7 Habits of Mildly Effective People
Today I wish to speak out against a serious vice that plagues our world. Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel an urgent need to address an addiction growing ever more prevalent in our society. I speak not of drugs or alcohol, not of gambling, smoking or Krispy Kreme donuts; I speak of our perverse addiction… to succeed. This desire to reach for the stars, to be "all that we can be" is extremely addicting and adds unneeded stress to our lives. I am here today to say, we can overcome this addiction. By cultivating modest habits we CAN train ourselves to be content with doing the bare minimum.
I have discovered and would like to share with you today the 7 Habits of Mildly Effective People. Mastering these habits will help you achieve greater levels of mediocrity. But before sharing these habits with you, let's be totally realistic: Mastering seven habits? It's probably not worth the effort. So let's settle for one or two. And mastery? Come on! How about proficiency!
First, to reach our true average selves, we must develop the habit of procrastination. Procrastination has gotten something of a bad rap from self-help gurus, like my friend Steve Covey. But let me say, procrastination is totally different than quitting. When the going gets tough, losers give up. Mildly effective people, however, commit to press on… later. Why start that hard exercise program today when you could wait until New Years? After all tonight there are Facebook quizzes to take: "Which Harry Potter character are you?" "Which Beatle do you most resemble?" "How long would you last if attacked by a tribe of cannibals?" Yes, procrastination is key to successfully overcoming our desire to succeed.
The second habit in becoming mildly effective is proper goal setting. Now you might be thinking, "Goal setting? I thought goal setting was something only high achievers do." It's true. Achievers teach that we should set SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, blah, blah, blah. If you want to shoot for the stars, SMART goals are for you. But if you are content to watch lift-off from the comfort of your couch, then I suggest you set SLUG goals.
First, the S in SLUG teaches us that SLUG goals are SMALL. Big goals are for big dreamers, like Rockefeller or J.P. Morgan, not the Smith's of the world. Set small goals for average success. For example, if you wanted to add culture to your life, you could set a goal to master the Spanish language by the end of the year. But that would be a lot of work. Instead why not set a goal to eat more chimichangas? Not only is that less work, it's tastier too.
Next L. SLUG goals are LEISURELY. Honing that first habit, procrastination, really helps you set leisurely goals. For example, if your manager asks you to change a light bulb, don't say, "I'll get right on that." Instead explain that you may need to do a feasibility study and then do cost comparisons between bulb brands. End by announcing that you may be able to get to it sometime next month. You may even exceed expectations if you change that light bulb sooner. Which reminds me: How many Toastmasters does it take to change a light bulb? Five. One to change the lightbulb; one to welcome everyone to the light bulb changing; one to time the light bulb changing; one to evaluate the light bulb changing; and… ah… um… oh yeah, one to count the ums and ahs.
But back to SLUG goals. U. SLUG goals are Unchallenging. For example, with this contest and 6 contestants, I have set a goal to place no lower than the top 10. As long as I'm in the top 10, I'll have achieved my goal. Set unchallenging goals and avoid stress.
Finally, SLUG goals are General. For example, you could set a goal that says "I will read 10 pages of Moby Dick every night." However, if TV Land is showing back-to-back-to-back episodes of Kojack, you might just skip Captain Ahab. And then you get depressed because you've missed your goal. Instead change your goal to say "I will read more." Then in the checkout line at the grocery store, reading the headlines to this week's National Enquirer counts as meeting your goal. Look at that, Jon and Kate and Brittney Spears have helped you achieve your goal.
In short, SLUG goals, goals that are Small, Leisurely, Unchallenging, and General coupled with proper procrastination can help us overcome our tendency towards over achieving. Let's strive to be more common. Let's try harder to be more average. Let's start… tomorrow.