Have you heard of the navy seal 40% rule? It’s the idea that when your mind tells you that you’re done and that you simply cannot go any further, you’re actually only 40% done. You still have 60% left in your tank.
The average person tends to quit when the effort is massive and the timeline feels indefinite. It’s incredibly difficult to keep pushing through today when you don’t know how many tomorrows you will ultimately have to endure.
This is something that I see so many women in the tech industry go through, which inspired me to share the approach I’ve used and still use to this day to avoid burnout and make progress on a day-to-day basis. In order to be successful and reach your goals, it’s essential to mentally prepare yourself for what you have to do and quantify it.
Set Twelve Week Goals
I fail quickly, but I also bounce back quickly. My secret is setting micro-goals. In my book, The DevelopHer Playbook, I talk about running mini “sprints” and then taking important “pauses” to rest and reset.
I focus on mini steps and go all in, and then, when those are completed, I set new goals. I keep moving forward, and the goals end up stacking on one another. That’s how I’ve achieved so much – I use my bias toward action: I get something going, gain some momentum, and then I push on the accelerator.
I don’t make goals for the year; I make them for shorter time frames. I create twelve-week goals for myself. Twelve weeks is the time it takes to not only form a habit but to see real transformation. If that’s too long and overwhelming, I’ll set one or two-week goals. The idea is to create a shorter timeframe that is measurable.
Go All In
Within these twelve weeks, I make one-week sprints. I’m constantly evaluating and iterating. During these one-week sprints, I’m able to achieve more because I see roadblocks quicker and modify plans faster, all while pursuing ambitious short-term goals.
When I know all I have to do is complete specific tasks within twelve weeks, it gives me the strength to push through and get things done. When you eliminate the idea of the indefinite, tasks become much easier to manage.
Harness the Power of Compounding
My career was not an overnight success. It took time for me to see the results. I had to be really patient. And I learned something along the way – what may look like overnight success on the outside is usually the result of consistent, forward action.
Over time, these smaller actions compound, and what may seem to others like a big leap forward is really a natural progression. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Power kicks in when you do something over and over again. At first, the results may not seem measurable. It may even feel like you’re making no progress for all of your effort. But if you keep at it, soon, the results will start to rise – exponentially.
You Can Do More Than You Think
The navy seal 40% rule all comes down to being capable of more than you think. With practice and patience, you’ll find the way you approach projects to change. You’ll find that the extent of your limit may need some revisiting.
What you once thought was your limit may now become your baseline. It’s funny how it works, really – it’s all about the mindset – and the sooner you practice thinking and approaching work in this new light, the better you’re going to feel.
The best way for me to approach this is by setting my micro-goals and then going all in. The most successful people I know use tactics like this to avoid burnout and to be more productive, and you can do this too! I share more in-depth tips in my best-selling book, The Developher Playbook. If you haven’t yet, you can pick up a copy here. When your goals start to feel too overwhelming, it doesn’t mean it’s time to quit, but rather re-evaluate how to approach them. When the going gets tough, don’t give up; rather, readjust your perspective!