Achieving Your Goals: How To Go From Spinning Your Wheels To Incredible Traction

By David

May 25, 2013   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The brutal truth of achieving your long term goal is this: It’s hard to get the traction you need to succeed.

There are so many things you need to get done it can be completely overwhelming. You get paralyzed, you get distracted, and instead of chipping away at our dream, you let it go.

Unless you find a way to make significant headway on your long term goals, you’ll never reach them.

I want to show you how Riley Dallas went from spinning his wheels and overwhelmed with to-dos to a successful software service launch in just three weeks using my quarterback method.

The problem with being productive

Riley is an ambitious guy. He dreams of bootstrapping a software business and escaping the corporate world once and for all. He has a crystal clear vision. He has concrete goals. He has a plan to attack his dream daily.

And if that’s not enough, Riley is extremely organized and productive. He maintains an orderly to-do list in a premium tool, and he regularly checks things off.

From the outside, Riley seems poised for a huge breakthrough with his dream.

There’s only one thing missing: Results.

Week after week, month after month, Riley just hasn’t made progress towards his dream. He checked things off his list and busted his butt, but the results never came.

Something had to change.

The small change that created huge results

Last month I introduced Riley to something I call the quarterback method to help him get unstuck.

Overnight he started getting results. In the next two weeks he finished the beta version of his product for home inspectors, and a week later he secured some industry professionals to become regular users. He made some huge strides toward making his dream something tangible.

So what changed so much overnight for Riley that he was suddenly able to take giant steps forward towards his goal?

In short: Focus.

The quarterback method forced Riley to focus on the critical tasks for launching his service and stop worrying about the rest of his to-dos (we’ll get to the how to in a minute).

After a few days of using the quarterback method, Riley had a profound revaluation:

I realized I was hiding behind my to-do list. When faced with the option of doing something scary and doing something comfortable, I usually chose comfort.

While there were plenty of comfortable things that needed to be done, the tasks that were really going to move the needle on Riley’s dream were scary. They pushed him out of his comfort zone.

Instead of getting on the phone and talking to potential customers, he was cleaning up code to flow more smoothly. Instead of demoing his product for industry professionals, he was tweaking layouts and fonts.

Although he was knocking things off his to-do list daily, most of those tasks were just delaying the work that needed to be done most. There were too many distractions, too many choices.

How the quarterback method changes the game

We’ll come back to Riley’s breakthrough in a minute, but first I want to let you in on exactly what the quarterback method is, and how you can use it.

The quarterback method is a simple process I use to ensure a laser focus on long term goals. I call it the quarterback method because it’s modeled after three things NFL quarterbacks do over and over to drive their team down the field.


1) Call a play 2) Execute the play you called 3) Keep your eyes downfield

Here’s how to apply this method to your own life to start building your dream today:

Step 1: Clearly define your goal

First things first, you need to clearly define what it is you want to accomplish. What does winning mean for you? What’s the big thing you want to accomplish?

For Riley, it was building a successful software business, which is a pretty massive goal. To make it easier to know what’s next, he broke his goal into smaller steps. Launching a beta version with real-world users is a great step to aim for in this case.

Step 2: Get a playbook

Now that you know exactly what you want to accomplish, you need to find yourself a “playbook” and a good pen. I prefer Moleskin cashier notebooks or Fieldnotes notebooks. Both fit nicely in my jeans pocket and can stand up to daily abuse.

Turn to a fresh page in your playbook and write your goal at the top of the page. Writing your goal down with your own handwriting is a powerful thing to do, and you’re going to do it daily in your playbook.

Step 3: Call a play

You’re looking at a blank page with the number one thing you want to accomplish at the top. Now think, “What can I do today to get me one step closer to my goal?”

Write down three to five of those things on the page right underneath your goal.

Notice you’re only writing down things that specifically pertain to accomplishing the goal at the top of the page. That’s it! You’re not filling it with website tweaks, chores, or any of the other to-dos that constantly overwhelm us and distract us from the important work.

Step 4: Execute the play you called

It sounds obvious, I know, but this is a huge dream thief if you ignore it. How many times have you sat down at the computer to do something important and wound up doing something totally different instead?

We can even trick ourselves into believing the new thing we stumbled upon is just as important as the original work we set out to do. It’s not.

Execute your plan today. Tomorrow you can intentionally change it if you need.

Step 5: Keep your eyes downfield

This is the most critical step. As soon as your alarm goes off your day will start messing with your plan. There will be obvious distractions like social media and TV, and there will also be not so obvious distractions like reading well-intentioned blog posts.

The key to building your dream is staying focused on your play for the day in the face of distraction. You know what to do (you wrote it down in Step 3). You know what your dream is (you wrote it down in Step 2). Go, and do it.

Just like a great quarterback, when life tries to stop you for a loss, keep your eyes on your targets, and execute the plan as best you can. Every yard counts.

Your Next Step

For Riley, the clarity and focus created by the quarterback method was all he needed to go from spinning his wheels to creating a real software product with real-world users.

He had the vision. He had the motivation. He had the skills. The only missing ingredient was a method to help him focus his energy on the critical next step to move his dream forward. The distractions of day-to-day to-dos and less critical tasks faded into the background.

If you have a long term goal you’re serious about achieving, here’s what I want you to do: find yourself a playbook today, and write your top goal at the top of a blank page. Tomorrow is the day you start taking steps to make it real.

Deacon helps family men punch average in the face, and live a better story! Just because you have a family depending on you doesn’t mean you have to settle for the safe path. Find  out how you can reach your life goals even if you’re super busy. Deacon is the founder of Life Stoked, and you can also find him on Twitter.


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