The 15-Minute Principle to Accomplishing Anything

15-Minute Principle


You want to start running one hour a day, three times a week.

“Hmm, perhaps, tomorrow!” – Also known as Never.

You wish you could arrive home earlier every day to spend time with your kids.

Instead, you head-butt your keyboard into late evening and never make it to the dinner.

You are sick of your day job and want to create a business to do something you love.

It is better to take more coffee breaks to see if the time passes faster.

The same applies to anything in life. Spending time with your family, going to bed earlier, applying for another job, or even apparent minor things such as making your bed in the morning.




We aren’t asking to be rich, to create the next technological breakthrough or to find the cure to cancer.

All we’re asking from ourselves is the capacity to do JUST THAT thing; just one thing that, for each and every one of us, would be enough to give us a tremendous amount of happiness.

So, why does it seem that it is UNACHIEVABLE?

There are three reasons.

Three bottlenecks that are keeping you from achieving a higher degree of happiness.

We’ll find what are those reasons, and I’ll share with you the technique that will help you never getting stuck again.

From this moment on, you will have the chance to accomplish that major thing that you’ve been delaying for such a long time. In fact, you will see that by understanding how to get one really important thing done, you will actually know the system to accomplish anything in life.



So, let’s get going. What are the three bottlenecks?



The number one reason why you don’t stop smoking is because TODAY it doesn’t kill you.

You know that it might bring you huge trouble. Deadly trouble, actually. But because it doesn’t happen today and at this precise moment, you delay quitting.

Our whole life is made of examples such as this.

Let’s imagine you want to lose weight. It is something truly important to you, but it isn’t URGENT.

Yep, your boss is not chasing you to lose weight, neither your friends or family will leave you because of that.

It is your choice. So, because nothing really happens today, you keep on delaying the initial step in reducing weight.

Want another example? Come on, just one more.

You hate your job. Wait… you not only hate your job; you also candidly “dislike” your boss.

Why don’t you find a new job? What’s stopping you from meeting with people, networking to know other firms, getting other people to know you, creating an extraordinary CV, and earn a better role?

Nothing! – if right now you’re thinking that you don’t have the time or capability, don’t worry… we’re almost getting to the making-out-excuses reason. 😉

The fact is, today you managed to live another day at your job. You didn’t bleed, nobody died. You “made” it.

And because you do not put in perspective the tremendous amount of overall pain you will suffer over the years for not changing job, you remain on the same daily grind.

Every. Single. Day.



Another interesting phenomenon is that the vast majority of people think that to run one hour per day, three times a week, you must start doing it in that exact pattern, which is the same as saying you go all-in.

Let me explain it better.

You want to eat healthy food every single day, at all times.

So, what do we all tend to do?

First day: super healthy meals, zero calories, zero fatness. Radical shift!

Seems you’re doing great, right?

The problem is tomorrow you will be so damn sick of eating healthy food that you will barely keep it up until the end of the day.

And by the third day, you’re back to the business as usual.

What’s happening here?

You’re not GIVING YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME to getting used to a new way of living.

You’re getting burned out. Simple.

And this is the reason why having an “all-in” mentality is what causes many people to stop practicing good habits.

They do not understand that they need to sustainable steps to create a new habit first. And it takes some time, we are not robots.



So, we’ve arrived at the third bottleneck – and it is a major one. Do you know why?

Because you might have some deep-seated excuses in your day to day routines that you don’t even notice.

It is a really tricky vice.

It requires a huge level of SELF-AWARENESS to get over with it. Unfortunately, it is something that doesn’t come easily to many of us.

Let me tell you a story.

A dear friend of mine has a son that he almost never sees because he’s constantly arriving home late, after dinner, when his son and (many times) wife are already sleeping.

He’s a really great guy, so he tells me:

“I know this is completely ridiculous; it is no way to live. But the work doesn’t slow down, I thought it would get calmer but instead it seems it’s always getting worse!”

Question: what’s really happening?

My friend never got to understand that he has some type of perfectionism or addiction to work that prevents him from prioritizing what is really important.

If you tell him that he is addicted to work and that he has to leave earlier – or otherwise he might miss his kid’s entire adolescence – he can even say that you’re right but he still won’t change the habit.

He can’t help it.

You can find infinite cases on excuses: from time excuses, to family excuses, to not-sleeping-well excuses, to not-taking-enough-coffee excuses, to I’m-not-responsible type of excuses, and so on, and so on…

It’s a whole category on “How to NOT be successful”.

Besides, the lack of self-awareness is extremely dangerous. It is possible that it is even harder to cure than the other two issues mentioned because it is so infiltrated within our habits.

But even this WILL BE SOLVED by the 15 Minutes Principle. Go ahead and trust me. 😉



Ok, here we go! Are you ready?

It’s not like I am inventing the wheel. It is just a simple system that will really help you to getting in action methodically.

As anything in life, the really good stuff is usually simple.

The solution is, then, composed of THREE STEPS:



Yep, the first thing you have to understand is that you can, indeed, start changing your life today.

When I say TODAY, I really mean in 10 minutes from now or until the end of the day.

Let’s imagine you want to create a business around something you love. It is a complex and scary thing, don’t you agree?

You might think that in order to create a business you will have to talk with an accountant, a lawyer, create a business plan, think about marketing, find partners, perhaps one or two suppliers, etc., etc.

What a pain in the ankle, right?

And it is true, to create a business, you’ll have to address all those issues, eventually.

But, you know what? You don’t have to do it all at once.

You don’t even need to work for three whole hours just to get into things.

Yes, start by taking 15 minutes to think about WHY you want to create a business.

Go grab a coffee and take a break, do what you need to stop for 15 minutes. During that time, go through what makes you happy in life and, for example, what you do NOT like.

