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Success by subtraction

Updated: Jan 10, 2019

It’s January, a perfect time to consider what I want out of life this year and how I’m going to achieve it.

Clearly, it’s not just about setting goals, but it’s about understanding what actions I’m going to need to take to achieve them. The actions will be a lot more significant than the goals, I’m fully aware of that!

If what I want is something that I haven’t yet achieved in life, then it’s also clear that it will take a change in my behaviour to get it.


If I continue to behave the way I did last year, then I’ll get the same results at the end of 2019. It’s just cause and effect, and I don’t know about you but I’m looking for a bigger and better year in 2019, even though last year was great, I need to be constantly improving, that’s what makes me feel most alive!

If I want change, it will take change to get it!

When I take the time to go back and reflect on previous years I find it fascinating to uncover that it’s often the removal or the subtraction of things that has helped me achieve my best results.

There’s a common misconception that if you want to achieve more than you have in the past, then you need to do more things! And that just doesn’t seem to be the case in reality.

It’s so rarely about doing more, but about removing things which are holding me back, that give me the results I’m looking for.

And we’re all good at focusing on things with very little upside, minor tweaks here and there with relatively insignificant benefit.

It feels like progress because we’re taking action, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, or do a better job of assessing the situation then we realise that those things are not adding any significant upside.

On top of this, ignoring the things that have a large downside is really common. Lack of focus, procrastination, unhealthy eating, are clear examples of the things holding me back from making the progress I want.

So this year I’m focusing on removing these negative things I’ve been doing, and through this simple subtraction alone I know I’ll be in a far better position for the year ahead.

Ironically, I already know that it’ll be these things I remove that have a bigger impact on my success than the small positive tweaks that I want to build into my 2019 plan.

What things could you subtract from your life that are holding you back from hitting your goals for 2019?

P.S I wouldn’t write things off believing that they are too simple, as quite often it is the simple things that have the most significant impact on your overall results!

Happy 2019!