What if this was the year you actually did the thing that you have dreamed of doing, the thing that’s been in the back of your mind for months or years, maybe even decades? The thing that when you think about it, your whole body responds – exhilarated in part, energized. You can feel it in your heart. And if you’re being honest, maybe along with that tingling of excitement, there’s even a touch of fear and doubt.
Well, what if this was the year and now was the time to begin? How would that feel to you? If it’s even remotely inspiring or appealing and motivating, this very special episode is for you. If you’re ready, but if you’re not even sure where to begin, this episode is for you. The focus is on a very powerful framework that I have been developing and testing, using and refining for years that I call Success Scaffolding.
I am going to walk you through the 8 critical elements that are immensely powerful, unlock keys and guideposts that’ll let you – maybe for the first time ever feel so much more confident and have a real actionable roadmap to finally do that thing that you have yearned to do. This framework will help you get there and keep you inspired and supported along the way. And I’m also gonna do something I have never done before. As I share each element, I will also share how I tapped this very framework to conceive, launch, and grow a powerful new body of work, set of tools, products, experiences, trainings, books, and an entire company, Spark Endeavors, around these things I call the Sparketypes, which is a set of archetypes that I developed to help people discover and then center work that makes them come alive. The power of Success Scaffolding is that it kept me going through incredible challenges and self-doubt.
I have shared success scaffolding before, but over the years, I keep kind of refining it and tweaking it and tuning and optimizing, making necessary updates. And even if you’ve heard me talk about it before you’ve changed, the world has changed, and no doubt your personal circumstances have evolved. So listen in with fresh ears. My greatest hope is that it serves as a template for you to do and be and make real whatever it is that inspires you. Not someday, but starting today.
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Jonathan Fields: [00:00:01] So I have a question for you. What if this was the year you actually did the thing that you have dreamed of doing? The thing that’s been in the back of your mind for months or years, maybe even decades, the thing that when you think about it, your whole body responds exhilarated in part energized. You can feel it in your heart. And if you’re being honest, maybe along with that tingling of excitement, there’s even a touch of fear and doubt. Still, it’s the thing that safe bet you have wondered if it’s even possible, or more accurately, if it’s possible for you for so long without ever really even trying the thing that maybe you tucked away. But these last few years have reminded you life is uncertain, sometimes fleeting. Were made no promises of a tomorrow or the next day. And if you could only figure out how you’d want that thing to be real, to happen, maybe even at a level that changes your life. Not someday, but now. So what if this was the year you finally figured out how to turn it from a dream, or a fantasy, or a vision, or fleeting hope into something real, something manifest, something lived and accomplished and tangible, not for anyone else, or because it’s part of some societal checklist or a need that you’ve got to meet for anyone else’s demands or expectations, but simply because it matters to you. It’s about the feeling of not having just said yes to the possibility of it finally happening, but also having committed yourself to it, finding a way through any challenge that comes your way, including your own internal chatter and self-doubt, and then being able to not just revel in the joy of turning a goal, a dream, a vision into something real, but also being able to look back and know, even if you never utter it out loud to another human being.
Jonathan Fields: [00:01:59] I did that. Well, what if this was the year and now was the time to begin? How would that feel to you? If it’s even remotely inspiring or appealing and motivating, this very special episode is for you. If you’re ready. But if you’re not even sure where to begin, this episode is for you. And the focus is on a very powerful framework that I have been developing and testing, using and refining for years that I call success scaffolding. Now, this framework has been the sort of secret superstructure and motivating force between so many things that I have done from conceiving, launching and building companies. Two podcasts that have reached tens of millions, writing four books, learning to build a guitar to simpler yet deeply meaningful accomplishments like rewiring my brain to be more genuinely and consistently present in the lives of those that I love. Success scaffolding has been the silent, often hidden, yet critical infrastructure for all of it. And today, I am going to walk you through the eight critical elements that are immensely powerful unlock keys and Guideposts that will let you, maybe, for the first time ever, feel so much more confident and have a real, actionable roadmap to finally do that thing that you have yearned to do, the one that matters so much to you, whether it’s small and scale, or deeply personal or massive and societal, from maybe creating a new relationship to launching a new body of work or a company to some physical, emotional, intellectual challenge.
Jonathan Fields: [00:03:44] This framework will help you get there and keep you inspired and supported along the way. And there will be a ton of myth busting specific examples and action steps. And I’m also going to do something I have never done before. As I share each element, I will also share how I tapped this very framework to conceive, launch and grow a powerful new body of work, set of tools, products, experiences, trainings, books, and an entire company. Spark endeavors around these things I call the Sparketypes, which is a set of archetypes that I developed to help people discover and then center work that makes them come alive, motivated by the possibility of creating and sharing something that just might change the lives of millions of people and help organizations reimagine themselves as engines for the actualization, elevation, and full expression of those people, teams, and humans who make their very existence possible.
Jonathan Fields: [00:04:48] And I’ll focus largely on the massive effort that it took a little bit of an internal moonshot, if you will, to develop the Sparketypes and this central tool we call the Sparketype assessment, which has now become a bit of a global phenomenon impacting the lives of nearly 800,000 people. And we are excited to see that number soar past a million. Had you ask me if any of that was possible in the beginning, I’d have honestly answered, I have no idea. But the power of success scaffolding is that it kept me going through incredible challenges and self-doubt, and even now I feel like we’re just getting going. So I have shared success scaffolding before, but over the years I keep kind of refining it and tweaking it and tuning and optimizing, making necessary updates. And even if you’ve heard me talk about it before, you’ve changed. The world has changed. And no doubt your personal circumstances have evolved. So listen in with fresh ears. My greatest hope is that it serves as a template for you to do and be and make real whatever it is that inspires you. Not someday, but starting today. So without further ado, let’s dive into the Success Scaffolding framework so you can set this year up to be everything you want it to be. And I will also tell you at the end how to download a detailed, one page visual mind map that illustrates every critical element that I will share.
