Most people choose where they want to end up rationally. For example, if you’re like me you may have said to yourself things like “I want a lot of money, I want to work in such-and-such field, I want to retire before I die, etc.” But just because we say these things it doesn’t mean we take the rational steps to get there. We continue to make our decisions emotionally – things like send that angry email, don’t leave that dead-end job because it’s too scary, hire people you like, fire people you hate, etc. This is backwards.

Choose how you want to feel when you finish something. In other words, let your emotions be your initial guide, not your reasoning. How do you want to feel when your project if finished, when you graduate, when you retire? Once you’ve got that set, then make the rational decisions to get there. This sounds simple, but it’s hard.

The things that really matter in life are the undeniable conditions of the heart. The most powerful feelings in human experience should therefore be our goals, not our obstacles. This means you have to know yourself to the point where you know how you want to feel about a particular outcome, whether that’s family, work, church, education, or whatever. Once you know what feeling you want, start iterating rationally on the decisions you make every day to get there.

This is not some feel-good philosophy for under achievers. It takes constant discipline. You need to continually ask the question “Will this help me?” with every choice you make every day. If you choose your outcome emotionally and then make your daily decisions rationally, you won’t get very far down a wrong path before rationale forces you to re-chart your course.

Common pitfalls to this discipline are pride and fear. It’s very hard to face fears and do what you rationally know is required when your emotions terrify you. That’s ok. Just maintain the focus on the emotional outcome and the constant application of rational decisions and eventually you’ll look back and realize you had the courage to face the fear.

Having the discipline to ask yourself “Will this help me?” with every decision you make every day, and having the even greater discipline to actually only do those things that will help you (as opposed to realizing something won’t help you but doing it anyway because it satisfies your ego) is the key. I’ve found this pattern to be helpful for me personally, and I’ve seen others do amazing things with it. Choose your outcome emotionally, then make your daily decisions rationally.