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Article  •  22 January 2024


Ali Abdaal’s best tips for goal-setting in 2024

We caught up with productivity expert Ali Abdaal to get his best advice for smashing our 2024 goals, overcoming challenges and enjoying each step of the process.

2024 has arrived it's time to set some goals. But goal creating isn't as straightforward as it might appear. 

To create goals that we'll actually follow through with, we need some help. Enter: Ali Abdaal. 

Best known for his YouTube channel, Ali is the ultimate multi-hyphenate. Once a medical student, now a published author (and with plenty of side hustles to boot) his ability to keep so many plates spinning is a testament to the effectiveness of the productivity tips he shares in his new book, Feel Good Productivity.

In the hopes of smashing our 2024 goals, we couldn't imagine anyone better to get advice from.

And – luckily – his number one tip is refreshingly simple. Just add the phrase, ‘while enjoying every step of the journey’, to any goal you set. For example, Ali’s goals for 2024 include, in his words:

  • ‘To get into the best shape of my life while enjoying every step of the journey to getting there.’
  • ‘To create and run a productivity weekend seminar while enjoying every step of the journey along the way.’
  • ‘To host 6 mini-adventures for friends and family while enjoying every step of the journey.’

Though it might sound too good to be true, this simple hack will encourage you to find a more enjoyable and energising way to accomplish the tasks ahead of you. 

‘I love the Broaden-and-Build Theory proposed by Barbara Frederickson,’ Ali says, explaining the concept behind the easy trick. ‘It basically says, that when we experience positive emotions, we’re more likely to be creative and resourceful and do interesting things. In other words, feeling good helps us be more creative and more productive.’

With a new book out and a seemingly endless stream of helpful tips flowing from his content, you might assume that Ali was born with a superhuman ability to be productive. 

But things weren’t always easy for him.

Before becoming a full-time YouTuber, Ali was a junior doctor looking down the barrel of the typical struggles associated with entry-level medical roles. He had aspired to take a break for a year to travel from the UK to Australia to study Emergency Medicine. But, like so many of 2020's best-laid plans, COVID got in the way, shattering his hopes when borders closed.

Back then, he wasn’t known as the productivity expert he is today, but Ali’s upbringing had instilled resilience and positivity in him, perhaps laying the groundwork for what would eventually turn into Feel Good Productivity.

‘My brother and I were raised by a wonderful single mum who worked full time as a junior doctor,’ he explains. While Ali and his family were lucky enough to never worry about basics, there wasn’t quite enough to spend on luxuries the children sometimes yearned for. 

Not letting their financial situation stop them, Ali and his brother would think up creative ways to make money for whichever PlayStation, laptop or 3-monitor desk setup they were dreaming about.

‘I think these are the perfect conditions for entrepreneurial drive to form,’ says Ali. ‘Enough of a safety net that we could afford to take risks and never seriously worry about not being able to pay the bills. But not so much money that we could buy whatever we wanted.’

This can-do attitude and general sense of optimism aren’t limited to his ideas about work or money. A fan of Stoicism, Ali likes the idea that ‘everything is totally fine as it is. Whatever happens is for the best, and there’s no use worrying about things outside of your control. I find this to be a wonderful way to live.’

Even with the sunniest outlook, however, challenges arise. Whether a medical school exam or placement for a profession Ali – like the rest of us – has also experienced more difficult periods. 

While those moments are inevitable, he believes there are ways to rise above them. ‘It’s going to sound cliché’, he says, ‘but no matter how challenging your circumstances are, you can generally choose your approach to them. You can choose to approach them as if you’re a powerless victim. Or you can choose to welcome the challenge, knowing it will be tough but that you’ll learn a lot from the process.’

If you’re feeling very inspired but a little overwhelmed, fear not.

Ali knows exactly how to beat those pre-goal-getting nerves. 

If you start to feel doubt or stress creep into the equation, stop and ask yourself, ‘What would this look like if it were fun? ’.

‘I know that not everything can be fun all the time, and I’m sure your circumstances are very challenging and overwhelming, but with a little creativity, we can always find a way to make anything we’re doing 10% more enjoyable,’ he says. 

‘Find the fun. It might not help you get through your to-do list any faster, but you’ll certainly enjoy the process more.’


For more tips and tricks from Ali, start reading his book here


This article was orginally published on the penguin.com.au website.

Feature Title

Feel-Good Productivity
The world's most-followed productivity expert reveals how to achieve more by finding joy in everything you do.
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