Projects are long and often require effort from a number of disciplines. They take research, planning, an execution for time periods that are usually longer than a year (e.g., writing a book, starting a business). While projects should be a part of any man’s life, how about the smaller goals that can be completed in a couple months or even weeks? These goals are campaigns. They are short projects that require heightened focus and singular effort. Here are some examples:
1. You’re traveling through the Baltics for one month and want to get all three flags. During that month you stop working and focus only on getting laid at all costs.
2. You want to increase your bench press by 50 pounds in eight weeks. You hit the bench three times a week and make it the first exercise in your routine.
3. It’s summer and you want to learn how to barbecue. Every night after work you fire up the grill, causing you to miss your favorite happy hours.
4. You want to bang a Colombian girl but only possess basic high school Spanish. For two months you study Spanish four hours per day before visiting Bogota for ten days.
6. You want to get a coffee shop bang. You hit coffee shops before work, during your lunch break, and after work, making a concerted effort to approach one girl each session. This requires you to wake up earlier and put aside other routines.
7. You want to start an internet business but you don’t know the first thing about programming. You purchase three or four HTML/CSS books and learn enough in one month that you can complete your first landing page.
Campaigns cause you put everything else on the backburner in order to make a herculean effort into one singular goal. Your life temporarily becomes about this goal and nothing else. This surge is unsustainable due to its intensity, but the fact that it can be accomplished relatively quickly gives you the motivation to endure.
Two months should be the maximum for any campaign, and if you think it will take much longer than that then you’re looking at a project that should require low-level daily effort instead of maximum daily effort. Campaigns are so consuming that other parts of your life will degrade until it’s over. You know it’s a good campaign when your friends and family discourage you from attempting it, saying that you should “take it easy” and not push yourself “so hard.”
At the end of your campaign, you’ll have accomplished a significant task or learned a new skill, all in a short period of time. You’ll also notice something else—you now have a boatload of free time freed from campaigning. At first you’ll be overjoyed with this prospect because you can go back to your old routine, but when you return to these base activities, something simply doesn’t feel right. You feel like you’re wasting your time, like you’re not moving forward.
Campaigning is a natural state for men. Several hundred years ago, men would alternate between sessions of farming and war. An Athenian would plant seeds in his farm, sail off to war, then come back to reap the harvest. Only since the Industrial Revolution and the division of labor have men been reduced to a cog that does the same task every day in the same environment with the same people. Campaigns are a great way to break free from the monotony of modern life, to open your world view in the time it takes to reap a harvest.
I urge you to take on a new goal that you can accomplish within two months from 2-4 hours of daily effort. Put all the inconsequential time sinks into the background. Once your campaign is complete, pat yourself on the back and take a well-deserved break. Feel the boredom gradually crawl back into your skin as each day not campaigning makes you feel increasingly empty. This is when you know it’s time to take on another campaign.
Beginning in your 30s, you’ll look back on your life and not recall the day-to-dry drudgery you’ve had to endure or the fools you’ve had to suffer, but all the great campaigns you’ve completed. As much as modern society would like to convince you otherwise, a life of campaigns—of taking on new goals and adventures—is the most natural state for man.
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