This will take about 16 minutes to read, but it took me 25 hours to write. I do this to add value to the people that are part of our community, as I Love Ugly is more than just a clothing brand; it's a movement and a way of thinking and living.
This is for the artists who see their clothing as an extension of their canvas. For the creative who dares to stand out from the crowd. For the designer who strives to make a statement. For the musicians whose style influences their melodies. This is for the customer that defies the conventional. For the budding entrepreneur who wants to make their dent in the world or for the person who simply wants to become a little better every day. For all those who aspire to inspire, I've written this for you.
We live in a time of instant gratification. We’re the shake ’n’ bake, microwaved meal, every answer at the fingertips generation. Instant solutions for everything — “Get rich in a month”. “Have a six-pack in 8 weeks”. “Find the love of your life with this easy trick”. "Turn your business around in these 3 easy steps”.
Unfortunately (and I'm going to be honest), I've been duped into trying a number of these, and I can tell you that they don't work. Not in the long term anyhow. Not in the way adverts tell us they will. Now, I’m not saying I’ve got all the answers to the secrets to success. But I have a few strategies that I’ve tried and tested. They’re nothing new, but god damn, they are effective.
When I started on my journey of creating a better life and making my business succeed, I was as lost as some of you reading this article may be. But I found a burning desire to build a better way. Desire led me to faith. Faith led me to ask the right questions which then led to better answers. Today's beginners will become tomorrow’s masters. Whatever phase that you're in now, whether you’re feeling stuck, awkward, lost, confused only has the potential to grow into something better if you stick at it. I truly believe people have so much potential that's very rarely tapped into; that so many of our possibilities are obscured not only by misfortune and health, but by poor choices, habits, thinking patterns and a lack of goals.
Setting goals has been one of the most powerful strategies in my life. It has gotten me through some pretty dire times and sent me to levels in business and life that I could not have fathomed a decade ago.
Unlike what the media says, “geniuses” aren't born. They are made. And they’re no more special than you or I. What most stories about “geniuses” and “overachievers” aren't disclosing is the realness of what it took to get there — the grit, despair, sleepless nights, trauma, confusion and all the self-doubt encountered along the way. They don’t mention the dirt they had to eat on their way to the top. They don't mention the goals these people set themselves to empower them in overcoming it all.
This is the piece of the narrative that is always missing. “Geniuses” and “overachievers” are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day. And by extraordinary, I don't mean working 14 hours a day, seven days a week or getting up at 3:30 am every day to jump on the treadmill. It's simply doing one extra thing every day that takes you beyond the ordinary to extraordinary. The effects that consistent incremental improvements can have on your life can be incredible.
If you want to make your life better permanently, don't try to change everything today. No matter how motivated you are, you will eventually run out of steam if you’re fuelled just on motivation. Instead, do something sustainable, something you can make last for years, not days. I call it the 1% strategy — becoming 1% better every day. That 1% compounded over a year, two years, five years is extremely powerful. You won't recognise yourself and you certainly won't regret it. And best of all, 1% better is something that you can achieve. It will not be instant, but it will be permanent.
The glue and the overarching topic of this article is goals. The power of setting goals and the profound effect they have on your everyday life. I have always had goals, some conscious, some subconscious, some powerful and some admittedly shitty. But they all brought me results, especially as I have become more focused on them as of late. I attribute goal setting to I Love Ugly’s success.
You're not going to get to where you want to go by accident. Therefore, it's essential to have clear goals that can be looked at multiple times a day. They are your coordinates. They are the directions trying to get you to where you want to end up. If you set them but don’t get there, that’s fine. Accept it. Reflect on it. Figure out your next target. Regardless, you will learn something valuable, and you will carry that wisdom with you for the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
Even when fully committed and clear in what you want, there’s still a chance you might fail. There always is. But if you don't make what you want crystal clear, then you definitely will fail. You can't hit a target when there isn't one to hit. A fool never learns. A smart man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.
The funny thing is, everybody has goals. But some goals are better than others. A drug addict on the street without a penny to his name still has a goal of getting their next high. Despite the negative repercussions of achieving that goal, they still have one and will try to achieve it every day. It's no different to a UFC fighter. If their goal is to be a champion, they have to carefully pick their coaches and nutritionists, they have to train hard and eat well, and most importantly, they have to think and conduct themselves in ways that will help them attain that goal. If your goal is to create an eight-figure business, you will need to shift your mindset in the same manner a UFC fighter would. What do you need to change? What resources do you need to acquire? Who do you need to become?