Jonathan Fields: [00:06:20] So be sure to turn off all your distractions. Grab a pencil or pen, open your favorite notes app and settle in. I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.. So I have been just incredibly fortunate and privileged and had the opportunity to say yes to many things and succeed at a few along the way. I have also failed at so much along the way, and still have tons of work to do as a human being, trying to be and do better. But when people ask what I’m up to or what’s exciting me, and then I begin to share what I’ve been creating or working on, one of the most common questions that I tend to get is, well, how do you do that? Especially over the last year, when pushing any endeavor forward seemed fairly impossible for a lot of reasons that we’re all aware of. And in the beginning, it was through a ton of pain and brute force that I would just literally do anything that I had to do to make things happen. But over the years, I’ve kind of deconstructed my approach to making big, meaningful things, even ones that are really hard, where the stakes are very high and the probability of success is very low to making them happen. And I’ve realized that it goes so far beyond what anyone else has ever taught me about goal setting or achievement, grit or anything else.
Jonathan Fields: [00:07:44] And also, over the last decade or so, I’ve dramatically changed the way I approach setting and accomplishing big visions so that it happens with far more efficiency and effectiveness and joy and seamlessness along the way. And what I’ve learned is that. Most people fail not because they’re destined to, or because something is hard, or even because they had a bad vision or plan. It is important to acknowledge that circumstance always plays a role. Rare is the domain where every person from every walk of life starts on the same line, with the same opportunity and resources. And beyond this, however, there is a bigger disparity the belief that simply having a clear vision and right plan allows anyone to accomplish anything. It’s a nice thought, but it’s also massively incomplete in its approach to making anything big or challenging or worthwhile happen. What we really need is a more robust and nuanced, step by step framework for success that sets us up to succeed no matter what comes our way. And after the years that we’ve had, we know things are going to come our way. We want a framework that is dynamic and responsive and fuels us to keep going even when things get hard, because they always will. And when you hit a wall and want to give up, because we always will, and one that is adaptable enough to really accommodate nearly any individual’s unique circumstances and aspirations. And this is what Success scaffolding is all about.
Jonathan Fields: [00:09:25] So I’m going to walk you through all of the eight elements and subelements now, and be sure to stay till the end, because as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to tell you how to download a simple one page mind map of the entire success scaffolding process. It won’t make any sense until you’ve listened, so don’t bother skipping ahead to do it now. But once we’ve walked through it together, that one page mind map, it may well become an unlock key for bringing the things that you have dreamed of making manifest in your life and in the world happen maybe for years, maybe for decades, but never really understood. What is this infrastructure to actually make it happen? Okay, so let’s dive into the eight P’s of Success scaffolding now. So let’s start out with the very first of our eight P’s. And the P’s are really just shorthand for the letter P, which is the first letter of all of the different elements. How I figured out how to make them all start with P’s. I’m not entirely sure, but it just happened to work out. And as a word nerd, I’m kind of smiling inside and out that it did. So the very first P is what I call picture to create a picture of that thing that you want. So maybe it is a health outcome, maybe it’s a relationship outcome, maybe it’s a book that you want to get written or a manuscript a rough draft.
Jonathan Fields: [00:10:49] Maybe it’s a new podcast that you want to launch. Maybe it’s a company, maybe it’s something really simple, maybe it’s a simple shift in the way that you eat or create or make whatever it may be. What we want to do is create a very vivid picture of the outcome that we are seeking to make real, to bring to life, to make happen. And we want to do that thinking of two levels. And I call these specificity and sensory. So we want to get as specific, as detailed, as granular as we can. When we think about creating the picture of what we want to make happen. And we also want to make it as multi-sensory as we possibly can. And there are a couple reasons for this. The more vivid it is, the more detailed it is, the more we actually get a feeling. It’s like we’re setting the GPS in our brains. We get a crisp, clear picture of the destination at which we want to arrive, and the GPS. That’s sort of the subliminal, the less than conscious scripts, which is the vast majority of the processing in our brain, gets to work on bridging the gap between where we are now and that thing. So the clearer we can get on what that destination looks like, the more our brain has information on how to map our present experience to what that thing is, the sensory side of it.
Jonathan Fields: [00:12:20] Also, it makes it visceral. It gives it life, it makes it real. And the other thing that we know is that our memories are deeply connected to sense and emotion. So the more multi-sensory and emotion we can make this outcome, the more real it becomes, the more easily and vividly we can bring it to mind and create a vivid picture. And that allows us to keep it alive and real, so that it doesn’t seem like this kind of ambiguous, blurry thing out there. Which is a harder thing for us to wrap our head around investing serious energy and effort and working towards. So we want to first create a picture and make it as specific and. Century as we possibly can. Now, this is a really interesting challenge for a particular type of outcome that you’re looking for, and that is one where you don’t entirely know what it’s going to be at the end. Right. So I can bring this up in the context of that tool that I was talking about, like I had this vision years back that we could identify a set of impulses for work that gives you the feeling of coming alive. And we were able to do that, and we distilled it down to ten of these unique impulses, and then realize that there were behaviors and tendencies and preferences that wrapped around each one of these that we called Sparketypes shorthand for the archetype that SPARKED you’re pretty straightforward, right? And then we started sharing them, and a lot of people were getting a lot of value, but we said, we want to see if we could build a tool that would be incredibly valuable at both, giving us more Intel and validation around these ideas, and also helping millions of people, potentially around the world, be able to identify what these impulses were for them.
Jonathan Fields: [00:14:06] Now, going into this, I knew what the qualities of this thing were. I knew what I wanted it to do and how I wanted to help people, and also to help us with our internal research. But I could not have told you with clarity what the exact thing would look like at the end. So it was a little bit harder for me to actually get really specific and sensory with the granular details of, you know, like, what would the visual aspect of this assessment look like? What would the questions be? But what I did have was a very strong sense of the qualities that I wanted in it. And for some people, what we find, especially if you are an artist, a writer, a maker or an entrepreneur, you may not know what that final thing is going to look like, or what the details are going to be, or what the product or solution or company is going to be in the beginning.
Jonathan Fields: [00:14:59] It sort of reveals itself over time. But, you know, you want to write a book, you know, you want to create a great painting or work of art. You know, you want to create an album or a set of songs around a particular theme, or, you know, you want to create a particular tool, and you do have a sense of the critical qualities of what you want to be embodied by that. And that sometimes for people who are starting with something where the specificity and the sensory details can only be revealed over time, you can still create the opening picture by focusing on the critical key qualities of what you want that thing to look and feel and do and be like. And then let the details start to sort of like fill themselves in over time as you start taking steps towards that thing. So that’s sort of like the way that I approach painting a picture when you actually don’t have the ability to be hyper specific about the granular details of it in the beginning. But you do have a very strong sensibility around the core qualities of what you want it to be built around. So that’s the picture. We start out by painting a very clear picture, and if you already have it in your mind, it’s coming to you. You can literally hit pause right now. Take your notebook, take whatever it is you want, and start to just journal on this.
Jonathan Fields: [00:16:21] Start to write it out right, start to get as detailed as you can, and then keep coming back to that over time. Because different things, different key elements, different specific elements and sensory aspects of it will just kind of randomly drop into your head as you’re walking down the street, and you want to keep going back and filling that in over time. That brings us to the second P, and that is purpose, the word purpose. So here’s the thing. Anything worth doing, anything that is deeply meaningful, where the stakes are high enough for you and you’re the only one who gets to choose what the stakes are and whether they’re meaningful to you or not. By the way, nobody else tells you or superimposes it on you. It may really matter someone else, but if you don’t care, it doesn’t matter to you. And it’s never going to generate a sense of purpose. And the thing is, we’re talking about things where we want the stakes to be significant and meaningful to us. And when the stakes are significant and meaningful, that also means that there is a significant and meaningful risk of failure. And there’s also a very substantial likelihood that you’re going to bump against all sorts of challenges and obstacles, adversity along the way. And when these things drop into your experience, if you haven’t already done the work to understand your why.
Jonathan Fields: [00:17:54] The thing that gives you a sense of purpose around this thing that you want to make happen. Then, as soon as things get hard, you’re just going to fold. You’re going to walk away. And I’m raising my hand. I know, because this has happened to me over and over and over, especially earlier in life when I didn’t understand the critical importance of getting clarity around the purpose, the underlying why, of why you’re saying yes to this thing, why you want to say this needs to be real in my life, in the world, why you want to make it happen. So purpose is really, really important because it is a powerful counter to the adversity that will touch down along the path, inevitably, sometimes, many times, sometimes at a very high level that is fully capable of derailing you from your vision. If you don’t have detailed clarity around why it matters so much that you can keep going back to and saying, this is getting really hard. Things that I saw coming are happening, or things that had no idea would ever happen are happening, and it’s painful and they’re suffering involved and there’s challenge and adversity. But I know why this matters to me. I know what the purpose is. I know what my purpose is in saying yes to this, and it is powerful enough to override whatever struggle I am going through along the way, because it is that deeply meaningful to me.
Jonathan Fields: [00:19:21] So you want to actually identify what is the purpose? What is your deeper why for wanting this to happen? And there are all sorts of different ways to get to sort of like this thing, but I found one of the most straightforward things and practical exercises. I’ve used this for years. I’ve taught it. I’ve seen it offered in many different ways, but I call it the three wise three levels of why, you know, and it’s simply asking at first, why does it matter to me that this thing, this goal, this vision, this outcome happen? Now the first answer is generally something kind of superficial. And then you ask again, and why is that important to me? And then the second level starts to get, you know okay. So it’s a little bit deeper here. And then you ask at least one more time. I’ve seen this offered up to five times. You basically keep asking and why is that so deeply important to me until you get to a point where, for me, I feel it viscerally, I will sometimes shake or be moved to emotion when I know that I’m at the answer. That is truly the deepest expression of my why the purpose around this thing. So when I think about, you know, I’ll keep going back to this example for me, the whole idea around building the Sparketype assessment, as you know, the initial thing was, well, why does it matter to me? Well, because I think it would be really cool and fascinating.
Jonathan Fields: [00:20:43] It’s like a fascination to be able to build a tool that would validate our scientific, early anecdotal evidence that shows that these impulses and imprints are real and super helpful, and also be able to build the tool that would help a lot of people understand the fundamental nature, the essential nature of work that makes them come alive. Okay, so that’s my first level. Why? Why does that actually matter to me? Why do I care? Huh? Well. Because. Doing work that actually matters is deeply important to me on a personal level, and if I could figure this out for myself and then help others figure this out, then I think that that would make an important, meaningful impact in people’s lives. Okay, so I’m getting closer to the bone here for me, but why is that important to me? And I’ve done this a couple of times now, and I’ve gotten to the point where my my why is around. This whole body of work is I have, over the last two decades, experience a couple of moments, one of them being 911, most recently, certainly, along with all of us moving through the pandemic where, you know, people you knew who were alive, you blinked and they no longer were. I have been brought to my knees, to tears, to heartbreak. Facing the realization that we are made no promises.
Jonathan Fields: [00:22:09] Life is fleeting, and to the extent that I have the ability to use my time on the planet well, and then potentially create ideas or tools or make things that help, maybe millions of people on the planet do the same. Wake up in the morning and know that they laying their head on the pillow at night, being able to tell themselves that was deeply meaningful to me. I was energized and joyful and. I understand for the first time how to make my days feel like that. For me, the ability to do that personally and then to potentially bring something to the world that let others do that. It was just it meant the world to me to have that opportunity to do that. So that’s sort of like the way that I worked through my levels of why, to get to that second p purpose, knowing that has allowed me when I have been bashed around and failed and stumbled so many times in building this entire body of work to keep coming back to it and saying it’s still worth doing, it’s still worth doing, it’s still worth doing. And that brings us to item number three, the third P in our success scaffolding. And this is the plan. This P is shorthand for plan. Interestingly, this is where most people generally start whenever they want to do something big. Hey, I’m going to go and run a 10-K or I’m going to write a book or I’m going to do this.
Jonathan Fields: [00:23:37] What do we generally start with? Okay, what’s the plan like? What’s the plan if I’m going to run a marathon, there is a typical 16 to 20 week protocol that is out there on the interwebs that tons of people will go and download and try and follow to a T, we generally say, okay, first, this is the thing I want to do. We don’t get real clear about it. We don’t think about why it matters so much to us. We just dive immediately into what’s the plan? How am I going to actually make it happen? What are the steps along the way? Those are almost always destined to fail. If you don’t do the earlier work of the specific and sensory picture and the deep, wide levels of purpose. But eventually we do get to the plan. We actually need something to tell us when we wake up in the morning. What actions am I going to take to make this thing happen? And there are four key things that I want you to think about when you are figuring out your plan. Now, I can’t tell you what your unique plan is going to need to be right. And whatever that thing is that you want to make happen, it’s important that we build a plan for ourselves that will actually work and acknowledge our own reality.
