“Prioritize your problems and take care of them one at a time, the highest priority first. Don’t try to do everything at once or you won’t be successful.” — Jocko Willink

I find it funny how many of Jocko Willink’s quotes align with stoicism philosophies. He says he doesn’t follow stoicism, and yet here we are…

The subject of today’s discussion revolves around setting goals. Goals can be tricky sometimes because we have a tendency to try and arrange too many too quickly, which results in a complete lack of success and just a flop.

However, there is a solution to this: prioritize your goals. Prioritize your problems. Make a list and write down clearly and precisely what needs to be done. Doing this allows your brain to stop wandering and worrying about things that aren’t important and instead use that anxious energy to move and get things done. 

That being said, the order in which you make your list is important as well. You can’t put “clean the house” at the top of your list if you have more urgent matters to worry about (although it is important to get your life in check before you try to conquer bigger problems). Making a list with the highest priority problems at the top and the lowest at the bottom allows you to get your things done and simply work towards one of them at a time. Think of it like having a bucket of apples. Taking a bite out of each apple technically doesn’t count as eating an entire apple. To you it might feel like it because your stomach is full, but to anybody else looking in the bucket it would “just be a bucket of half eaten apples.” Finish one apple at a time however, and that bucket full of half eaten apples becomes half a bucket of apples. The same applies to completing your tasks that you have every day. If you do a little bit of everything, nothing is complete and you’re still just as unstable as you were before. Complete one task however and suddenly you have an anchor; “At least my house is clean.” 

It’s also important to have both short term and long term goals, but don’t focus on both at once. It should never be “I need to get this done so that I can move on to this.” Instead, focus on one. “I need to get this done so that I don’t have to worry about it.” Or, alternatively, “I need to get this done because it moves me closer to this other goal.” Those two can fall back on each other whenever one of them fails.




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