You may know what your goal is, but it’s not enough just for you to know. Everyone needs to know!
The people in your life need to help you get closer to your goal. You need them on board completely. If the people in your life are not helping you get closer to your goal, they’re taking you away from it. This is a hard concept to accept. Is it really that black-and-white? Isn’t it okay for someone to be passive?
Think of the car from The Flintstones. The bottom of the car is open so they can pedal with their feet. The people in your life are in a Flintstones’ car with you. Even though they may not be backpedaling, if they’re sitting there and not helping you move forward, their dead weight will only slow you down!
Communicate Your Goal Every Day
You can’t afford to have people in your life who aren’t on board with your vision. For someone to help you get closer to your goal, they must know what it is. They will know your goal only if you communicate it to them. You must communicate your goal to everyone in your life every single day. Maybe that goal is getting a day job. Maybe it’s quitting your day job. Maybe it’s waking up early. Maybe it’s writing. Whatever it is, you have to get the people in your life on board.
Communication is both the sending and receipt of a message. It’s your job as the communicator to ensure the receiving party hears your message. Responsibility lies with you. If you say something once and later find out the other person didn’t hear it, that’s your fault. A good communicator confirms they were heard.
The only way you’ll know if you have communicated effectively is when you hear your message out of the other person’s mouth. Having someone repeat what you’ve said may seem silly, but it’s vital. Anything short of getting verbal confirmation means you’re making an assumption, and assumptions are the mother of all mistakes.
It’s not enough for you to communicate your goal once. It’s not enough for you to communicate your goal twice. It’s not enough for you to communicate until the people in your life say, “I know! I’ve heard you say it before.” It’s enough only when you hear your goal come out of their mouth.
If you haven’t communicated your goal today, you haven’t communicated it. It’s the same reason you can’t tell your spouse “I love you” on your wedding day and follow it with “I’ll let you know if anything changes.” You have to repeat it. You have to reinforce it daily. Every day is a fresh start.
Don’t Blame Others for Your Inability to Communicate
What is your goal? Everyone in your life needs to know what it is. That also means you need to know what it is. If they don’t know what your goal is, they can’t help you get closer, but if you don’t know what your goal is, you aren’t going to accomplish anything.
If you’re broadcasting and no one is picking up your signal, that’s not communication. Communication occurs when you say something and someone hears you. A lot of people project their message, and when the other person doesn’t hear them, they blame that person: “No, you didn’t hear me right,” or, “You must have forgotten,” or, “I told you so,” or, “I already told you.” All of these are forms of blame. You’re making excuses for your own failure to communicate.
Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility for communication. Don’t blame the other person for not remembering; take responsibility for not confirming. Take responsibility for not reconfirming, or reiterating, or repeating, or reinforcing. Always take responsibility. If you want to get people on board with your cause (and you must), blaming them is not an effective way to do so.
Most people aren’t listeners—they’re wait-to-talkers. You might think you’re communicating, but the other person is just waiting for your mouth to stop moving so they can speak. The two of you can then say you’ve had a conversation. This is all too common. Getting people to repeat things back to you is the only way you can know with certainty you’ve been heard.
Now, there’s a small chance that even when you have someone repeat something back, they still might not remember. Is this their fault? No. You must always take responsibility. If they don’t remember even when you have them repeat it back, you must implement a new process and frame it for their benefit:
“Hey, last week when we talked, I let you know that I was going to be writing my course outline today between seven and eight tonight. I’m seeing on the calendar that you’ve scheduled a dinner with our friends during the same time. I realize I didn’t do a good job of reminding you as it got closer to the day. Would it be okay with you if, from now on, I put my writing sessions on our shared calendar? I’d hate for us to double-book again and miss out on a dinner with our friends.”
See how you’ve taken responsibility and diffused the situation? There’s an emphasis on positivity, politeness, future-focus, and framing the suggestion for their benefit (i.e., not missing out on future dinners).
To Be Invested in, You Must Invest in Others
So far, we’ve discussed how to get people on board with your goal, but this is a two-way street. It’s not all about you. If you want to get people on board and you want them to support you, you also have to invest in them. This takes time.
There’s a difference between passive endorsement and active investment. If you’re not investing in helping someone further their goals, you’re not going to get them to further your own. You might get their permission, but that’s not at all the same as getting them on board. You need them 100 percent on board, fully committed, supportive, and saying, “Yes, I believe in you. I want to support you, enable you, and help you.”
This applies to everyone in your life, but it is especially important when it comes to your significant other and the people closest to you. This could be a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member. Let’s consider the example of a spouse.
