60 – 30 – 10

A technique for focusing and optimally allocating effort.

The 60

Choose the single-most important goal in life and dedicate 60% of effort to accomplishing that goal. Once it is completed, re-examine goals, identify the most important one, and dive back in.

The 30

Second-order important goals receive 30% of total effort. Ideally, this is a single item, but it may be several.

Frequently, we can surprise ourselves by efficiently accomplishing a task with minimal engagement. Huge strides are made simply by being present to the goal, exerting mild effort, and observing.

In other cases, this 30% of effort can be used to maintain a high-value system, lay the groundwork for more focused effort in the future, and explore new, "non-critical" but high-value areas.

(This can be an opportunity to take risks whose cost/value cannot be easily calculated.)

The 10

The final 10% of effort is allocated toward "nice-to-haves,” "if-convenient,” and “it's-too-fun-not-to.” Be fearless about failing with these goals: they have near-zero downside.

Importantly, simply the act of examining goals brings us closer to our highest values.

It doesn’t matter if you mis-judge the importance of goals. You’ll be getting so much accomplished that all of your most important priorities will eventually be satisfied.

Without goals, you aren't going anywhere. Even mediocre goals are more actionable and thus more productive than no goals.

Marcus Aurelius said: “If you don't know what port you're sailing to, the wind is never right.”

The Zero

Lastly, be sure to let go of every goal, multiple times each day. Ultimately, very little is actually in our control and so it is important to step back and acknowledge the forces that are at work beyond our own.

There's a principle in yoga that captures this idea: ishvarapranidhana – to surrender, or in modern parlance to "let it go.” In essence, this means to acknowledge the landscape, acknowledge our ignorance, and willingly allow for unintended brilliance and wisdom.

The definition of effort: time and energy exerted toward a goal in a focused manner.