Notes From: “The One Thing”

For every single book that I read, I take notes on everything that I want to remember. One year, I read 170 books, and another year ‘only’ 39.

I absolutely have to take notes because I will never, ever trust my memory. I just read too much. If you take a look at my reading list, you’ll see that there’s just no way that I would be able to remember even 10 notes from each book. My advice: “Write it down.”

I never intended to sell these notes or to package them in a totally comprehensive way like SparkNotes, so some of my notes may go further in depth than some professional book summaries, and some not so deep at all. These aren’t something you might find from Blinkist, or even from James Clear, or Derek Sivers. They were never meant to be.

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They are simply what I have personally taken from each book, and I hope that they have some value for you.

Self-deprecation aside, many of these notes are from some of the most important books ever written. I’m interested in the human condition, the biggest questions ever asked, and the giant mystery that we’re all a part of. I’m interested in nothing less than what constitutes a meaningful life. That’s what you’ll find within my multiplicity of notes and sources.

Remember to think critically! Some notes are just interesting ideas taken from the text that I may or may not agree with.

Regardless, I wanted to remember them so as to stimulate my thinking at a later date. So don’t confuse my notes here with something that I staunchly believe. Sometimes you’ll be right, and other times you’ll be wrong.

I have turned them into a product which I sell in return for donations to Doctors Without Borders.

But I’ve decided to release some of my notes periodically on my site, for free.

This article contains my notes from the book, “The One Thing”, by Gary Keller. Enjoy!

From Amazon: The ONE Thing has made more than 200 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today. It won 12 book awards, has been translated into 24 languages, chosen as one of the Top 5 Business Books of 2013 by Hudson’s Booksellers and one of Top 30 Business Books of 2013 by Executive Book Summaries.

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People are using this simple, powerful concept to focus on what matters most in their personal and work lives. Companies are helping their employees be more productive with study groups, training, and coaching. Sales teams are boosting sales. By focusing their energy on one thing at a time people are living more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.

YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what’s the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions―and lots of stress. AND YOU WANT MORE.

You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends. NOW YOU CAN HAVE BOTH―LESS AND MORE. In The ONE Thing, you’ll learn to • cut through the clutter • achieve better results in less time • build momentum toward your goal • dial down the stress • overcome that overwhelmed feeling • revive your energy • stay on track • master what matters to you The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life―work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING?

Notes From “The One Thing”:

What you do in any given moment determines what you experience in the next

Hyperbolic discounting: the farther away a reward is in the future, the smaller the immediate motivation to achieve it

Do something NOW, to finish something today, to finish something this week, to finish something this month, to finish something this year, to accomplish something in life

Connect everything over time so you hit your goals

Connect today to all of your tomorrows

Go to your calendar and block off all the time you need to accomplish your one thing

Resting is as important as working

Your most important appointment each day is with yourself

Block 4 hours to work each day

Protect your time block at all costs

Nobody who ever gave their best regretted it

Your environment needs to support your goals

Identify one thing to progress on each individual goal

Faith ultimately leads to action

A life worth living means above all, no regrets

Constantly ask what is the one most important thing that you can do right now

Be like a postage stamp and stick to one thing until you get there

Ignore all the things you could do and do what you should do

Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus

Find the lead domino and whack away at it until it falls

Everything is not equal

The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest

Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing

Tasks often take much less time than you think they will

Pilots and surgeons never multitask — do we not take our jobs as seriously?

We need just enough discipline to build good habits

The new research suggests that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit

Habits are much easier to sustain over time

Don’t be a disciplined person — Be a person of powerful habits

Know when to pursue the middle and when to pursue the extremes

Magic happens at the extremes

In your personal life, nothing gets left behind; at work, it’s required

When you’re supposed to be working, work. And when you’re supposed to be playing, play.

Take what matters most at work to the extremes and be ok with what happens to the rest

No one knows their ultimate ceiling for achievement, so worrying about it is a waste of time

Only big thinking leads to big actions that will lead to succeeding big

What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow

On the journey to achieving big, you get bigger

What seems like an insurmountable mountain from a distance is just a small hill when you arrive

Thinking big isn’t the absence of doubts, but moving past them

Triple down everywhere in your life

Be careful how you interpret the world; it IS like that

Life is a question and how we live is our answer

Until your one thing is done, everything else is just a distraction

People don’t decide their futures; they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures

Ask big and specific questions

Aim high enough, live long enough, and you’ll encounter your fair share of tough times

Reading over my notes on this book gives me the same feeling as I got the first time when reading it. It jolts me into hyper-awareness of what I’m doing at this moment, and connects my actions today with all of my future tomorrows.

It’s an implicit assumption that we somehow have time to waste. That we can ease up on our goals because we’re always going to be around to achieve them. Well, the terminal illness called “life” says that how we spend our time matters, and Marcus Aurelius would tell you that what we do now echoes in eternity.

Your ONE THING should be what you have decided to make into your ‘magnificent obsession’. Mine is human rights, but yours is completely up to you.

Sure, I have other interests, like fitness and womanizing. But everything in my life is centered around making the largest possible positive impact on as many other people as I possibly can. I block off time each day to work towards that goal. I don’t let ANYTHING distract me from my purpose that I have chosen for myself, which is to increase human happiness. Your ONE THING should have an equal pull on yourself.

I hope these notes sparked your interest, or led to some new questions, or just made your life better in some way.

If they did, I’d love for you to consider donating to the phenomenal international non-profit, Doctors Without Borders. We operate all over the world, proving free medical services to those hardest hit by war, famine, and other disasters and atrocities. We never discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. And we would be honored to receive your support.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov


The One Thing Website

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Meditations — Marcus Aurelius


Matt Karamazov is a human rights activist, boxer, and writer who reads 200 books per year and throws 300 punches per minute. His website, Godlike Discipline, is dedicated to raising money for causes like Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch, among others. It’s also dedicated to helping people tackle their biggest willpower challenges. He also like death metal, and so, consequently doesn’t get many second dates.

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