Make The Required Sacrifice: The REAL Secret To Success

Photo by Liane Metzler via Unsplash

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.

Your Life Is Judged By What You Complete

We all have good intentions.

We intend to start working out.
We intend to write that book.
We intend to spend more time with our family.
We intend to work hard.
We intend to be happier.

The thing is: If you died tomorrow, what would your legacy be?

All the things you intended to do, or what you’ve actually done?

The only answer: What you have finished.

No one talks at funerals about all the great plans, intentions, and goals you had.

Life doesn’t wait for you to complete our goals before ripping us from this planet.

The only thing you can do in the race against time is to stay focused and make sure you finish everything you start. Finishing is the secret to leaving behind a legacy.

As of today, there are 108 days left in 2015.

Everywhere I go, I see people talking about how much they’re going to accomplish in 2016. Why wait until 2016? Why not start RIGHT NOW?

Every time you push something off into the future, there is a higher chance it will never be completed.

Looking through Theodore Roosevelt’s accomplishments, a man who only lived until 60, we see a long list of completed items:

  • Wrote 35 books
  • Worked as state legislator, police commissioner, governor in New York, vice president, and eventually president of the United States for two terms
  • Served in the Spanish-American War as a Rough Rider
  • Owned and worked on a ranch in the Dakotas
  • Graduated from Harvard
  • Federally preserved 230 million acres of land

Every single thing on that list was something he finished.

Whatever it is you want in life, you have to get started with the first steps to making it happen.

Not next year.
Not next month.
Not next week.
NOW.

Dealing With Stress: Use The 10/10/10 Rule

Stress is unavoidable.

If you’re choosing to actively live the strenuous life, you will encounter many times when you feel so outside your comfort zone, that you’re not sure how you’ll handle it.

You’ll stay up late with visions of failure.
Your palms will sweat.
You’ll feel like your whole world is caving in.

The good news is that a simple perspective shift will change these times.

Years ago, I heard this rule and I thought I would pass it onto other people. It is a way to deal with the overwhelming facts of life, especially in those moments of crushing worry.

This is called the 10/10/10 Rule.

I remember reading this in an article somewhere a long time ago. I can’t find it to link to it, but I’m going to recreate the general message.

When you feel that crushing stress, you simply ask yourself:
“Will this matter in 10 days?” Yes/No.
“Will this matter in 10 months?” Yes/No.
“Will this matter in 10 years?” Yes/No.

You’ll find that for the most part, the things you’re currently worried about will not matter in the grand perspective of life.

Every time I’m worried about paying a bill, passing a test, worried about friends, or any other stress that comes into my life, I write these questions out and actively imagine my life after that period of time.

Most of our problems will not matter in 10 years, but the astonishing fact is that I realize how soon most problems will be over. If something stressing me out, I realize that in 10 days it simply won’t matter.

Those school finals? They end.
Those payments on your debt? You’ll figure it out. Sell some stuff. Do some freelance work. You’ll be free one day.
That relationship problem? You’ll figure it out, or the relationship will end.

Once you realize there is an end point to a certain problem, you realize this problem won’t kill you. It forces you to get outside of your body and create a birds-eye view of your problems.

What do you do when a problem doesn’t go away?

You accept it. Period. If you can’t change it, you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on knowing this is a fact in life. Maybe you were born shorter than you want. Maybe you were born with a different skin color. Maybe someone close to you passed away.

These are all facts that cannot be changed, so the faster you accept it, the faster you move on to building your legendary life.

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50 Days Left in 2014

Mind blowing, right?

2014 went by faster than almost any other year before for me.

This is the point where most people start slowing down, relaxing, buying eggnog and pie… However, if there are still big goals left on your list there is no reason you should be slowing down at this point.

I was reviewing my year, as I commonly do, and I realized that I didn’t check off a few big things that I wanted to accomplish this year.

So, I won’t be slowing down. This will be a full-out race to the finish line.

In 50 days, anyone could:

– Lose weight
– Write a book
– Gain muscle
– Instill a new habit or 2
– Run a marathon
– Build the foundation for a business
– Build a chair by hand
– Read 30 books
– Learn to cook

You get the point. 50 days are a LOT of days left to accomplish almost anything in the world.

Get to it.

The Warriors Life, Minimalism, and 2014

Legacy.

What a strong word.

If you didn’t know, I work as a writer. I love strong language, strong words. Words that provoke a whole sensation of emotion.

I’ve been watching movies over the course of the past few months that bring out strong thought of the virtuous life, the noble life, the strenuous life.

Movies such as 300, Cinderella Man, Gladiator… all the greats.

The most common disconnect I see in my life is the fact that they are living the Warrior’s Life. They own very little. They have one main purpose in life. They train at every given opportunity. They go into their own versions of battle and are willing to sacrifice everything.

Living in America in this century is a a blessing and a curse. The world is at our finger tips, but so are all the possible possessions.

