Why You Should Slay A Big Dragon This Year (If You’re Not Already)

Stephen Hussey

I’ve always found it helpful to measure my life by what gets done each year.

Some people loathe the idea of the being so bound to the calendar, and choose to ignore it altogether with regard to their goal-setting, but I’ve always enjoyed being able to sit down in December and review all the objectives I completed over the previous 12 months.

Yet what truly excites me is not a laundry list of small bucket list items achieved (e.g. speak at a wedding, travel to Asia, take French classses), but a BIG DRAGON SLAYED i.e. finishing a big project.

I like to look back at those HUGE projects that required focus, stamina, and pushed me in a way that afterwards left me with a true feeling of progress and accomplishment.

Somehow it just feels more motivating for me to work through the year having an anchor, some big, singular beast that I can carve out time for, something I really know will move my life forward or give me true satisfaction upon its completion.

In previous years this has been:

  • Co-writing the manuscript of a book (which became a New York Times Bestseller)
  • Finishing my PhD (in previous years it was “write a first draft of my PhD”)
  • Bringing a product from idea to completion

These things sharpen my focus and give me a tangible goal to attack each morning when I awake and wonder what to set my mind on.

It’s not as though any of these things are somehow my entire life’s work. They are simply the things that, if I focus on them now, will push my life forward and propel me to the next level. The things that deep down I feel compelled to do, even if they feel ambitious and frightening to my current self.

There are four reasons I think slaying a dragon (i.e. taking on a big, scary project) works so well:

– It gives you a giant leap, instead of a little push forward

If you don’t take on a dragon, you’ll spend a year working on whatever small jobs come to eat up hours and hours of your time, but which don’t really move the needle a year from now. That’s when you wake up on January 1st and realise, “I accomplished none of the things I wanted to last year, how did this happen??”).

It happened because you ignored the dragon. You spent your time instead off in the woods hacking at spiders and insects, instead of emerging to face the real beast you know you need to take down to make progress.

– It gives you real “retrospective pleasure” later on

I’ll admit it. I still feel a strong sense of pride whenever I look back on the book Matt and I worked on together.

I also look back at my PhD with a real heartening sense of having climbed a mountain. The pleasure keeps on returning, like you’re constantly reaping emotional dividends from having truly stretched yourself.

Take on dragons, and you’ll sing songs in your heart long after victory.

– It improves your craft

Choose a big project that you know will be cognitively demanding and test the limits of your skillset.

Taking on only miniature goals tends to mean incremental improvements, whereas attacking a dragon means you level up afterwards and learn 100 lessons you would never have known if you had kept your ambitions small.

You don’t have to know what your passion is to decide which dragon to attack, just take on a task in an area you know you want to improve at right now (e.g. Book to run a marathon, build a blog and post every week, or start a business and resolve to acquire 10 customers).

– It gives your year meaning

Meaning comes from many places, but knowing that the last 12 months were about something helps me to give the year a significance it wouldn’t otherwise have had.

You’ll spend the year chipping away, and in the end, after a ton of heavy lifting and wondering whether it will pay off, you’ll have something real and tangible to show for your efforts.

We’ve not yet reached the end of January. Get on the train now, choose your weapons, and decide on a dragon you want to take down this year. If nothing else, it will let you flex your fighting skills.

Question of the day: What dragon will you slay in 2016? Let me know in the comments below!

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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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16 Responses to Why You Should Slay A Big Dragon This Year (If You’re Not Already)

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  1. Adam says:

    Being a published author

  2. Emily says:

    Draft a book.

  3. Sandy says:

    Im in Wisconsin right now and need to get back home to Texas soon. Then I have a business to get restarted and a ton of goals to accomplish. Happy New Year!

  4. Lindsey says:

    I’ll start building my writing portfolio and publishing again. Nice article, Hussey. Keeping me motivated. Xx

  5. Ashley says:

    Dear Dr. Hussey,
    Slaying Dragon’s eh… I love a good analogy like that :-)

    Coming off the MH retreat this past December, I have a lot of Dragons with plans for slaying them. My baby Dragons are wrapped up in my bigger plan of creating and completing a year long happiness project. The plan is solidified and now I am enjoying this months goals centered around spirituality and meditation. Two of my larger Dragons are to create a weight loss program for my clients and write an article about why we fail at enabling/encouraging/motivating clients to effectively induce weight loss in their pets. These are huge professional Dragons for me. Personal Dragons would include creating a local social network and committing to the “right” guy for me.

    Your comments about how it can be motivating and inspiring to think about your past Dragons made me reconsider how I view the past. I guess it’s a trophy room of sorts… Generally I don’t like to live in the past, but I guess visiting it from time to time can’t hurt and can be inspiring for the future… Great food for thought! Thank you!

  6. Anni says:

    My dragon is to move overseas to live and work, I have so many concerns in doing so (i.e. missing my family, the weather), but it is also something I want to do for myself and for my career. I feel now is the right time and I have to stop putting it off. Very apt post, thanks Stephen.