Hint: sometimes it is easier to start by thinking about what you don’t like rather than what you like. Most of us don’t know what we want to do.

Start by defining a purpose, a reason to begin the lifestyle transformation process.

But mostly, start by creating the habit of dedicating time to creating something you truly enjoy.

Another example: perhaps, you want to start running one hour per day, three times a week. What about you pick up your shorts and go run for ONLY 15 minutes?

Is it one hour? Three times a week? Hell, no.

But it is a starting point.

Rome wasn’t built in one day. Neither you will run the marathon in the first week.

No, I’m not saying that it is impossible, but it is certainly a little bit more demanding than starting by running 15 minutes only.

We don’t need to make things harder than what they already are.

I really like this example: everything we want to accomplish in life is like a TRAIN WAGON.

It won’t start moving by itself, it needs an impulse!

This is how you apply an initial force to the wagon, so it starts slowly moving.



The second step of the 15 Minutes Principle is where the real hack lies.

I’d say that 70% of all population won’t even start running. And then you have 20% of the entire population that actually starts running, but gives up – which leaves us with 10% at the table that run periodically.

Why do people give up so easily?

In great part, because they get burned-out.

It is the overwhelmed sensation of thinking that “this is not for me, it’s too hard” because you’ve given a bigger step than what you should.

Besides, you not only want to avoid getting burned-out, but you must also cultivate the habit of getting things done. I’ll explain you why in a second.

The best way to create that habit is by intercalating the work with leisure. If you focus solely on the work and you don’t take the time to have some fun, you won’t enjoy the process, which leads to burn-out.

Now, there’s one uncommon fact that I’d like to share with you that underlines the importance of intercalating work with leisure and of cultivating achievements.

Your brain releases a hormone called DOPAMINE every time you consciously and rightfully accomplish something.

Note: cheers to Simon Sinek, I learned this dopamine thing with him on Why Leaders Eat Last.

To better exemplify this phenomenon, let me give you the example of someone who is trying to write a book.

As you might know, the toughest part of writing a book is to develop the necessary consistency to keep writing. I’m sure every author has his own strategy, but this is still the main bottleneck causing writers to give up on their intentions.

So, if you want to write a book, chances are you will eventually get burned-out if you start writing ten hours per day, every day.

I know this because we are all human beings. Even if writing comes naturally to you, it is still exhausting to the large majority of people.

My advice is that you write for one hour, stop another hour and get back to writing one more hour afterward.

You keep on intercalating the work with something that relaxes you and is fun.

When you do it this way, you’ll find out that when you’re having fun, you won’t feel guilty for not taking action – which is immensely important.

And this feeling is mainly caused by a rush of dopamine. Every time you consciously and rightfully give one step closer to your end goal, there will be time for a break after in which you can take a break, watch a movie, read a book, play online games, guilt-free.

You see, understanding that consistency is more important than an all-in approach is the key to getting things done and avoiding exhaustion.

And in this case, you must make dopamine your ally! Use it for your own benefit.

Start small with baby steps. Congratulate yourself because you’re giving steps toward your goals, and you’re not burning out.

And, perhaps later, when the wagon is already moving at a fast pace, you may find yourself writing more and more, without needing to congratulate yourself anymore.

But to start creating a habit, never forget the importance of balancing the work with the pleasure. Work 15 minutes, rest 15 mins.



So, what’s left?

Yes, of course, the momentum!

You gave the initial step and you understand the importance of not getting burned out and starting small. Now, you must never forget about CONSISTENCY!

Consistency is what makes the wagon move faster and keeping it that way!

Initially, it will move very slowly. But small impulses each day will make it run faster and faster.

The key here is: how easy is to keep the wagon in movement when he is already going fast?

It is SO easy that it won’t even scratch you.

As Isaac Newton once said:

“A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force”.



Here it is, the 15 Minutes Principle. The answer for all the human kind procrastination.

Let us briefly recap the process:

  1. You can start today.
  1. But, instead of going all-in, you start with a small shot; not a big deal. Just 15 minutes or its equivalent.
  1. After you finally start breaking through The Tobacco Syndrome, the ALL-IN Tendency, and the Daily Excuses, your brain starts releasing doses of dopamine that make you feel proud of your accomplishments.
  1. Make sure you never burn out. Intercalate work with pleasure. Reap the benefits of dopamine and have guilt-free pleasure until you get back to work.
  1. Finally, it all comes down to doing it consistently. There’s no rush to run 1 hour instead of 15 minutes. It is fine if you want to run 15 minutes for the rest of your life. If you do it one time a week, it is still far better than not doing it at all.
  1. Start small. Never burn out. Take your time.

Perhaps, you can now visualize that everything is within your reach.

This is the secret sauce, the hack, the trick, you name it.

Even when you think something is impossible to reach, let me tell you: if you start small, avoid getting burned out, and you work towards your goal consistently, TRUST ME, you will get there!


Getting back to the initial examples:

You want to start running one hour a day, three times a week.

You start 15 minutes, today. If you can only do it one time a week, that’s fine! Just make sure to be consistent.

You wish you could arrive home every day while your kids are still awake.

You leave earlier, today. It doesn’t need to be every single day. Do it once a week, every week.

You are sick of your day job and want to create a business to do something you love.

You start, today, thinking about your purpose and what you really want from life. The second day you start structuring a list of steps. The third day you’re selecting priorities and the fourth day you’re executing.

Start small. Never burn out. Take your time.

This is the 15 Minutes Principle.

That’s how you build empires, how you make a fortune and, of course, how you build your dream company.

Now, I encourage you to put this Principle into action today.

Do you have anything that you should be doing? Is there something important you wish to accomplish but keep on delaying?

Go ahead and try The 15 Minutes Principle. What’s the worst that can happen?


This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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