While I pride myself on my rationality, I can also be a hopeless romantic. I like to believe that everyone can find true love, a job they like, and a way to express their innate creativity.
I think that’s why every now and again I like to read self-help books. Reading an upbeat and motivational self-help book is like being transported back to elementary school for a few hours, when you and your classmates were all going to be astronauts and the future was unimaginably bright. In a world that can beat you over the head with its cynicism, I believe there is value in re-engaging with that childlike optimism.
That’s why I decided to check out a review copy of the upcoming book “” by Jordan Ring. I could tell right away it was a relentlessly positive exploration of how to get unstuck in life by developing a repeatable system for setting and achieving goals. If you’ve been feeling unmotivated and are looking for a fun read full of actionable ways to snap out of your funk, “Volcanic Momentum” is worth a look.
The book doesn’t purport to have a special secret for the reader. Rather, it presents a thesis for how to go from nothing to something by using a three-part strategy: set focused goals, learn strategies for how to tackle them, and then work as hard as humanly possible to achieve them.
It’s a simple but powerful message, and it’s told in a way that inspires. The author’s personal story of overcoming hardship forms the backbone of the book and infuses legitimacy into the advice he gives. He details how he went from a tentative person living in a small town to a confident person pursuing his dreams in a big city, and it all started with setting goals.
Step 1: Setting Goals
The book kicks off by asking you to pick an area in which you want to improve. Then, you set three goals based on that choice.
For example, maybe your small goal is to save $1,000 for an emergency fund. Then the bigger goal might be to make $2,000 in passive income per month from investments, and the legacy goal could be to write a successful book about your financial journey so that you can help millions of people.
The destiny goal is supposed to be about dreaming not just big, but huge. While this isn’t stated outright, I think the idea is that even if you don’t quite attain your dream goal, you’ll still have accomplished quite a bit.
Step 2: Make Strategies to Maintain Momentum
Anyone can set goals, but what steps can we can take to turn our dreams into reality? How do we close the gap between our goals and our actions? The book lists a bunch of tips for bridging this gap, but there were three in particular that stood out to me.
First, we have to make sure we have the energy to actually work on our goal. This is especially crucial for those who are starting a side hustle or have a family or already-busy work schedule. You can’t make progress if you’re always tired. In order to combat this, “Volcanic Momentum” addresses two issues that many books of this nature completely gloss over: nutrition and sleep.
Ring offers some simple advice, such as “pack an apple in your bag instead of a candy bar” and “make your bedroom a haven for sleep by getting rid of excess light.” While that’s not exactly scientific-breakthrough stuff, it could be life changing for someone who’s never considered that they could achieve success without becoming a sleep-deprived workaholic. Our culture has a tendency to fawn over successful entrepreneurs who without addressing the consequences of that behavior. As someone who’s passionate about the importance of sleep and nutrition, I really appreciated the inclusion of this section in the book.
Another foundational point the book makes is that you have to be vigilant about aligning your goals with your core values. If your goals are money related, it can be easy to slip into habits that might increase your earnings in the short term but come at the cost of your health, your relationships, or your principles.
It’s helpful to “nail down your core values and what you love doing and then compare these with what you spend your time doing,” Ring writes. Some people, myself included, have a tendency to drift off task if we don’t build a system that requires us to periodically review how we’ve been spending our time. The key is to measure, review, and use the data to improve.
The final tip I want to highlight is that it can be helpful to refer back to your ultimate goal when you get tempted by other pursuits. If you make it a habit to consider the big picture before making any major changes, you can streamline your path to completing your goal. As Ring puts it, “The next time you’re tempted by a shiny new idea, ask yourself: How much does it relate to your current goals and tasks?”
It sounds so simple, but it’s hard in practice. I know from experience. I have a bad habit of getting really excited about new projects and then dropping them. I think I’d do this less often if I forced myself to think about the big picture even if at the time it feels like an extraneous exercise.
- Related: Making Financial Goals Inevitable
Step 3: Work, Work, and More Work
Once you have the goals and the strategy, put on your metaphorical hard hat and go to work.
Really, that’s it.
In the author’s eyes, the key to achieving your goals is to minimize distractions and start grinding away. As the book puts it, the way forward comes through “cold hard determination, grit, and lots of mistakes.”
The book outlines strategies that can help you along, such as learning to say no, finding a mentor, and joining a community of like-minded thinkers to inspire you. But what Ring comes back to again and again is the importance of putting excuses aside and getting down to business.
He implores us not to succumb to paralysis by analysis, where we think we can’t start anything new until we have every step perfectly mapped out. We must simply try our best and learn from our mistakes. Ring cites a quote from Richard Branson that sums up his thinking: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
The main thing I liked about “Volcanic Momentum” is that it doesn’t try to unearth a revolutionary tip. The book, despite its title, is sort of the “anti-life hack” book. There’s no imploring you to wake up at 5 a.m., or to drink yerba mate if you really want to be productive. It just encourages and reinforces good habits in an engaging and easy to digest way, and I wholeheartedly agree with the overall message: If you want to achieve your goals, there’s nothing you can do with a higher return on investment than learning about and focusing on basic, tried-and-true methods.
More by Drew Housman: