Every ambitious person I know faces the following dilemma:

“Should I choose big goals that excite me, even if they feel scary and unrealistic? Or do I settle for small, easily achievable, boring outcomes that will help me build some momentum?”

In his book Feel Good Productivity, Ali Abdaal gives us the answer.

We need both!

He proposes we think in 3-time dimensions: long-term, mid-term, and short-term.

#1 Your Endgame

We start, by thinking of our endgame:

Imagine you passed away, and people gather for your funeral.

Your spouse, one of your kids, or your best friend holds the eulogy.

What would you want them to say?

By thinking about your death in this way, you’ll start wondering:

  • Do I allocate enough time to people I love?
  • Do I spend time doing the things I enjoy?
  • Am I contributing to the people I care about?
  • Am I living the kind of life that makes me feel content with myself?
  • Am I taking care of my physical and mental health?

#2 Twelve Month Celebration

Next, we want to understand where we’re heading, by asking ourselves:

“In five years from now, how will my health, my relationships, and my career look like, if I:

  1. Stay on my current path.’’
  2. Choose an alternative path.’’
    • Commit to a radical path and do the unthinkable.’’

Once we identify our desired endgame and trajectory, we can concentrate on establishing midterm goals in crucial areas of our lives: health, relationships, and careers.

To do this, Ali offers the Twelve Month Celebration:

This is how it works:

Picture yourself chatting with a friend and discussing what your life would have to look like in one year from now, so you’d want to celebrate your progress:

To help you understand what a balanced and successful year could look like, Ali offers the Wheel of Life, a visual tool consisting of a circle, with 9 sub-categories:

  • Body, Mind, and Soul (all for health).
  • Mission, Money, Growth (all for work).
  • Family, Romance, and Friends (all for relationships).

By coloring the fields in the circle for each sub-category (1 field if you are far from where you’d want to be a year from now, and five fields once you hit your target), you’ll see where you stand in the key areas of your life, and what action steps you can take, so you’ll move towards your 12-month celebration.


For your health, you might wish to hit a certain weight (body) and experience more peacefulness (mind) and a sense of meaning (soul). So you commit to going to the gym 4 times a week (body), meditating daily for 10 minutes (mind), and volunteering once a month for a charity that you feel connected to (meaning).

#3 Daily Action

Using the Wheel of Life, you can easily choose short-term goals, by selecting 3 daily action steps every morning (e.g. one for each category). Ideally, they are not too difficult, but clearly move you towards your 12 Month Celebration:

For example, for today, my three action steps are:

  1. Going to the gym (health)
  2. Going on a playdate with one of my kids (relationship).
  3. Spending 30 minutes planning a client call that I have this week (career).


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