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Reaching your greatest potential with NYT bestselling author Jon Acuff

Are you one of the 96% of people who don’t feel as though they’re living up to their fullest potential? Or are you one of the 4% that truly believes they’ve maxed out their capacity in terms of everything they are capable of? 

I had the opportunity to sit down with the New York Times best-selling author of All It Takes Is a Goal, Jon Acuff. All It Takes Is a Goal is Jon Acuff’s eighth book. Jon talks to us about goal setting, living up to your potential, and the roadblocks that often keep us from our greatest successes.

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Transcript

Most people feel like they’re wasting their potential 

When Jon was taking his daughter on a college tour of his alma mater, he was struck with the feeling that he had wasted his potential during his own college years. After that experience, he surveyed 3,000 people and asked if they felt like they were living up to their full potential, and 96% of them said no.

Jon realized there was a hole in the market for practical books that teach people how to live up to their potential. He also felt a personal connection to the topic based on his own experience, and he knew it was something his audience needed. That’s how his new book, All You Need Is a Goal, was born.

Are your goals too small?

You’ll often hear an author say about their new book, “If it helps even just one person, it will all be worth it.” The reality is that a goal like that is too small, and it’s false. If you want to help one person, you can send them an email. When you put hours of research, work, and your heart into a book (or another project) and finally release it to the world, it should be impactful enough to help thousands of people.

Business owners often set small goals out of fear. Oftentimes, when an author says they only want to help one person, it’s a defense mechanism so they’ll feel better about themselves if their book doesn’t sell as much as anticipated.

“Fake” goals, or goals that are too ambiguous or small, do not drive success. Only authentic goals, paired with discipline and action, can fuel your success.

Three zones that high performers bounce between

While so many of us talk about our comfort zones, we don’t often hear about the other zones that high performers bounce between. These include:

  • Comfort zone
  • Potential zone
  • Chaos zone

In your comfort zone, you have no goals and commit no actions. In your chaos zone, you have too many goals, plans, and actions, but you make no progress. The chaos zone can actually be more destructive for high performers because it often leads to burnout. Plus, the chaos zone is often glamorized as part of hustle culture. 

The middle ground is the potential zone, which is where high performers commit to specific goals and make progress toward them. 

Many high performers swing back and forth between their comfort zone and chaos zone. Learning to stay in the potential zone is the key to long-term success in both your business and your personal life.

How to get out of the chaos zone

How do you know you’re stuck in the chaos zone? If you thrive on stress and fight systems that could add structure. Someone addicted to chaos will resist the things that can actually solve their problems. 

One way to get out of the chaos zone is to do a time gap analysis. Here’s how you do it:

  • Consider how many hours you want to work for the rest of the year, and factor in time off for vacations
  • Look at the commitments you’ve made and calculate how many hours they will require
  • Add 10 to 20% more hours for unexpected opportunities

Do you have enough hours left in the year to accomplish all of your goals, or are you overcommitted? If you are overcommitted, you are in the chaos zone.

To get out, you can either delete some commitments, delegate your work, or delay some of your projects. To determine which commitments to hold onto and which ones to delete, delegate, or delay, ask yourself these questions:

What things do you do because you feel called to do them? Alternatively, what things do you do because they make you feel important? If you are only doing some things because they feel good to talk about at a dinner party, they are most likely not worth it.

How to get out of the comfort zone

The best way to get out of your comfort zone is to use self-awareness. Once a month, do a review of your business and projects. Does one part of your business require big expenses but doesn’t bring in much revenue? Is your business stagnant because you haven’t tried something new? Is your business headed in the right direction?

When you do a review of your numbers and data, you can’t stay in denial about being in your comfort zone. 

Living in the potential zone with the right kind of goal-setting

If you want to live in the potential zone, you need to set the right goals. Start by planning the week ahead on Friday afternoon. Look at your calendar and your running to-do list to map out your schedule. Write down what it would look like to be successful that week. Plan for personal things too, like your workouts.

Sustaining your goals shouldn’t be sexy, it should be practical. Breaking them down into smaller chunks will help you make progress toward them every day. 

The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Jon believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is those who practice empathy in order to meet their customer’s or audience’s needs, as opposed to inventing their needs. 

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [1:26] The origin story of Jon’s new book
  • [5:34] The three zones high performers bounce between
  • [10:53] Why we set small goals
  • [16:11] How to get out of the chaos zone
  • [22:50] How to get out of the comfort zone
  • [27:23] Creating intentional community
  • [31:27] The right kind of goal-setting
  • [37:50] The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

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