Their obsessions become their possessions. And even though we might see a drug addict and a UFC fighter as opposites, are they really? Or are they just products of different goals?
You owe yourself to spend at least 10 minutes a day fine-tuning and working on self-maintenance. This can include reading (non-fiction), journalling, yoga, exercise, praying, meditating, drawing or whatever brings you peace and equanimity. However, I would highly recommend spending at least 5-10 minutes setting, reviewing and daydreaming about your goals. Get them burnt into your mind. The more you do this, the more you will start making decisions that will bring you inches closer to what you want. And inches compounding over months equate to miles in the long run.
Ten minutes is less than 1/6th of an hour, less than 0.7% of your day, yet it can have the most profound effect on the remaining 99.3% than anything else you do. Try it. Most people spend more than 6 hours in front of screens each day, numbing their minds and becoming intoxicated with other people's lives. (I encourage you to check your screen time statistics, you might be both amazed and horrified). Lack of time is never the problem.
When you design or make a goal, you are literally carving out space in your brain that did not exist before. You're creating a target, something to aim towards. It also tells your brain that this is important to you. Because of that, it will actually begin working on auto-pilot to attain it. Without getting into too much science, it's activating your Reticular Activating System (RAS). Have you noticed that when you buy a particular pair of shoes, they’re suddenly everywhere and everyone is wearing them? That's your RAS kicking into gear. The shoes were always there and the same people were always wearing them. What’s changed is that your brain thinks the shoes are important and begins filtering through the billions of other pieces of information and brings them to your attention. Your brain does the exact same thing when you set goals. Suddenly, you begin picking up on the little things, the information, people and opportunities, that will help you get what you want.
Clear and well-defined goals give you a sense of momentum and positive engagement when working to attain them. They help simplify your life and your world, reducing anxiety, uncertainty, shame, aimlessness, indecisiveness, and meaningless, futile thoughts that cloud your judgement and cause needless stress. Life can also become pretty banal without them.
Just like a failing business, a poorly functioning person usually has no goals, at least none that inspire and stimulate them. In turn, this causes them to be volatile and directionless, thrown around by the ebbs and flows of life. A lack of direction in life is simply a lack of goals. This will quickly conspire to produce helplessness, depression and anxiety. The physical and psychological effects of the latter two are an excess secretion of cortisol in body and brain, which causes rapid aging along with irritability, headaches, intestinal problems, weight gains, increased blood pressure and more. How do you expect to have control of your life, let alone run a successful business or career if you’re also fighting your own biology?
Your whole being needs a target in the form of a goal. Once you have your target that’s when you can point and fire. Suppose you aim at nothing; it's like jumping on a train aimlessly without knowing where your destination is. Eventually, you will have to get off or be kicked off with having no idea as to where you are. Lack of goals, in essence, means you have nowhere to go and nothing to do. You are bored and restless, and forgetting to add value to your life.
The ever-growing number of options presented to you on a daily basis can be overwhelming. But setting goals can help with that. When you set a goal, by default, your brain starts to organise what's most important based on the outcomes and attainability of the goal and disregards what's least important. Powerful stuff, huh?
You create a filtering system that allows your subconscious mind to rank things automatically in order of importance. It takes away that cloudy, uncertain feeling and replaces it with assertiveness and clarity. It makes you seem sharp, intelligent and in-tune. To the outside world, ‘extraordinary’.
I use this in every aspect of my life. Health, wealth, business, fitness, parenthood, relationships, hobbies, finance and my physical appearance — I can't stress how valuable this has been, especially when life has thrown curveballs and those “once in a lifetime” events.
I have even gotten my kids setting goals, however big or small they might be, and it’s fascinating seeing them progress in their hobbies, learning and happiness. I encourage them to write the goals on paper and put them on the fridge so we can all see them every day, talk about them and track them. I encourage you to do the same. It's incredible to see them experience the joy of completing a goal as it pushes them towards setting bigger ones. Starting small, building the habit and striving for 1% better every day.
It might seem boring and no fun, but do you really think it’s that bad to sacrifice immediate fun to create good habits and become a disciplined person? Do you really think it's bad to strive to be the absolute best version of yourself? Do you think it's wrong to want to have the nice stuff, a good life full of everything you could dream of? Believe me, when I say this, achieving your goals and winning is far more fun than fun is fun.