You must get on the same page as your spouse. If you and your spouse are not on the same page, stop everything else you’re doing. Every ounce of energy needs to be dedicated to getting them on board. Do not start pulling away and going off in your own direction. Do not proceed until you are 100 percent on the same page. You cannot pull in opposite directions. You cannot push forward and expect that one day you’ll be successful and then they’ll understand. They won’t see it. It doesn’t matter if you ultimately succeed. Your spouse will remember the turmoil only if you push forward alone without being on the same page first.
Before you do anything substantial—quitting your job, starting a business, finding your passion, waking up early—you must get your spouse on board. You need their full support. You need them to be fully behind you on this. That is your top priority.
If you have a terrible journey, it doesn’t matter how great the destination is. Your significant other is going to remember only the journey, and the whole experience will be what they internalize.
How do you get your spouse on board when they’re scared? What do you do when they’re unsure? How do you handle the fear of not knowing how things are going to go? It all comes down to communication. Communicate, communicate, communicate, and then—just to change it up—communicate some more. You need to have a conversation with your spouse about what you want to accomplish, why it’s important to you, and what your plan is.
Earn the Right to an Honest Conversation
To have such a conversation, you need time. You have to set aside time, and time is expensive. It’s easy for you to set aside time for a conversation about your own goal because it’s important to you. But if your spouse is not already on board, what’s important to you may not be important to them.
To get the time you need to have this conversation, you’re going to invest in them first. It starts with giving. You must give of yourself to the other person. You must invest in them first to be able to have a conversation about something that’s important to you. If you do not invest first but choose to force this conversation, no amount of listening will actually occur. The other party will simply wait to talk.
Maybe you’re with someone who already likes the same things you do and is always eager to talk about such subjects. Let’s say you want to build a business and your spouse is a business owner as well. That’s going to be an easy conversation to have. However, in most cases, what you enjoy differs from what the person you love enjoys. After all, opposites attract. In this case, your conversation will be more difficult. A lot of communication may be required to smooth things out.
You have to earn the right to have the conversation you’re going to have. This conversation is probably not one they want to have. They’d likely rather be working on their projects, watching their favorite show, or hanging out with their friends (or you).
It’s not about having this conversation as soon as possible. It’s about having this conversation in the best way possible. To get the time you need with their full focus—no phones, kids, distractions, or notifications—you have to earn that time. You can’t just say, “I want this conversation. I want you to take time out of your day and what’s important to you and have you talk to me about what’s important to me.”
The conversation has a chance of going smoothly only if you first in invest in them in a way that makes them feel loved. Make them feel cared for and appreciated; then have your conversation. Before you ask anything of them, you have to invest in your spouse. If you don’t know how to do that, ask him or her:
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What are your dreams and desires?
- What would you like to spend time with me doing?
Then do those things first. Start with giving. Invest in them, support them, encourage them, and they will do the same for you.
Persist Despite Possible Tension
These conversations can be quite sensitive. You may talk about life goals, what you want to pursue, a significant change in your career, where you live, what your sleep schedule is like, or how you’ll spend your time. Money discussions often come into play as well. If you quit your job and start your own thing, how are you going to make money? There are a lot of sensitive issues wrapped up in this kind of conversation. Depending on the relationship, the person, and their background, you may find that these conversations can get tense.
Don’t end the conversation because of tension. Don’t end it on a bad note. However long it takes, whether you lose sleep or you have to pay the babysitter more, make sure you both feel like you’re more on the same page as a result of the conversation. If so, then it wasn’t a loss—even if you fought or one of you said something regretful. Don’t end the conversation until you’re both in a better place than when you started. Make this a policy.
Don’t expect them to be on board after one conversation. This may require dozens of conversations. If you’re thinking, “I can barely sit down for thirty minutes with my spouse once a week!” then do the math. If it takes dozens of conversations and you can only talk once a week, it’s probably going to take a minimum of eight months.
Things will not change overnight. This is a long-term investment. We’re talking about the rest of your one life on this planet. Get some perspective! Your full-time job is to invest in them and get on the same page with your spouse. This is a serious matter that bears repeating: it is your full-time job to invest in your spouse until you reach the point where they’re so overflowing with love for you that getting on board is all but automatic. Do not do anything else: do not pursue any of your projects, work, dreams, or desires until you reach a point where you’re sure that you’re on the same page with your spouse. Spend every spare moment of time in your day investing in them.
How Badly Do You Want Your Goal?