Jonathan Fields: [00:24:49] So there are four key things when you’re thinking about how to put together your plan. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help or look at sort of commonly available ways that other people have done something similar. Awesome. Use all that stuff. But I want you to also think about how to do it in a way that will actually work for you. So the four keys here, when putting together your plan for whatever this thing is that you want to make happen this year, first is what I call chunking it down, right? So we want to look at that ultimate outcome. But what we know through a whole bunch of research is especially if it’s big and the stakes are high and it’s deeply meaningful, and you maybe thought about doing it for a year, that when we focus almost entirely on the really big thing, that it tends to trigger all sorts of really large scale paralytic responses and fear responses in our brain, we get flooded with the amygdala and the brain, the fear center lights up, and it basically puts us into a state of inaction, fear, and often paralysis. Fight, flight, freeze or fawn. So how do we actually still work towards this big thing, but do it in a way where we can tamp down all of these natural responses, which are survival based responses, by the way, they’re healthy in a lot of circumstances, but not in this context.
Jonathan Fields: [00:26:06] How do we actually acknowledge the way the brain works? Hold on to that big vision, but build the plan that takes those fear responses and kind of like brings them down to a nominal level so they no longer stop us from taking action. And what the research shows us is that what we do instead is we basically reverse engineer all of the big and little steps that it would take for us to get from where we are today to that outcome. Forget about whether you believe you can do them, or whether you believe that they’re doable. For the moment, simply ask yourself if this is the vision, the outcome, the goal, the dream. Right. And this is where I am today. Just start writing down steps. What things would need to happen? What steps would need to be taken, what actions would need to be taken? What outcomes would need to be happening? Small, tiny little ones along the way in order to get from where I am to where this thing is that I want to be, you know, like to be made real on a really large scale. We call that chunking down. And we think about it on two levels both the steps, the actions and the stakes. And this is where most people completely miss. So a lot of us will actually like do the work of saying this is the ultimate outcome. Let me write down all the steps it’ll take all the little sort of like key things along the way to make it happen, and then the actions that I’ll need to take to do that.
Jonathan Fields: [00:27:39] Awesome, great. But what we also want to do along the way is chunk not only steps, but stakes. So what are the stakes of this thing? What is at stake? For us personally? It’s not the steps that often trigger the fear response. It’s the stakes. And the stakes very often are my ego, my status, a sense of power, prestige, security, certainty. Right. These are a lot of the big individual and social stakes that we associate with accomplishing something really big and often publicly observable. And that means observable if we accomplish it, but also observable if we fail to accomplish it. And all of the stakes that we associate with that social stakes especially. So what we want to do is chunk the steps down, not just to a level where we say, okay, so this is one tiny step towards that ultimate outcome, but also we want to chunk the stakes down and say this step. What are the stakes associated with this step? Are they tiny enough so that if I succeed or fail, or if the thought of failing at this one baby step, this one maybe of 100 or 1000 tiny steps along the way, that if I fail this one, well, the social stakes, the personal stakes, the psychological stakes, the tangible stakes, you know, they’re so small that it’s really not such a big deal.
Jonathan Fields: [00:29:11] So we want to make sure that we are chunking down both the steps and the stakes, because if the stakes on any given step are too big, that will trigger the fear response, and that fear response will put us into paralysis mode and we will simply stop taking action. So when you’re thinking about it, think about all the steps first, write them down as many as you can and then ask and are there baby steps within that? Write those down. Are there itty bitty steps within that? Write those down until you figure it out. You’ve kind of chunked down as much as you can and then ask for each one of those. Are the stakes associated with each step, the personal stakes for me, small enough so that I feel like my fear response will be pretty much kept at bay. It’s not going to be a big deal either way for each one of these. That’s when you kind of know that you’re at a good place. That’s the first one. Chunking steps and stakes. The second one is then identifying really clear benchmarks. So when you are moving through, when you’re checking off each one of those things, you want to actually keep track of that in a way that your brain will be able to look at and see a sense of progress.
Jonathan Fields: [00:30:26] So progress is an incredibly powerful motivator for sustained action, taking especially tiny little steps of regular progress. Professor Teresa Amabile did some really powerful research on this concept quite a number of years ago, and these tiny little indicia of steps that show us we’re making a little bit of progress, a little bit of progress. They have a huge effect in keeping us going. So we want to create benchmarks, whether it is a giant to do list or a checklist or a spreadsheet or a calendar on the wall where you’re x-ing off days, whatever it may be, create a way to visually be able to see and track your accomplishing these little benchmarks. And each benchmark might just be looking at all the little steps that we talked about chunking and doing one of them, and then the next and the next. But we want to create a tracking mechanism. And if you can make it visual all the more better, because our brains love to see visual things like that beyond the motivational effect, beyond sort of like seeing that we’re making progress towards it and starting to believe, oh, that progress is feeling really good and making me truly believe that this thing is possible. It also helps to offset something called the negativity bias in our brains. We are weirdly wired beasts in that our brains default to negativity far more easily and more often than they do to positivity.
Jonathan Fields: [00:31:53] That includes potential outcomes, so our brain is much more likely to go to recognize all the progress we haven’t yet made, or the things we’ve stumbled at, or the things that we haven’t yet accomplished, rather than what we have accomplished to help offset that negativity bias. When we build a benchmarking mechanism, it allows us to literally visually look at something that tells the negativity bias in our brains. You are wrong. This is actually working. So benchmarks, especially visual ways or mechanisms, can be incredibly powerful. Now the third element of the plan is what I call workarounds. And this is interesting because this pushes up against a lot of popular lore around this thing that folks call magic. Manifesting. Manifesting in my mind tends to be a different way of saying achieving goals that are deeply meaningful to you, accomplishing things that are deeply meaningful to you. Having things manifest in your life where you play a role and it matters to you. It’s all the same stuff. So here’s the thing. In the world of manifesting, very often there is a guide that says, do not ever think about anything except absolute success things going 100% right? Because if you think about stumbles or challenges or adversity or any of those things, you will attract them into the process and you will make it more likely that everything will fail. Turns out there’s actually research on this. Professor Gabrielle Union developed a methodology she calls she shorthands as WOOP, which stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan.
