It's Who, Not How

The Honest Guide to Setting Honest Goals

Hackathons are exciting. If you've never been, a hackathon is an event where people gather to build, launch, and ship a product in a short space of time.

That means the process is often quick, dirty, and rough around the edges. Which is fine when you're focused on a minimum viable product, but what happens when instead of a product, you focus on a person?

Well, to start with, you can't hack people.

People love to use terms like 'biohacking' and hacking the 'system', but it's by no means a 'hack'. Improvements are not shortcuts or workarounds to success, especially given how complex humanity is. Believing that you're able to hack these systems with a few actions is ignorant toward this complexity.

So, I'm sure you're able to understand my surprise when I attended a small, invite-only hackathon, only to find out that what we were 'hacking' was the life and goals of another human being. You can't be quick and dirty with someone's life, and you can't shortcut the necessary growth to achieve incredible results.

Picture it this way, if you want to be a bodybuilder, then the results sure as hell won't come from a single hackathon. But, reframing the problem, we may be able to create a new, innovative process that'll get you the results faster.

Want to be a bodybuilder? How about we create a system to help you better achieve this goal? And why don't we make the system automatic, making your default actions toward this goal positive?

This is the logic we arrived at the during the hackathon.

It's not a question of what do you need to do to achieve your goals. It's who do you need to be to set and achieve these goals.

And that's what we believe is the most efficient way to set and achieve goals. Decide what you want, then uncover who you need to be to reach your goals.

You Today

The process starts with understanding. You need to know where you are today, setting the scene in the here and now. By understanding where you are today, you can start to identify where you'd like to be in the future.

Think of this as taking a before and after picture. But instead of taking a picture, you answer the following questions.

  • Who are you?
    How would you describe what you do, or how would others describe what you do?
  • What are you doing?
    What do your days look like in terms of work, play and routines?
  • Where are you?
    Where are you living in the world, and what are you living in?
  • How do you feel?
    What is a common recurring thought or feeling related to your life?

No matter the answers, this is your starting point. You need to know where you are before you're able to define where you're going.

You can't drive a car if you don't know where the car is. The journey starts once you get in the car. These questions are you getting in the car.

Here's a sample set of answers to help inspire you:

  • Who are you?
    I'm Cassius, a designer by trade that has an interest in business and psychology. I'd label myself as a polymath, but people struggle to understand what this means.
  • What are you doing?
    I'm spending my days building Byozo, a philosophy that helps people transform time into impact. I'm also training to be a competitive fighter and memory champion — my mornings and evenings for self-improvement, and during the day I build my business.
  • Where are you?
    Currently, I'm in West London renting a quaint flat outside the city centre.
  • How do you feel?
    Optimistic, the future is bright, and I'm making incremental impact each day. Like anyone, I have moments of self-doubt and pessimism, but this few and far between.

You Tomorrow

Imagining yourself in the future is a tricky exercise for most.

To make it simpler, start by defining a timeframe that's far enough away that you're able to be ambitious and outrageous with your thinking (say 3 to 5 years).

Once you have a timeframe, set the scene by imaging that the universe is on your side. Yes, that's a strange thought, but imagine that for 3 to 5 years, it's smooth sailing with great opportunities.

Life rarely goes to plan, but if you imagine the universe on your side, then you'll struggle less to think big and beyond limitation.

Once you have a timeframe in mind and you've primed yourself accordingly, answer the same questions as above, but with a focus on you of tomorrow.

  • What's the timeframe?
    How far in the future are you setting your goals?
  • Who are you?
    How would you describe what you do, or how would others describe what you do?
  • What are you doing?
    What do your days look like in terms of work, play and routines?
  • Where are you?
    Where are you living in the world, and what are you living in?
  • How do you feel?
    What is a common recurring thought or feeling related to your life?

Here are some more answers for you use as inspiration when answering these questions yourself.

  • What's the timeline?
    The timeline is 3 years. In 3 years, I'll be 30 (which I hear is a milestone for most).
  • Who are you?
    I'm the founder of Byozo, a successful philosophy which is used by thousands of people across the globe to transform time into impact. I'm also a shredded champion in the competitive fighting scene, as well as a UK memory champion.
  • What are you doing?
    On a typical day, I wake up at 7am and work on myself until 10am. Afterwards, I head to a remote location to check in with the team and do 4 to 6 hours of focused, deep work. I'll then clock out for the day, and begin focusing on more self-improvement. My time makes an impact on both myself and others.
  • Where are you?
    I'm living in an apartment or home in either Tokyo, Vancouver or a quaint location in the UK. The where isn't too important, what is important is that my business is remote, and I have access to world-class talent and resources to continue improving myself.
  • How do you feel?
    That I'm helping and supporting the world with my mission. I feel the work I'm doing is making an impact on the lives of many others, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity and privilege to serve.
  • Who do you spend time with?
    My time during the day is mostly spent solo, apart from my interactions with my team. In the evenings, I spend time with my friends or my significant other. I regularly visit my family and thoroughly appreciate every moment we spend together.

From here, most people will see these goals and break them down into smaller chunks, using incremental impact to achieve these goals. We're all for this approach, but defining the actions you need to take, doesn't guarantee you'll take them.

We believe all goal setting needs to identify who you need to become to take the necessary action (the how comes later). Saying you want to be an athlete is easy. Being the person who will put in the hours of labour and sacrifice needed is not.

Limiting Behaviours and Beliefs

Personal trainers often tell their clients that buried beneath their struggles, is a healthy person waiting to break free.

In short, inside of you is everything you needed to succeed.  But if that's the case, then what's stopping you from seeing success?

Well, it's likely that you (like all of us) have limiting beliefs and actions which prevent you from fulfilling your potential. You may have a goal which revolves around health, only to find that your dietary choices continue to hold you back.

If you were to compare the current you to the future you, what would the future you be doing that you're not doing today?

Here are a few examples of limiting beliefs and actions based on the goals so far as inspiration:

  • Building a successful philosophy used by thousands of people
    - Questioning why I'm qualified to do this
    - Feeling like a fraud when advising others
    - Comparing myself to others, rather than myself
  • Becoming a shredded, competitive fighting champion
    - Eating for the sake of eating, even when I'm full or not hungry
    - Making poor food-related choices when I'm stressed
    - Creating excuses as to why I've made bad choices
  • Living in Tokyo or Vancouver
    - Believing London is the only place to find opportunities
    - Being afraid to learn a new language
    - Fear of being permanently labelled as an outsider

Identifying the actions that are holding you back from your future goals, gives you a deeper insight into why you're not already there. When you know what's holding you back (or you create a hypothesis), you're able to start thinking how you'd change these limiting beliefs and behaviours.

But before we create change, we need to make the current limiting actions more painful. To do this, we're going to imagine what life would be like if these limiting belief and behaviours were 10x worse.

You on Deathrow

Yes this title is dramatic, and it's quite the jump from limiting behaviour to end of the world. But, it's essential to see, feel, and make your limiting behaviours more catastrophic. Why? Because it gives you a stronger case for change.

This dramatic type of visualisation is known as negative visualisation, and it's as old as time itself. Stoics have used negative visualisation to practice gratitude, and prepare for adversity for generations.

Let's take an example limiting belief from above, and make it 10 times more powerful.

  • I continue questioning why I'm qualified to do my work
    - It becomes impossible to take action. I forever live life as an imposter
    - I stop improving myself and become horrifically critical of others
    - I become jealous of others, isolating myself from the world

That's intense.

But being able to see and understand this is pivotal to the final steps, it's also why we focus on the who, rather than the how. The limiting beliefs you have now are not the same beliefs that would lead you to this catastrophic scenario.

And that's because you already have principles to prevent this type of downturn. These principles (even if you're unaware of them) create an automatic system that your subconscious uses to make decisions that avoid this downward spiral.

So, if your subconscious principles prevent you from reaching 'death row', but are still limiting you in the here and now, then what happens if you alter them? And what happens if you alter them in a way that allows you to become the person who can achieve your future goals?

You'll create an automatic system that will help you move from who you are now, to who you who you need to be.

Your Principles

Principles are your code of conduct, and in time, the north star your subconscious will begin to follow.

Every principle you create will include a single closed question.  These questions will allow you to qualify if your actions follow your north star. It's either a yes, or a no.

If we use Byozo as an example, our core principle is to transform time into impact. Which means that whenever we do anything we ask or ourselves, we ask ourselves a simple closed question.  Will this transform time into impact?

As a rule of thumb make sure your principles are:

  • Achievable
    Not ridiculous or beyond what is achievable by a human being.
  • Adherable
    Not too rigid or strict, creating pain or obsession.
  • Human
    Allow for failure and mistakes. No-One is perfect.

Here's an example of how we'd create a principle that will allow us to achieve our ambitious goals.

  • Today, who are you?
    I'm Cassius, a designer by trade that has interests in business, and psychology.
  • In the future, who are you?
    I'm the founder of Byozo, a successful philosophy which is used by thousands of people across the globe to transform time into impact.
  • Limiting beliefs
    - Questioning why I'm qualified to do this
    - Feeling like a fraud when advising others
    - Comparing myself to others, rather than myself
  • Example Principle
    My vision is a gift to others
  • Qualifying Question
    Will this action help another human being?

By creating a principle which transforms my mission and vision into a gift, it correlates with my future goal to help others. It also allows me to avoid limiting beliefs around feeling like a fraud, as well as my struggles around comparing myself to others.

Every time I'm in a tight spot, all I need to do is ask myself if the action I'm taking will support another human being. If the answer is no, then my vision takes rather than gives, which stops it being a gift. If I'm not following my principles, then I'm not taking action which will allow me to be the person I need to be in the future.

This principle is achievable, adherable, and human. It's a single line of text which makes a massive impact on the way I think and behave.

Is one principle enough? Perhaps, it depends on your goals. We'd recommend creating no more than 5, as more than 5 makes the system overly complicated.

Don't worry if you don't create world-class principles the first time around. Creating principles takes time and iteration. It might take you a day to create something which resonates with you, or it might take you a month.

All that matters is taking the necessary steps to get there, as that'll start the transformation process between who you are now, and who you need to be.

Once you create your principles and questions, you'll find that taking action toward accomplishing the goals you've set becomes more straightforward (especially if you take the incremental impact approach).

You are the Captain

Could we tell you what your principles need to be to achieve your goals? Of course. Would this help you be the person you need to be in the future? Absolutely not.

Receiving knowledge and having the intrinsic motivation to take action are not the same. Giving you answers won't help you make or find positive change.

There's a significant difference in the mindset between a marathon runner and an Ironman competitor.

Our goal is to help change the way you think and live your life. Its much better to teach you to be the captain of your ship, than it is to act as your captain.

After all, your goals and your ambitions are yours, not ours.

Besides, helping you understand what's needed to accomplish your goals helps us becomes the people we need to be to achieve ours.