  7. Kathryn says:

    In the process of fighting for my child to go to the school he has chosen, his right to an education with the proper support and for the local education to make it wheelchair accessible. Disability rights and wrongs! a big fight of mine. In the meantime currently doing a course on setting up a sustainable fashion business. Really pushing now for some help as I do everything myself and do not have enough energy for it all unless I delegate.
    I did an International Law MOOC last year which was a push, doing the written work late into the night. So worth it for an achievement and practically to enable me to frame and articulate a legal argument when I had to represent myself.
    Great article Stephen, you have some truly awesome achievements, an inspiration. xxxx

  8. anon says:

    Stephen…It’s interesting that you talk about an “anchor” in life. That’s exactly the word I would have used to describe a music group I used to be in (I left it a few years ago for certain reasons). It really was an “anchor” to me because it took up 4 hours of my weekend (every weekend for over 10 years) & at certain times of the year when we entered competitions it took up even more of my leisure time. Since leaving it I am now establishing a few smaller anchors to replace it. Thanks for the blog!

  9. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this post Stephen!!!

    I have battling in my head with how I want to move forward in my life. I want to feel fulfilled and accomplished as you described but I continue to hold back on making a decision because I have too many choices! Such a common pitfall for people I am sure.

    I’ve decided this year I am going to return to my love for writing and post on my Blogger page and begin submitting some pieces to various magazines and online communities. As a fellow reader posted, once I begin I think I’ll feel even more creative and get some excellent momentum going.

    Good luck on slaying your dragon in 2016!

  10. Hildah says:

    Great article.It really got me really thinking about my 2016 goals.My biggest dragon that i am going to slay this year is finishing my Masters thesis and learning french.Last year i signed up for some french classes and never followed through because other important things came up but this year i am going to follow through.

  11. pocetak2015@yahoo.com says:

    You are so young but so wise. Bravo!I am surprised.

    Maja

    pocetak2015@yahoo.com

  12. Aimee says:

    This got me thinking super deep on my way to work. I have some super key milestones in my relationships I need to do. Like connect with my family in Texas, which I have put off. Sounds small but think of the sitcom “Hart of Dixie” and you get my reality. Super important if I am to make a life here. Some of them in fact are some of the most influential people in the city and they could really help me but I have yet to connect. Doing that next month. And thanks to your Impact program I feel a lot less anxiety about walking in on the big events they hold.

    Next on my list is to increase my income dramatically so I am better prepared to leave my day job to pursue my dreams of being self employed helping others. So fastest way is to increase my sales for one business I have. So really DO need to add 10 more people to my org.

    Then I have some big dragon slaying decisions to make around my new org. Turn it into an LLC in March, and my action plan around building it the right way. Was thinking of doing webinars like Lewis Howes does but I think I came up with a long term plan that may produce better results for me personally. And this long term plan will take me the entire year to build. If I get that one gigantic monster slayed I will feel like I have something substantial to earn an income from and a ton more content to draw from for all the other outlets.

    Deep thoughts….

    • Sydney says:

      That all sounds amazing. Thought you might like this quote :

      “Importantly: Money is not proportional to effort. It is related to where you put the effort. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Some people empty city trash cans all day long. I’m sure it is very hard work, and yet it pays very poorly. Working harder at emptying trash cans will not improve the situation.

      You can dedicate all your efforts to making the most money with the least effort. Then, give a lot of effort. You will make a lot of money. This is what 80% of dudes are doing. And maybe 15% of women. I think a lot of women feel unnecessarily guilty for making (or trying to make) more money than they think they “deserve.” Money is a point system and a game that has a limited correlation to effort and value.”

      By- Source: GetBullish.com

      Remember to execute smart effort. Strategy leads to success. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

  13. Alexis says:

    Love this, Stephen! I’m really starting to understand the power of tackling those dragons. So far I’ve started the year with learning to shoot a documentary and am currently on location on the other side of the world. I’ve made loads of mistakes, it scares the hell out of me, and there is no guarantee that it won’t be a piece of crap when it’s done. I’ve wondered throughout exactly what I had gotten myself into. However, this all seems besides the point…..I’ve learned SO MUCH, in a way that I wouldn’t have had I not just jumped in and experienced baptism by fire. What I’ve really learned through these big projects is to not worry about having a perfect idea, or even just an idea full stop, and being fixated on having that first before starting. You don’t need a big, perfect idea to begin something creatively big. More often than not, ideas and inspiration seem more likely to come to me AFTER the process of just beginning, and not before. Another big one for me this year will be (hopefully) returning to school for my PhD. Again, the enormity of it overwhelms at times and I wonder exactly what I’m getting myself into. Kind of curious if you have any pearls of wisdom from your own experience in getting through your studies? Also any dragons that you plan on slaying this year that you care to share?

    • Sydney says:

      That all sounds awesome!!!

      I found my dragons, too.

      One is this documentation I’m putting together for work. i want to make the records really good.

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