Jonathan Fields: [00:33:33] And she was curious. She said, you know, are you more likely to achieve a deeply meaningful goal if you anticipate all the possible things that would go wrong? And this is external and also internal, meaning your own chatter and fear and self-doubt, and then identify them and get clear around them and pre-plan how you would respond to them if in fact they did happen. Or are you more likely to succeed if you just completely ignore them, push them out of your mind and think only of the success outcome? She tested this in a laboratory in peer-reviewed, published research. Turns out you are far more likely to actually achieve the thing you want to achieve. If you think about the things that can go wrong, the potential oh obstacle element of whoop in advance and then pre-plan how you would respond to it. So if and when it does happen, you already know how you’re going to move through it. So these are the workarounds. Think about what you want. Right? You have that picture. You have the purpose. You’ve done the chunking. You’ve figured out the benchmarks. Now think about okay, so what are the things that are potentially going to show up along the way. That would serve as challenges. Points of adversity. Obstacles for me externally, environmentally, circumstances or internally like my own self-doubt, my own chatter.
Jonathan Fields: [00:34:59] This may be based on your own past experience of having tried this thing and these things coming up. So anticipate these. And then, rather than just being a little bit delusional and telling yourself, none of this will ever happen. Acknowledge the fact that they may. You might even want to assign probabilities or likelihoods at any given 1st May or may not. And then think to yourself, if this happens, what would be my intelligent response? Plan it out in advance so you already know how you’ll handle it, and you’re not completely derailed when it does. You build your workarounds in advance, and this is an incredibly and essential part of any healthy, functional, vibrant plan to make the thing you want to happen happen. The workarounds. And that brings us to the fourth critical element when putting together your plan. And this is what I call integration. And this is where we go from a plan that in theory, would work in a laboratory or work for all sorts of other people who have different lives and responsibilities and circumstances or resources than you. And you. So this is where we look at all the different plans that are out there, all the other wisdom, our past experience, and we say, given me, given my resources, given my life, my lifestyle, given my available energy and bandwidth, given my ability or constraints, what is realistic for me? Like how can I take these chunks and these benchmarks and these workarounds? And how can I put them together in a plan that rather than is this, you know, based on this utopian ideal of I wish my life was this way because then I would be able to actually do the plan perfectly.
Jonathan Fields: [00:36:50] How do I actually just look at the reality of my life and say, okay, how do I integrate this into my life and all that it has, you know, both positive and negative, expansive and and constraint-based, so that rather than being this fictional thing that assumes a perfect reality around me, it actually reflects my lived day to day experience and adapts and accommodates it so that as things happen in my life, it’s easier for me to stick with this thing because I have a built agility and integration into my own real, unique life circumstance into it in advance. So, you know, two people who want to maybe teach themselves how to accomplish the exact same thing. You know, if one person has fabulous wealth and incredible resources, they may have, like one particular plan that works with their life. If another person is very resource constrained, maybe has multiple family members or friends relying on them for support, maybe has young kids or toddlers or infants where you cannot set a schedule around them. The plan is going to need to be different to accommodate ability, resources, bandwidth, life circumstances.
Jonathan Fields: [00:38:10] Fold all of those in. Let go of the utopian ideal and let your plan actually be adaptable to your lived experience. So those are the four key things when you’re thinking about creating your plan chunks, benchmarks, workarounds, integrations. And when I think about if I zoom the lens out and again, I use the example of how sort of like I brought together a team of people and figured out, how do we go from having identified these really powerful Sparketype impulses to building a powerful and robust tool that would potentially be super useful for our research and also for other people out in the world? You know, this was a matter of doing a lot of research in different domains and positive psychology, from resilience to purpose in life to devouring a lot of research. So part of the chunking was a huge amount of research-based steps. And then what is the technology? What is the language? So I’m chunking all of the different steps and elements of developing a robust, validated assessment that’s useful to us and to others in the world, and that it put together benchmarks like how do we know? You know, first, we need to actually get to a point where we’ve identified what is an assessment, what is a fundamental framework, what are the platforms and technology we’re using? Who are the people who are going to actually build this out for us? What are the prompts that will go into it? How do we build an algorithm that is valid and robust across wide numbers of people across the globe? So it was chunking all these things into literally thousands of micro steps is a huge effort to do this.
Jonathan Fields: [00:39:49] And then setting benchmarks, how will we know that we’re moving forward and succeeding, you know, and getting clarity and testing and testing and testing, then anticipating workarounds, some of which, you know, I saw coming, a number of which we had major tech issues, and we had to literally tear apart the entire assessment and the tech underneath it and rebuild an entirely new and different platforms because it wasn’t, you know, the earlier ones weren’t able to handle the complexity of the algorithm that I thought would be much simpler, but we actually needed to do something much more complex, which is why it took so long to develop this tool, and it had to integrate it. You know, I was bootstrapping this. You know, we are not a venture capital financed business with endless financial resources. So we were limited by financial resources, by time, by my own bandwidth, because I have a family and a life and other business ventures and podcasts. So everything had to fold into my own constraints, which made it take longer. But I was okay with that because it also made it more human along the way. So that moves us into the fourth P in our AP scaffolding.
Jonathan Fields: [00:41:00] And I’m actually going to sort of talk about the fourth and fifth together because they they feed into one another. The fourth is what I call possibility. And then the fifth is proof. So possibility. And this is pretty straightforward. One is the belief that this thing that I want to accomplish or do or make happen is possible. Now here is the important thing. You don’t have to 100% believe that it’s possible. You don’t have to sit there and try and brainwash yourself into some delusional state that says ra ra ra. This is absolutely 100% going to happen. Nothing will stop it from happening. It is possible. It is possible for me to do it. It is possible to happen in the world. Maybe, you know, people who buy in on that level and who are just 100% possibility-oriented. That’s not me. It’s never been me. And it’s not the vast majority of people that I know, even, by the way, the most successful and accomplished people that I have ever met in my life, and I have had the great and wonderful fortune to meet many stunningly accomplished people over a decade of doing the Good Life project. That possibility that I’m talking about is belief that it’s possible. What I call the 3% rule. You don’t even have to believe like more. It’s more likely than not. You don’t even have to believe.
