One of my big things for September was the formalization of what I called my “Conquer List”. This is simply a list of things that in my past seemed insurmountable, but could be considered essential for life. The thought was to write down anything that I’ve ever said to myself, “I’ll never be able to do that”, or “I’ll never be any good at that.” Classic examples from the past have been cooking, dancing, money, mornings, and math.

But writing these things down and wanting to conquer them of course isn’t enough. Reading Ray Dalio helped me start to formulate a plan for how to approach conquering these things:

  1. Clearly define what it is.
  2. Identify problems that will prevent you from doing it,
  3. Find the root cause of the problems,
  4. Design plans to get around these problems, and
  5. Push through to results.

This is simplistic of course and doesn’t point out some essential goal-setting elements (like measuring, for example), but it sheds some light on a key fact: if there were no problems preventing you, achieving goals would be a cakewalk.

As I’ve built out the list and done further reading, my thinking on the Conquer List has shifted. The List is great but what’s really behind it? I’ll tell you. What are you really conquering? Put the focus on the problems, or as I like to now call them, the Enemies. When you evaluate something in terms of friend or foe, you will identify the things that are in fact existential threats to becoming who you want to be. Could be simple things like drinking, smoking, and/or being lazy. Could also be difficult things like deeply-broken personal relationships that need to be repaired.

You should definitely try thinking about all the stuff that most people wouldn’t put in a dating profile, and then draw some lines between those things and what your goals are. You have just identified some enemies to conquer, and now that you’ve identified them, you can take them out.

artwork: julius caesar

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