It's such a shame that ambition gets mistaken for greed or hunger for power, which is why it's rare for people to congratulate you when you make a million dollars or achieve success in an unconventional way. But I genuinely believe all of us have a moral obligation to ourselves and those around us to strive towards being the best version of ourselves. I'm not just talking about money or careers here, I’m talking about reaching our higher selves, our full potential, and through that, the upper echelons of life. I believe we all can get there if we want it badly enough and are willing to match the desire with effort and discipline.
Your intentions will set your mind to work on what it should be creating. Your brain works on what it is told to do, and unless you tell it what to do, someone or some external influence will. Trust me.
When you tell your brain what you want to attract, it will design internal messages that will feed the good parts of who you are and manifest them over a period of time. Goals are the currency that lets you make deposits in your “identity bank" instead of becoming part of someone else's dream that will eventually drive you into “identity bankruptcy”.
Not having goals, I believe, is a form of self-sabotage. You end up dialing down your potential and denying yourself the bliss that your life could be. Change begins with your mindset.
Optimism might not make you successful, but pessimism will most definitely ensure you don't succeed. You must intentionally elevate the quality of your thoughts. Frame them positively. Get yourself feeling good by moving your body, deleting Instagram, and spending 30 minutes a day reading some literature that will positively alter your perspective (like this article) as opposed to 30 minutes lusting over a lifestyle someone’s fabricating online. And when you sit down to set your goals, set goals with outcomes that will make you jump with excitement instead of breathing a sigh of relief.
Don’t be scared to want something that others might judge you for attaining. Fuck them. At least you have the courage to say it and strive for it. New Zealanders are notorious for this. To cut down the driven and motivated and glorify the failures only to say, "I told you so". There is nothing worse than seeing someone living a quiet life of desperation who hasn't done anything in years, yet they continue to cast negative judgment on those that are moving forward and are trying.
Procrastination is opportunity's silent assassin. You don't see it until you feel it. Conversely, change is the instigator of opportunity. By changing and shifting, you're heading in the direction of the new. New is scary and makes people uncomfortable. But the uncomfortable is where all the magic happens. The growth, expansion and the lessons. All the technology we use, experience and enjoy today is from somebody having the courage to step outside their comfort zone and into the unknown. They were doubtlessly judged and failed many times along the way but they persisted anyway. I Love Ugly was built on top of a series of failures and mistakes. But every mistake made was a step closer to creating a better company.
Few things in life are more expensive than the opportunities you miss. You pay for them with regret, doubt, and a lingering, haunting feeling of what could have been. That, to me, is the definition of hell. I have seen it happen to those around me. You can probably see it happening around you, the despair and the regret on their faces. Use that as motivation and a guide for directions to avoid.
I have been guilty of falling into this trap. When I have been struck with a calamity, it's addictive to indulge in your sorrows and speak about your problems outwardly, and what makes it worse is other people actually enjoy indulging in it . When you do that, you're simply adding more kindling to the fire, which will only prolong your suffering rather than killing it and moving on from it. It's ok to share your emotions, but you need to cap it; otherwise, you're letting it live longer than necessary. Problems left unresolved for too long turn you into a victim.
I learned a long time ago that we all have the wisdom inside us to create the future we want for ourselves. For whatever reason, most of us don’t tap into it. Fourteen years ago, I was lost, broke, uncertain and questioning my existence. Five years ago, it was almost the same. I Love Ugly was weeks away from bankruptcy and the bank called in with millions of dollars of debt I was personally liable for. The sane thing to do was quit. From the bank's perspective, my business was done. But I still had hope.
I took that hope and formed into goals. I turned down the volume of all the negative thoughts and turned up the ones looking for answers and solutions to my problems. I told myself I would figure it out. It wasn't a single revelation or strategy that got me out of the mess. It was setting a goal for what I needed to do that day, the next, that week, that month, and on and on. That’s how I succeeded.
For whatever reason, people often accept less than their potential. Too many quit their businesses, workout regimes, dreams or relationships before the good stuff comes. Too many give up when the palm trees are almost visible on the horizon. Although they might be making progress, it doesn't always show as quickly as they would like which causes them to quit early and pack it in. Sometimes it might seem impossible, like you’re a hamster stuck in the wheel, but to me that means you're only getting closer.
It’s a feeling that every successful person goes through, except they have the experience to know that it’s just a part of the journey. They expect it. Problems and confusion aren’t exclusive to people that are struggling or distressed. Everything seems impossible when you first begin, especially when you have been chipping away for a while without yielding any results. But as soon as you gain the satisfaction of making progress through the power of momentum, you begin entering a new realm of what's possible. This realm will expand as you continue moving forward.
