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If you’re not hitting your goals, start here instead.

How do we build new habits? Most often, people choose their outcomes and then work backwards from there. This is the basis of just about every goal-setting framework you’ve ever heard of—including SMART goals. More modern approaches will shift the focus toward actions instead of outcomes. What if none of these are working for you, though?

There’s another way forward. Let’s get into this by looking at how your skills and your environments interact to create your abilities.

Your skills
These are the skills you currently have. No further explanation—or preparation—required.

Your environments
Each of your environments offers its own gifts and constraints. If you work from home, for example, staying hydrated should be easy. Trapeze work or MIG welding will be less practical.

Environments in 4D
There’s a temporal element to any given environment. How long do you spend there? And at what frequency? For example, on any given Wednesday, how many times will you go to the bathroom—and in how many places? I cannot over-emphasize the rhetorical nature of this question.

Abilities = Skills x Environment
So, we’ve got your skills in one hand and your environments in the other. Now, we mash them together to see how they interact. Environments are physical places, yes. They are also the tools and technologies that they hold. A driver needs a car. A pianist needs a piano. A great chef, once air-dropped into the Atlantic Ocean, will struggle to make a soufflé.

Some skills can only be leveraged in specific environments. Others are more universal, like your plucky, can-do attitude.

Putting it all together for success
Your spaces. Your frequencies and durations. Your current skills. When all of these fit together, you have fertile soil. Whatever you plant there is the potential to be successful. So, rather than begin with outcomes, you instead ask with what you can do really, really well right now. Generally, this is something that is meaningful, easy to do, and has room to grow.

A word on going big
There are absolutely times to go big. This is where you will orient your entire life around a new, highly significant action. It’s big and shiny and resource-intensive and everything that isn’t nailed down will revolve around it. This is what a priority looks like. Most of us only have room for one at a time—at best. A galaxy can only revolve around one star.

So, go big when you’re ready. The rest of the time, though, you can go tiny. Now you know how to do so with a very high success rate.

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