Visual Chain Thinking: Building Momentum Towards Your Goals

I started going through Jim Rohn's 10 modules because it was the only way to get my friend to read Antifragile.

"If I'm going to read Antifragile then I want you to listen to this", he said sending me a link to The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library.

Who the f*ck is Jim Rohn? I thought to myself but it turns out Jim was Tony Robbins mentor. Jim's often overlooked on the internet because he was giving his seminars in the 1970s.

Going through these modules there was one idea Jim Rohn had that finally gave me the language I needed to describe a phenomena I've experienced in my own life for a few years now...

2 years ago, I completed a project for a leadership class. The goal of it was to find something we wanted more of and "blow it up" (we were using a framework called the C4).

Naturally I picked time as the thing I wanted more of and took to using myself as a human guinea pig.

I even made this video about it (although I wasn't as comfortable putting my ideas out back then).

For 3 weeks I experimented for different habits for time management adopting the High Performance Planner for over a full year. Only one habit has continued to stick with me through the last few years because I got a lot of benefit out of it.

The issue was I didn't know what it was that I found so powerful about it until I heard Jim Rohn describe the idea of Visual Chain Thinking.

High achievers all use visual chain thinking in their lives.

Most people view the activities they do as disconnected actions.

A single activity.

A single project.

A single goal.

This is the wrong way to think because everything builds on top of each other. We need to be thinking in a chain of events.

Your tasks, efforts, goals all relate to each other. They form interconnected links and integrated knowledge. Entrepreneurial minded people have a hard time being employed by others, however, almost every single one of them did it at one point or another and this experience became a link in their chain of success.

The reason it's called visual chain thinking is because you have to be able to visualize the end goal to see your daily task as links building upon that chain. What you do today forms frameworks, knowledge, skills, and philosophies you'll be able to string along tomorrow and connect more links too.

The problem is most people believe they can check in on their goals once a month, once a quarter, or even once a year. Everyone uses the milestone of the new year turning to set goals -- New Years Resolutions.

For the longest time, I believed that goals did not work for me. Instead, I would tell people that what works for me is a vision.

Why?

Because the perception of a goal is that it is an exclusive objective. My vision encompasses all aspects of my life. There is no end -- it's constantly evolving as my chain continues to grow longer.

Let's say you set a New Years Resolution to lose 10 pounds, make $10k/month, or spend an extra hour a day with your family. All of these are great objectives but once you reach that point it's over.

Your daily actions no longer feed into the chain of success (or at least that's how most people think).

This isn't how a game plan works. Bill Belichick does not just run one play a game -- there's a whole plan for each quarter and they all build upon each other to reach the vision of winning the game.

Each games objective is a link in the seasons objective which is to go to the super bowl. Each seasons objective is a link in Bill's career objective. The link just continues to grow and build upon each other.

The first link in your chain starts when you know the direction you want to go.

Our personal life is no different than a football game. Each day we should have a plan -- that plan plays into the bigger picture.

There will be days when you cannot find the motivation to take on certain tasks. Think about when you've found yourself in the season of winter in your life. Finding the consistent and persistent will to action becomes difficult.

This is why visual chain thinking is so important to becoming a high achiever. It keeps you focused on the end you've visualized in your mind allowing you to progress down the chain.

Jim Rohn's rules for visual chain thinking are the following:

1) Don't start your day until you have it planned out

Give yourself the time and effort to do this properly. You have to break big projects up into smaller chunks in order to continually make progress on them. This isn't something you do for a week and expect to see life changing results. This is a practice to carry on for a life time.

Planing your day is the things that allows you to slowly build your chain with time. It's the habit that helps you master your time. The more you do it the better you become at seeing the events of your day playing into the chain.

This is the only habit that stuck with me from my experiments with time management. Setting out the objectives for my day and getting my mindset into the right place for focused effort towards making progress on my vision.

Once you master this practice, you can move on to the next level.

2) Don't start your week until you have it planned out

The basic principle is the same as the first rule, except you don't start planning your weeks until you've ben consistently planning your days.

This may seem backwards to a lot of people, but let me explain...

If you jump straight to planning your weeks out you'll misjudge what you should be working on because you haven't started to build out the visual for your daily chain.

Slowly, as you practice planning your days the weeks will start to come together on their own. Then when you actually start to plan them you'll be able to do it more effectively and as a result of effectively planning your week your days become more effective as well.

Both of the practices begin to enhance each other.

Once you've mastered planning out your weeks, move onto months, then years, then decades, and so forth.

My mornings consist of planning the mindset and focus I need for WEALTH.

To me, WEALTH has multiple different aspects it includes. At the foundations wealth is just:

  • Wage (financial)
  • Empathy (social)
  • Athletics (physical)
  • Learning (mental)
  • Time (freedom)
  • Harmony (spiritual)

This is what my morning planning revolves around -- building long-term wealth. It's something I've experimented with over the past 2 years adopting bits and pieces from other people's practices to prefect it into this list.

There's three parts that I currently write out in a journal each morning:

1) Rewrite my vision statement at the top

2) Get my mindset right with a quick 1-2-3 bulleted list

  1. One thing to look forward to...
  2. Two values I want to embody today are...
  3. Three things I am grateful for in my life are...

3) Establish my focus for the day

For each of the categories of wealth I outline everything I current have taken on in them and group those appropriately. Visual chain thinking is not just a career oriented practice. Every part of your life is a link on the chain and it's important to see them all playing together holistically.

Once I have each of the items bucketed, I'll break down some of the bigger task into smaller ones. This allows me to prioritize everything better. If I'm working on building out the requirements for a new product then it's broken out into the smaller tasks that I need to achieve that come together to reach a shippable product.

From this list I pick three priority tasks for the day. Everything else goes into a bucket of things that would be nice to get done. If I have the additional time it's my choice to do them.

Lastly, I list out every potential distraction I can think of that I will encounter in my day. This is what brings awareness to them to as they occur keeping me from getting derailed from my priorities.

You may already have your own morning practice to plan your day and if so wonderful the next step is building a layer on top of that to plan your week or month.

FOOTNOTES

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