Jonathan Fields: [00:42:20] Like you know that it pretty sure it’s possible. All I want you to do is be able to crack the door of possibility, open 3% and say, you know what? I don’t actually know if this is possible, but something in me says that it might be. And that small amount of possibility, the fact that it might be possible, combined with the fact that I’m crystal clear on my sense of purpose, why this matters so much to me. That actually gives me the ability to allocate resources. Now some folks will say, actually, you don’t need to believe it’s possible at all. You know, just fake your way until you make it. You know, just you don’t need to believe at all. Just start taking action based on the fact that you know you can fake your way into belief, and then eventually the steps that you take will convince you. Well, in a perfect universe where our personal bandwidth and energy and resources are unconstrained, that may be possible. I don’t know that universe, and I don’t know that person that exists in that universe. My bandwidth has limitations. There is an opportunity cost in life. Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Oftentimes many other things. So your brain says there’s a cost to this. And I found that it’s brutally difficult for your brain to actually take the first step for anything new and take a meaningful step that allocates resources unless you already in advance at least 3% believe it’s possible, because the opportunity cost of saying no to all those other things, especially when we’re living in a world of FOMO that dominates and controls so many people’s decisions, it will stop you from ever taking the first step.
Jonathan Fields: [00:44:11] So we need to find a way to at least get to that 3% belief in possibility. Which leads us to that number five proof. How do we get there? How do we get first to the 3% belief that this thing is possible and then over time to four and five and ten and 20 and 50, and then all of a sudden this is going to happen. Proof our brains need proof. And there tend to be four categories of proof that can be super effective for us when we’re looking to actually believe in possibility on the level that fuels action-taking and saying yes to this particular quest, and no to others on a level that will genuinely make it happen. Those four different types or levels of proof. One is what I call facts, data and demos. So if you can literally just find like is there research? Is there actual data, are there numbers, are there demonstrations that show me that this is possible? Our brains love data. They love facts. They love demonstrations that that show us this thing is possible. So that’s one type of proof.
Jonathan Fields: [00:45:19] Second type of proof. We look to similar others to the experience of people that we perceive to be similar to us in many ways, and have other people with lives that are similar to us being able to accomplish a similar goal or vision or meaningful quest, right? So we look at their experience and say, huh, well, if they were able to do it, and there’s a lot of similarities between them and me, well, maybe I’d be able to do it too. Our brains really work in an interesting way. That way, we look at the experience of other people that we view as being similar, as being proof that we too, might be able to do this. This is the power of testimonials that we see in marketing all over the place, but is also the power of testimonials in allowing ourselves the proof to believe in a sense of possibility that we too, might be able to do the same thing. The third type of proof that our brains often really love to see is the experience, or the shared experience, or the words of people who we trust. So maybe those are demonstrated experts in the field. Maybe they’re people with credentials, maybe they’re people with licenses, people who have accomplished these things where they are not like us at all, but because they are so deeply revered or accomplished or experienced or they have, you know, the degrees and the letters and the pedigree, we believe them when they tell us this thing is possible.
Jonathan Fields: [00:46:50] Now, here’s where you got to be a little bit careful. Our culture has become so fame-obsessed that we sometimes look at the simple existence of somebody else being famous as them being trustworthy. Do not make that experience. Sometimes fame is based on accomplishment, on true expertise, on demonstrated experience and skill and achievement on a level that actually would say, okay, so this is somebody actually that it does make sense to trust sometimes that fame is fabricated, especially these days in the world of shiny and happy and smoke and mirrors that we tend to see in the online space. Be really careful when you’re trusting somebody to allow you to believe that this thing is true. Get really clear on why you’re trusting them, and if it’s simply the fact that they have become really well-known or famous based on what they’re saying and not something more substantial, question that as a legitimate source of proof. And this brings us to the final type of proof that is super effective for us to actually believe get that 3% possibility so that we can start to take action and keep taking action. And that is our own micro tastes of progress. Once we gain the ability to take that first step, and then we start traveling down those tiny little actions in our plan, and we start checking the boxes and we start looking at the benchmarks.
Jonathan Fields: [00:48:24] It doesn’t take long until our own micro tastes of progress begin to serve as proof to our self that not only is this 3% possible. But this might really be possible in its entirety, even if I’ve never been able to actually think about it or make it this far, or believe it’s truly possible in the past. Our own experience of progress along the way. Benchmarking. Starts to make us believe in a powerful way that that thing we want so desperately to happen just might happen. And it starts to build a sense of possibility from three to 10 to 10 to a sense of inevitability. As the momentum begins to build and things go faster and faster. So that’s proof. And the four different levels facts, data and demos, the experience of similar others, the experience and wisdom and insight of people who you trust for good reasons and your own micro tastes of progress. So we’ve talked about the picture purpose, building your plan, developing a sense of possibility in the beginning, just 3%. And then through bringing these different types of proof in along the way, building that as you go. And we’re moving into the sixth P here in our success scaffolding and that is people. People. We need people along the way to accomplish anything deeply meaningful. It is extremely rare, if not impossible, for anyone to accomplish something genuinely meaningful and big, where the stakes are truly significant to us without anybody else coming along on this journey.
Jonathan Fields: [00:50:14] For us, question is, who are the people that really make the biggest difference? Now? You don’t have to name the people, but there are six categories of people that I have seen that can really help power you along towards achieving this thing that you so deeply want to achieve. So let’s talk about those six different types of people. And by the way, sometimes the same person can play multiple roles. Sometimes it’s six different people. And what I’ll say in advance is you don’t necessarily have to have all six categories. But what I will tell you is the more that you can have along with you as you are working to accomplish this thing. In my experience, the higher the likelihood of you actually achieving it, these categories of people who are there alongside you are really mission critical and your ability to make this thing happen. The first category is what I call coast drivers. Coast drivers are people who are very often trying to accomplish something similar to you, but they’re may be doing it for themselves also. So you’re sharing in an experience. An example of this might be, um, let’s say two people who are looking to create a rough draft of a book. You’re each working on your own book, your own idea, but you’re working towards the same thing, and you’re experiencing a lot of the same joys and elations and also challenges and struggles.
