How to Reverse Engineer Your Life

In yesterday’s post, I’ve explained how to set life goals that relate to your core desires and to your reality. That post was about finding a direction in your life. Today’s post will be about creating a perspective in your life.

Ideally, you need to have both, a direction and a perspective. With a direction, you know where you’re going. With a perspective, you know how to get there. Choosing your direction and perspective consciously will boost your satisfaction and success in life. You can use the reverse engineering exercise on any goal, but it is especially effective on big, audacious life goals.

The Intuitive Way of Approaching Goals

When we set a goal, we carry out the first action step that comes the most naturally to us. This is the most intuitive thing to do when we set a goal that we are enthusiastic about. That is definitely more effective than doing nothing at all. Nevertheless, if we don’t get any significant results, we might get demotivated and give up on our goal.

The Effective Way of Approaching Goals

Reverse engineering is the complete opposite of what comes naturally to us. In this method, we don’t start from the beginning, but we start from the end and we work our way backwards. At every step, we ask ourselves the following question.

“What needs to happen in order to realize this goal?”

Once we find an answer to the question above, we ask the same question for the answer we found. We keep asking this question, until we come up with an action step that can be immediately executed. Let’s work on an example where our life goal is financial freedom.

  • What needs to happen in order to achieve financial freedom?
    • My savings should cover my expenses for the rest of my life.
  • What needs to happen in order to grow my savings to that level?
    • I need to increase my income.
    • I need to save regularly a significant amount of my income.
    • I need to build a diversified portfolio of investments.
  • What needs to happen in order to increase my income?
    • I need to get a promotion or find a better paying job.
  • What needs to happen in order to get a promotion or to find a better paying job?

If you continue the reverse engineering process above, you might come up with the following immediate action steps. As you see, we create three different goals at the second step. If you create multiple goals at any step, make sure to apply the reverse engineering process to all the goals that you create at any step, so that you can reach the immediate action steps for each of them.

  • Contact the Human Resources Department to determine the skill set needed for a promotion.
  • Save 10% of my income.
  • Spend at least half an hour every day to learn more about building a diversified portfolio.

The Effects of Reverse Engineering on Your Mind

With the reverse engineering process, you not only discover your immediate action steps, but you also see how your immediate action steps are connected to your final goal. This keeps you from getting demotivated if you don’t get any results from your immediate action steps.

“Working from the end goal backwards gives your deep mind the signal that the goal is already accomplished.”

Reverse engineering also puts you in another frame of mind. Working from the end goal backwards gives your deep mind the signal that the goal is already accomplished. That prevents your deep mind from coming up with all kinds of obstacles. If you start from the beginning and work your way forwards, your deep mind unconsciously eliminates the steps that are outside of your comfort zone. At the end, you come up with a first action step that is the most comfortable to you, but not necessarily the most effective one. With the reverse engineering technique, you don’t have any excuses but to find the most effective step that you can come up with. There’s no chance to fool yourself.

Summary / Call to Action

The intuitive way of approaching goals is to start from where you are and work your way towards your goal. When you use that approach, your mind discards actions that are outside of your comfort zone and comes up with the actions that you are familiar with.

The effective way of approaching goals is the other way around, start from the end and work your way back to where you are now. This gives your deep mind the signal that you have already achieved your goal. You let your deep mind figure out the logical steps between your goal and where you are now. This method prevents your mind from discarding the action steps that are outside of your comfort zone.

Apply the reverse engineering process on a goal and let us know how it works for you.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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