I own far too much. Not nearly as much as some of my peers, but things have been accumulating since childhood.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was a simple goal: Consume less, produce more. I want to say I dominated this goal, but I fell far from my first intention. I consumed far too much. I love the internet and the availability of knowledge, but I have lost my ability to think deeply about the issues that matter.

Issues like: What is my legacy? What is my purpose? What do I want to be remembered for?

Life is the most precious of gifts, and wasting moments has been a curse. It is a constant battle between the information at our fingertips, the desire for knowledge and learning, but also to forge our own path, and stay away from the information overwhelm.

The good new is that 2014 isn’t over yet, there is still time to defeat this dragon; time to regain clarity and win.

The new goal is to purge for the rest of the year so 2015 is focused on full clarity.

You Can’t Think Your Way Out of Being Stuck

Success is a delicate balance of thinking and action.

School taught us to analyze, to think, to dissect every single part of a problem to solve it.

Sure, there is a time and a place for thinking, but it must never take the place of action, and it must certainly never happen before we take action.

Our society is full of people buying countless self-help books, paying thousands of dollars for seminars, and everything else to somehow bring clarity, when the best way to bring clarity is to start getting your hands dirty.

We see this clearly in the fitness world: All of the fitness knowledge possible is already out there. If you want six pack abs, find a plan, print it out, follow the plan, boom: abs. Clearly, information isn’t the problem.

The problem is in the doing.

All of the knowledge in the world does not replace one night of hard work.

People think if they create this incredibly detailed plan, all the pieces will fall perfectly into place and success will just come in a neat little package at their doorstep.

The problem is that real life is messy. There are problems and pitfalls we could never plan for, and as soon as they come instead of adjusting we just burn all the plans to the ground. For some reason if it all doesn’t go according to plan we just quit.

This is where plans are dangerous. We can’t control the world but plans give us the illusion that we can.

As I read more and more books about Theodore Roosevelt, a man who accomplished more in his life than many of us could dream of, it is apparent to me that he rarely planned. He was a man of action. He did the job in front of him to the best of his ability and let the chips fall where they may afterwards.

I quoted this in my past post, but this quote is still relevant:

[A]t one period [I] began to believe that I had a future before me, and that it behooved me to be very far-sighted and scan each action carefully with a few to its possible effect on that future. This speedily made me useless to the public and an object of aversion to myself; and I then made up my mind that I would try not to think of the future at all, but would proceed on the assumption that each office I held would be the last I ever should hold, and I would confine myself to trying to do my work as well as possible while I held that office. I found that for me personally this was the only way in which I could either enjoy myself or render good service to the country, and I never afterwards deviated from this plan. – Theodore Roosevelt

Could you imagine a world where the job you’re doing is the last job you’ll ever have?

For a lot of people, that is a terrifying thought. We all have so many dreams and goals for the future that it is hard to imagine a world where they don’t exist.

However, all this day dreaming can distract us from the present. We’re so focused on our plans, hopes, and dreams that we forget to put all of our energy on the tasks in front of us. This creates a reality where we are giving a half-assed effort to everything around us and ultimately robs us of a better future.

Think about your average day. You’re probably on autopilot as you go through your usual work routine, day dreaming of a time when it will all be different and somehow “better”.

When you do this, you’re not excelling at the job in front of you. This can rob you of promotions, seeing a new solution, and doing the work that will get you recognized.

Are you day dreaming about publishing a novel, or are you actually working on it every day?
Are you day dreaming of being fit, or are you in the gym every day?
Are you day dreaming of starting a business or are you working on your side hustle every night?

Living the strenuous life means you’re working hard at all times. It means you’re looking at the tasks in front of your face and doing them to the best of your ability.

When you are constantly performing at your best, it will always be noticed by the people around you. It is hard to determine when a new opportunity will come, but by focusing on producing excellent work, it multiplies your opportunity for luck tenfold.

Today, look at the tasks around you. How can you give more of an effort? It does not matter whether the task is big or small, what matters is how much you put into it.

Give your full effort. Stop day dreaming. Do the job in front of you so well that you don’t even think about anything else.

 

Make Your Week HARDER (yeah you heard that right)

In our continual search for comfort, sometimes we create our own dungeons.

Too much comfort and too much ease can be our worst scenarios.

Nobody ever tells us about this dangerous trap. We think creating comfort and stability are good things.

The problem comes when you feel a longing in your heart for a new goal and you are too scared to rock the boat. At that moment, all of your safety and comfort becomes your worst enemy.

You’re stuck in a routine, habit, and place that you cannot easily escape from. You are addicted to the comforts around you.

Things are good, so we slow down our hustle. Our jobs are going well so we don’t give as much attention to our side hustle.

We have friends around us that don’t like it when we pursue something new. you’re going outside the mental box they have you in and most will do anything to keep you in that box. They are creatures of habit and comfort but you must be stronger than that.

You must break the chains of your comfort. You must get in touch with your rebellious, creative side.

