What do you want to do vs. What do you want to have done?

There are two fundamental 'wants' that we face in the path to achievement. It it the fight between the actions of our current selves and the achievements of our future self:

  • What do I want to do?
  • What do I want to have done?

They can work against each other to cause failure and frustration. We find success in harmonising these two wants.

We put too much pressure on what we want to achieve without putting the time into understanding what we genuinely want to do with our time.

Each of our goals represent major time investments, either on a daily basis or taking real time out. The daily work to be done needs to be something we prioritise to make it happen.

We also need to relax and do things that energise ourselves and allow our brain to recharge.

I have to regularly remind myself:

I need to take care of myself and not grind myself into a million pieces to create a success I can't celebrate and that requires a lifestyle I don't want.

The right type of work

We are generally taught that the things we want to have done (achievements) will take pain and perseverance and that is where success lies. And the things we want to do are junk and bad for us.

There are two ingredients or 'levers' that result in us completing an action:

Action = Ease of doing it * Motivation

It is important to remember:

The perfect diet that is too hard to maintain ends in failure.
The imperfect diet that is easy to stick to does not fail.

So by taking it easier on ourselves we can actually be more successful in the long run. When we get in touch with how we operate we bring energy and enthusiasm to our work day in day out.

When we perform consistently that is where we reap the benefits of the compound effect.

Search for the right Challenges

I'm not saying just relax and put your feet up. You need to find the challenges that excite you that are easier relatively speaking for you. You need to try things out.

I've tried most new diets just for the curiosity to see what I like about it or not (I also enjoy the process of trying things). Then I return to my normal habits. I may have picked up something new in the process and my standard eating habit has a new baseline. In the process I've learnt more about what I don't like and can be more satisfied with what I have.

It is the same new projects and the habits we need to make them work.

You have to try them out and find what suits you. If you want to write a book there might be several ways to do it:

  • 30 mins everyday when you wake up.
  • A 4 hour session every Sunday afternoon.
  • It might be going to a cabin in the woods for a month and shutting off the world
  • Answering Quora posts on a subject each day until you've written a book worth of ideas
  • It might be co-authoring with someone else

Or it might be that you shouldn't write a book....

Motivation is about priorities not sacrifices

Surely if I want to be mega successful I have to make sacrifices. What if I want to be an olympian?

I interviewed Ben Hunt-Davis on his sacrifices to win his Olympic gold medal. He honestly told me that it wasn't a sacrifice. He was acting out of selfishness.

He wanted to train for glory more than he wanted to drink or socialise. So cutting those things out wasn't a sacrifice because he was doing what he wanted more than anything each day.

Find out what you like doing and you really want to do, then you'll pretty quickly find yourself doing it.

Making it easier

There are two ways to make things easier.

Make the direct task easier:

  • Reduce the number of steps involved in a task or break them down into smaller separate tasks
  • Make it shorter - reduce the time or quantity needed each day
  • Make it more fun
  • Do it with others

Give yourself more energy for it:

  • Sleep more
  • Have more time off
  • Reduce the number of other goals you are working on


So we need to make our tasks easier and more motivating and have time to enjoy ourselves and recharge.

If we can narrow the gap between the things we want to have done and the things we want to get up and do. Then we can go through the day to day process with flow and enjoyment. We are more likely to achieve our definition of success when we stick to it.

Desire is a contract with ourselves to be unhappy until we achieve the thing we want. So setting goals is a dangerous business for our mental health. We need to be ambitious but can risk just making ourselves a depressed permanent failure.


  1. What are the main goals I want to achieve?
    • What new habits do I need to hit these goals?
    • Which of these habits do I not have that I would enjoy?
    • Which of these habits do I not have that I could change to enjoy them?
      • Do them with friends (Gym buddy or business partner, much more likely to stay accountable and motivated)
      • Make it easier (e.g. 3km daily run instead of 10km..)
      • Add a motivating target (book a marathon event or set a release date for your book)
      • Add a reward (If I learn to play X song I'll buy myself a nicer guitar)
  2. What are my current daily habits?
    • Which habits are currently getting in my way?
      • What can I do to prevent myself doing them?
      • What can I do to enjoy them less?
    • Which habits do I enjoy that I should double down on?
  3. What goals do I need to cut?
    1. (Cut these from your desires list and be happier and less stressed)

    2. Which goals do not match habits I want to have?
    3. Which goals conflict with each other?
      • Which one is more enjoyable or more important to me?

  • I want to started several successful business
  • I want to have a bank of youtube videos on life lessons
  • I want to have eaten healthy everyday
  • I want to have a life partner with my values
  • I want to have earned a great body
  • I want to have written a book
  • I want to have woken up at 5am everyday and written a blog, gone for a run, meditated and played music
  • I want to have a good social media following
  • I want to have written an album of music I genuinely believe matches the potential of my creativity
  • I want to know what I'm doing with my life
  • I want to be content

Getting in touch with myself I would accept:

  • I'm not a 5am person - I don't need to be and can still focus on morning habits that energise me and make me happy
  • I am not giving my time to social media on a daily basis - I can schedule content and get help from someone else if I really care about achieving this goal

The things I do find myself wanting during the actual day to day and not just in the future:

I do want to run everyday - so I do it

I do want to eat healthy - so I do it

Yes life isn't easy and full of rainbows and you will have to do things that are difficult

But getting in touch with what energises and you actively want to do first is key to working out where you will maintain your energy