My advice to you is to keep setting goals. Start small, achieve them, then set them bigger. Keep having faith in yourself, and review your goals as often as possible. Put them on your phone's screensaver, in your car, on the fridge — anywhere you can see them frequently. I have days when I look at my goals five times a day and sometimes go five days without looking at them at all. But I tell you what, when I look at them, my brain is immediately reminded of what's important to me, and it always gets me back on track.
At I Love Ugly, we set our yearly goals and sales targets at the beginning of the financial year. From there, we create monthly sales targets and share them with the team a week before the start of the month. Once the month begins, we track how we are progressing towards our sales targets on a daily basis. It’s extremely powerful when you have an entire organisation doing this.
I often go beyond this and look at how we are tracking on our sales targets up to 10 times a day. This way, we can make immediate adjustments rather than wait until the month’s end and wonder what has happened once it’s already too late. I believe this discipline in our business is what's attributed to us growing 130%+ year on year over the past three years despite being a mature business in the middle of a pandemic. You will improve what you measure, especially when you measure it daily. But a lot of people don’t measure at all.
Whether you can see it or not, you're making more progress than you think. When you're a kid and look in the mirror every 5 minutes, it's difficult to see if you are growing taller. It's not until someone who hasn't seen you in 6 months points it out that you realise how much you have changed. It’s the same with your goals. You're making progress every day, even if you don't see it. Unfortunately, most people don't stick to their goals long enough to realise the outcomes of that invisible daily progress. Once again, you need to be patient and persistent to taste it.
You need to have faith. Know that you’re moving forward and getting closer with each step. It will keep you focused on the road ahead even when you can’t see it. However, the progress you’re making isn’t just about the road you’re on. It’s about how you change. You're acquiring potent knowledge along the way and becoming a better person regardless of the final outcome.
One of the most powerful things I heard from Life Coach Jim Rohn was that everybody should have the goal of becoming a millionaire. This has nothing to do with cars, money or status — those are the fun bits. It’s about the person you have to become and the skills you must acquire to reach that goal.
I’m sure you got my point by now. If you reflect back on your life, all the high points would have resulted from having a goal in place. The bigger the goal, the bigger the rush. And the rush you get when you achieve a goal is an amazing feeling. Adrenaline kicks in and your confidence grows. I think it's one of life's greatest gifts and something you’ll now be able to utilise more consciously.
However, there is one last thing you need to remember. Don't let other people's goals become your goals. Parents and partners are notorious for this. I have had countless people reach out to me that they are doing a degree or have taken up a profession that they hate, but it makes their parents proud. I went down this path once before and can say that it's the most soul-destroying thing you can ever do to yourself. It always ends in regrets and resentment. Unless you have a clear goal for what you want, you will become part of someone else's. Please don't do it.
Push yourself to go into unfamiliar places. You’ll find that that’s where your most significant gains and successes will happen. That’s where you’ll grow stronger and expand your capacity for what you can achieve and overcome. When you come out the other end, you’ll never be the same again.
P.S. Here’s my quick, practical method for setting your goals:
- Clear your schedule, turn your phone off and all notifications for at least an hour.
- Change your physiology. I like to do a quick 15 minute kettlebell workout, or go for a quick run or put on some music that gets you in the zone.
- Pour yourself a cup of strong coffee and get yourself in a comfortable but empowering position.
- Begin writing down your goals, financial, business, personal, psychological, health, relationships, wealth, spiritual, material - anything. Anything that you want to attain in the next 1 month - 5 years that gets you excited.
- I then do this for 20-30 minutes as a mega session. I only do a mega session once every 6 months or so - usually by then my confidence is sky high or I've achieved a lot of my 6 month goals.
- Put your list of goals in their categories (financial, business, personal, psychological, health, relationships, wealth, spiritual, material etc) and be VERY SPECIFIC as to when you want to achieve them. Vagueness kills goal accomplishment.
- If there's a crazy audacious goal that you may be doubting yourself on achieving, have a compelling reason attached to it - as your why makes it 100 times more powerful. But don't be scared of putting ridiculous goals on there. It changes how you feel.
- Print out your goals and put them in multiple places where you can view them as often as possible - especially daily. I try to read my goals out loud at least once a day.
- When you accomplish a goal, it's important to celebrate or congratulate yourself, you start activating the reward system in your brain and it becomes addictive.
- Good luck