I’ve been rereading Ray Dalio’s Principles to extract some of the hidden gems I might have left out when I read it a couple of years back. And here’s one that I can’t believe I didn’t highlight or already share with you previously — the 5-step process to achieve whatever you want in life!
It’s a blueprint to achievement, if you will, that in my opinion is not just practical but super-simple to understand and apply. Of course, as with all things, the application bit takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. So, if you’re willing to invest all of that, here’s the list:
- Have clear goals — this one’s a no-brainer yet most people bother less about the destination and more about the journey. Someone wise once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!” Know where you’re going. That’s the first step!
- Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals — almost inevitably, you’ll run into problems as you move towards your goals. You need to identify what these problems are; sooner is always better but later is still better than never. You can’t ignore a problem, you’ve got to deal with it.
- Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes — merely acknowledging the problem and it’s need to be solved wouldn’t do anything. You’ve got to get analytical at this stage to figure out the root cause and how it will effect your life. Understanding the true nature of our problems isn’t a popular exercise as most of us are convinced that “mulling about a problem” isn’t going to help us progress. But we aren’t talking about “mulling” but actively dissecting the situation and get to the root of the issue. And once you get there, you move on to the next step.
- Design plans that will get you around them — the next logical step is to design a plan that will help you work towards either minimizing the risks/problems so you’re able to get around it or eliminate it. This stage is time consuming and is well worth the investment. A detailed plan of action inspires confidence and action.
- Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results — taking action is the scary part because you’re never sure of the results. But the only way to find out is to do it nonetheless. Do what’s necessary to push through to the results or if you get stuck. If it’s the latter, go back to step 4 and come up with a stronger plan before revisiting this step.
This 5-step process is cyclical and constantly evolves with the person using it. The key is to work through each of the steps quickly (while spending just the appropriate time as deemded necessary, but not any more), continuously, and in sequence. Don’t be tempted to skip a step just because you want to keep moving.
For example, when setting goals, just set goals. Don’t think about how you will achieve them or what you will do if something goes wrong. When you are diagnosing problems, don’t think about how you will solve them—just diagnose them. Blurring the steps leads to suboptimal outcomes because it interferes with uncovering the true problems. The process is iterative: Doing each step thoroughly will provide you with the information you need to move on to the next step and do it well.Ray Dalio, Principles: Work and Life
Ray believes this to be his personal evolutionary process. Could this be yours? It’s effective but most importantly logical and dead simple. (Again, simple doesn’t mean easy.)
P.S. After having written the whole piece, I realised that I’d written a similar one in 2018. Exact title! Damn! Here, give it a read! It’s different and you will love it!