Jonathan Fields: [00:51:41] So coast drivers, you kind of like go along. You’re rolling together with each other. It’s the equivalent of if we have parents, if you’re a parent listening to this, when you had toddlers, you’d see like two little kids, what we call parallel playing with each other. They’re both building blocks, but they’re building their own thing, but right next to each other. And the sense of doing it side by side can be really powerful. One of the shared energies with coast drivers. Funny enough, two ends of the spectrum celebration and commiseration. So when each person, when you finish your word count for the day, or you get a chapter that feels great, celebrate! Yay! But also commiseration. When you miss your word count, when you just can’t figure out the paragraph or the idea or the theme. Everybody like is going to struggle with that too, as they’re working on this thing. So there’s a sense of shared commiseration, which is also really helpful to know you are not in this alone. If you’re struggling or suffering, you are not alone. There are people alongside you doing something similar and you can share in that, and that really helps. The second category of people are what I call champions. These are your cheerleaders. The primary energy of the champion is to cheer you on. So when you’re struggling, when you’re down, when you’re having a bad day, they cheer you on and say, like, I believe in you.
Jonathan Fields: [00:52:55] You shared the whole plan with me. You shared why it matters. You’ve shared your purpose and I know you can do this. Just keep going. The third type of person is what I call accountants. This has nothing to do with money or numbers or spreadsheets. The primary role the energy of accountants is accountability. They know your plan. They know your why. They know all the things about the quest, and they are willing to say, I am willing to check in on you on a regular basis and be a source of accountability to help ensure that, you know, there’s somebody who’s paying attention to whether you’re taking the steps and the actions needed to actually make this thing happen. The fourth type of person is what I call mentors. Mentors are very often somebody who either has a deep knowledge through intense study of the thing that you’re trying to do or accomplish, or they’ve done it themselves so they have their own lived experience. They have wisdom to share. So the role of mentors is to provide wisdom along the way that will help you figure out your way through obstacles, get through answer questions, solve problems along the way. Which brings us to the fifth type of person, and that is community. A sense that I belong to a group. And this doesn’t have to be a large group of people.
Jonathan Fields: [00:54:16] It could be, but also just be a couple of friends who meet on a regular basis. And there’s this sense of shared community that we’re going through this together. And I belong to a group of people who understand me why I’m doing this and the experience of moving through it together. And that brings us to the sixth type of person, and that is what we call challengers. And this is an idea that actually came from Adam Grant. When I heard him talk about how he when he’s writing books, he brings his grad students in or others in who are super smart and basically tells them to just have at his ideas and challenge them because he wants to know in advance whether something is defensible or not. And if it’s not, how can you either eliminate it or figure out how to refine it and make it what it needs to be? So the the role of the challengers is actually to identify potential gaps and allow to optimization and refinement. So these six different people and six different roles can make a stunning difference in your ability to accomplish the thing co-drivers, champions, accountants, mentors, community and challengers. And again, if you’re journaling along the way or taking notes and be sure to download the visual mindmap of this. After you want to take some time and just ask yourself, who are the co-strivers that I could either identify or bring on board, or go and find who are the potential champions? Who are the potential accountants? Who are the potential mentors? You know, where do I find the community that I can step into while I’m doing this? And who are potential challengers? The more that we can actually have people play these roles along the way, the more powerful, the more robust, the more adaptable, the more supported we feel, and the more likely we are to actually be able to accomplish this.
Jonathan Fields: [00:56:02] So with me, for example, again, going back to this idea of building an assessment that would lead to a tool that was available to help in research and potentially help millions of people and eventually literally build an entire organization. I looked for all of these roles. I had, my co-strivers. I knew I literally actually knew other people that were in the world of social sciences, developing their own bodies of work, in fact, even typing methodologies and developing their assessments and knowing what they were working on, how they were working. I had champions that ranged from my wife, who’s also my business partner, the people on my team, to friends who knew, like believed in me, people who were accountability, people who said, are you doing the work? They would check on me on a weekly basis and say, are you doing the thing that you said to do? In fact, we set up mechanisms between a couple of us where we had an automated form that to this day still comes every Sunday morning.
Jonathan Fields: [00:56:56] That requires us to reflect on what we accomplished in the week prior that we were working on. That was deeply meaningful, what the sort of agenda is that we want to accomplish in our plan for the week to come, and what we’ve learned along the way. And that gets shared along. A group of people who have said, yes, we will all be there for each other and check in on each other. Um, I assembled mentors, people who are way smarter than me, both on the development side on the. Assessment creation side on the different social sciences side, a sense of community, which we have this gorgeous community in Good Life Project.. And I started to let people in, knowing we were working on this thing and inviting people in actually to beta levels of testers, which also brought me to the challengers. We kept bringing in people in larger and larger groups of beta testing to say like kick the tires of this, what’s working, what’s not, how robust is it? Does it feel accurate? Does it not? So we kept having layers of input and challenging and like that led to us multiple times, completely breaking the thing down to zero and rebuilding and starting over when we realized there were flaws in reasoning or technology and things like this that made it eventually the tool that is now incredibly robust for so many different people.
Jonathan Fields: [00:58:10] So having those people, identifying them and inviting them in along the way was critical for me to build something that was effective and real and powerful and meaningful, especially because there was a lot of adversity that kept happening, and a lot of these folks kept me on track along the way and still do to this day. This brings us to the seventh key element, the seventh P, and that is what I call practices. You may have sensed already that anything worth doing, anything worth doing on a substantial scale. It’s going to challenge you. It’s going to very likely bring you to your knees. It’s going to bring you up into the clouds. It’s going to bring you slant way sideways, all the different things. And it’s going to challenge your mind, your mindset, your state of being, and a lot of different ways. It’s going to challenge your ability to get things done and your ability to actually just be able to breathe and stay calm and resilient and focus and to make really thoughtful, discerning, intelligent decisions along the way. This is just the nature of any quest worth saying yes to. So in order to actually be able to make that process more useful, more psychologically and emotionally useful, and make better decisions and be more effective, I have found developing a set of just fundamental mindset practices is absolutely mission critical to being able to move through something that is challenging and potentially long term and feel okay, be able to breathe your way through it and keep coming back to a place of focus and calm and intelligent decision making for me.