Identifying your vices is a great first step. Make a list of all the things you do that don’t get you closer to your goals.

This week, I challenge you to go one full day without one of your crutches.

Some ideas are:
-Work in a different place than your regular shop.
-Turn off your phone after work.
-Don’t watch TV or play video games when you get home.
-Decide to go for an adventure this weekend.

Instead, work on your dream. Get uncomfortable. Scare yourself. Break free of mediocrity. Your life will be determined by the amount of things you finish and share with the world. No one is ever remembered for the dreams and goals they kept inside themselves.

Make yourself legendary.

The Gift of Rock Bottom

Failure is the best gift you can be given.

Of course, when you’re in it, it feels like hell. Every day, every moment, feels like a struggle and it seems like it won’t ever get better.

I can guarantee if you don’t learn from your failures, you’ll keep repeating the same ones, so take this gift of failure to learn the right lessons so you can move on.

When you’re at rock bottom, you have a chance to build your foundation even stronger. Failure is like a building that collapses because of a weak foundation: Fixing the foundation will give you the ability to build a bigger building.

If you don’t fix your foundation, you will always find yourself with a collapsed building.

So how do you fix your foundation?

Well, what caused the failure? Did you not work hard enough? Were you not honest? Were you blindsided?

You have to be completely honest in your evaluation of your failure. Even if you were completely blindsided, there were signs that it was going to happen whether you want to admit it or not. Honestly is the only way here.

Then, most importantly, how can you not make the same mistake in the future?

I’ve had countless failures in my life and many of them I repeated a few dozen times until I learned what I was doing wrong. It took being brutally honest and being vulnerable and sharing all kinds of doubts to get to the bottom of my repeated failure.

Be honest, learn from your failure, get stronger. It will hurt like hell, but you’ll thank me later.

Doing The Job That Needs To Be Done, A Lesson From Theodore Roosevelt

In our journey to success, sometimes we lose focus on the job right in front of us that needs to be done.

Theodore Roosevelt was always aware that he needed to focus on the job he was in instead of focusing on calculated moves to get him to the next position.

[A]t one period [I] began to believe that I had a future before me, and that it behooved me to be very far-sighted and scan each action carefully with a few to its possible effect on that future. This speedily made me useless to the public and an object of aversion to myself; and I then made up my mind that I would try not to think of the future at all, but would proceed on the assumption that each office I held would be the last I ever should hold, and I would confine myself to trying to do my work as well as possible while I held that office. I found that for me personally this was the only way in which I could either enjoy myself or render good service to the country, and I never afterwards deviated from this plan. – Theodore Roosevelt

Reading this quote from Theodore recently made me literally stop everything I was doing to think about this. Some of the best ways to deal with our problems today is to look at history.

I thought about how many jobs, relationships, internships, chances for growth, etc., that I have wasted by focusing solely on the future and not on the job and work in front of me. I had forgotten the great disconnect between doing the work that needs to be done to get to that future I was dreaming about.

Think of how great this world would be if people focused on doing the best they could in the position they had.

I would invite you to reflect and ask yourself if you are making the best of the situation you are in, or are you dreaming too much about how you want it to be?

The Habit of Hustling

Being able to live the life of your dreams is no small task.

And, unfortunately, most of us haven’t built up the stamina to carry out such a task, but if you really want it, you can make it happen.

With all of the modern-day advances in our lifestyles and technology, it is no wonder that our generation has no tolerance for hard work. We no longer have to wake up and work on the farm, child labor laws prevent most children from experiencing real work until they are halfway through their teenage years, and if we want food we don’t have to saddle up the horse and ride it into town.

Our ancestors would look at us and wonder what we do with all of our time once you remove those things, and I’m positive they would be upset with our answers.

Twitter, Facebook, video games, maybe one or two chores, tv, and a half-assed attempt at homework.

It’s no wonder we have a bunch of lost 20-year-olds who don’t know how to build a good life for themselves.

Success comes at the intersection of hard work and an opportunity. The opportunity may come, but if you haven’t put in the hours and hours of hard work beforehand then you won’t get it when it comes. Every single day you have to be preparing for your opportunity.

Hustling is not something you can turn on and off when you need it. It is a habit that is built through hard work and sweat equity. If you don’t have the life you have always dreamed of, you probably need to work on your hustling habit.

So, how do you do that?

The best tip to developing any habit is one from Jerry Seinfeld.

When he was a young comic, he got a calendar and would put a big red X over the days that he wrote, and your only goal is to make sure that you develop a long chain of red X’s.

Seems too simple? Some of the best secrets in the world can be that simple.

Think of one, maybe two, areas of your life that if you could get on track you would be infinitely happier. Maybe if you went to the gym and worked out so you can get a clear mind, or maybe your living space is a mess and being able to actually find things would improve your productivity. Once you have built that discipline, you can handle the bigger goals.

What is the first habit you are going to work on this month? Share in the comments below!