You need to decide if you really want to attain your goal because what I’ve just described is what it’s going to take. Do you care about this thing? How much do you care about it? Do you care about accomplishing your goal enough to pursue it the right way, even if that isn’t right now? Do you care about it enough to invest in your spouse so you can get them on board before you proceed? That’s the level of care you need to have.
Let’s say you wake up at 6:00 a.m. You leave for work at 7:30 a.m. and arrive at 8:00 a.m.—sometimes 8:15 a.m., but the boss doesn’t really care. You work a full day. You get off around 5:00 p.m. Traffic is a little worse coming back home, so you arrive home at 6:00 p.m. Then, you have dinner—or maybe you make dinner—and it’s now 7:30 p.m. You and your spouse are both exhausted from the day. Maybe kids are involved and you have a nighttime routine, or maybe you want to watch a TV show to unwind. The next thing you know, it’s 9:00 p.m.
You think, “I usually go to bed at 10:30 p.m.” That means you have a little bit of time when you usually do your thing on the side. You work on your passion. You do research for your business. You’re learning things, consuming things, and creating.
If your spouse isn’t on board with you, get rid of everything you do in that time.
Take all the time you’d normally invest in your passion and yourself and invest it into your spouse until they’re on board. That’s how important this is. It doesn’t matter if you build something incredible on the side if it’s built on a bad foundation. If your spouse is not on board, it all goes away. It’s done. It’s not going to matter to you, it’s not going to matter to them, and you will have no relationship. It’s just not worth it. All the hours that you normally spend doing your thing—nights, weekends, and early mornings—spend with your spouse and do what they like. If they’re not home when you’re home, sit in your beanbag and brainstorm ways you can make them feel appreciated.
“What if it takes a whole year?” you might be wondering.
Would you rather spend that year building something that’s going to fall apart?
“What if it takes five years?”
If you don’t get your spouse on board, your thing will fail, or you will lose the relationship—or both. If it takes five years of daily investment to get them on board and you ignore this step and just do it on your own, that just underscores how much heartbreak there will be on the business end and the relational end when—not if—your plan fails.
“What if it takes ten years?”
Your job, until they’re on board, is to invest in them. That’s it. The end. Stop making excuses. Stop trying to define the extremes. Invest in your spouse so much that eventually they feel so overwhelmed with care and appreciation that they’ll support anything you want to do. Until you get to that point, keep investing. When you got together with this person, you decided to be one-half of a whole unit. You decided to enter into that relationship. It’s a symbiosis. You can’t just start pulling it apart by going in your own direction without getting them on board. You are a unit.
If you’re wondering, “My significant other doesn’t care about my thing. I guess that means I can’t do it,” then still care about their thing. Be the change. Initiate and invest. That’s the Rule of Reciprocity I’ll discuss more in depth in a later chapter. You don’t get to complain. You don’t get to say, “They don’t support me,” “They don’t believe in me,” or, “They aren’t sure.” What have you done in their direction? Be proactive. Lavish love and time on them. That’s going to make all the difference.
“Is there room for disagreement?”
There could be disagreement leading up to being on the same page about taking an action, but if you take action on a disagreement, you’ll always end up in an “I told you so” situation. Maybe they don’t see eye to eye with you. Maybe they don’t have all of the insights, intuition, or knowledge that you do. As much as possible, communicate those things to them. You can’t communicate too much. But until you’re on the same page, don’t take action.
The Only Way to Know When They’re on Board
How do you know when they’re on board? They’ll tell you. The only way you’ll know they’re on board with your picture, direction, destination, or goal is if they say as much. If they haven’t, that means you haven’t communicated enough. The amount of time doesn’t matter. If it’s not coming out of their mouth, you haven’t communicated enough. You can’t be sure that they’re on board unless you hear it from them.
Every day, it all starts over. If you haven’t communicated it today, you haven’t communicated it.
In The Newlywed Game, two people about to get married each answer a bunch of questions; then one person attempts to guess what they think their fiancee’s answers are. Those whose answers match up most often are the winning couple. This is typically done in front of a crowd to much hilarity, but it illustrates a point: How confident are you that your spouse could speak for you in any given situation? Could they talk like an expert about your goals, morals, principles, ethics, what you want to work on, what’s important to you, or where you’re going? If they were to take over your life for a day and reply to every message you received, or publish as you throughout the day, or represent your company, how confident are you that they could represent you well?
Your level of confidence in how well your spouse could represent you indicates your level of communication with your spouse.
