We all know the examples of overnight success. The outliers that made it, seemingly without the hard work. Interestingly enough, almost everyone that is successful does not fall in this category. Of the small group where it seems they got there with nothing, there is a really thin slice where that is actually the case: most of it was really hard work. You only didn’t see it. Zuckerberg, Obama, Gates, Jobs, Musk and an endless stream of other successful people, all worked their asses of to get where they are.
So, when we’re looking at the numbers, it is not smart to hope for some kind of magic to happen to reach your most ambitious goals. Actually, it is all about the choices you make.
It’s about preparation
If you want to get work done on a flight or on a train, you need to make sure your batteries are charged. If you want to go out for a training, you need to make sure your clothes are dry and ready to use. It is about thinking ahead. An uncharged phone could lead to oversleeping and missing an important meeting, which would have lead to a new project, new job opportunity or new relationship.
I have three rules: 1) go to the toilet when I can, 2) charge devices when I can, 3) always bring a book. Can’t tell you how many times this saved me.
It’s about measuring
Measuring has two benefits: it should motivate you to keep going and secondly it should help you know if you’re on track. Want to write more? Measure the number of words you wrote. Want to finish a race in a specific time? Know which speeds you need to run in your training sessions to get to your goal. Milestones make the journey fun.
It’s about priorities
Success comes with a price and you need to be conscious about it. Want to invest in a large group of friends and go to lots of parties? Sure, but if you need to get up at 5AM to finish your book, the two won’t match. Know what you want and plan accordingly. This might hurt some people, so be prepared.
It’s about discipline
Let me tell you: if you’re looking for fun and a light ride, reaching tough goals might not be your cup of tea. Crossing the finish on a race is fun, spending cold, long hours training for it is not. How many things are you doing that require discipline? Or did you give up because it was no fun anymore (think side projects, instruments, writings)?
Sunday’s are a great day for thinking about these topics to see if you’re on the right track and plan some adjustments for next week. Set yourself up for success by preparing, measuring, prioritizing and working on your discipline.