by Leon Ho, founder and CEO of Lifehack

Without the ability to set goals, focus on the steps and work needed to achieve those goals, and change one’s mindset along the way, success as an entrepreneur cannot be guaranteed.

However, goals need a rebrand: at Lifehack, we call them life missions. In addition to coming up with a goal — say, to learn to code or to be more assertive with employees — it’s important to understand who you are, what makes you tick, and how you deal with others around you.

Life missions are programmed into your subconscious and the reason why you care deeply about certain things. Once you recognize these life missions, you will be a lot more successful. 

No need for sacrifice

What surprises a lot of entrepreneurs is that you do not need to give up one thing in order to achieve another: it’s not a zero-sum game.

Indeed, sacrifices are bad — they cause pain and suffering. We’ve seen time and time again that most people think that they have to compromise on the mission: they think they have to give up a lot in order to get to where they think they need to be.

But this is all wrong. Renouncing one thing for another just causes frustration and even misery, especially if it’s something we enjoy or something that we have previously worked hard to achieve. 

Instead, it’s important to learn to compromise the method — not the mission. People can change HOW they do things rather than abandon one thing for another. Acquiring the right skills and the right mindset can help with this.

Failure and its positive effects

Outcomes are usually seen as binary: you either win or you lose, with nothing in between. 

Such a view puts too much pressure on ourselves to win at all costs for fear of losing — or to beat ourselves up when we lose — that we never give ourselves the opportunity for true growth.

This is known as a progress or growth mindset. If you can capture something from the experience — growth, learning, observations, and improvement, no matter how large or small — you’ve succeeded.

While not a new concept, I’m always surprised how much stock people still put into winning or losing without realizing the learning or discovery that happens along the way.

Indeed, even if a startup fails, there’s always some growth or learning to be had along the way — to be used for the entrepreneur’s next venture.

Reprogramming in place of willpower

Consistent actions — doing what is necessary, regularly and to the best of one’s abilities—are the ways to achieve life missions with sacrifice.

But we also realize that these regular behaviors take a lot of willpower, and certainly a lot of energy. And that can get very tiring, very fast.

Instead of just relying on willpower, we encourage people to train themselves to be able to carry out these consistent behaviors effortlessly, as if they were on autopilot.

This requires a bit of re-programming, so that taking actions towards your life missions becomes something you do unconsciously — as effortlessly as watching TV or going for a jog.

The most effective people, the top performers, create systems in which success is fully integrated into their daily lives. 

Life Multipliers, with No Distractions

Average people only attain average results. 

To reach your goals and truly live a full life, you need to think differently. 

You need to uncover life multipliers to make you better than average — strategies that make you superhuman. 

However, the irony of these superhuman factors is that they need to be “normal” and part of your everyday routines, skills and abilities. These factors should feel so natural that they take your confidence and effectiveness to a whole new level.

Even before the arrival of social media, we were distracted and pulled in a thousand different directions each day. Unfortunately, those distractions can keep you from fulfilling your life missions and goals. 

Startups, and the entrepreneurs behind them, are constantly being chastised for being distracted by shiny new objects. 

Unfortunately, the shiny new objects have to be put away—and startup founders need to focus on the task at hand.

Recognizing your life missions and not sacrificing other parts of your life to achieve them is a start. Staying focused and consistent on the goal — without worrying about whether you will win or lose along the way — will help you discover things about you you didn’t know existed, strengthening your ability to succeed in the business or venture you’ve decided to pursue. 


Leon Ho is the Founder and CEO of Lifehack – a productivity blog he started in 2005. He was listed as Business Week’s #4 “Top 24 Young Asian Entrepreneurs” and has grown Lifehack into one of the most read self-improvement websites in the world – with over 12 million monthly readers. You can check out his book “The Full Life Essential Guide“, and take a look at his self-improvement mastercourses here or join one of his free classes here.