Why Big Success Demands a Single Purpose

When we think of the most wildly successful people that we’ve come across in life, we often give them superhero-type powers or traits. In our mind, they can do everything they want and excel at anything they choose. It can be easy to forget that their success can be reduced to one very ordinary concept: they work toward a single purpose.

It’s the people who follow their passion and who set one large goal to fulfill their one purpose that are most successful. Their laser-like focus on the goal they wish to achieve allows them to knock over the dominoes of each task that will help them reach it.

Here at The ONE Thing, it goes almost without saying that we put quite the emphasis on the word “ONE”. And it’s for good reason: having one purpose to pursue and one goal to reach will help us make sure that we live the best possible life. But there are times, when we look at the successes of those around us, when we forget this simple idea – and assume others took an easier path.

This is not the case. It turns out that the best of the best across business and life have chosen to pursue mastery of their passion. In other words, they are working to become the top at what they do. And that requires a narrow focus.

Take Elon Musk, for instance. He reminds us that goal-setting works best when we have a single purpose to pursue. And although Musk may be the exception to many rules, his steps to success aren’t all that complicated.

His overarching goals for Tesla are stated on the company’s blog, and they’re surprisingly simple:

  1. Create a [high-end] low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
  4. Provide solar energy

His goals for SpaceX are equally basic:

  1. Trial & Error: figure out how to put things into space
  2. Ongoing Space Delivery: revolutionize the cost of space travel
  3. Mars Colonization

While it could be argued that Elon Musk is (literally) out of this world, at a fundamental level, he keeps his eyes set on a fixed target. Nearly all of his great successes to this point – outside of PayPal – have been byproducts of his narrow, methodical aim.

We may not all be working with Musk-sized dominos, but we can knock them down the same way: one at a time and in the direction of your purpose. We just need the right tools to start us on our journey.

Start with Your GPS

Every big, simple goal can be broken down into smaller, simpler steps. Working off of a GPS plan will help you identify what those steps might be and give you a pathway for eventual success.

GPS stands for goal, priority, strategies. This simple document breaks down the things that need to occur in order for a goal of any size to be taken on successfully. It’s the first step for bringing a pie in the sky idea back down to earth.

The process begins by defining your ONE goal. If you have an idea about what you want to accomplish, this is the place where you spell it out. Remember to keep it simple and, as always, BIG. The next step requires you to determine three priorities you’ll need to focus on in order to achieve that goal. These typically take the shape of smaller goals that would make achieving your ONE goal possible. Lastly, you’ll name five strategies that will help you accomplish each priority. These are individual actions or outcomes that need to be taken on in order to fulfill your three priorities.

Once you have your GPS in order, you’ll use a 4-1-1 to show you what you need to do today to put you on a path for success.

Continue with the 4-1-1

This worksheet represents all of your annual, monthly, and weekly goals, and aligns them in a way that keeps you focused on the activities that will help you achieve what you’ve outlined in your GPS.

With your GPS in hand, begin filling out your 4-1-1  by asking yourself what strategies and priorities you can tackle this year that will bring you closer toward achieving your big goal. Set an annual goal around those strategies and priorities and work backward to what you can do this month that will put you on track to knock out that goal. And from there, figure out what you can do this week that puts you on track for hitting your monthly goals, which in turn keeps you on track for hitting your annual goal.

Remember, no matter how successful someone appears to be, they’ve likely experienced the same struggles and have followed a similar process for achievement: knocking over smaller dominoes until their larger goal was ultimately met. After all, success is not simultaneous, it is sequential. Build upon each goal and don’t stop looking toward your one purpose.

If you need more guidance on how to begin your own Elon Musk-like trajectory toward success, check out our Kick Ass Guide to Goal Setting. Then, let us know how you maintain a narrow focus on our Facebook page!

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