and the resources to do — but I just haven’t got around to yet.

If you didn’t accomplish anything on your list, and you looked back on your life, these are the things you’d feel the worst about.

Putting aside time isn’t an easy thing to do anymore. We all have so much shit going on that it feels damn near impossible to squeeze a little more time out of our days.

But I promise you, it’s possible. If you were pretty ruthless, you’d be able to find things you’re doing every day that are wasting the time you could use to do something incredible.

I realised a few weeks ago that my morning routine was spending 45–60 minutes on my iPhone before getting in the shower. Just reading random articles online.

I turned that into my book time. Now I spend roughly half an hour every morning working on my books before I start the day.

It’s awesome.

The best way to work out where you’re wasting time doing things you don’t even enjoy is to spend a day taking detailed notes about what you’re doing.Put these in your notebook or app, for an entire week of days. Examine what stands out and what you could be swapping for better ways to spend your time.

Once a month, do it again. Take stock of your habits and the way you spend your time. Notice if anything is changing, and why. This is your evolving time log.

I’m not saying you have to be productive all day every day. I watch Netflix and read  books and play games as much as anyone else.

What I am saying is that everyone does some pretty pointless crap that they don’t even enjoy but has turned into a habit.

They do it regularly. And if they cut it out, they’d have time to do something they really give a shit about.

So you have your master list, the 100 things that you’re going to do. You have four categories. You have a spreadsheet that lays out all the skills you need and how you’ll learn them. You have a guide to the way you’re spending your time, in detail. And you have a calendar full of things that you’re about to do, immediately.

Turn it all into your daily routine. Start every morning by reading through your master list. Reading your skills chart and working out whether or not you’ve progressed. Evaluating whether you’ve marked your immediate tasks from your calendar. Checking your time log.

I read my list every morning when I wake up. This is how I get things done.

When you make it a part of your morning routine, you’ll never lose sight of anything. You won’t let your own list fall by the way side.