25 Years ago...
Can an orange crate hold the secret to your dreams?
The story behind GoalSumo...
It was a late July afternoon during a sweltering Phoenix summer. I was in my garage packing boxes for a move to a new home. It was my third move to a new home in a short six years, but not because I was experiencing hardship or adversity.
It was a celebration.
Thanks to a strategic goal-setting system I've used for over 25 years, I was again upgrading from one dream home to another. And I'd do it without a mortgage or financial stress.
As I stacked and removed boxes, tools, and other forgotten clutter from the floor-to-ceiling shelves, my shirt was drenched with sweat as if I had just gone swimming. Let me tell you: Whenever the temperature exceeds 115 degrees in Phoenix, all that chitchat about "it's a dry heat" goes out the window.
As I labored in my personal furnace, I was happy to see I was almost finished. The big shelves were empty. All that remained was an orange plastic crate tucked behind a workbench on the cement next to the wall, nearly unreachable for any human hands. I grabbed pliers and flattened myself on the floor on my belly, reaching deep into the recess. Pulling the crate out, I wondered about its contents. Like most of the boxes in my garage, I had no memory of what was inside.
The time machine...
I opened the crate and suddenly was transported back 25 years.
The box contained personal heirlooms, school mementos, and old newspapers, crinkled and yellowed from the ages. I slowly foraged the box's contents, careful not to mistakenly needle a scorpion, a common house pest in the Arizona desert. One after another, I filed through high school yearbooks, college awards, and old photos. I was strolling through Memory Lane at a snail's pace.
Suddenly the oppressive heat no longer mattered.
Then I saw it at the bottom of the crate. And it flung my heart into my throat. It was a hardback book with the sole word "Breakthrough" inscribed on the cover. But this was no book; it was my personal journal from my youth that ultimately was known to me as my "depression diary."
I picked it up and opened it with trepidation, knowing my past thoughts were filled with angst and frustration. As I thumbed through the frayed pages, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Journal entry after entry revealed a lost and depressed entrepreneur trying to navigate a world not structured for ambitious entrepreneurs. Page after page, I reported one struggle and failure after another. I cursed myself with many names, from loser to moron. I paused and reflected on the pain and distress revealed in my writing. It welled my eyes with tears, and I was unsure if I wanted to keep reading.
Then I flipped the page. And everything changed.
The tears dried up, and the raw emotions faded as quickly as they arrived. The turn of the page revealed a new section of entries that would retire my "depression diary" for good. More importantly, they would change my life forever. So what was written on those transformative pages I transcribed more than 25 years ago?
It was my 1/5/10 Plan, an outcome-based goal-setting system on which GoalSumo was founded. Within those pages, I was prompted to outline my ultimate dream life. I described everything, from the business I wanted to own to the car I wanted to drive to the house I wanted to own and the wife I wanted to attract. One by one, I listed some ambitious goals, goals which, at the time for someone broke and depressed, were just seemingly implausible.
However, I didn't stop there.
A list of audacious, outcome-based goals is a far-fetched fantasy without a specific action plan behind it. In fact, I had done this exercise several times before with nothing to show for it. Outcomes are meaningless and trivial when there is no guidance for making them happen.
“Ask yourself if what you are doing today is enough to get you where you want to be tomorrow.—MJ DeMarco, Cofounder, GoalSumo.com
This time, I adjusted my strategy.
Instead of just listing a bunch of big goals and posting them on a mirror, I reverse-engineered those goals into narrower, granular objectives organized in elastic time frames. I chained and "siloed" every goal right down to the day. Regardless of size or ambition, each goal had a daily task assigned to it that "chained" to a future dream goal. This micronization made those distant dream goals more likely, and actually feel in reach. At the time, I didn't have a formal name for this process; it was just something I did with a pencil and paper.
This forgotten journal outlined my very first 1/5/10 Plan. And looking at it with fresh, albeit older eyes 25 years later flooded my heart with gratitude and appreciation. Virtually every dream goal I wrote down would come true just a few short years later.
With big goals met and the success that followed, the "depression diary" was bedded to that orange crate filled with relics of the past.
For the next 25 years, my 1/5/10 goal system was the bedrock of my daily schedule. I drafted daily "to do" lists that would become my life's ritual, creating massive productivity. Every day I would accomplish small things, which I knew would lead to big things.
In 2021, I wrote the book, The Great Rat Race Escape, which outlined my 1/5/10 Strategy for readers to deploy. Then, people started emailing me worldwide about their 1/5/10 plans and asking me for my daily "to do" sheets. As people started seeing results, others requested an online version.
And so, GoalSumo was born.
And it's ready to change your life like it changed mine.
MJ DeMarco, Cofounder, GoalSumo.com
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