Set Expectations and Seek Accountability
Set expectations for when you’ll be doing focused work. This needs to be scheduled and on the calendar. Everyone needs to know about it. This serves two purposes:
- When the people in your life know about your focused time, they can make sure not to disturb you.
- When you’re tempted to skip your focus time, the people in your life will keep you accountable.
Ask them to keep you accountable. Tell them when you’ll be working, and tell them that if they don’t see you working to kindly call you out on it. This is a team effort.
It’s important that you communicate that this focused time is in their best interests as well. When you spend time with your family, you want to be fully engaged. If you didn’t get your work done, or you were constantly interrupted, or you weren’t able to enter into a focused mode during the day, you’ll be distracted when you’re with your family in the evening. That’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. To be fully present, you need to go all-in on your work and all-in on your relationships, each at their respective times.
Tell your family you need their support. Tell them the time you spend with them is very important to you. Communicate that you care so much about the depth of focus you’re able to give your family during the time you spend with them that you must also focus while you’re doing your work. This is the only way you’ll earn the ability to spend time with them without being mentally distracted. To get your work done in a timely manner, you need focus. Focus requires the participation and support of your entire family, and it’s your job to communicate this to them.
Your family can become a form of accountability for you. Accountability is important because many of us aren’t afraid to let ourselves down. In other words, if we break a commitment to ourselves, it tends not to be a big deal to us. No one else knows, so it doesn’t carry much weight. This is why we often hit the snooze button after resolving to wake up early.
For better or worse, we tend to put more stock into others’ thoughts and opinions. We care what people think about us, and the idea of letting someone else down carries weight with us because it affects our relationship with that person. We also care about our reputation. We want other people to think highly of us. These two things can be leveraged to our advantage through accountability.
The three Ps of accountability are:
- Public Accountability
- Partner Accountability
- Personal Accountability
You can use any one of these individually, but the strongest approach is to use all three. A threefold cord is not easily broken.
It might seem weird to have personal accountability on that list. After all, didn’t I just say that we often care very little about commitments to ourselves? Yes, and that’s exactly why personal accountability needs to be included.
Start by making a commitment to yourself; then make that commitment public as well as with an accountability partner. Including your personal accountability along with the public and partner accountability will strengthen it. When you follow through with your commitments to other people, you experience the bonus of also following through with your personal commitment. As a result, you increase stock in your own word. Eventually, your own word will actually mean something to you because you’re consistently following through with it. You’re using the weight of the other two commitments to back it up.
We all deeply desire to be consistent. Reliability is attractive. Consistent people are reliable, so we want to appear to be consistent in the eyes of others. When you make a public commitment to do something, you’re more inclined to follow through out of fear of harming your reputation if you don’t. If you don’t follow through on a public commitment, your word means less. You’ve demonstrated that you don’t do what you say you’ll do. You’ve shown you’re unreliable.
Publicly committing to doing something uses the weight you place on the opinions of others and your desire to appear consistent to increase the likelihood of following through.
Partner accountability is similar but on a one-to-one level. Meet regularly with someone and mutually hold each other accountable to your commitments and projects. This works best when the other person is someone you regard highly. If you care about that person and what they think, you’ll be more likely to fulfill any commitments you make because you don’t want to let them down.
Let’s say you have a running buddy. You agree to take turns meeting at each other’s house to run at 5:00 a.m. You know that at 5:00 a.m. your friend is going to be outside your door waiting for you. If you don’t get up and get ready on time, you’re severely inconveniencing them. They had to wake up even earlier than you to meet you at your house. You don’t want to let them down. During the run, you may feel like slowing down, but you don’t want to slow your partner down, so you push harder. They may actually be thinking the same thing. Together, you strengthen each other.
Public accountability is telling everyone you know that you’re going to run every morning.
Partner accountability is telling your running buddy you’ll run every morning.
Personal accountability is telling yourself that you’ll run every morning.
When you put all these together, you maximize your chances of success.
- If the people in your life are not helping you get closer to your goal, they’re taking you away from it.
- If the people in your life don’t know what your goal is, they can’t help you get closer, but if you don’t know what your goal is, you aren’t going to accomplish anything.
- It’s not enough for you to communicate your goal once or twice. It’s enough only when you hear your goal come out of their mouth.
- Make a list of all the important people in your life. Have you communicated your big goal to them?
- If you have a significant other, are they 100 percent on board with your goals? If not, how can you invest in them to make sure they feel cared for?
- Invest in your spouse so much that, eventually, they feel so overwhelmed with care and appreciation that they will support anything you want to do.