The 2-Hour Plan to Achieve Goals in 2024

Every year I set myself lofty goals, only to fall short at the end of the year.

It’s the same every year — lose weight, improve cardio, and grow a side business with >$10K monthly revenue. Flipping through my annual planning journal, it’s obvious, whether I like to admit it or not.

Instead of being upset at myself, I did some introspection at the start of 2024. Why does it happen so regularly? A couple of things stood out:

    The lofty goals themselves can have a paralyzing effect on me.

    Focusing on the goal, rather than creating a daily system to achieve it, makes me procrastinate often.

    I overestimate what I can get done every day outside my full-time job.

    I have an all-or-nothing mentality — either work 3+ hours on something daily, or it doesn’t count.

    I underestimate what can be achieved through daily incremental effort.

Keeping all these in mind, with a fresh perspective, I took another look at my 2024 annual plan.

Not to my surprise, I had the same 2 primary goals for 2024, outside my full-time job. I will paraphrase them below:

    Become healthy — lose weight, gym routine, improve cardio, learn kickboxing, etc.

    Grow online presence — YouTube, Medium, Blog, etc.

To avoid going down the same road I did in 2021/2022/2023, here’s the plan for this year.

Focus Less on Numbers

In most self-help books, people always talk about being objective with goals. There’s a famous quote that has always resonated with me:

What gets measured gets managed.

I have found this extremely accurate at my full-time job as an engineering manager. Through many process changes and optimization, I have reached a point where I am happy with both my personal and our team’s productivity.

However, when I try to apply the same concept to my personal life, it falls apart.

Measuring my personal goal in objective terms would read something like:

    Lose 20 Pounds

    Gain 10 pounds of muscle mass

    Reduce body fat to 12%

    Grow YouTube subscribers to 50K

    Grow Medium following to 10K

    Grow Email Newsletter audience to 15K

Maybe some of these are possible, if I put in the effort. However, they sound daunting! They are tough to measure, and more importantly, they are mostly out of my sphere of control.

Because of that, this year I am focusing more on systems and routines, than objective goals. To be more specific, I am focusing on one system.

The 2-Hour Plan

I have been using this system for over 6 weeks now, and it has brought great results!

It’s simple: Every day I spent at least 2 hours combined on my 2 main goals of the year.

The system enforces a lower bound. Sure, if I am enjoying the work, I can keep doing it, but I will have to put in the effort for at least 2 hours.

Why 2 hours? Not 1 or 4?

It’s not a magic number. The reasoning is quite straightforward. My first primary goal — become healthy — will require me to either go to the gym or go out for a run, both will take at least one hour.

Similarly, to make any meaningful progress on filming a YouTube video, writing a blog post, or programming takes at least one hour.

Then there’s the more practical aspect of things. After spending 8 hours on my full-time job, there are only so many hours I have left every weekday.

It’s reasonable for me to squeeze in 2 extra hours — an hour workout and another doing some work. More than that, it can become impractical.

Habit Stacking

Okay, so now that I know I will work 2 hours every day towards my personal goals, the next question is when?

If I were to turn back the years, whenever I had a period of regularly going to the gym, it would always be late at night. Maybe that’s what my body is most comfortable with.

Instead of fighting this natural inclination, I am leaning towards it.

That means, my one-hour workout block will be at night — most likely around 9 PM every day.

Next, the one-hour side hustle block. This is where I want to use the power of habit stacking. The concept of habit stacking comes from James Clear’s Atomic Habits. It’s a powerful technique that builds new habits by leveraging existing ones.

In other words, it involves pairing a new behavior with a current behavior.

Following that logic, I want to pair my workout session with my side hustle work session. Currently, I spend one hour on my side hustles, which leads up to my workout session. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if flips on some days.

Regardless, the goal is to pair these two together, so that every day I have a contiguous chunk of at least 2 hours that I am spending on my two primary goals of 2024.

Closing Thoughts

If you have made it this far, I hope you found this valuable.

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Irtiza Hafiz