Photo by Liane Metzler via Unsplash
In a world focused on constant “life hacks”, it’s hard to find tangible advice for success.
Endless apps, Medium posts, YouTube videos, morning routines, blogs, “successful” people on Instagram showing off watches and cars they don’t actually own… The supply of bad advice is endless.
The only real way to learn about success is from the people who have actually achieved something worth admiring.
In al my years of reading about successful people, I’ve learned they all had one major thing in common: they practiced their craft relentlessly.
They put in the time and they reaped the rewards.
That’s what none of these con artists online want to tell you, that real success requires the dedicated time and effort. It’s not an overnight phenomenon.
No book, video, blog, or pill will solve the years that go into being good at anything.
If you want to be shredded for the summer, you need to consistently go to the gym and stick to your diet. On a side rant, only losers complain about people on steroids. People on steroids have to work hard, regardless of any “cheating”. The fact is that getting in shape is easy, but staying committed is hard.
If you want to be a writer, you must sit in your chair and get writing. 1,000 words a day is the minimum. It’s simple, but staying consistent is hard.
If you want to be an actor, you must practice as often as possible and get metaphorically slapped across the face with rejection over and over.
All accomplishments require discipline
No matter what your goal is, there are sacrifices that must be made and time that must be put in. If you aren’t willing to dedicated yourself to both of those, just walk away from the goal right now.
After almost a decade as a paid writer, I’ve heard from hundreds of people who “wished they were a writer”, but almost none have taken the action steps to make it happen. Getting started as a writer is easy: you write. Your work is embarrassing to read at first. Then you stay committed and you get better.
All goals can be broken down to simple action steps that must be put in day in and day out. Staying consistent requires you to become a person who stays disciplined through all the trials and tribulations of life. Not every day will be perfect, but every day will be closer than you were yesterday.
This is the crossroad I’m at right now in my own life, deciding what I’m willing to commit to and what I’m willing to sacrifice in the direction of my goals. If I’m not willing to sacrifice and commit, I should just turn back now and give up.
If there’s something you truly want, the time to decide is right now. RIGHT NOW. As you read this. Not later. Not when the “time is right” (there is never a right time). Not when you retire. Not when you graduate. Right now.
The action steps
Here’s how I’m breaking this down in my own life:
1. List your goals
Go crazy and dream big. List out everything you want and have even thought about wanting in your life. Go through goals for relationships, work, travel, finances, health, family, hobbies, philanthropy, awards to win, materials items to posses… all of it.
2. List the sacrifices for each and also the work required for each goal.
Write out everything you know it would take to achieve these goals. The necessary sacrifices, like time away from your family, less Netflix time, being sore, dealing with writers block, moving to another country, dealing with rejection, etc.
Then write out the work you must put in to make it come to life: staying committed, studying your craft, showing up when you don’t want to, going to events, showing up to classes, doing unpaid internships, ALL the work it takes.
Also know that it could easily take decades before you see any return on investment from your hard work. Which leads to the third step:
3. What are you willing and ready to do?
Take an HONEST look at the list. What are you willing to commit to? What are you willing to give up?
Be real with yourself. Cross off the goals you aren’t ready for. Know you can come back to them at another time when your life is different, but now you can put your mind at ease knowing you can stop thinking about those for this moment.
Narrow your list down. It’s nice to imagine a life where we are working on 10 big goals at once, but you won’t get the results because of the time it takes alone.
Are you willing to wake up early?
Put yourself out there?
Put your ideas into action?
Stay committed when you don’t want to?
Spend less time partying?
If you’re having trouble deciding, here’s one of the few truths I know for sure:
You must always do the thing you’re afraid to do. If it brings up any kind of fear, consider it.
Goals should both excite and terrify you. If they don’t, go back to step 1 and search your heart again for new goals. Aim BIG. Forget aiming small, that’s in the past. Your future can be anything you decide it to be right in this moment.
4. Put it in your planner.
Here is where it gets real.
Side note: One of the best books I’d highly recommend on planning out goals is the book Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher. It’s an old book, and not as big as popular as other ones, but it’s a gem. Her other book, Live the Life You Love and I Could Do Anything are also amazing as well. I’ve read hundreds of goal planning books, and those are the best.
Anyway, the point is that if you’re serious about these new goals, you need to make the time for them.
Look at your “commitment” category and see what the first steps are. Put them in your planner NOW. (Also, if you don’t have a planner, it’s time to get one.)
You need to start on these steps today. Your goals can’t wait.
Or, do the Jerry Seinfeld productivity hack where you get a calendar and mark an “X” on every day you work toward your goal. Then your goal is to never, ever break the chain.
You know what you need to do. You know the sacrifices and the commitment you have to make.
Now the decision is whether you want to live the life you’ve always wanted, or to let another year on the calendar go by and wishing you wouldn’t have wasted it.
I know I don’t want to let 2016 go by and have 2017 be here with nothing to show for it.
Don’t read another thing. Don’t debate another moment.
Decide. Commit. Succeed.