Jonathan Fields: [00:59:56] And the practices will be different for each person, but I’ll share some of the ones for me that have been absolutely critical. A mindfulness practice for me has been stunningly effective at all of those different things. It helps bring me back to a place of calm. It helps me understand what is real and what is not, so I can be more resilient. It helps me focus in on what matters and let go of all of the chatter that really doesn’t. And it helps me get clear on what makes most sense, so I can be better at discerning what to say yes and no to. So that is one example of how to like, say yes to a practice that is incredibly powerful. At the same time, there are things like exercise. If that is something that is available and accessible to you in whatever way, your body will let you bring it in. Breathing exercises for you. Prayer, meditation, uh, reading, music there are all sorts of different things. The idea is not to make these random one-off experiences, but to literally build them into a daily practice that becomes a go to.
Jonathan Fields: [01:01:02] So for me, every morning I wake up, I roll out of bed, I move into my office slash studio. I spend time sitting on actually, an infrared mat, which helps with my body. I do a set of breathing exercises which bring me into a very particular physiological and psychological state, followed by a mindfulness practice for about 25 minutes. Now, on any other day after that, I may just bring in some other form of movement or whatever it may be based on just how I’m feeling, but that is my daily practice. That happens every day, and there’s both an automatic and an intentional part of it. The automatic part is the routine. Like, I don’t think about whether I’m going to do this or not. I’ve just built the structure so I know I wake up, everything is set up for me the night before, so it makes it super easy to just say yes to it. The intentional part is actually once I sit down and do the practice, I am very intentional and focused on it. So the automatic part becomes just habit that I don’t think about it. It happens on autopilot. The intentional part becomes a very focused, almost a ritualistic thing that is incredibly powerful for me. That is the seventh P, and that brings us almost home. We’re so close to the final P, which is actually fairly straightforward and simple, and it’s kind of a cool mechanism that I found to be super effective for me.
Jonathan Fields: [01:02:27] And there’s some fun research around, And that is what I call the pledge. So the idea is we all have this impulse inside of us, and it has been called the consistency principle, and that is that we have a very powerful impulse that makes us want to see ourselves as people who act and speak in a way that is consistent with things that we have done and said in our past. I can’t tell you why it is that way or where it comes from, but it is a powerful phenomenon that has been identified in research. Robert Cialdini, who wrote this phenomenal book on influence and has updated a number of times, first identified this, and it’s sort of like the self-influence principle. We want to see ourselves as consistent people, and we want others to see us as consistent in the world, in part because that also makes them see us as reliable and trustworthy. So what does that mean? That means that we can use this impulse, this principle, to create a simple pledge that will help support our ability to act consistently with something that we say matters to us. We create a very simple pledge, literally open a page in a book or a memo app, whatever it is that allows you to do it, that says, like, I am committing to working to accomplish this thing, this quest, this accomplishment, this goal, whatever it is, this is the reason why it is so important to me, why it matters so much to me.
Jonathan Fields: [01:03:59] These are the actions that I am committing to taking to make it happen. These are the stakes. This is what’s at stake. If I both fail or succeed, then. You sign this like as a contract you’ve written to yourself and if you are comfortable doing it, share it. Share it with others. That may just be one other person who you trust. Maybe posting it on your refrigerator in your home, so the people in your house kind of know what you’re working towards and why, and maybe that will help them play one of those six roles that we said are so important to this. People have asked me in the past like, should I just post this to social media? I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing, to be honest with you, because a lot of people have, quote, followings on social media who are not all that interested in genuinely supporting you as a human being in a positive, constructive, loving, non-judgmental way. Um, if you do happen to have a small group of people on social media, or maybe a smaller subset or a private group where you feel comfortable doing that, then by all means that could be really valuable. But I would definitely think twice before just generally blasting this out all over social media, because it may not be the type of support that is constructive.
Jonathan Fields: [01:05:13] In fact, it may end up being destructive to you, to your state of mind, to your ability to do the thing you want to do. That brings us home. Those are the eight P’s of success. Scaffolding the picture a sense of purpose, the plan. Sense of possibility. Proof that this thing is doable. The people who you want to have play the roles along the way. The practices that will keep your mindset, your psychological and physiological state of being primed and resilient and ready and focused and attuned and thoughtful along the way. And this final little fun tool, the pledge that leverages a consistency principle to help you make this thing that is so important to you finally happen this year. So that is my success. Scaffolding. When you think about how to accomplish anything that is deeply meaningful, anything that’s big, anything that’s small, but just matters to you when you think about the things that you have maybe tried to do in the past, but not been able to figure out how to do it, use this as a diagnostic tool and say, hey, did I actually check the boxes for the apps? Or were there some glaring omissions? Because using it as a diagnostic tool may actually help explain why. You may have said you wanted to do this thing in the past, or make it happen in the past, and it hasn’t, because there may be some really big misses in the scaffolding.
Jonathan Fields: [01:06:32] And for every P that is not in there, in my mind, it greatly diminishes the likelihood that you will succeed at this thing. So it may really help explain what wasn’t working last time you tried this, and give you the tools and the structure to be able to do it and set it up differently this time around. So I hope you found this deeply valuable. As always, when you look in the show notes, you will see a link where you will be able to download a one-page visual mind map of the entire success scaffolding framework. And my greatest hope is that you are able to, this year, bring that vision, bring the things that are deeply meaningful to you. And again, who cares whether it matters to someone else? Who cares whether it’s large or small? Don’t do things. Don’t say yes to things simply because you think you should do them, or someone else is telling you you need to do them. Just do things that are genuinely, deeply nourishing and meaningful to you. Bring that into your mind when you’re thinking about this, and then think about the role of success scaffolding and how you might be able to actually open your notebook, your journal page, and your computer and just go through the different elements and jot down a detailed, your own personal, detailed version of success scaffolding so that you might be able to wake up tomorrow morning and start taking those first steps, supported by a group of wonderful people along the way to really make this thing happen.
Jonathan Fields: [01:08:03] Super excited to hear what you think, and super excited to travel along and hear what you are able to do and accomplish and make real. Make manifest in your life, in the world as we all move through this year together. Thanks so much as always! This episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and Me, Jonathan Fields Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields, signing off for Good Life Project.